This blog will chronicle the pond rebuild in Koten-En. This will be the third (and final) pond build demonstrating once again the validity of Peter Waddington’s maxim number one of pond building, “The cheapest possible way to build a koi pond is to build it once – but build it properly”.
My original pond was an Aquascape pond. Aquascape promotes the idea of a “natural”, low maintenance pond filled with plants and rocks. Lots of rocks.
This sounded appealing to me. I knew nothing about koi except they were beautiful to watch. The pond was simply another fixture in my Japanese style garden. The less work the better. Boy was I in for a surprise.
Aquascape tells you right up front that you’ll need to drain and clean the rocks in the bottom of the pond annually, but they neglect to mention how difficult this is, impossible really to get all of that rock really clean and really clean is what you want. (Ed: 6/12/20: This is not strictly correct. The rocks are a major part of the bio filtration. You don’t want to get carried away cleaning them, but need to remove the gunk that has accumulated under them.)
And then there is the problem for the casual pond keeper, and all Aquascape owners are casual pond keepers, of where to put the fish while you’re cleaning the pond.
So my guess is that just like myself, many, if not most Aquascape owners, just ignore this direction, at least until things start to go horribly wrong. The pond was placed in operation in November of 2004. By July of 2005 most of my fish were in desperate shape and I called on my KHA, Sanjiv Kapor, for assistance.
I learned a lot from Sanjiv and began using Potassium Permanganate to keep the pond habitable. By October, 2005 I lost my favorite fish, Musashi, to pine cone disease, basically kidney failure. Poor thing could not resist the bacteria that had infected his body. I was beginning to wish I had paid more attention to those that were recommending no rocks in the pond.
By January ’08 the large volcanic rocks were gone and I was attempting to enlarge the pond by removing one of the “steps”. This got to about this point when I realized it was hopeless and decided to rebuild the pond completely.
The water in my area is extremely hard, GH: 300+ ppm. I had read a series of articles by Mike Snaden extoling the virtues of low TDS achieved with Reverse Osmosis (RO). This led me to other discussions on the net and utimately to the Ampac company located in the San Fernando Valley in California, USA. Ampac makes an RO unit specifically for koi ponds with provisions to mix city water with the RO water to produce output with the desired TDS. I decided that was how I was going to treat the water for my pond. (Ed: 6/12/20: These days I run the MaSuRo RO system from AkWaKoi. Instead of treating the makeup water only, it actually treats the pond water and the make up water allowing large virtual water changes while only using a fraction of the water.)
I still had a lot to learn, so I stuck with a liner pond. Hadn’t grasped Peter’s maxim number one yet. Hadn’t even heard of Peter’s maxim number one yet.
The standard drill is to pour a concrete collar to prevent the walls from caving in. I decided to use the same technique used when they tiled my shower area. They put down a liner and then motared over the liner and applied the tiles. One, this was something I could do myself. For some reason I was determined to do this pond myself. A true masochist. (Ed:6/12/20: For God’s sake, don’t do this.)
At least by now I realized I needed a bottom drain. That’s all anyone around here had ever mentioned, a bottom drain. It never occurred to me that more than one might be required. I knew that I wanted to have the pond bottom slope down to the drain, but in the end I didn’t slope it enough. At least I got a good bottom drain. I believe the best available in the US, a 4″ Rhino II with diffuser.
I was planning to use granite cobbles to line the pond walls. The top of the wall and the base would covered with stone tiles. I thought the cobbles would be grey, but when I went to the stone yard I found some lovely rose colored cobbles. A touch of class I thought.
When the original pond was done I had the guy install a fiber optic lighting system. A complete waste of money since we rarely entertain in the garden at night. It did look kind of cool the few time I used it, so I decided to rebuild the system with new lens. For this reason I installed some of the cobbles protruding into the pond to mount the lights.
Very dumb in retrospect. It is not a pretty sight if a fish collides with one of these for some reason. I’m sure that’s the reason I’ve seen cuts on their foreheads from time to time.
Part of the reasoning for the granite was to provide buffering for the RO water. That at least worked out, although the motar may have provided sufficient buffering. The cobbles and the stone tile appear to encourage the growth of string algae, something I would much rather do without.
By now I realized that a simple water fall box was not sufficient filtering. I decided a bead filter was the way to go. Since I was short on space, I selected the FuidArt Challenger Model 60 packaged system. This included the bead filter, a UV filter, a TurboVortex solids seperator and pump in a pretty compact footprint.
