By Mike Gannon
Koi ponds can be watershapes of great beauty in which sizeable populations of large, gorgeous fish thrive through the long lives these creatures often experience. With the pond that appears at the start of the video linked below, however, there were key features that were missing from the existing pond that put the big fish at risk in a number of ways.
I don’t know the full history of the pond, but it’s clear it wasn’t originally installed with mature Koi in mind. When we arrived, we noticed immediately that the water was quite shallow; that there were no places in the water where the fish could go to get out of the sun or to dodge predators; and, finally, that the circulation/filtration system didn’t in any way align with the requirements for a population of large, well-fed fish.
So we pulled everything out and started over again from the ground up, addressing all of the issues we saw and focusing our efforts on making the pond and its new, more naturalistic and much-higher-volume waterfall and big bog area every bit as beautiful as the fish we’d be putting into it once we were done.
The excavation stage was crucial here: We needed to re-contour the bottom to increase the depth and carve out spaces for multiple fish caves. We also needed to set up an expansive bog/biofiltration area to be filled with plants that would take up the bulk of the huge nutrient burden big Koi bring to their ponds.
Once we’d hand-excavated the space (an arduous process in heavy clay made necessary by lack of access for larger equipment), it was basically a process of reassembly using much of the original material along with a range of large boulders we added to bring greater variety and drama to the setting – especially to the revised waterfall.
This kind of renovation project is satisfying in more ways than one. First, we took a hum-drum pond and turned it into a naturalistic showpiece – the sort of watershape that captures the essence of its surroundings and looks like it’s been there forever. Second, we made it safe for the Koi and other fish that will thrive in a basin that has an adequate circulation/filtration system to deal with the bio-burden created by a large population of healthy fish.
Finally, we evaluated the space from the point of view of the homeowners and their tastes, adding pathways, seating areas and access points around the pond that make it much easier for them to watch their fish and enjoy their experience of the outdoor environment. When it comes to reworking an old pond, there’s no process more satisfying – for the fish, for the homeowners or for us.
To see this renovation project move along, click here.