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    Thread: Considering an AS style water garden. Have I lost my mind?

    1. #1
      rdm757's Avatar
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      Considering an AS style water garden. Have I lost my mind?

      Hard to believe it's been almost 9 years since my last post! That's about the same amount of time we've been pond-less. You may remember I had a small and somewhat problematic koi pond at our previous house in TX that I built in 2004 before I discovered Koiphen. In 2008 we moved to NC and I was eager to start designing a new koi pond taking advantage of everything I had learned here at Koiphen. Then other things got in the way and almost 10 years later, still no pond...

      At this point, a koi pond unfortunately is still not in the cards. In the future yes, but not yet. However, we are finally getting to the point where we have the time and money to start messing with the yard. We are planning a Belgard patio, landscaping, and hopefully a stream/waterfall and water garden.

      When we went to the local Belgard distributor to look at materials we saw several Aquascape style ponds they had on display. I have to say, they were really nicely done and very attractive. I realize the general consensus here is that a rock bottom pond is a bad idea and a maintenance nightmare. It seems that so many people who install an AS pond end up rebuilding it to turn it into a proper koi pond.

      Here's what I'm wondering though - is an AS style pond ok as a water garden? My assumption is that the issue is not necessarily the design of an AS pond itself but instead, trying to keep koi in such a pond. I understand how much waste koi produce and the need for a bottom drain flowing to a SC, sieve or RDF to remove that waste. But if you build a pond with the emphasis being water plants and at most a few goldfish or shubunkin, maybe an AS design can work?

      I'm hoping to hear from someone who has tried this, hopefully with good results. Ultimately my plan is to have both a koi pond and water garden and to visually integrate both while keeping them totally separate. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    2. #2
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      One of the sample ponds at the Belgard dealer:

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    3. #3
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      I think the photo you posted is that of a beautiful water feature, and if that is want you want, then that is what you should strive to achieve. You are already well aware of the limitations of trying to keep Koi in such a pond, so I would say that you are vastly ahead of the game compared to most. You can also incorporate a few things into your design -- such as minimal rocks on the bottom, strategies for cleaning / thinning of plants, use a "pond vacuum," etc. -- such to make your long-term maintenance a bit easier.

      My advice would be to avoid actual loose gravel on the bottom (too hard to clean). A few medium-sized rocks -- such as can be removed if needed during cleaning events -- would be a far better choice and can still visually break-up the look of just a liner bottom. I would also say to keep aquatic plants contained in baskets, so that they can more easily be removed from the pond for thinning, over-wintering, etc. Others may chime-in with superior guidance.

      If that is the look you want, I say go for it!

    4. #4
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      It can be done, but I would not recommend rocks in the pond ! I have shallow ponds without rocks, and have adapted my filtration with many ideas learned here on Koiphen. The ponds are now 15 years old, and I successfully keep large koi.

    5. #5
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      Great to see you posting again rdm!!
      --Steve
      Find more about Weather in Poulsbo, WA

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

    6. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by Paultergeist View Post
      I think the photo you posted is that of a beautiful water feature, and if that is want you want, then that is what you should strive to achieve. You are already well aware of the limitations of trying to keep Koi in such a pond, so I would say that you are vastly ahead of the game compared to most. You can also incorporate a few things into your design -- such as minimal rocks on the bottom, strategies for cleaning / thinning of plants, use a "pond vacuum," etc. -- such to make your long-term maintenance a bit easier.

      My advice would be to avoid actual loose gravel on the bottom (too hard to clean). A few medium-sized rocks -- such as can be removed if needed during cleaning events -- would be a far better choice and can still visually break-up the look of just a liner bottom. I would also say to keep aquatic plants contained in baskets, so that they can more easily be removed from the pond for thinning, over-wintering, etc. Others may chime-in with superior guidance.

      If that is the look you want, I say go for it!
      I agree, it is a water feature and that is what we are looking to do for now. In fact, some of the ones on display were "pondless" water features. Those are probably the lowest maintenance of all, but we really do want to be able to have water lillies and other pond plants, so that will necessitate an actual pond. Plus, when I do get around to building the koi pond, it will be solely that with vertical walls, flat bottom, no rocks and no plants at all. So for people like us that really want the lillies and plants, you do need two separate ponds. Based on past experience, I definitely agree with keeping the plants in baskets.

