I wanted to write a quick follow-up post on what to do after you have built your new koi pond as far as keeping the water clear and getting it ready for fish. In my last post on this topic, I got you right up to the point of filling your pond with water. You may be asking yourself, now what? Well it is really quite simple.
The first thing you want to do after you fill your pond is get some sort of a filter and pump system to keep your pond clear. This can be a very intricate system or a simple one (like I have). There are many different pumps and filters to choose from and they can be very expensive. The first thing you need to think about is how many gallons your pond is and how high your waterfall is. You need something that is going to pump all the water through the filter at least once per hour and have enough power to push the water up through the waterfall.
Here is a little bit of information about how to determine this. First figure out how many gallons your pond is. If you bought a preformed pond liner then it will tell you on the label. If not you can use this site to help you figure out how many gallons your pond is. I am going to use my pond as an example here. My pond is 300 gallons. For this I chose a Beckett waterfall and small pond pump. This pump is a little more powerful than mine which is 900 gallons per hour (GPH). It seems that the model I have is no longer available. If in doubt about the size of the pump, I would advise that you buy one more powerful than you think you will need. Because there is a 2 foot rise on mine to the waterfall, the extra power is necessary.
The next thing you will have to think about is a filter. There are so many different types out there and some are very fancy. I went with a basic model that would remove the small and large debris from the water. My filter does not have a uv clarifier built in, but there are some that have both a filter and clarifier in one. We have a a Little Giant biological filter (not a pressurized one) and it works great. We bought it when we built our pond and have never had any trouble with it. The nice part is that it does not have any moving or working parts so it really can not break. This is a huge plus to me as pond parts are expensive and it really stinks to have to replace them after just a few years. Here is a link to learn more about different types of pond filters and which is best for you.
The final component is the uv clarifier system. Again, I chose a simple and inexpensive one and it works great. This may not be necessary if you do not have fish in your pond because the plants will help to keep the water clear and control algae blooms. If you do have fish, a uv clarifier is essential. Please trust me on this one. We did not get one of these until about 3 years ago and wow was it worth it. Prior to having one, our pond would fluctuate between being crystal clear and looking like pea soup. We tried everything to fix it and had no luck until we got a clarifier. A pond that has just had an algae bloom is not pleasing to look at. Would you rather have your pond look like this
or like this
I am going to go ahead and assume that everyone picked the second one. If you prefer the first picture then you are reading the wrong blog :). The secret to clear water really is in picking the right uv clarifier for your pond. We have a 9 Watt Tetra Pond clarifier that I love and keeps my pond perfect all the time. We have to replace the bulb about every 2 years and it costs about $30 for a new bulb. Beware that they sell replacement bulbs on ebay, but these are not for ponds. They are for nail salons for their drying lights. The ebay bulbs will fit, but will not make the water clear. They will just leave you feeling even more frustrated. You must buy the replacements from an authorized pond equipment dealer.
Well that is about it as far as what you need to purchase. You will also need some 1 inch tubing ( or whatever size your filter requires) to connect these devices. You can buy this where ever you buy your filter and pump. It is really quite simple though. You place your pump in the pond and run the tubing from it to your filter. My filter is not submerged. Then run tubing from the filter to the clarifier. Next run tubing from the clarifier to the waterfall and presto, you have a running working pond. I know you may be thinking that I am simplifying this, but it really is that easy. If this is confusing, let me know and I will gladly post pictures of my filtration system so you can see exactly how it looks.
Once you get all this up and running you are going to want to let your pond run for about a week before adding fish. Koi are expensive and you want to make sure when you add them that the pond is perfect for them. It is hard to get over losing a $50 fish. I actually never buy them when they are that expensive. I prefer to buy them when they are 4-5″ and cost about $25-$30. They grow fast and you can really save some money by buying small fish. I will get into caring for your koi in my next pond post. Until then, get up and start making that beautiful backyard koi pond. It will definitely be worth the effort. Happy water gardening!
Please post questions or comments about this. It would be impossible to cover everything about setting up you koi pond in one article, so if you have questions please do not hesitate to ask. I would also love to hear about your own water gardening experiences.