Monday, March 29, 2010

Evolution of a Koi Pond

It started as a hole in the ground with water in it.  We wanted our Butterfly Peacock Bass, Jack, to live there since he was too big for his indoor aquarium.  He didn't make it, but two koi and a pleco have done well except for the time the big white koi decided to try his hand at air breathing and jumped out.  Luckily, Wayne was there to scoop him back into the water.  This was probably a sign that all was not quite right with the living environment.  Apparently, one should have proper filtration, maintain a certain PH, feed koi on a certain schedule depending on water temperature and make sure the pond water does not resemble pea soup.

Granted, these are not pedigree koi.  They're Petco koi, the kind of inbred scanky koi that are sneered at and made fun of by their expensive cousins at Pondscapes.  But, they deserve a life and to that end, we've undertaken a project to educate ourselves on how to keep them and the hole in the ground healthy.  It quickly became clear (not the water, that comes later) that we needed to get them out of the pea soup.  Wayne put them in the 30 gallon aquarium that didn't sell at the last yard sale and emptied the pond, cleaning out all of the algae and goop on the bottom.  The pond was refilled with water straight from our well (bypassing the softener system).  We ran the filter for a few days, then took a water sample and drove to South Tampa to visit Pondscapes.  Our little 20 dollar pump and homemade filter system (paint bucket, filter material and lid with holes punched in it) was replaced by a "real" pond pump (500 gal. per hour) and filter system.

We also repotted the water lily, according to instructions from Kevin at Pondscapes.  Lifting the winter burned, smelly mess of roots out of the pot, we cut off about 70% of the roots.  I put plain clay cat litter in the bottom, then a layer of top soil (no fertilizer!), nestled the water lily roots on that and filled in the top 1/3rd with pea gravel.  I found some larger rocks to set over the pea gravel to weight the pot and keep the koi from digging in it, then flushed it with well water and put it in the bottom of the pond.

Meanwhile, back at the aquarium, our koi were a bit listless, probably because we'd almost killed them by overfeeding all winter and the aquarium water was cloudy and tested too acidic.
From Koi out of pond for cleaning march 2010
 Testing the pond water now found it to be at PH 7, so we put the fish back in.  We've built a pergola over it as I mentioned recently, and improved on it by replacing the tarp over the top with shade cloth, putting struts at the top corners for strength and adding a kind of header on the front.  I had a nice sun face sculpture in another part of the garden that looks nice nailed to the top.  I hope our fish will be happy.  We'll try training them to eat from our hand.  The big koi at Pondscapes are so friendly, they come right up to you expecting a handout.   It was a challenge finding solid information in an internet search, much of it is contradictory.  I did register with a web site called Roark's Experimental Puddle finding a lot of information about koi I can use. I guess we'll think of names for our two fish, now that they've survived our ineptitude for the last year. Any suggestions?
From pond
From pond
From pond

1 comment:

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