5 Things You Should Know Before building a Koi Pond or Fish Pond

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Thinking about installing a Koi pond or a Fish pond in your backyard in Nassau County or Suffolk County? A pond is a fascinating feature for any backyard and a Koi pond is the most interactive feature you could possibly have in your backyard. But before you get too excited and go digging that hole in your backyard for your pond, here’s five things you should know.

1. What Size is this Koi Pond going to be?

Okay, this is a super important question to ask yourself. Keeping fish can get addicting very quickly and before you know it you have an overstocked pond with way too many fish and you’re not going to want to give up any of your prized koi fish so it’s important to think about the future. The general rule is 1 inch of fish is equal to 10 gallons of water. Koi fish can easily grow up to 2′-3′ therefore you’re talking about 360 gallons per fish. Now this is just a rule of thumb, but if you want pristine water quality then it’s a good idea to keep this in mind. The general recommendation is that the minimum pond size you would really want to keep fish in is 1,000 gallons. That is why our minimum pond package we have at Tranquilityscapes is a 8×11 Fish Pond. If you need to find out how many gallons your pond would be click here. Another thing you will have to keep in mind is the depth of the Koi pond. On Long Island, our winters aren’t as severe as other places up north so we can get away with 2′ depth.

2. Filtration

Now that you have the size of your pond figured out, you need to know what filtration you will need. All ponds need filtration if you’re going to have any fish living in there as all fish produce waste and no fish wants to live in their own waste products. The filtration system should include a biological filter and a mechanical filter. 

A mechanical filter does exactly what the name says. It filters the pond mechanically, usually through a skimmer. So as those leaves fall in your pond the skimmer will suck that into a basket where it can easily be removed safely instead of decomposing at the bottom of your pond causing water quality issues for your koi fish. On larger ponds, we will usually forgo the skimmer box and build a custom sized skim cove to handle the flow rates of the pumps and create a lower maintenance koi pond. 

Onto your biological filter. The biological filtration of your pond includes everything from rock and gravel, aquatic plants, and the actual biological filter. On our smaller ponds we will use an Aquascape Biofalls which provides the surface area for the beneficial bacteria to colonize and remove all excess nutrients from the water. Our larger ponds will contruct a Wetland Filter which is just a large biological filter but the idea is the same. The rock and gravel also provide tremendous surface area for beneficial bacteria to break down excess nutrients as well as dissolved organic debris. Plants are mother nature’s true filter. If you’ve ever seen plants in a pond or heard of aquaponics, the reason those plants thrive and grow crazy fast is because of the excess nutrients they are sucking up. The fish waste produces ammonia and the beneficial bacteria converts the ammonia into nitrites and then finally into nitrates. Nitrate is a fertilizer for plants which causing them to grow uncontrollably while maintaining pristine water quality for your ecosystem pond. We also recommend installing an Aquascape Automatic Dosing System to reduce the maintenance on your end and to maintain pristine water quality.

3. Pump Size

Pumps are a vital system in your pond. As all living beings require oxygen, and your pond is a living ecosystem it also requires oxygen. As the beneficial bacteria breaks down the organic material it sucks up all the oxygen in your pond, this is known as your Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). I promise I won’t get too heavy in the science and math behind all of this, but all you need to know is that the goal is to recirculate the volume of water every hour for your pond. This means you’ll need to find a pump capable of providing enough circulation every hour to provide the necessary oxygen levels for healthy koi fish and plants. 

4. Keeping predators away

After all that hard work and money, you wouldn’t want a raccoon or a heron to just come by your pond for a midnight snack and eat all of your fish. If you live on Long Island, chances are there are herons everywhere looking at your pond as their next meal. The best way to protect your fish is to provide them with a deep pond with structure inside to hide them. That is why we always try to add fish caves to our ponds hidden into the rock work so the koi fish stay hidden from any predators.

5. What's this thing going to cost me?

Before you stick that shovel in the ground, you’ll have to figure out a budget. It’s seriously important to think about how much this is going to cost you. You’re basically building a mini pool in your backyard. Not only do you have the cost of the fish to think about, but the material to also build the pond. Koi fish can range anywhere from a few bucks to over a million dollars! No seriously, there was a fish sold for $1.8 Million in auction. Now, you could save yourself money by buying baby koi fish for cheap but make sure you ensure the pond is large enough to house them once they reach their mature size. The one place you don’t want to skimp out on is your labor and material to build the pond. We’ve all have a friend or heard someone say their landscaper built them a pond and the water is pea-soup green and the waterfall leaks, well we don’t want that to happen to you. If you’re going to tackle this project by yourself you’ll be looking at minimum $3,000+ in just premium Aquascape material and rock to build a pond in your backyard not including the koi fish, lights, automatic dosing systems etc. as well as multiple weekends of work. It’s always good to consult with experts like Tranquilityscapes before taking this step. Since you want this pond to be the focal point of your overall landscape, we can help you by setting up a consultation and evaluate your yard and recommend the best size, design, and location for your pond. If you don’t want to tackle this project by yourself, or just want a naturalistic ecosystem pond built by professionals that won’t give you any headache in the future you can view our pond packages.