Originally Posted by John
To all ponders:
I have read pond FAQ 3 times (very very useful info),
and built my first pond 5500-6000 gallons (EPDM liner), I am having
some problems and questions:
1) my pond is not leveled!!!! (i did not notice that
until I fill the 90% of water) , the lowest end is 5 inchs lower than
the higher end, first I put soil underearth the liner edge, but the
soil was too soft, then I put some 2x4 2x6 wood, bricks, that got it
almost leveled, but I am worry about the long term effect on the
liner, because the 4 inches of water is supported by wood and bricks
under the liner, is there a better way to handle this situation or is
this the only way to do it? (I do not want to pump the water out
now,it will take forever! plus I want to see fish swim in the pond
2) how close should the water surface close to the
ground( top liner)? I am leaving it very close now(less than 1/2 inch)
3) Per FAQ, my pond should be fine without filters (in
terms of size) and I already put some plant inside the pond (planning
adding more) , how many Koi and gold fish I keep by without a filter
4) if i wait 2 weeks, can I start adding fish to my
pond without adding bacterial starter ?
5) per FAQ "Koi eat plants of all types, and so it is
not practical to keep plants in the same ponds as koi." is that means
I can not put koi inside this pond if I want put have plants??
I am in Los Angels,CA (zone 11?)
John, first I have to say that the wood under the liner is bad-BAD idea. Wood in the ground brings termites and other insects like fire ants. Not good at all. Besides, as the wood decomposes, you will lose that "build up" you needed and might result in leaks. Bricks aren't bad, but sharp and jagged edges ALWAYS pose a concern; however, being so close to the surface of the pond's edge, it shouldn't be problematic since there is no downward pressure on those sharp edges. To fix your problem: drain the pond about 1/3 down. Draw the "short edge" inward toward the middle of the pond. [You may have to move or rearrange some rocks.] Pinching the liner inward will make you lose some surface area; however, it will give you the additional liner you need in order to raise your water level equal to the other side. Simply backfill dirt behind the newly pinched-in and raised liner wall. I'd recommend tampering the newly dumped dirt to speed the settling process. Easy fix.
Your second question: I would not recommend the water level being 1/2 inch below the liner. You WILL get leaks... its just a matter of when. Overtime (and with freeze and thaw in certain areas), the ground around the pond will settle, shift and the liner can slowly pull inward. 1/2 inch isn't much room for error, so hope that wind doesn't blow too hard. Typically, when I install ponds, I prefer about 6-12 inches of "extra" liner overhang. This gives you enough to plan for settling and trouble shooting.
Third: Not sure what size pond you have or the construction type, but the amount of fish will depend highly on the volume of water you have and the frequency of circulation. I've heard a formula that says 1" of fish for every 20 gallons of water. I'm sure you can push the limits to 10 gallons per inch, but be aware that more fish is worse. Koi and goldfish are carp. Carp are naturally dirty fish. Start with fewer and slowly add a few each year. If you use regular goldfish, in time they will spawn and you'll have more than enough anyway!
Forth: Bacteria starter is not for your fish. It starts the ecosystem using bacteria that feed on the amonia, nitrites and nitrates. Goldfish and koi are fairly hardy fish. You can add fish as quickly as 48 hours after install. The key is to make sure the water is flowing constantly for 48 hours. This will allow the chlorines to disipate. THAT and not slowly acclimating the fish to water temp changes is what hurts fish. When adding your fish, feel free to add some rock salt to the water. The salt restores the fishes natural slime coating, which is compromised at stressful times (like being transported). This should help the likelihood of survival. I would not recommend waiting 2 weeks to add fish simply because algae blooms can takeover VERY quickly. Your fish will feed on the algae and keep it under control, so try not to wait more than a week. Adding more plants sooner than later will also help you add fish sooner.
Finally: Koi LOVE vegetation. No problem. You can still have plants and Koi without preventative measures and still have a nice, wholesome pond without eaten plant life. The key (again) is NOT to overstock. The more fish, the more competition for food, and naturally Mr. Lillypad looks tastier and tastier! Start with fewer fish and slowly add more year after year. I wouldn't worry if the occassional fish nibbles a plant or 2. Its bound to happen, but following my stocking advice will keep this to a minimum.
BEST OF LUCK!