    7. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by icu2 View Post
      Great to see you posting again rdm!!
      Thanks! It's great to be back!!!

    8. #8
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      Why would you ever consider a AS pond when a good Koi Pond can be built for the same or less if you DIY everything.
      All you really need is a BD, Skimmer, Pump, UV, and DIY Sand/Gravel filter.
      There are several Koiphen retailers here including myself that can put a package like this together for you for much less than Aqua Scape stuff.
      PM or call me if your interested in talking more.

    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by birdman View Post
      Why would you ever consider a AS pond when a good Koi Pond can be built for the same or less if you DIY everything.
      All you really need is a BD, Skimmer, Pump, UV, and DIY Sand/Gravel filter.
      There are several Koiphen retailers here including myself that can put a package like this together for you for much less than Aqua Scape stuff.
      PM or call me if your interested in talking more.
      Hi Steve! I really appreciate your input. So much of what I learned here about koi pond construction and especially filtration came from your posts. The reality is that it's not about money, it's about the natural look. As you might remember from my posts from 10+ years ago, the pond I built in TX was designed to be both a koi pond and a water garden. That created a number of problems and even though the pond was really beautiful, it was very difficult to maintain. It was built before I found Koiphen.

      What I learned is that koi ponds and water gardens are really two different things and I love them both! The shallow rock bottom look with water lillies and other water plants (see photo in post #2) is very attractive to me. Suitable home for koi? No way, but still very desirable to me. The decision I made is that I want both. The 2 will be close to each other and visually will appear to be one water course, connected by a stream with water appearing to flow from the water garden into the koi pond. In reality, the two will be totally separate systems, except that when doing koi pond water exchanges, I may pump that nutrient rich water into the water garden.

      Btw, I don't plan on buying an AS system. I will still DIY the whole thing like I did last time. Also, for a couple of reasons the water garden has to come first. Then when time and money allow, I will move on to the koi pond.

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      I will repeat myself: get what you want, not what others want you to *want.*

      As you have already stated — and is often-repeated on this forum: water-garden type ponds and (proper) Koi ponds are very different things. Neither is inherently good or bad; they are just different based on optimal designs. At this point in time, you are expressing a desire to implement a water-garden (i.e. “Aquascape-style”) pond. Use the insights you have already gained to create the best implementation you can......but get what YOU want.

    11. #11
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      Quote Originally Posted by Paultergeist View Post
      I will repeat myself: get what you want, not what others want you to *want.*

      As you have already stated — and is often-repeated on this forum: water-garden type ponds and (proper) Koi ponds are very different things. Neither is inherently good or bad; they are just different based on optimal designs. At this point in time, you are expressing a desire to implement a water-garden (i.e. “Aquascape-style”) pond. Use the insights you have already gained to create the best implementation you can......but get what YOU want.
      You are absolutely correct, that is what I want and what I intend to build. I guess what I'm looking for is some affirmation that a water garden doesn't have to be a maintenance nightmare. Obviously most of what you read here regarding that style of pond is negative. I assume though that's because people attempted to utilize a water garden as a koi pond. Perhaps akin to trying to keep a pet rabbit in a bird cage!

      I'm just hoping someone can chime in and say, "yea, I built one, had no fish (or just a few goldfish), it worked out great and was no problem." The fact is, right now, although I assume that to be the case, I don't really know for sure. For all I know, even without fish, I'll be pulling my hair out wishing I hadn't done it, lol.

      Possibly I should be looking for a water gardening forum since Koiphen is really a koi forum. I wouldn't come here looking for RV and camping advice, I have my RV forums for that! On the other hand, I know people here and the wealth of knowledge is just amazing. And, even though there are big differences, both are still ponds and there is probably more overall pond knowledge here than anywhere else on the internet!

    12. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by rdm757 View Post
      You are absolutely correct, that is what I want and what I intend to build. I guess what I'm looking for is some affirmation that a water garden doesn't have to be a maintenance nightmare. Obviously most of what you read here regarding that style of pond is negative. I assume though that's because people attempted to utilize a water garden as a koi pond. Perhaps akin to trying to keep a pet rabbit in a bird cage!

