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    Thread: Help with new swimming pond construction

    1. #1
      tom66 is offline Member
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      Help with new swimming pond construction

      Thanks <img src="/>to the help of many KP ponders I finished my koi pond 2 years ago. (I haven't posted pics of the finished project yet as I am still working on the landscaping around it .... and I wanted a good photographer with a good camera to take them so it'll look even awesomer than it really is ).
      It is 10 x 15 x 4' 1/2 and the kids have been known for falling into it (with goggles and snorkel ) and struggle to come out for hours !! They are a great help with picking up rocks and sticks from the bottom and sweeping it.
      My wife and I are now considering building a huge swimming pond the size of our entire backyard <img src="/> (we live in a small city lot), we (I) have read lots of books and internet info on the subject, and have followed lots of KP threads, learning a lot . But we have lots of questions as to which way to proceed: filtration, wall construction, plumbing , grading, etc. . .
      Right now we are thinking of an oval (ellipse) shape, 50x25' !! , 8'on the deep end and 4' the shallow end (that should be approx 44,000 gal if I calculated it right). We would also have a separate bog pond, adjacent, with separate pump & plumbing (ie. just for looks), that may or may not be connected with the main pond.
      There will be no fish in the new pond, with the exception of a few mosquito fish.
      Of the 4 main ways to build a natural swimming pool I am thinking of building what this book calls type 4, which is the one that has a high flow rate (into a large quantity of bio media) and needs no plants , bacteria in the bio-film apparently will do the job.
      Of course having almost no fish waste, the chemistry of the filtration is very different from the one that occurs in koi ponds, however I think that it must be very similar as debris that falls into the pond need to be collected and discarded before they decompose in the same way it's done in a fish pond. And water quality for humans must be the same, or similar, to the one in koi ponds. So here are a preliminary list of issues I am confronted with:
      1) FILTER: At first I was thinking about building a huge manhole to host a huge SC and a huge bio-filter
      (either cement built chambers or 275 gallon tanks) but now I'm thinking of buying a sieve and / or a Nexus. Can these two replace SC & BF ? It should have a water turn over of 1, 2 times a day ...
      2) PLUMBING: I was thinking of two 4" bottom drains (both in the deep end), both plumbed on the same 4" line (to avoid risk of suction). Does the line from the BDs have to be sloped down a bit (or be horizontal) all the way to the SC? In which case, I'd have to build the manhole 8' deep. . . if I bend / elbow the pipe upwards, wouldn't that cause clogs?
      I've written too much already. I have more questions but I'll stop here for now.
      Any guidance / advice you have to offer would be greatly appreciated. TOM
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      Last edited by tom66; 07-20-2017 at 11:41 PM.

    2. #2
      icu2's Avatar
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      Hi Tom,
      Wow, that's going to be one major project!

      It sounds like you have read a lot about it, and just doing some figuring, at 44k gallons turned over once or twice a day, I come up with
      about 1833 - 3666 gph, which doesn't seem like a lot but maybe they really don't need much?
      Based on my experience with retro fitting the ponds filtration I'd go with a sieve before a SC. The maintenance difference makes the cost
      of a sieve worth every penny imo. And if you could swing the cost of an RDF it also would make a great choice. Sort of like a s/g on steroids.

      I've never been a fan of connected bog ponds, so personally I'd keep them separate. And no, the BD's can be level across the floor of the
      pond and then once outside the pond perimeter you can start rising to whatever level the filters required. I just avoided 90's and used
      2 - 45's spaced apart and haven't had a problem with my lines plugging up.
      Instead of connecting the BD's, which can cause their own issues of clogging, maybe just use sturdy BD covers? You can use a large plant drip
      pan as a mold to make concrete ones that are cheap and practically indestructible.

      You've probably seen this in your searches but this was one of my favorite threads on this type of pond. WAC did some amazing projects:

      http://www.koiphen.com/forums/showth...ing-aesthetics

      Good luck with the build... it should be a fun one to watch!
      --Steve
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      "It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company." --George Washington

    3. #3
      jimfish98's Avatar
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      I hear of people liking these natural ponds a lot and I give the same warning....swimming in non-treated water can be a risk. The further south you go, the hotter your water can get naturally. Within warm fresh water there is a naturally occurring amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. While rare, it causes an infection in the brain and kills roughly 90% of the people who get it. Most children never survive. Not too far from you last June a kid in Charlotte died from it, so it does occur in your region. Aesthetics are great, but not worth it in my opinion.



