How to Build a Koi Pond Part 1 Introduction

If you are new to the hobby of Koi keeping and are considering putting in a Koi pond you need to be aware of the potential pitfalls and expensive mistakes you can make. There are several ways to build a Koi pond - liner ponds are a popular cost saving option. My opinion is: don't bother, unless you are experience in what you are doing and know the ins and outs of liners intimately.

Koi is an expensive hobby. Make no mistake about it. The fish can be expensive to buy, but this is not the real cost of the hobby. Water, electricity, Koi food, the pond itself, medication, stress, hassle and filling the pond in to turn it into a garden bed of roses are the expenses that make the hobby challenging. And then you get to build one in the first place.

If you get your pond building wrong, you will waste masses of money and cause yourself endless headaches. Koi ponds are PERMANENT. Koi can live for 30 years and when a pond is built in the ground, filled with water and Koi, fixing pond problems is nothing short of a nightmare. You HAVE to ensure that you build it properly from the very start.

I do not regard liner ponds as being of much substance. Yes, they are cheaper and they do work and some liners these days can last up to 20 years in sunlight. However, laying the liner and getting all the creases out of it is almost impossible. They are prone to punctures and if not built properly can be more expensive than to build proper block and concrete pond. My opinion is that if you're going to keep Koi, then do it properly first time or else consider gold fish. It's not worth the hassle otherwise.

That said I have seen some amazingly successful liner ponds. As and when we come across more examples of liner ponds as well as getting around installation issues we will bring them to you...

The following links are a brief introduction on how to build a Koi pond from concrete. Unless you have some skill and experience in this process, please don't try this yourself without some expert advice. Mail us here for a quote using our trusted builders that we can recommend - it is expensive (work on around R3000 t0 R3500 per 1000 l of pond volume) but much cheaper than doing it yourself two or three times...

Also, please take the time to consider an architect. It's not vital, but in all honesty if you're going to spend the cash, spend it wisely and end up with something you really want. It's going to be there for a long time...

And so here we go...

How to build a Koi pond: Part 1

Design do's and Don't

Building a Koi pond is not easy. Always consult a professional - it WILL save you significant money!

After much consideration I have re written this page. I used to think you could do it yourself. But trust me. You can't build a Koi pond successfully first time. Full stop end of argument - that's the bottom line folks! Ask anyone who's tried and not consulted with an expert. At least, not properly. Get in a professional Koi pond builder - it's simpler, cheaper and faster.

There are several criteria that you need to consider when building a Koi pond. The actual building of the pond I strongly suggest you leave to a professional. It cannot be over emphasized enough that if a Koi pond goes wrong, it REALLY goes wrong. Leaks are the worst possible thing to have to deal with, especially if they only appear after a week.

In a nutshell, what I would have wanted to hear when I started and which I think that you will benefit from is knowing the following simple facts when it comes time to build your pond.

There are only a few things that YOU as a Koi pond owner/builder get to make important decisions about. These ALL relate to what YOU want from your pond - the size, shape, location etc. But listen to your pond builder and let him over ride a decision if he feels it is not in your best interest in terms of the construction. You MUST, MUST understand that his job is to try and give you what YOU want. You cannot expect him to see your mind's eye vision and you cannot blame him once the job is complete and the pond doesn't meet your expectations. That's your own fault. Believe me, I suffered with this on just when I wanted to build my swimming pool!

You should understand that a Koi pond is NOT a swimming pool. Koi ponds are far more complex than swimming pools and hence they can be more expensive when built properly.

Always beware of cheap quotes to build a Koi ponds. Read 'cheap' as 'cutting corners' - and 'cutting corners' as 'major problems' later on in life. It WILL always catch up with you.

A Koi pond is also quite a big thing. Sometimes really enormous! It can't be easily moved and when it's full of water it carries a substantial mass. Which means that once it's in it isn't going anywhere! Nor are you going to be able to add things or change things except at great expense and inconvenience.

Bottom drains are the key to success or failure of any Koi pond. If you don't have bottom drains, your Koi pond cannot be successful. Build them in!

Koi ponds are typically permanent. Build them with this point of view. In other words, a liner pond, which will work, may cost you substantially less but will cost you more in the long run when your liner's life expires...

Design is thus a critical aspect to building a Koi pond and a properly thought out design may take some time but is well worth the effort spent on it.

As mentioned above, an architect can help enormously at very reasonable cost (I have not come across anyone who has ever regretted using a QUALIFIED architect who most importantly understands Koi ponds!).

A useful suggestion: if this is your first time at building a Koi pond (or even if it isn't!) join your local Koi society and go and see what other people have done with their Koi ponds. You will hopefully gain some insight into the technicalities behind already built Koi ponds - and whilst pictures in books can say a thousand words, the real things needs many hundreds of thousands of words to convey. There is nothing like seeing it for yourself 'in the flesh' to appreciate good Koi pond design.

Criteria to consider when designing a Koi pond are:

1. Location. Put it somewhere you can see the pond easily every day.

2. Architecture. Make the pond's theme coherent with the rest of your living space. It can have it's own theme of course. Japanese is the typical influence, but consult with a professional architect first. Check the architect out - has he done Koi ponds before? Can you have three references please? (EVERY architect has OF COURSE designed MANY Koi ponds...). I'm not trying to disrespect architects but it's not in their interests to make functional Koi ponds - rather they tend to make them features - which you can do successfully if you ensure your pond builder knows what he is doing and is involved in the design process!

3. Size. The bigger the better. Build it bigger!

4. Location. Did we mention this before? Sunny vs. shady. Do you have building restrictions?

5. Depth. The deeper the better. At least 1.5m at a minimum.

6. Raised or ground level?

7. Fibre glassed or not?

8. Location. Make sure that you build it so that you can see your Koi!

9. Architects are great. But the chances are good that they know nothing about the unique requirements of Koi ponds. We have seen beautiful ponds designed by architects that look stunning, but which kill Koi. You MUST have your architects design checked by your Koi pond builder first. It is CRITICAL to save you money, time, frustration and yes, more money. Apologies to all architects.

Happy Koi is a company that is dedicated to solving your problems and in helping you get the most that you can out of your hobby, from small ponds through to ponds approaching the size of small lakes. When it comes to building Koi ponds, currently as far as we are concerned there is only one person in South Africa (Gauteng, anyway)  to approach and we have their name! When we find others around the country that we can recommend we will do so.

As we advocate continually, building a Koi pond once is the cheapest way of doing things. Build it once. Drop us  an e-mail from here directly.