      I'm just hoping someone can chime in and say, "yea, I built one, had no fish (or just a few goldfish), it worked out great and was no problem." The fact is, right now, although I assume that to be the case, I don't really know for sure. For all I know, even without fish, I'll be pulling my hair out wishing I hadn't done it, lol.

      Possibly I should be looking for a water gardening forum since Koiphen is really a koi forum. I wouldn't come here looking for RV and camping advice, I have my RV forums for that! On the other hand, I know people here and the wealth of knowledge is just amazing. And, even though there are big differences, both are still ponds and there is probably more overall pond knowledge here than anywhere else on the internet!
      " yea, I built one( with no rocks , but lots of plants ) , had fish, it worked out great and was no problem "

    13. #13
      gray cat's Avatar
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      Welcome back to the forum rdm!

      I have a water garden that is 16 years old. I moved from Ohio to NC and brought my fish with me. I had to hire it built before I moved down.
      I have Sarasa & Shubunkin goldfish. Some are now 18 years old and 12 to 14 inches long.

      Not knowing better at the time "before Koiphen " they put rocks in the bottom of the pond. It was so beautiful watching the fish swimming over the rocks. Of course they didn't put in a bottom drain. Well it was hard to clean with the rocks in the way. After two years I drained it down and took the rocks out. Now I only have rocks around the pond and only a few huge rocks under the water. Now I can clean the bottom.
      I knew I never wanted to keep Koi because I wanted a water garden with lot's of water lilies and plants. So my pond is fine for me. It is a thousand gallons, two waterfalls and a 15 foot stream. After all of this time, the only things I would do different is double the pond size and put in a bottom drain.

      Best wishes on your pond.
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    14. #14
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      Here's mine. I've dug it myself 3 years ago and collected the rocks over 12 years. Still 'garden' work in progress, but I'm absolutely loving it.


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    15. #15
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      Based on you already understanding the pitfalls of this type of pond/water feature, absolutely it can be done without the inclusion of koi. The biggest consideration I would suggest keeping in mind is that you do install a bottom drain and skimmer, keep the rocks off the bottom (once covered with algae you won't be able to tell the difference between them and a clean liner) and get a PondOVac 4 model pond vacuum. Oh, and keep all the plants that are in the water easily accessible for bi-annual maintenance/cleaning. Getting in the pond for maintenance, get a pair of waders with the felt bottomed feet otherwise you could get seriously injured by slipping either on the rocks or the bottom trying to move around.
      Mike

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      Quote Originally Posted by gray cat View Post
      Welcome back to the forum rdm!

      I have a water garden that is 16 years old. I moved from Ohio to NC and brought my fish with me. I had to hire it built before I moved down.
      I have Sarasa & Shubunkin goldfish. Some are now 18 years old and 12 to 14 inches long.

      Not knowing better at the time "before Koiphen " they put rocks in the bottom of the pond. It was so beautiful watching the fish swimming over the rocks. Of course they didn't put in a bottom drain. Well it was hard to clean with the rocks in the way. After two years I drained it down and took the rocks out. Now I only have rocks around the pond and only a few huge rocks under the water. Now I can clean the bottom.
      I knew I never wanted to keep Koi because I wanted a water garden with lot's of water lilies and plants. So my pond is fine for me. It is a thousand gallons, two waterfalls and a 15 foot stream. After all of this time, the only things I would do different is double the pond size and put in a bottom drain.

      Best wishes on your pond.
      Thank you! Nice to be back. Your pond is truly beautiful! Proves you don't need a rock bottom to achieve that "water garden" look that I'm wanting. And if there are no rocks on the bottom, may as well have a bottom drain. Definitely more for me to think about...

    17. #17
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      Quote Originally Posted by koiman1950 View Post
      Based on you already understanding the pitfalls of this type of pond/water feature, absolutely it can be done without the inclusion of koi. The biggest consideration I would suggest keeping in mind is that you do install a bottom drain and skimmer, keep the rocks off the bottom (once covered with algae you won't be able to tell the difference between them and a clean liner) and get a PondOVac 4 model pond vacuum. Oh, and keep all the plants that are in the water easily accessible for bi-annual maintenance/cleaning. Getting in the pond for maintenance, get a pair of waders with the felt bottomed feet otherwise you could get seriously injured by slipping either on the rocks or the bottom trying to move around.
      So if I understand correctly, you are saying that even without fish, you'd install a bottom drain? I guess it makes sense considering every swimming pool I've seen has bottom drains.