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      I tried this with my koi pond and was not happy with the water quality results and up keep. Had the main swimming pond for the koi and huge bio section with plants for filtration. Was a ton of maintenance. Every fall and spring the clean up was a day job and constantly cleaning skimmers everyday. I have a salt water pool and love it, very little maintenance.

    5. #5
      tom66 is offline Member
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      Thanks Steve,
      i thought that the sieve was instead of the SC. it doesn't replace it? ie the heavier than water solids don't just get caught and discarded in the sieve?
      the Nexus is a RDF? but it's a biofilter as well, right?
      as for the bog pond I will probably keep it separate as I too am concerned about dirt collecting below the rocks.
      as for the BDs maybe i could run them with two separate 4" lines all the way to the man-hole, and join them with a Wye just before the pump (apparently that way one can avoid the risk of a person getting stuck by suction at the BD .... yet maybe with the Koi Toilet BD that wouldn't/couldn't be possible because of their shape).
      BDs: Shouldn't one provide a clean-out at the end of the straight line pipe, before they turn upwards, in case they clog right there at the turn
      and I was going to locate both BDs in the deeper end near the wall and direct the flow that way (by having the incoming water coing from hte opposite end, and with a couple of jets)
      Last edited by tom66; 07-21-2017 at 03:30 PM.

    6. #6
      icu2's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by tom66 View Post
      Thanks Steve,
      i thought that the sieve was instead of the SC. it doesn't replace it? ie the heavier than water solids don't just get caught and discarded in the sieve?
      the Nexus is a RDF? but it's a biofilter as well, right?
      as for the bog pond I will probably keep it separate as I too am concerned about dirt collecting below the rocks.
      as for the BDs maybe i could run them with two separate 4" lines all the way to the man-hole, and join them with a Wye just before the pump (apparently that way one can avoid the risk of a person getting stuck by suction at the BD .... yet maybe with the Koi Toilet BD that wouldn't/couldn't be possible because of their shape).
      BDs: Shouldn't one provide a clean-out at the end of the straight line pipe, before they turn upwards, in case they clog right there at the turn
      and I was going to locate both BDs in the deeper end near the wall and direct the flow that way (by having the incoming water coing from hte opposite end, and with a couple of jets)
      Yes, I'm sorry... "before" by itself was a poor choice of a word. I meant I'd use a sieve before I would use a SC.

      A Nexus by itself isn't a RDF but I think it has the ability to add a Draco Drum upgrade that provides the same function. I don't have one so I can't
      say for sure.

      I think the danger of someone drowning by a drain's suction comes more from swimming pool designs where they're being fed directly to a pump.
      If it's being gravity fed and you have two BD's both gravity feeding filters, if one is blocked the other will naturally try and flow more water without
      them being tied directly together. There's some pull certainly from the gravity flow, but a cover would prevent direct contact with it. My fear of the
      Koi Toilet design is the covers are plastic and supported by plastic pillars, where you could make a concrete one and you could step directly on it and
      not harm it. But other than that the Koi Toilet ones do look a lot nicer imo.

      --Steve
      Find more about Weather in Poulsbo, WA

      "It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company." --George Washington

    7. #7
      tbullard is online now Senior Member
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      I think if I were building this I would set it up with the plan to keep koi in the future. Gravity flow skimmers and Gravity flow 4in bottom drains. Since most available bottom drains would probably end up broken with kids swimming in the pond I would have Zac build bottom drains that have the option to add an aerated lid later but for now would have a grated cover that bolts directly to the floor around the perimeter. For filtration I would use an RDF and leave space available for biofiltration in the future when it was converted for koi. While I am using it for swimming only I would chlorinate it just the same as a swimming pool.

