Need to enlarge, add 2nd or do something

Nooksack, WA

I have 2 Koi and 2 feather tail gold fish in a 170 gal preformed pond. The Koi are over a foot long and the gold fish are over 6". Their going to have to winter again this year in this pond but come spring I need to do something. Water stays clean and 600GPM pump only runs 10 hrs a day. I recently bought a new sub 3350 GPH pump, sub 10,000 GPH and a jet 2000 GPH (none in use yet). I've also acquired the most of the makings for 2 ea 50 gal bio-filters which I will hide in a hollow rock.

So my dilemma is this:
1) Rip this pond out and put in a 2000 gal with EPDM liner where this one is and add waterfall in from bio-filter.
2) Add a second pond for Koi only (assume they get 20" each = 400 gal min) and leave this one in for gold fish.
3) Make a river flowing into this pond at maybe 4K to 5K GPM and leave all fish there. One problem with that is the wintering.

In the photos below, left to right: Aug 2010, Jun 2011, Oct 2011, Oct 2012 and last is a layout for new 3500+ gal (5' deep) pond with beach but DW frowned.

I'm open to new ideas.

Thumbnail by Spitzkopf Thumbnail by Spitzkopf Thumbnail by Spitzkopf Thumbnail by Spitzkopf Thumbnail by Spitzkopf

Good morning! Your pond is lovely and I really like the garden leading up to your pond. At this point, I would leave what you have there and put in the 2000 gallon pond separately. It would be a shame to dig up what you already have there and it would make a beautiful area for quarantine or special waterlilies you may want to showcase. I would definitely put in something larger if you can. Koi will get bigger than 20". Most of mine are larger than that with the largest one at 26". Your goldfish will get bigger as well. When I had Goldie's I had them at 10 & 12" depending on the variety. Go as big as you can with your pond. A common regret is that people don't go large enough.

One thing I have to tell you that I am impressed with is your filtration. Apparently for the size pond you currently have, filtration is not an issue.

Also, I would like to mention - now is the time to figure out what you want to do. Pond supplies are currently on sale and why spend more than you have to.

Let us know what you decide and please post pictures of your venture. We all love to see that.

Edited because I cannot spell!

This message was edited Oct 3, 2012 4:51 PM

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

You know Carolyn, your bog garden does a great job in filtration, better than many mechanical I think. What about using the old pond as a bog garden with lots of nice plants. the surrounding garden is great and would help to blend in. Then have the water run down a rather flat stream into the new pond. I vote for 3500 gallons or at least 3000. I agree, if you are going to build a new one you will truly regret not going as big as is feasible (space, money, spouses --- lol). Five feet deep is wonderful. I don't know how your koi survive the winter, Spitzkof, in a shallow preformed pond. You really need to look at BonnieGardens thread on her new pond. I am so envious at what a gorgeous big pond she and her husband and son built by themselves.

Also there are the issues of 1) gravel in the pond -- NO, 2) bottom drains -- maybe, although many here don't have them and have no problem.

By all means stay in touch. Looks like your new pond has great potential judging by how well you did with the smaller one.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Everything you have is well done and lovely. What might throw it off visually is that the scale is off. Big ( but beautiful ) statue and art forms but small (but exquisite) water feature. Whatever you choose to do, try to bring the size of the objects into better scale. Whichever way you go - I'm sure it will be very, very nice and well done.

Nooksack, WA

Thank you Ladies,
This is the 3rd pond I've installed, other 2 were EPDM at a previous property. One of those were 5' deep and I had my Koi die in the winter in it because I let it freeze over. Pretty sure it was lack of oxygen or noxious gasses. I never had cleaned the bottom of that one. This one I keep a stock tank heater in and this year I plan to add a bubblier with zeolite that I've made. (See Skippy's page: ) I do so wish I had a drain, it's such a pain to net the fish out, pump the water out, vacuum it then have to put tap water back in.
I swap my in the pond filters out every 2 weeks. That's what the stone "diving board" is for, so I can lay down in it to reach the filters.
Snapple you are right. The mermaid was overwhelming for the tiny pond, removed it last spring and put a smaller feature in (in #4 photo), drilled through a 2' tall piece of granite.
Mary I'm siding with you on the 3500 gallon, it's just gonna take up a lot more back yard. Have most everything I need though except liner, some pvc pipe and about 25 tons of rock. Would have to get that a little at a time down at the river.
But I still have all winter to make plans and change my mind several times.

Mary (snapple) -

Such a long time since hearing from you. Hope all is well with you and your family. I had not thought about scale, but you make an excellent point.