    18. #18
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      Quote Originally Posted by rdm757 View Post
      Hi Steve! I really appreciate your input. So much of what I learned here about koi pond construction and especially filtration came from your posts. The reality is that it's not about money, it's about the natural look. As you might remember from my posts from 10+ years ago, the pond I built in TX was designed to be both a koi pond and a water garden. That created a number of problems and even though the pond was really beautiful, it was very difficult to maintain. It was built before I found Koiphen.

      What I learned is that koi ponds and water gardens are really two different things and I love them both! The shallow rock bottom look with water lillies and other water plants (see photo in post #2) is very attractive to me. Suitable home for koi? No way, but still very desirable to me. The decision I made is that I want both. The 2 will be close to each other and visually will appear to be one water course, connected by a stream with water appearing to flow from the water garden into the koi pond. In reality, the two will be totally separate systems, except that when doing koi pond water exchanges, I may pump that nutrient rich water into the water garden.

      Btw, I don't plan on buying an AS system. I will still DIY the whole thing like I did last time. Also, for a couple of reasons the water garden has to come first. Then when time and money allow, I will move on to the koi pond.
      Got ya.

    19. #19
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      Quote Originally Posted by gray cat View Post
      Welcome back to the forum rdm!

      I have a water garden that is 16 years old. I moved from Ohio to NC and brought my fish with me. I had to hire it built before I moved down.
      I have Sarasa & Shubunkin goldfish. Some are now 18 years old and 12 to 14 inches long.

      Not knowing better at the time "before Koiphen " they put rocks in the bottom of the pond. It was so beautiful watching the fish swimming over the rocks. Of course they didn't put in a bottom drain. Well it was hard to clean with the rocks in the way. After two years I drained it down and took the rocks out. Now I only have rocks around the pond and only a few huge rocks under the water. Now I can clean the bottom.
      I knew I never wanted to keep Koi because I wanted a water garden with lot's of water lilies and plants. So my pond is fine for me. It is a thousand gallons, two waterfalls and a 15 foot stream. After all of this time, the only things I would do different is double the pond size and put in a bottom drain.

      Best wishes on your pond.
      Hi Nancy,

      Beautiful pond you got there! I am too building a water garden with goldfish around 800 gallons. I would love to know about your filtration system? You said you don't have a bottom drain, so I would imagine you pump water through the skimmer to a prefilter --> pump and biobed (?) before the waterfall?

      Can you also let me know what is your maintenance routine look like?

      Bestm

    20. #20
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      Quote Originally Posted by stagius24 View Post
      Hi Nancy,

      Beautiful pond you got there! I am too building a water garden with goldfish around 800 gallons. I would love to know about your filtration system? You said you don't have a bottom drain, so I would imagine you pump water through the skimmer to a prefilter --> pump and biobed (?) before the waterfall?

      Can you also let me know what is your maintenance routine look like?

      Bestm
      Thank you.

      My filtration system is pretty simple. I have a skimmer-filter box. Inside there is Matala pads and a leaf net. Also a 3500 GPH pump. The water is pumped back up to the top of my waterfall and comes back to the pond by way of the 15 foot stream & waterfall.

      Since I have no bottom drain, I have a 2500 GPH pump that sits a foot off the bottom of the pond. This water goes into a pressure filter and returned to the pond going down the stream & waterfall as well. I clean the pressure filter once every week or two year round. It has a clean button, and with pressure, it cleans the pads and drains out the dirty water. Once a year, I break it down and totally clean it out and replace the pads & bio media.

      I am filtering 6 thousand gallons an hour on a thousand gallon pond.

      I have water lilies and they are in pots sitting on the bottom of my pond. This, I would think, would not let a bottom drain work a well. You could sit the pots on a stand with narrow legs that would let the drain work better. I use a skimmer net to remove anything that would fall into the pond like leaves & such. You could also use pond vacs or shop vacs too. To me, water garden ponds can not be spotless when you have plant life in the water. But this does not seem to hurt the fish at all. It is so beautiful & peaceful sitting on my bench watching my fish swimming through the lilies that are in bloom and the occasional frog.
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      Nancy



      Koiphen 2012 Koi Person of the Year!

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