    8. #8
      tom66 is offline Member
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      ... and would it be Ok to have the two BDs near the wall at the high end of the pond (and direct the flow that way)(with bottom heavily sloped)?
      ... trying to decide how big the man-hole should be: if I find the money I could just have a sieve and a Nexus 220/320, but if I don't I should probably have 2/3/4 55 gal barrels (or one 275 gal) with lots of K1 .... Is that correct? how much space would that be?
      I would love to also make one or two S/G filters (I still have to figure out how much filtration do I need) but they too would have to go in the hole as I was not planning on pushing water much above pond level, so that I can have the most flow with the least electricity ...

    9. #9
      birdman's Avatar
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      I would suggest going a little smaller, do you really want the whole back yard in water? Like others I would dedicate it to either fish or swimming. I would suggest making it twice as long as wide, no more than 12 to 16 feet with, depending on the angle of the side walls, shoot for a 12" bottom width. This way you can build a river flow design, where all the water goes from a shallow end to a deep end. Skimmers and BD's in the deep end. I also like sieves, Aqua Forte is now making a double wide Ultra Sieve 111 which would be a good choice for your size pond. And it will feed the Evolution ESBB 10500 pump with is the most energy efficient pump you can get. 10500 gph out of only a half horse motor. You will need multiple UV's for this size pond, and multiple bead or S/G filters for mech filtration. All adds up to lots of money and monthly expense running it all.

    10. #10
      tom66 is offline Member
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      i read a lot of literature about this type of Natural Swimming Pond/Pool and i am considering making one called "type 4" which is one that doesn't use a regeneration zone ( bog/veggie filter) to filter the water but uses biofilm's bacteria . It calls on a large gravel filter, and I can't find precise info on how big it has to be in relationship to the pond. My question is whether I can achieve the same result by constructing a BF in a plastic tank filled with K1 (moving bed). If biofilm is what is needed it shouldn't matter whether that grows on gravel or K1, right? I figure that it would be much easier to clean/backwash it, and it should require a much smaller tank as it should have more surface area...
      If my thinking is correct next I need to figure out how much K1 do I need (and therefore size of tank/s ... so I can size the pit), considering that there will be practically no fish ( with the exception of a few mosquito fish) there shouldn't be a great need to transform ammonia and nitrites ... if I put a sieve somewhere (and maybe a couple of sand/gravel filters) and of course a skimmer and UV, i should be able to keep organic decay under control ....
      So I guess the next question is the GPH, and that is a hard one to decide as books & internet info are not very clear on this type of NSP. I was thinking i could use the knowledge you guys have here on KP, as, I thought, you might have a clue on how much bio and mechanical filtration I might need ..
      I don't think GPH and size of BF should affect each other as I read in one of the books that there is no risk of too much speed (thru gravel) for the biofilm's sake ... is it diferent with K1?
      Thanks to all who are helping me

    11. #11
      tom66 is offline Member
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      Thanks Steve for your input, I have been thinking about your idea of reducing the pond size. I am not sure that is going to happen though, I have 3 boys, 12,7 and 2 yo and they all love swimming. I am concerned that a few years from now, with a couple of their friends, a pool much smaller won't be large enough .... so for now we are keeping the 50x25' size ... unless I come to my senses ... we are planning to start the dig sometime in September as we are leaving for a two week trip to NY and Maine in Aug , right now I am working on removing a huge stump by hand and a few other small preparatory work around the site