I liked the concept of the Aquascape skimmer, but it wasn’t that well built, so I purchased a larger, more rugged unit from Atlantic, the Pro Series Model PS9500.
I did the same to replace the two waterfall boxes, replacing the Aquascape units with Atlantic BF1900 units. I used Metala filter media in the waterfalls, placed as a sandwich of alternating Dense and Medium panels. An 8″ airstone was placed in the bottom of each waterfall.
I started the project in January, ’08. I finally had water flowing in the new pond on December 21, 2008.
For some time I was generally pleased with the new pond and it’s filtration. I no longer had the constant problems with leaks. Water quality was good and remained stable. Weekly filter maintenance was relatively simple. I have a heavy load of leaves, pine needles and various seed pods falling into the pond almost year around.
The skimmer handled these well and was also easy to maintain. Weekly maintenance took between 45 minutes and 1 hour. However, after the first spawn I realized the granite walls weren’t the best choice.
For sometime, the filter system seemed to work extremely well, requiring very little maintenance. By March of 2011 it began giving me problems handling the amount of string algae that frequently occurred in the pond. The flow would drop off dramatically so that by the end of the week, the flow was very weak and you could hear that the pump was struggling. Maintenance began to become more and more difficult.
Up until this time I had been backflushing the TurboVortex into my bamboo grove. This worked out very well. In Spring of 2011 I had my best crop of bamboo. In June I had to remove the drain pipe. It was becoming clogged with algae and bamboo roots.
A short time later I had to abandon this practice altogether because it was taking so long to clear the TurboVortex that the bamboo planter could not hold the water. I installed a longer drain hose and pumped the flush water into my bog area.
As the weeks wore on the problem became worse and worse. I was consistently using AlgaeFix to keep the string algae under control, but the dead algae was clogging my filters faster and faster.
In October, 2011, I referred to the filter’s user manual and rediscovered that it should be opened and cleaned on a yearly basis. I was just a couple of years behind schedule.
When I opened the filter I discovered that it was about 2/3 filled with beads. It should have been only 1/2 way full. Was this the cause of my problem? I promptly removed a couple of bucket’s full of beads and cleaned the filter to the best of my ability. I was unable to clean the backflush lateral. I could not get a good enough purchase on the coupling through the small opening.
I reassembled the filter hoping that I had resolved the problem with the rapid plugging. At this point I was routinely removing the cover from the TurboVortex and stirring up the BioBalls to break up the algae build up. I even purchased a small plastic propeller and installed it inside the TurboVortex, hoping that the backflush would rotate the propeller and breakup the BioBall pack without removing the cover. This didn’t work and I removed it after the first week.
This whole business was rapidly becoming no fun. I started to look around on the web for answers. It was during these searches that I came across Peter Waddington’s ERIC filter site. As I studied his theories and the stories of how he came to develop this filter everything just made sense to me.
I found plenty of critics online. One argument was that the ERIC was nothing new, that there were loads of filters just like it on the market. Umm, I said to myself, I must have missed something. I don’t recall seeing anything like this before.
So I searched some more. I did find a couple of filters that I hadn’t noticed before that bore a superficial resemblance to the ERIC, but in reality there was nothing out there remotely close to the ERIC, except the ERIC. One blogger pointed to a home made filter created by a “master” pond builder. It really was an Endless River In Concrete.
I don’t recall how long it was actually, but you could never dump the thing. It would drain the pond. Granted some of the ideas were the same, but still not an ERIC, even if we ignore the fact that it didn’t have ERICMat.
So I began to wonder if it would be possible to import an ERIC. Would the shipping be prohibitively expensive? Then I had a better idea. Would it be possible to convince Peter to allow me to produce the ERIC in the US.? Naw, not a chance.
So a few weeks went by. Finally I decided what the heck, let’s email the guy, get the brush off and I can go on to worry about something else, see if I can figure out another way out of this mess I’m in. And so I sent the email.
Wonder of wonders, Peter replied from Japan, that yes, it might be possible. Could I possibly come to the UK to see how it’s done. What!! I’m thinking. I can’t just pop off to Manchester like that. I don’t even have a passport anymore. I just don’t do impetuous stuff like that, but wait a minute, I’m thinking of quitting my job and starting up this company to make koi pond filters in a recession no less and I can’t fly to England.
