We have worked on ponds all over the country, from the East Coast to the West Coast, and all the way down to Las Cruces, New Mexico. At the moment, we’re in Springtown, Pennsylvania, helping the Fitz’s Fish Ponds crew on a massive project. Some of our favorite builds are only a few miles away.
When I ponder our favorite builds, I often think of “retros” — not tearing the pond out, but just making the existing one work correctly. It feels great afterward — almost like a surgeon must feel after completing open-heart surgery. Or in this case, open-pond surgery.
Allow me to explain. Sometime in late March, we got a phone call from a client who lives about two hours away from our headquarters. He said he had a pond problem. His 6,000-to-7,000-gallon pond had been cleaned and serviced yearly with regular maintenance, but the water wasn’t clear, and his landscaper was done with it. After a referral from the Kloubec Koi Farm and a few phone meetings, it was time to go see the pond.
When we finally descended on the rather stinky pond, it was black with a few shades of green. You couldn’t even see the fish. After talking to the client, clearing up some basics and discussing some solutions with a few pictures, he became excited. “So you think you can get my pond this clear?” he asked. No problem! Our solution consisted of an Ultima II bead filter, two Sequence external pumps, a Helix skimmer and an undergravel filtration system (UGF), topped off with a UV system.
So, how was this related to heart surgery? To a doctor, it’s probably not. But keeping with the theme, the previous “heart” of the pond wasn’t keeping the pond alive with only two skimmers and three submersibles. A lot was missing from this picture — for starters, oxygen, filtration and good bacteria. Water movement and turnover alone was not enough.
The whole project and process took about a week. The sharp, pointy rocks in the bottom of the pond, which ranged from 3 to 8 inches thick in various spots, were taken out after it was discovered that they had poked through the liner. After vacuuming and scrubbing, it was time to place the undergravel grid and cover it with a consistent 6 inches of ¾-inch smooth. round river rock. Good luck putting a hole through that liner!
In a dead spot of the pond, the aerator was incorporated into the UGF with a 9-inch air disc, flush with the gravel and completely out of sight. Air was supplied with flexible PEX piping underneath the gravel to the aerator, because we didn’t want to risk the air line being crushed with the softer hose. Next, the Helix skimmer went in to catch all the leaves and debris.
We were just finishing up when the clients came home from out of town. They were ecstatic, except for one thing — the client’s wife did not like the Ultima filter sticking out of the ground like an eyesore. So, we took some corrugated tile and dug it into the ground with about 2 feet of rock at the bottom, burying it down to the in/out fittings. The problem was solved.
It’s been almost four months now since we finished this project, and the water is still crystal clear. One of the client’s favorite pastimes is sitting by the pond and feeding the fish with his granddaughter.
So, next time you are building a pond or thinking about upgrades, just think about what you need to survive — lungs (aerator), heart (pumps), immune system (UV system and beneficial bacteria) and kidneys (filtration, Ultima II, UGF). It’s kind of like being a doctor. Well, maybe not quite. But regardless, everyone knows you need these important, basic things to survive healthily.