Deciding to build a pond is an exciting process, but before you begin digging there are many things you should decide on before construction begins and ordering your supplies. The first main decision is what type of water feature you want. We will be discussing informal ponds which have irregular shapes and mimic a natural pond or waterfall that would be found in nature. Three different ways you can build an informal pond are a water garden pond, traditional Koi pond, or a hybrid Koi pond.
Water Garden Pond
Water garden ponds are often mistaken as Koi ponds simply because many people add Koi to their water garden along with Goldfish and other fish species. The difference is that these type of water features are designed mainly for looks and creating an environment where homeowners can sit back and listen to the beautiful melodies of a waterfall and watch the fish swimming around and spend time with family and friends. And a traditional Koi pond is built around providing and ideal environment for Koi fish.
Water garden ponds are the most popular of the three because of the ease of installation and availability of kits on the market. Water Garden ponds generally consist of a a biological waterfall filter, a mechanical filter which is generally a skimmer, EPDM flexible liner, a pump and plumbing, fish, and aquatic plants.
Most water gardens are only 2 feet deep and feature built in shelves to make them safe and natural looking. The entire bottom and shelves are covered with boulders and decorative gravel to hide the liner and filters.
This system forms a natural ecosystem with fish, plants, and filters that work to balance itself and do a majority of the maintenance by using good old mother nature.
Traditional Koi Pond
Be careful the Koi hobby can be very fun and addictive! Once people discover the joys of owning Koi fish with a water garden many go Koi crazy (or koi-kichi). Traditional Koi ponds aim to create a home where the Koi can grow and thrive and are the main focus of the feature instead of the pond itself.
There is a big difference between the construction techniques used in a water garden pond and a traditional Koi pond. In a Koi pond the filtration system is drastically increased over a water garden to handle the additional bio load from the Koi. These filtration systems usually include pressure filters, skimmers, bottom drains, settlement tanks, external pumps, UV lights, UV Clarifiers, Aerator, Ozone generators, Bead filters, multiple valves, and more. So as you can see the design and installation of these systems can be difficult for a beginner.
Their shape is generally different as well, usually Koi ponds are a geometric shape like an oval or circle. Traditional Koi ponds do not have plants or gravel in them like a water garden would and have steep walls without shelves. Not using shelves and having a deeper depth (3-5 feet) helps protect the Koi from predators by not allowing them to stand along side the pond and snatch them out of the water.
The added filtration and no gravel and plants give the Koi better water quality and provide a environment that is less likely to injure them. Without plants you can also view the Koi better.
Hybrid Koi Pond
Hybrid Koi ponds are the combination of a water garden pond and traditional koi pond. Think of it as the best of both worlds. You can provide the fish with a better environment than with a water garden pond alone and also have plants to give a natural look.
The design of Hybrid type ponds vary from one project to the next and all types of filtration can be used depending on the water features needs. Back flushable biological filters have become popular with this type of installation for ease of biofilter maintenance. Hybrid Koi ponds are in the middle of the road with depth usually being 3-4 feet deep.
What to Choose?
Whichever type of pond you choose you cant go wrong. Each one properly designed will be like bringing a piece of paradise to your home.