The hell I can’t. Don’t even have to go to the Post Office anymore. Drop into CVS, pick up a couple of passport photos, apply online, boom that’s done. Get in touch with Peter and arrange a date, boom that’s done. Get on WebJet, find a cheap fare to Manchester and back, boom that’s done.
Now we just had to wait for the date, get a shuttle to the airport and away we went. After an uneventful flight I landed in Manchester the evening of November 29,2011. Peter soon arrived and off to the Red Hall Hotel in his wife’s, Hillary, lovely black Jag.
The next morning at 10:00 we were off to visit some ponds. Our first stop was at Neil W. Neil has a small pond, not unlike numerous koi enthusiasts all over the World. His story was interesting. He had added filters over the years in a vain effort to keep his koi healthy. He finally ran out of space for new filters and his koi were not in good shape.
He learned about the ERIC filter and like myself decided that it was the filter for him. He installed an ERIC Three and quickly restored his koi to good health.
After our visit with Neil we went to see the original ERIC at Peter C’s home. This was a simply a steller pond with a Japanese motif near and dear to my heart. The pond houses a number of superb nishikigoi including one that has only recently come home from several years of care with a Japanese breeder.
The filters Peter installed on this pond gave the ERIC it’s name, “Endless River In Concrete” . These ERICs were made of concrete and reside under the floor of the azumaya adjacent to the pond. They work perfectly, but after this installation Peter realized that building the filter out of concrete was too restrictive and too expensive. He then duplicated the design in plastic.
Finally we went to Les F’s home to visit his lovely pond. Les has an absolutely fabulous back garden featuring a gorgeous formal “L” shaped pond. Unfortunately, it was built without proper bottom drains. Also, Les doesn’t subscribe to Peter’s position that daily flushes are required.
As a consequence, his pond water is not very clear, but his koi are still in excellent health. This was another retrofit to replace filters that just weren’t doing the job.
On December 1 I was privileged to visit Rose Cottage at it’s secret location somewhere in NorthEast England. At the time Rose Cottage was not the magnificant ediface it has become, so I didn’t bother taking any photos of the exterior. Peter and I spent some time rebuilding ERICMat Filter Cartridges using the new spacers he had selected.
After returning from the UK I submitted my resignation to Intuitive Surgical and placed an order with Peter for four filters and a quantity of two of his books, Koi2Kichi and Koi Crazy. I contacted my nephew at Sage Marketing to begin work on a website for my new company, GreatWave Engineering.
I planned to use an ERIC Two for a new quarantine tank and two ERIC Threes for a new pond built the proper way of concrete with two bottom drains. Estimated volume: 5,500 gals. The ERIC filters will drain into a CUDO underground reservoir from which the drain water will be used to irrigate the garden.
Finally able to get my pond builder to commit to a date. We start on 5/15/2012.
Mel and his crew arrived and completed the excavation for the CUDO water reservoir. About 6 yards of earth were removed to landfill.
Shortly before lunch Mel and his crew returned. They performed a little cleanup on the excavation and then placed 6″ of sand in the bottom and leveled it carefully. Once the sand was level, we laid the liner in the hole and began placing the cubes.
Due to the shape of the excavation and the excess liner it was very difficult to get the liner in place. Once it was in place we had a large pile of liner on top of the cubes.
Mel was scheduled to return on Thursday. I spent the day purchasing the necessary pipe and fittings and then cutting down the liner to fit.
Mel and his crew returned about Noon. After lunch we begain fitting the drain fittings into the top of the reservoir. Mel and his helper began removing pavers to dig a trench for the Quarantine tank filter’s drain line.
Worked on sealing the North end of the reservoir and the Quarantine tank drain entry.
Completed sealing North end of the reservoir and started on the access hatch and plumbing for the sump pump.
Completed sealing reservoir. All inlet and outlet pipes are installed, ready to connect Quarantine tank drain. We are scheduled to do that tomorrow.
Mel returned and we installed the 4″ Quarantine Tank drain pipe and replaced the pavers.
Mel and his crew returned. We covered reservoir with sand, base rock and earth. Mel added sand and then compacted the pavers. The rest of the time was spent removing excess earth, cleaning up the job site and digging a trench at the edge of the bamboo planter. Reservoir Covered
It’s been a long and frustrating time waiting to make any progress on the quarantine tank. Eco Rubber Coating was supposed to rubber coat the tank on May 24th, but as they prepared for the trip down from Sacramento, they discovered that their equipment was out of order. A part was broken and had to be ordered from Canada.