Tom =

I don't have a bottom drain either and we don't drain the pond to clean it. Every spring and fall, we vacuum, clean or divide and fertilize waterilies. What type of bottom was in your pond to get that type of do you have in the pond? I know a gravel bottom is very difficult to clean. A pond heater is a must though.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

a pond de-icer I what you mean Carolyn? Something to keep a hole in the ice open? Not one that heats the entire pond.

Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL(Zone 9b)

Pond de-icers just float on the surface and keep a hole in the ice in one spot, so the gasses can get out. They are low wattage, you just plug it in once you get close to freeze overs, and don't unplug it until ice is no longer a threat. They don't really warm the water much, just enough to keep the hole at the surface.
There are retro bottom drains that just sit on the bottom, attached to a pump, if bottom muck is a problem. You don't need to cut a hole in the liner to install. See if this link works:

Also, the larger pumps that sit on the bottom and can handle solids, can keep the bottom fairly clean, because it sucks the water from the bottom, through your filter, and the dumps it back on the surface.

I did mean a de-icer. Typically we have 2 in our pond through out the winter.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

Hi Tom,
Your gardens are just beautiful. Of course in Fl. conditions are different. That said I would go for the largest pond you can put in to avoid what we did. Put in 2 ponds, couldn't cure joining leaks, pulled them out and put in one 3,000 gal. All I have to keep it clean is waterfalls with filtration material inside and inside skimmer. Last one we built husb. put waterfalls up 4 feet to avoid my aching back when cleaning. What a God send it is. He also added drainage with turn on and off valve in the bottom which is great. I just turn it on and run hose thru it after I have taken out filtration medium to rinse it seperately. Also I rinse out filtration medium in skimmer which houses pump in the bottom. Old pond has waterfalls and same setup but its in the ground and is back breaking to remove for cleaning but I manage. In larger environment fish grow larger. So far no problems with crud on bottom of pond. I frequently scoop out leaves and junk from bottom so I guess that helps. One day I will purchase a vacuum. I just bought netting for both ponds as mine are both under a large oak tree. Its work for me but keeps koi cooler in our hot summers.
I wish you much happiness in bldg. your new pond and the self satisfaction is worth the effort. At our age I'm sure we won't be bldg. again so the largest we could afford was most practical.
Please keep pics coming as we all so enjoy seeing progress. If you would like take a look at my New Pond In Progress thread #1 you will envision all the effort we put in but its worth it. Even my husb. now enjoys the fish and my son who helped along with his sons is also a fish finatic. It's wonderful for a family to share like projects and intersts.
Much luck.

Nooksack, WA

Thanks for all the encouragement everyone. When I get the design done, budget pricing and final draft I'll post a preview to see if anyone can find faults before the shovel hits the sod in the spring. I have spent some 250 days on the road the last year so there hasn't been a lot of time for projects. Currently 17 more working days and counting.

Thanks MM for the link. Spent several hours on AquaArts website discovering products I didn't know existed. They have very cheap bulkheads too and didn't know one could put a drain in a flexible liner. Now that's a good idea, gonna add that to the plan.


Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

If you type in pond products in your search you will be enundated with info. and lots of stuff a pond can do without.

Also, if you have any koi shows put on by pond clubs you can learn a lot by attending. They usually have good seminars with great info. Many vendors that showcase their products and of course fish for sale. Went to my first last year and certainly plan attend again in 2013.


Nooksack, WA

Thanks Bonnie for the advise.

Now I'm overwhelmed with reading material, have a lot to sort through this winter. I notice there are two courts:
1) Fish only - no plants and don't even mention the the word "rocks" or those guys will get outraged.
2) Natural or water gardens - I think I'm more in that category. Personally I can't see the purpose of having a pond unless you can enjoy the beauty of it. No offense to anyone but if one wants to just raise Koi and no other nature, would not a bare tank be sufficient. I want to establish a self sustaining Eco-system but make it low maintenance and inexpensive. Don't know if that can be done, but mother nature does it all the time. A lot of the ones on the web I've seen have tens of thousands of $ invested in specialized equipment installed by "professionals". Sorry but I can't go that route either and so much of that info can be misleading. I look more for the DIY stuff.

Speaking of DIY, I built a pond vac yesterday out of a dirty water pump and small air tight barrel. Going to hydro test for leaks today but need one more part to run the cord through the barrel before the test run and actual use (see pics).

