How To Build And Maintain A Proper Koi Pond

By Tom Burton

A koi pond is a purpose built habitat for those lovely fish we call “Living Jewels” and as such, differs from any other garden water feature. To introduce koi into other types of water features is usually a disaster waiting to happen and though one can get away with it for awhile, the end result is predictable. So, instead of doing what so many do, that is dig a hole, throw in a liner, add water and a few fish, and call it a koi pond, we want to help to get it right the first time. You only need to do it right once but you can get it wrong over and over.

This chapter will address building a koi pond with a liner but the only difference between a liner pond and any other is what’s used to contain the water. All other technical aspects are the same; bottom drains gravity feeding to a filtration system then to a biological processing station before being returned to the pond by recirculating pumps. But before attempting to build, read and heed the advice in this excerpt from the Mid-Atlantic Koi Club publication, From the Pages of MAKC News:

It seems that the more people that see koi, the more people there are that want to own one (or 10 or 50). But to make the transition from dream to dream pond, there’s an awful lot of information that must be read/seen/heard and assimilated before one has even a chance of success. So to preclude those would-be koi keepers from putting the carp before the horse, here’s a logical approach to what can be and in most cases is, a most rewarding and fascinating hobby.

The first rule is:


Not only join a club but actively participate in all of its activities that you can make time for. Listen to any and all who will respond to your questions. You’ll get plenty of conflicting stories but after awhile you’ll be able to sift through the chaff and can start to formulate a well founded base from which to do your planning.

Go see as many ponds as you possibly can, all the while asking questions and storing the data for your future use. After awhile you’ll have some ideas on what your budget, real estate and imagination can handle so retrace your steps (or continue your search) until you find the THE pond, up and running, tried and true, that comes closest to what you think you want. Talk extensively to that pond keeper and find out from the beginning how he made it work and what were the mistakes and pitfalls along the way (that you can now avoid).

An ideal way to have the beauty of a water garden AND the distinct pleasure of a koi pond is to have both! – a lovely water garden tippling off into a koi pond. The plants can’t be disturbed (or eaten) by the fish because the fish can’t get to them and the fish can be viewed in all their glory, unfettered by pots and plants.

Koi Club of San Diego is a 501(c)(3) organization, and all monetary donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by tax laws. Please check with your financial advisor if you have more questions. Tax Identification Number: 33-0355312

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