Weeks went by with no word on the new part. Finally we decided to simply ship the rubber and let me install it by hand with a roller. Another week went by. I called Anthony to find out what happened. After a few minutes he called back and told me the shipment had been damaged and held by FedEx, promised to get another shipment out right away.
Another week goes by. I’m just about to call again when the FexEx man arrives with my rubber. No instructions so I repaired to the faithful internet and found the product website. Luckily it contained a number of informational videos including one by a guy who had built a pretty large aquarium out of plywood. The installation details were clear.
I had sealed all of the joints with RTV silicone. Unfortunately, Rubberize It doesn’t bond to silicone. However, the aquarium video illustrated how all of the joints were sealed with epoxy resin. So off to Tap Plastic for bottles of resin. I sealed the joints with epoxy and let that set for a day before applying six coats of Rubberize It.
All of the joints were reinforced with a layer of fabric that was provided by Eco Rubber Coating. I sealed all of the joints first with six coats and then painted all of the walls with their six coats.
I then climbed out of the tank and finished the bottom with an extension handle added to the roller. The rubber mixture is miraculous. It contains no VOC solvents, so there is very little smell and no danger handling it. It appears brown in color when you apply, but quickly drys black. The mixture in the roller tray remains liquid for a long time, so there is no rush to get it applied before it sets up. (Ed: 6/12/20: Unfortunately Rebberize It was’nt quite as miraculous as I thought. The hand job in the QT failed first. It debonded from the plywood. I replaced it with a custom fit liner. A couple of years later we stripped it from the pond and replaced with polyurea.)
I completed sealing the tank on 7/11/12 and then let it rest a few days before continuing. On Friday, 7/13/12 I levered the tank back into it’s final position and began installing the lower supports. I got three of them installed and then it was time to install the bottom drain.
On Saturday, 7/14/12 I started the bottom drain install. I applied RTV silicone sealant to both flanges of the drain and secured it through the mounting holes I had drilled months before. The installation went quickly and without a hitch.
Once the drain was secured, I wiped off the excess sealant and painted the area surrounding the mouth of the drain with six more coats of rubber. With the drain in place I was now ready to move the ERIC Two filter into it’s final position and connect it to the drain we had installed back in May.
This went smoothly. After connecting the drain, I performed a final leveling of the filter and began preparations for connecting the bottom drain. Working with 4″ pipe is no picnic so after making some preliminary fit ups, I decided to contact Mel for assistance. I’m hoping we can complete this work next week. It will depend on his availability.
So then I started work on the remainder of the plumbing, connecting the outlet of the ERIC to Anjon 2000 pump. The next few days will be spent completing the return line to the tank.
Worked on completing the quarantine tank plumbing and framing up the form for the collar around the Cudo reservoir inspection port. Mel came by to give me a hand with the 4″ drain pipe.
It turned out that three of us couldn’t get the pipe inserted into the bottom drain completely. We finall admitted defeat and I took off for Orchard Supply to get a 4″ flexible coupling. While I was gone Mel and his helper installed a short length of 4″ pipe into the drain.
After installing the flexible coupling the rest of the installation went smoothly. The following day I tightened all fittings, installed the remaining insulation and completed the remaining pipe connections. Now we’re ready for a water test.
Over the next couple of days I installed covers over the insulation on the side of the tank. Once this was complete I was ready for the water test.
So the water test didn’t go so good. Everything looked great until I was about 6″ away from being full when to my horror I discovered that both end seams were leaking. A quick inspection revealed the problem. The seams along the sides were supported every couple of feet, but there was no support for the end seams.
I’d figured that distance, 36″, was short enough that it didn’t need to be supported. I’d figured wrong. So I scrambled for some more lumber, painted it up and installed 4″x4″ beams under each end. Once this was completed I installed another layer fabric and a half dozen more layers of rubber.
Finally on 8/2 I was ready for another water test. Tension mounted as the water level climbed. The plumbing sprung a few small leaks, but nothing serious. Sort of like a WWII submarine movie when the depth charges get too close.
Finally, the EMat was submerged. Off with the water and on with the pump, both end seams as dry as a bone. Ended the day with a smile for a change.
The next day I installed the air pumps and fiddled with the leaking fittings. Connected the reservoir to the irrigation system. Performed my first “Whoosh” to test out the reservoir seems to be working as hoped.