On another note, I've never salted my fish before but from what I've read it sounds like it can be only be a good thing to do. Was thinking I may do it to help them through the winter in the small pond I have. Is there a down side of doing it? Will it benefit the gold fish as well? What about pump, filter equipment, beneficial bacteria and protozoa will that be OK?

Thumbnail by Spitzkopf Thumbnail by Spitzkopf


Home made works well. I know that MerryMary does well with ebay too, so I would definitely check that out too.

Salt will work with your goldfish - just make sure you get salt that does not contain iodine. I buy pickling salt and I beleive there are several on this forum that use some type of solar salt. Better ask them on that.

Bigger ponds tend to be lower maintenance than the smaller ponds. The biggest thing with the ponds is filtration. If you think you have enough filtration, add one more as it is better to go over rather than under in that area.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

Hi Tom,
I use the salt used in a water filter system. $4./bag for 40 lb. bag at Walmart. Blue bag has no additives in it.
Looks like your vacuum is a good idea. I am going to try it with an old shop vac I have. Saw one used someplace and all they did was run the hose out on exhaust with a fine piece of filter on the end so that it could return right back into the pond. Worth a try.
I no longer have rocks in any of my pounds for 2 reasons: Fish can scrap themselves on them and its much harder to keep clean when those river rock get full of algae. Of course pond builders use tons of rock and the cost skyrockets especially here in Fl. where we have to have rock shipped in. I paid $400. for 1 pallet of cobblestones that were sanded to use as coping and thats it for me. I doubt I'll buy anymore unless I get money from heaven.
Good luck with your endeavers. A pond is all personal preference so whatever works for you . Main thing is to enjoy the pond when its finished. (Along with the maintenance) Our ponds are DIY along with proper equipment
for filtration.

McKinney, TX

Sounds like a nice weekend project. Wish I could do this with my pond.

"600GPM pump only runs 10 hrs a day". Did you mean GPH or GPM? In gallons per hour (GPH) sounds about right for the pond pictured. 600 Gallons per Minute (GPM) is like what's used in acerage ponds lakes and commercial features.

Anyway, Hope everything turns out alright.

Nooksack, WA

Fountain Man-
It's about 600 GPH (I'm used to working on heavy industrial pumps). Weekend? Not unless I have an excavator, bucket loader and lots of help. Unfortunately I'll be doing the digging by hand, concrete work, filter building, piping, testing and..... all my self so this project will probably go on all spring and summer. I hope I can have it completed and up and running by August.

Bonnie & Carolyn-
I added the salt, was the 1st time the fish ever felt it and I could notice their reaction to it but they were quite comfortable with it in a few minutes. We have so much rain here that I am pretty sure it is diluted back to fresh water now. Was probably at 3% for only a couple of days if that.

Finally got the last part to complete the electrical on my pond vac. I don't have rocks in this pond but I also don't have a bottom drain so by vacuuming I may not have to clean/replace the submerged filters that often. All that will be remedied on the new pond and this one will become a bog or marginal pond. I have my filtration system pretty much designed now and the pond it self is getting towards the final ideas (18'L X 4.5'W X 3.5'D= 2120 gal raised 16" above ground elevation). The cave and falls in the big unknown at this time, cost of materials & schedule. I'm trying to find or make a lighter concrete that remains water proof and keeps the structural integrity. Length of both cave & falls together will be around 22' at a 5'+ drop wrapping 2 sides of the pond. I'm not sure whether to do the cave and falls or dig the pond 1st. I think maybe the falls 1st would give better access to build.

Ven in da vest ve moost vare our west vhen ve wacuum der vasser.
(When in the west, we must ware our vest, when we vacuum the water.)


Quite often your local True Value will have small bobcats for rentals. You may want to take a look to see what you have locally. We were lucky and a friend of ours had bought a small Kabota and he brought it down and dug our pond. All we had to pay was the gas.

My own thoughts - I would dig the pond first. I would be afraid of the falls getting in the way of digging. You can also use the dirt from digging the pond to get the height you are looking for with your waterfalls.

I haven't salted my pond yet. Probably this weekend - I need to get a couple more boxes and then we should be set.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

You gotta love those Kabotas. I call my Kuby and love it dearly. When my husb. uses it he always says you bought a good machine.
I had a good laugh when Mountain Man said a good weekend project. Guess it would be for Superman. I had help with the digging and if I remember it still took us a week working every day. It was worth it. Every drop of sweat and $$. Go for it Tom. You have the perfect location for a lovely pond. Can't wait to see it. Don't forget pics. We all get escited about pics.

[quote="BonnieGardens" Can't wait to see it. Don't forget pics. We all get escited about pics.

