This stunning koi pond is one many of you may recognise. Photographs and videos posted online have been shared, re-shared, and shared again. The pond always attracts lots of interest and with its unfortunate decommission imminent, I thought I’d take a final opportunity to share this wonderful pond with the World of Nishikigoi...
This was Shane’s very first attempt at building a koi pond. Whilst, the majority of first koi ponds look like a toddler designed them, Shane’s has a visual finesse that will leave many koi keepers green with envy.
No matter the size or design, building an aesthetically pleasing koi pond is about having an eye for detail and Shane definitely has that eye.
Bottom drain: Two aerated (air not used).
Waterproofing: Box-weld Liner
Skimmer: One Oase SwimSkim
Mechanical Filter: Oase Proficlear Drum
Biological Filter: 2 x Oase Moving Bed Modules with K1, Four Tier Shower with Ceramic Media, Ultra Bead Filter
Uv: Oase Bitron Premium
Pumps: Evolution Aqua Vario 30,000, Oase 10,000 and Oase 30,000
Heating: Air Source Heat Pump
Aeration: AirTech 150 x 2 and a Large Air Bar
Koi: 15 pieces from 35-95cm
Food: Saki Hikari
The pond has a fairly conventional filtration system, but a detail I feel worth mentioning, is how Shane’s installed his shower filter. The shower filter is fed via a large volume pump that sits in the last chamber of the main filter. The water is fired over the shower filter and then drops back into the first moving bed chamber, before making its way back through the system.
This method is becoming increasingly popular as it means shower filters can be hidden out of sight. A real bonus, considering they're not the most attractive pond-side features! Installing one this way also means you can substantially increase the flow rate over the shower media without affecting the total turnover rate of your pond. Very clever stuff, especially as this can be utilised on pump fed systems too!
Shane is blessed with soft source water and the pond naturally sits at a ph of around 7.2. He does however struggle with high levels of chlorine and chloramine which is often a common trade-off in softer water areas. To counteract this he uses a six stage, big blue purification system, deploying coconut carbon, bone carbon and catalytic carbon in succession. He said this took a little trial and error, but seems to do the job. The pond's water level is also managed by an Oase auto top-up system, which Shane swears by.
At the time of filming there were around 15 pieces in the pond. The only small koi is a rather nice 35cm golden corn from taniguchi, the rest are all well over 65cm - with the largest being a lovely karashigoi that is around 95cm. My favourite had to be a 90cm yamabuki ogon from Izumiya, we only lifted her in the net, but her quality and size were very eye catching.
Being honest, even with 15 koi, I feel the pond is a little overstocked considering the size of some of its inhabitants. Shane mentioned how the pond has always suffered with poor flow dynamics due to a construction error. This ultimately impacted the pond's functionality and I reckon a lower stocking rate would’ve perhaps eased the pressure these flaws placed on the system.
Obviously stocking levels are always a personal choice, but I do believe that for hobbyists looking for an easier life, stocking light - is definitely the way to go.
Shots of a few inhabitants...
A pond with flaws?
It might surprise you that such an impressive looking pond has flaws, but the truth is, most ponds do. Often they’re oversights that don’t reveal themselves until the whole system is up and running, at which point we normally have to make do. Or cry ourselves to sleep!
In keeping with my pond visit articles I asked Shane for his best bit of advice. He talked about the importance of proper planning. "Aim to build one pond, get it right first time and don’t skimp."
That’s pretty solid advice. Taking the time to plan properly and having your designs scrutinised by koi people with knowledge is the best way to avoid potential errors. Obviously everyone works to different budgets but by speaking to experienced enthusiasts, you’ll be able to gauge where certain savings can be made and where skimping simply isn’t an option.
Remember, the cheapest way to build a koi pond, is to build it once.
Some questions for Shane...
What got you into the koi hobby?
I was heavily into Marine Keeping, having had my tank featured in a few magazines. When we moved house, I decided to stop keeping marines and koi became my next focus. I've always been fascinated with fish.
What would you do differently?
The main problem was not putting in enough returns and positioning them in the correct places. This meant that I had to drill though the pond wall at one stage to help elevate the problem. The flow dynamics of the pond are such that waste gets blown past the drains and sits at the far end. Not ideal. I also should have had a proper built-in skimmer, but having designed the pond from scratch without knowing about the requirements of koi, these things were easily overlooked.
Best bit of advice?
Aim to build one pond, get it right first time and don’t skimp.
It’s bitter sweet visiting this lovely pond, knowing that Shane will soon take a sledge hammer to it. Some might say this isn't the most positive advertisement for the koi hobby, but actually it’s a topic worth consideration.
Shane decided to call it a day because he felt he was fighting a constant battle, and that ultimately there was more to go wrong, than to enjoy. Indeed, the koi hobby can be extremely challenging and frustrating at times but, I think it’s important to remember that ups and downs are a part of the hobby, much like they’re a part of life.
Our ponds and koi are living things and because of this, anything can happen. In fact chances are, everything will happen at some point; the good, bad and ugly. However, if you’re constantly coming up against the same hurdles and indeed the bad stuff is outweighing the good, then I would say you’re experiencing something more than just a run of bad luck. Chances are, they'll be something you haven’t got quite right, and perhaps the smallest tweak could make all the difference.
Which in turn could save your hobby.
If Shane was still on the fence with his decision, then I would tell him to halve his stocking levels and try for another season. But his mind was already made and sometimes, we do just fall out of love with things. And that’s ok.
Is it sad? No, not for Shane...
Shane’s getting a jacuzzi and a fire pit!
Ah, I never liked him anyway…
If you would like to watch a video from my visit to Shane's pond, click here:
*With thanks to Shane for allowing me to feature his pond and koi.