Now the plan is to let it run until 8/14. I’m on vacation from 8/9-13. If everything holds together, I plan to start moving the fish on on 8/14 and we’ll be ready to start on the real project.
8/16 – 8/17/12, Fri:
Just a few days late. I wanted to make a video of cleaning the bead filter before I shut it down. That’s in the can, so it’s finally moving day. I’ve been running the quarantine tank now for a couple of weeks so there should be no problems, right!
I previously drained about 1/2 the water out of the quarantine tank and refilled it from the pond, but I took water readings to make sure there wouldn’t be any big shocks. The quarantine tank was 70° and the pond was 74°. I didn’t like that differential, but decided to chance it.
The first fish I caught was Kintoshi my kin ogon female. The transfer went pretty smooth, but as I was putting her into the tank. I realized the pump was running. I thought it may been air-locked so broke up some fittings to see if I could get it going, but no joy.
It turned out that it had seized. I suspect it did get air-locked and since I didn’t notice it seized after running dry for a bit. So much for the cute little Anjon pumps. Way too delicate for me.
Mild panic as I hurriedly scanned the local shops for a suitable pump. I finally settled on the Iron Mite. It was larger than I need, but should be bullet proof. A quick trip to the koi store with a stop at Orchard Supply to pick up the necessary fittings.
Fitting the new pump turned out to be fairly easy. Returning to Orchard Supply to replace the 1 1/4 Elbow with the 1 1/2 I really needed added some excitement, but otherwise the conversion went pretty smoothly. It was almost 7:00 PM when I finished so I turned on the new pump for Kintoshi and called it a day.
On Friday, I continued pumping water out of the pond to make it easier to capture the little rascals. My help showed up about 11:00 and the hunt was on. I’ve always gone into the pond to capture my fish. I’m amazed by the guys that do it from the bank.
Netting a fish was pretty easy with the limited area they had, but the shallow water made it difficult to transfer them to the tub. There were a couple of transfers I’m ashamed of, but most of them went fairly smoothly without too much damage to the koi or my ego.
By 11:30 we had all of the fish transferred. I spent the rest of the day draining the pond and starting to disconnect the old equipment in preparation for the tear-down next week.
8/22-23, Wed-Thur: By Wednesday the pond was dry and ready to commence destruction. Thursday morning Mel and Tony, Advance Landscape Solutions, arrived to start tearing down the pond. By the end of the day all that was left was rubble.
8/27-28, 2012, Mon-Tue: After clearing all of the granite cobbles and many of the rocks from the streams, work began in earnest to enlarge the pond and prepare the filter house for the ERIC filters.
8/30-9/6, 2012, Thur-Thur: During this period we excavated the pond to the new level and removed the step that was in the previous pond. Excavation of the filter house was completed. At the end of the day Thursday, we placed the new bottom drains.
Next week we’ll set these in place with concrete and remove the rest of the excess dirt.
9/9 – 11/12, Sun – Tue: The pace is finally picking up. On Sunday I poured the waterfall piers. On Monday, Mel and Zack set the bottom drains in place and placed the rebar for the sump floor. We also poured the collar around the reservoir access port.
On Tuesday, Mel and Zack poured the sump floor. After lunch our dirt dumpster finally arrived and we made some serious progress on removing the remaining dirt from the pond.
9/12-13/12, Wed-Thurs: Almost completed excavation. Thursday afternoon, Mel and I went to Peninsula Materials and picked out the rocks we’ll use to line the pond edge.
9/17-20/12, Mon-Thurs: This week we worked on the filter house. Started putting up the walls and poured the upper floor where the filters and pumps will sit. Things are starting to take shape. Good to see reality reflecting the design.
9/21-25/12, Fri-Tues: Started updating the pond control system design Fri. Determined additional components required and placed them on order. On Sunday, went to Champion Koi to pickup two new tank fittings for the waterfall boxes and Japanese mat for the final ERIC filter pads.
On Monday, Mel and Zack returned and we continued work on the filter house foundation. Long day, worked until after five, but nearly finished foundation. It took considerable time because of the number of pipe access ports that had to be cut in. Zack mainly worked on preparing the stream beds.
On Tuesday we finished the foundation and ERIC support stanchions. We also completed plumbing the tangential jets into the pond wall. The gunite contractor arrived and gave us the quote for the job. Hopefully, we get that completed next week. Work on forming tomorrow.