You said it best, Bonnie. ^_^

McKinney, TX

After looking at the 4th picture it's sad you had to take it all out. Looked like a nice garden full of color like something you see in a book. But I have a fealing your completed project will look 10 times better.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

It is beautiful as you say. Like something out of "Fine Gardening". I suspect the new improved will prove to be gorgeous

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

May I add something I learned hard way. When adding salt dilute it in a bucket first as just pouring into pond can burn the fish.
Sorry I didn't add this sooner.
Wish I were closer to you - I love digging ponds. Just thinking about it makes me happy. I'm sure you will do a splendid job and it will be a work of art.

Nooksack, WA

Bonnie :-)
I did think of diluting the salt in a bucket and added it slowly. The koi were noisy as usual and swam over to see what was going on and when they entered the brine zone they back peddled out of it until it was completely dispersed. Was too funny.

My DIY vacuum worked pretty well, few minor changes to make but worked better than shop vac, can keep on cleaning without stopping to empty bucket. Not the best suction hose, I need to get a super duty one. The electrical through the barrel was a little challenging but it never kicked the GFI out and there was no vacuum leaks.

OK here's the new plan.
Filter system: 3 white plastic barrels 55 gal each, 1st one "Solids Separator" below water level of pond with screened vortex inside and gravity feed from pond bottom drain (BD) and skimmer. 2nd one gravity fed from 1st barrel and acts as a well for pump which pumps up through bottom of 3rd barrel which is the "Birdman Sand & Gravel Filter" (S/G) placed above water level. Water exits the overflow of the S/G to a 300 gal bio-filter and then out of that to start a 2' drop down the waterfall to the next 70 gal bio-filter. From that filter down the waterfall another 2'-6" to and through a bog till finally dropping the last 6" back into the pond.

All 3 barrels and 300 gal bio-filter will be housed inside a mock stone cave with a top portion open (want to make it look kind of like a volcano and let light into the bio-filter). There will be other things housed inside the cave like air pump, blower, low water shut off float on well/pump tank, bio-filter bypass to Tangential Pond Returns (TPR's) for winter run among various other minor components. I think I found a formula for light concrete (not Hypertufa) using white pumice as an aggregate but won't be cheap, at least it's just a light cover over framework. I will experiment this winter with the mix.
The bog will be where my existing pond is but raised up 18" above current elevation set into a crag. New pond will be as mentioned before 2120 gal.

Pretty much fixed on this plan, now obtaining parts but if anyone can find fault or improvements please let me know.

This is my favorite photo of the existing before it is ripped up.

Thumbnail by Spitzkopf


Sounds good - it sounds as if you will have an interesting winter experimenting with the light concrete mix. The volcano idea sounds like fun too.

The picture you have attached - the pond seems to be lower than other areas of the yard. Is that the way it actually is an optical illusion?

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I printed a picture of your pond for reference next year. I really love the plants and the total effect. Hope it is okay if I use some of your ideas around my pond. Your setup sound phenomenal. My husband, a water w/w engineer (civil PE) would love to build something like your design. Unfortunately we are out of room and will NOT pour any more money into our pond.

Nooksack, WA

It does appear to be lower than the rest but I don't get run off into it as of yet. Wasn't lower when installed but may have sunk. I will raise it 18 to 22 inches next year when it becomes a bog/marginal pond and will set it into a crag. We have some beautiful local Serpentinite and hazburgite rock that has cross-cut veins of pyroxenite in them that I'll use in the crag.
I have to watch my budget closely too. Liner, plumbing, Rubbermaid stock tank and concrete materials are the main expenses. All the other things are DIY. I hope to keep budget below $1k for the entire project.


The largest part of your budget is going to be your liner - the prices do vary, depending on where you purchase the liner. You can use old carpets (make sure the staples have all been pulled out) and/or old newspapers as underlayment in your pond.

There are a lot of generous people on this forum that I am sure would be happy to trade plants.

Nooksack, WA actually has very good prices on liners, cheapest I could find. I plan on using carpet as an under-liner over used plywood pinned deep into soil. It is looking like the concrete supplies will be at least 1/2 of the cost, specialty products add up quickly when you start figuring the volume needed. Small parts & piping come up to about 1/4 of budget while the liner is the other 1/4. I need to find out how to build my own bottom drain to eliminate that cost.
Oops- forgot about the stock tanks for the bio-filters. Darn already over budget. Now that in retirement may have to take a part time job to pay for my hobby.
I'll probably only get some water hyacinth next year, doubt if I'll have the time to to do any planting till the following year, but then DW says I'm a Doubting Thomas so who knows.
I'm getting real anxious to start this project, can hardly wait till spring.

