Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Koi Pond Style

We started cleaning the pond. While we clean it, all the koi have to go into the little baby pond until we finish.

This is okay but we have to worry about ammonia buildup and aeration. Usually they visit the small pond for only a few hours but not this time. This time we had to put in the big aerator and Mr. Right had to hook-up the filter 20 feet away to try to deal with the waste.

They have to stay in the small pond longer because finally we're ready to try to address some of the problems with the big pond. For some reason it seems to get dirtier than most. Of course we have thirteen fairly good sized koi in there but it's more than that.

We seemed to have successfully defeated the Spring algae bloom but still there was dirt and lots of it.

Part of the problem is that when debris blows into the pond it floats for awhile and if you don't catch it and seine it out, it sinks to the bottom and turns into dirt. During the winter when we avoid going outside at all costs, leaves might blow in despite the net that we put over to try to prevent it, and eventually they too become dirt. Everything becomes dirt ...... even the dirt that rolls in.

And I think we've honed in on that part of the problem. The configuration is all wrong because some of the dirt area is higher than the pond liner area.

With a situation like that, you can't win. I think I have some idea why this happened. For one thing, I wanted plants as close to the water as possible and you can't have a plant growing inside the liner so I planted them too close to the edge. Secondly the levels on a couple of the sides of the pond are higher than the levels on the other. If you don't cover those higher levels, you're going to get dirt. So the logistics of the pond are just wrong. It needs to be redone.

Then, of course, there's another problem. The bottom layer is buoyant and that's because there are several inches of water underneath the liner.

See how deep the water is where I press with my stick and how shallow it is where the small pump is resting on the buoyant liner? We can't really figure out why this is. We found one small hole but it's hard to believe it could cause all that buoyancy. Of course once water gets under there, it probably won't go anywhere very soon because of the clay bottom. So first we have to figure out a way to get the water out from under the old liner. I'm thinking we'll have to cut it, force the water up, then dry and patch it.

Our solution to the configuration problem and the hole in the liner problem was to take a cheap liner and cover the old one completely including the areas that are higher than the present edges. We've read that an underlayment would have been a good idea to begin with and the current liner could act as underlayment for the new cheap liner.

So, I guess the next step is to move ALL the rocks from the perimeter of the big pond:

Then lay in the new cheap liner, install the skimmer and box filter waterfall, clean and replace the rocks, put the filter and aerator back in and add water. Soon we could add fish.

So you're invited to follow our progress or lack of it. It's a big job and there's really nothing fun about it (except maybe moving the fish). We do have one conundrum though that we could use some help with.

The cheap second liner is reversible - brown on one side and silver on the other. Mr. Right doesn't think the koi would like silver. I don't think they'd show up as well against the brown. We'd love opinions.


  1. Wow, you have a big job there. I have always wanted a pond in my yard but saw the work involved. You have a beautiful area and I'm sure when you get it all done, the fish will have smiles on their faces. Can't wait to see when it's finished.

  2. My goodness you have a lot of work ahead of you. I can see both sides of the liner dilemna, so I'm not taking sides. Let me know what you decide though.

  3. Ugh. Just reading this makes me tired. I give you guys lots of credit for all of your hard work, though and I know first-hand how much we all enjoy your pond and fish! As far as the colors's so hard to picture, tough call. My instinct says silver...but I would ask Lori and Beth and Sarah, too!!!

  4. I vote brown side up. This is exactly why I don't have a pond anymore. It's a lot of work. And every Spring it felt like I was cleaning a black-water swamp. Disgusting. Inevitably there was always something dead in there, too (mole, mouse, very large green frog, etc.), adding to the stink. I never had koi.

  5. Oh dear, that is a lot of work. I guess I'll stop complaining about cleaning my living room. SMFD.

    I vote brown, only because it's more natural and your pond is so beautiful and natural looking.

  6. oy, this reminds me how badly our pond needs a deep cleaning! you do great work. I would go with the brown, if you have any lighter fish they might disappear against the silver.

    I took some good pics of our koi last night and will be posting them later this week for You Capture!

  7. Even though it is such a tremendous amount of work, I know that, with your artistic eye, it will be even more beautiful when you've finished than it was before you started...and it was beautiful before! Good luck with all that work, and be sure to provide pictures when you're finished!

  8. The beneficial bacteria and barley straw which deter the growth of algae each stop working when the water temperature is less than 50 degrees so that there is too much algae growth during the winter.

    UV Clarifier

  9. While u at it , add a bottom drain that will solve ur problem for many years to come ,

  10. Wonderful! This article is a very inspirational one. Thanks for sharing the information.That was really a mind-boggling share.
    Pond Cleaning

  11. Thank you for the inspiration. This article is very helpful and informative. You can also use water blaster to help you cleaning faster.


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