    12. #12
      icu2's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by tom66 View Post
      i read a lot of literature about this type of Natural Swimming Pond/Pool and i am considering making one called "type 4" which is one that doesn't use a regeneration zone ( bog/veggie filter) to filter the water but uses biofilm's bacteria . It calls on a large gravel filter, and I can't find precise info on how big it has to be in relationship to the pond. My question is whether I can achieve the same result by constructing a BF in a plastic tank filled with K1 (moving bed). If biofilm is what is needed it shouldn't matter whether that grows on gravel or K1, right? I figure that it would be much easier to clean/backwash it, and it should require a much smaller tank as it should have more surface area...
      If my thinking is correct next I need to figure out how much K1 do I need (and therefore size of tank/s ... so I can size the pit), considering that there will be practically no fish ( with the exception of a few mosquito fish) there shouldn't be a great need to transform ammonia and nitrites ... if I put a sieve somewhere (and maybe a couple of sand/gravel filters) and of course a skimmer and UV, i should be able to keep organic decay under control ....
      So I guess the next question is the GPH, and that is a hard one to decide as books & internet info are not very clear on this type of NSP. I was thinking i could use the knowledge you guys have here on KP, as, I thought, you might have a clue on how much bio and mechanical filtration I might need ..
      I don't think GPH and size of BF should affect each other as I read in one of the books that there is no risk of too much speed (thru gravel) for the biofilm's sake ... is it diferent with K1?
      Thanks to all who are helping me
      I'm with you and the confusion of just what the turnover rate should be. It's been suggested as low as once every 24 hours but I think that's really the
      key question. But as far as biofiltration media like what is used in moving beds, my understanding is the conversion is almost instantaneous so there
      is really no "dwell" time required for it to work its magic. My problem was trying to keep air out of the pumps since mine were after the mb's, but I finally
      had a good bit of success with a grate that separated the media and air from the input/outputs of the filter and then I could run 5k gph+ through a 55g
      barrel and it worked well.
      --Steve
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      I am now digging out a huge stump to the side of the future pond and it occurred to me that that could become the new manhole (even though it's not in a straight line with the pond, where I would have put it) and I am wondering what size of pit I should need. If i stick with the "huge" size pond (50x25' oval, half at 8' & half at 4' deep) and I calculated right at 44k GAL, at a the turnover of once or twice a day, like you said Steve the gph should be between 1833 - 3666 which seems easily achievable even if we account for tons of friction and head ... so ... maybe the thing is that I need to have water more biofiltered than a normal koi pond .... if it's said that the BF needs to be 10% to 30% of pond ...but they calculate it with gravel ... and K1 has way more surface ... what should I approx shoot for tank size/s one or two 55 gal barrels? or one or two 275 gal tanks?

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      tbullard is online now Senior Member
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      Since this sounds more like a work around for installing a permitted pool and will probably be considered an un-permitted pool that doesn't meet regs by a lending agency or worse insurance agency you may want to research the issues you will have when you one day decide to sell the house or if you plan to stay there until your end what issues it will cause your heirs.

    15. #15
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      Natural swimming pools are like unicorns. Easy to draw on paper but difficult to find in the real world. Buy an above ground pool and be done with it. If you want fish and plants build a separate koi pond or water feature. Sorry to disappoint but this is reality and not a bunch of hype generated by naturalists. Probably possible but unpredictable with kids and their friends using it.

      The Webber pool also must use a $160,000 cleaner that scrubs and vacuums the floor nightly.
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    16. #16
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      Please take serious heed of posts #14 and #15 as they are reality. What happens if a "friendly" neighbor decides to call the city and turn you in just as you finish excavation and have to stop? How will you get all that dirt back to fill it back in? That's just for starters.
      Mike

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    17. #17
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      I did go to the building and zoning division and inquired about permits. Of course for a swimming pool all kinds of permits are necessary, but where I live to build a pond only, only a grading permit is required. I called one of the inspectors and when he came to my house I explained about my plan for the new pond. He explained how I should do the grading .... a couple of days later he called me and said that after talking to his manager he confirmed that in my case I don't even need to apply for such a permit !!! I will do the grading in such a way that my neighbors won't have flooding on their yard.
      As for post #15 I will make sure I don't have runoff , and if I do I will have water testing before we go swim in it.
      These types of pools have been built in Europe for decades, there have been studies done by all kinds of authorities in many countries. NSP have been found to perform within the health requirements (or better) than regular chlorinated pools. There are huge public swimming pond/pools built in Austria, Germany, England and I doubt their health departments would let them stay open if they were not safe.

    18. #18
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      I myself would prefer a salt water pool. Not that's its close to what your planning but just something I've always wanted. Its not like swimming in the ocean with the sticky salt on skin feeling once you start to dry. I wish you luck on the swimming pond but why even add all the filtration that your planning? Many people have large swimming and fish ponds with no filtration whatsoever. Ofcourse they are usually large which may contribute to the fact that they don't need any extra filtration.

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      I realized I will be having a lot of acorns falling into the pond, so I now wonder if anyone has info on the difference between having the BD pipe going perfectly horizontal versus slightly uphill in terms of being able to carry solids. I was planning on having two 4" lines going straight for approx 40' and raising 3' in this length. Would it work?

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