Tom- don't forget about Santa ..... ^_^

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

Keep researching for pond liners. When I was looking pondliner was not the cheapest. Wish I could remember where I got mine. Maybe Best Nest. It was $200. and some change for 15X25.
Most carpet businesses will give you old carpet they remove when installing new. Thats all I have ever used for underlayment. No plywood and no pins as anything that could push up might puncture liner. I'm the queen of leaks.
The drop in bottom drains are $38. in one of my catalogues. They are not built in.
If you want to build your own I would think a pool supply place could help you out with that.
Maybe Craigs list would have stock tanks. I've seen them on ours here.
You are bldg. much more into it that we did our 2 so I'm not much help on other items. One thing I wouldn't do without is UV clarifier even tho they are pricey. It's so hot here algae grows easily and thats something we can do without.
Good luck in your quest. I'm sure your new pond will be beautiful.


Right now all the ponding items are still on sale - you may want to pick up some of those pricier items right now, because come Spring the prices will be full price. Also, bear in mind when you buy pond liner, you may get a deal on the liner, but the truck may charge to have the liner taken off the truck. You may also need to make arrangements to have the liner moved to the location where the pond will be. Read everything on these sites or in these catalogs - the liner is very heavy and those charges can add up.

I have seen where there are those that swear by having bottom drains and those that have had the bottom drains removed from their ponds - it all comes down to personal preference.

I totally agree with Bonnie - the one thing I would not be without is my UV lights and yes, they can be a bit pricey.

Nooksack, WA

Thanks Bonnie & Carolyn for the tips.
I have a small UV for my small pond now and I agree they are a must to have, especially for a new pond at least until it is well established.

Question: Why would anyone chose to get rid of a bottom drain, is there a down side of them that I'm not aware of? I found a complete 4" aerated BD kit (new) for $79. I think this is a killer deal, gonna order it Monday. I want to keep the pipes and hoses out of the pond so would rather go that route than a retro. 4" gravity feed from BD to separator and 2" gravity feed from skimmer to separator for year around operation.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

A bottom drain I would thnk would be a great addition to a pond. I don't have one but so far have been able to keep it clean. What I would really like is a pond vacuum. Just to take out dirt that accumulates. My ponds are not far from main road which is paved but still cars go by so fast dirt gets in plus foot traffic on walkways near ponds. Just another dream of mine but someday I will have one.

The reason I have seen for having a bottom drain removed - and I have only seen this a couple of times, is these people had small fish that were getting stuck in the bottom drains. For this reason I did not put in a bottom drain, plus my husband was very concerned about leaks. I do not have one for this reason, and have no problems with clarity - but I also have large areas of pea gravel heavily planted with a small pump running through my larger bog (the planted areas around my pond are in the pond) - this goes a very long way in keeping my pond clean and my fish healthy.

I have also seen where people have had nothing but problems with fish health until they did put in a bottom drain - Linda, if you are lurking, please tell Tom about your experiences.

In my mind there is no wrong or right way, it is whatever works. I do think that is an excellent deal on the kit - where did you find one so economically priced?

Thumbnail by Carolyn22
Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL(Zone 9b)

Rubber lined ponds often have leaks around an installed bottom drain. There is a retro fit bottom type drain, where you don't cut the liner, and it feeds into your filter (sort of like a bottom of the pond skimmer)

Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL(Zone 9b)

The bottom drains (where you don't have to cut a hole in your rubber liner) look like this....they sit on top of your liner, and feed into your filter.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Mary, that is what Spitz was trying to avoid. Having hose running up the side of his pond. I looked at that setup for mine and just let it go. If I ever do drain it completely again, I can get the last of the gravel out at the 4' depth (without using a snorkle and mask) and then I might install a retro drain then. It's hard to vacuum that end.

Nooksack, WA

I'm waiting to get confirmation from the vendor if I can post a link on his behalf here. This was posted on another forum and not public marketed so I have to get his approval. Said he sold 40 of these without a single complaint.

PM me for details.

This message was edited Nov 20, 2012 2:39 AM

Thumbnail by Spitzkopf
McKinney, TX

The header pool to my stream is plummed from the bottom with no problem. You have to cut a hole in your liner slightly smaller than the diameter of the pipe or fitting your using. The EPDM acts as a gasket. You just make sure the fittings are tight. I've had no problems with it.

Here's a little video of how the pro's do it.

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