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How to dig and build your own koi pond

If you have the cash to spend, you can always pay for the professional pond builders to construct one for you based on your preferred design with a price. It can be anything that you like and usually there is list of selections provided in a catalog which you can choose from or you can demand for custom design made according to your liking. There are even some builders who provide a complete pond system with the waterfall, filtration unit and decorations with everything taken care of so that all you need to do is just to add the fish. But however, if you are resourceful and would rather construct everything ground up on your own so that you can save some bucks, then you can try to dig and build your very own koi pond.

Building an outdoor pond is a very challenging task. My brother decided to help me make one and it took us almost close to 3 weeks to complete. The first thing on what he did was to find a suitable spot so that it is safe, without obstructing the walkway and most important close to the plumbing system for water supply and with a drain nearby, to ease the maintenance later part. The pond that we actually planned out is a very simple square shape design in order to maximum the space utilization and he started out by digging an area of 12 feet by 6 feet and then making the depth around 5 feet. The main reason why a rectangular design is the most efficient shape is because this will make your task of putting the liner at the base becomes easier without having messy folding pleats which can accumulate dirt and other unwanted stuff. Digging the pond was actually the hardest part because you will need to spend a lot of time removing the earth and stones and after all this was done, we decided to pack everything into bags, loaded it into the truck and sent it to a nearby empty land for disposal. This alone took up almost 4 consecutive days including the weekend and it would have been longer if my cousin didn’t provide a helping hand.

self koi pond constructionBefore and After the construction work (digging work and lining)

After the area has been cleared, we moved on to get the best pond liner by scouting around and gathering information from different pet shops within our locality. We even made a trip to the wholesaler and manufacturer and made a list of price comparison and we also refer back to the online offers until we are satisfied and determined that the price is right. Don’t make a haste to buy on instinct because this is the most important aspect as the liner will form the base of your pond and a good, high quality liner will ensure that you have a working pond which can last for years without problem. Imagine the hassle of having to remove your pet koi fish caused by a leaking pond, replace the liner and then putting back everything. Surely you will want to avoid that at all cost. Note that at this point, you can always decide whether you want your pond to have an underdrain setup but for me, I just decided that it should be as simple as possible without one in order to reduce all the plumbing work. We purchased a black vinyl liner that costs almost $200 and then spread it properly to cover the bottom base. Over here, you can have two options. First you can actually fix the liner position by cementing it to your existing concrete walkway using slabs or brickwork or you can actually make a trench and then fill it with concrete so that it can become your pond surrounding wall. The choice is certainly up to you but I would say try to minimize all the work involved. Remember to leave at least two outlet points with valve fittings coming out from the pond so that you can connect it to your filtration system.

Once all these were done, it’s time to head back again to the shop and check out the options for the pond accessories. Filter is the first thing that comes to mind and if you have small predators lurking nearby like cats and heron, you might want to consider getting pond netting as well to protect your expensive koi fish. After careful research and taking into consideration the price factor in order to get a filter system which can provide the best filtration capacity matching the pond size, we decided to settle for a multichamber vortex filter unit. Installing the filter should be quite simple and straightforward because similar just like the pond construction, it is better to dig a hole and then locate the chamber beneath the underground level in order to conceal the ugly sight. Once everything was ready, we filled up the pond with water, check for leakage and then recycle the water going through the filter system to confirm everything is working well. We decided to leave the water running through the filter without any fish in the pond (fishless cycle) for about 3 days and in between this period, we actually get the help from a close friend who also owns a healthy koi pond with crystal clear water and obtain a bagful of pond water and add in to our own. This is to help and accelerate the nitrogen cycle so that it will take less time for the water quality to become stable. In order to find out whether the system is ready, conduct a simple test to check the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate level. On top of that, we also bought water lilies from the pet shop, in order to decorate things up a little bit.

Our first fish was a three inch bristlenose catfish that we bought from the pet shop. I was made to understand that the species was the hardy type and thus would make an excellent choice of fish which can withstand the new and unstable water condition during the initial startup. Everything went smooth without any problem for a about a week and after that, we proceeded to buy our stock of koi fish from the local dealer. That’s pretty much everything about koi pond construction. If you have any question, you can always contact me and get the latest information and updates. Related topic on koi pond construction: what to look for in a koi pond design.
Some popular koi variety: Hikarimuji and Utsurimono

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