On Weds and Thurs I worked on cleaning up the pond excavation, filled the bottom drains with water to check for leaks and built a form for the skimmer.
On Fri Mel arrived after lunch and we built the form for the front wall of the filter house, secured the skimmer form and placed the second ERIC into the filter house. Now we’re ready to start forming up the pond edge and placing the rebar.
Over the weekend, I worked on plumbing entering the filter house, tangential jet and irrigation lines. I also back-filled the gap behind the filter house walls up to the level of the piping. I heavily watered the fill to insure fill and compaction.
On Tuesday the gang returned and we poured concrete all day. We filled the bamboo grove retaining wall, the skimmer back wall and filter house blocks. Mel also laid a small wall up to fill in the large gap between the South wall of the filter house and the pond excavation. The temperature was in the mid 90’s. We were all beat by the end of the day.
On Wednesday we set the filter house on it’s foundation. We had the ERICs set in place because I thought it would be impossible to connect them once the pond wall was in place. Mel and Zack worked on modifying the form for the front wall while I worked on squaring up the filter house. It had been racked out of shape pretty badly with all the movement.
The form was giving us lots of trouble trying to clear everything. Finally Zack announced he could reach the bottom drain couplings. I was pretty skeptical, but he clambered into the filter house stood in the lowest sump and sure enough was able to easily reach the coupling to tighten it.
This was a big relief and removed a lot of risk. We immediately uncoupled the filters and pushed them back into the filter house. Installing the form was then a breeze. With that form installed they then set to installing the top pond edge form. When this was complete and leveled they started installing the rebar.
They have other projects Thursday and Friday, but will return next Monday to complete the rebar. More concrete work is just over the horizon.
Worked on irrigation line. Built mounting bracket for 3-way valve. Irrigation pump seemed to be running when water wasn’t on. Theorized that 1 1/2″ fitting that mates with pump was leaking causing the pump to run continuously. Observed that fitting provided with pump had an 0-ring, so I removed the pipe with a regular male adapter and installed the provided fitting. It allowed me to reinstall the pipe with a female adapter.
Tore down the temporary plumbing and routed the irrigation plumbing underground to filter house where I mounted a 3-way valve so that irrigation can be serviced by waste water from pond or if that is not available for some reason, city water.
On Monday, Mel and Zack returned to complete the rebar. The rebar was completed Tuesday.
I had planned to install the skimmer box after the pond shell was formed. It was designed to fit through a hole in the pond shell and I had planned to bolt it to the wall. The problem was this would require the wall to be perfectly straight and flat in this area.
Mel suggested that we install the skimmer prior to blowing in the wall. To provide better access to the skimmer, he suggested we install a tunnel on the front of the skimmer so that the box could be installed completely behind the wall.
This sounded great to me so I contacted Frank at Plastic Craft to see if he could make the modifications in time. We are set to blow the gunnite next Tuesday and I’m leaving tomorrow for the North American Japanese Garden Association seminar.
Frank agreed to make the modifications and Mel agreed to deliver the skimmer and the material to Plastic Craft tomorrow. I documented the new parts and updated the assemblies and sent the drawing to Mel. We’ll keep our fingers crossed to see what the new skimmer looks like.
10/10-16/12, Thur – Tue:
On Thursday I flew to Denver for the North American Japanese Garden Association conference. On Thursday we bused up to the mountain resort of Peaceful Valley to sketch landscape, learning how to take inspiration from natural landscapes.
Conference sessions started on Friday and continued through Sunday. On Saturday, Kodama-san presented on koi in the Japanese garden.
On Monday we installed the modified skimmer and made the final adjustments to the forms and rebar. On Tuesday noon the gunite trucks rolled in. In a few minutes they were set up and the dust began to fly.
In about 3 hours the pond was nearly done and the gunite crew packed up and left. Mel jumped down into the pond to make the final touches. He spent the next couple of hours filling in the rough spots and smoothing out the tangential jets and bottom drains. Zack worked on the edges and smoothing down the stream edges.
After shooting the gunite Mel and Zack took a few days off of my job to allow it to cure. The next day I stripped the forms wet down the concrete. I connected the waterfall lines and started grading the area surrounding the pond and backfilling the filter house.
I discovered the irrigation pump was leaking again at the outlet fitting keeping the pump running after it should have shut down. I pulled the pump and installed a flexible section in the outlet line to allow some compliance and insure the connection was tight.
I also selected a little less than a ton of ocean pearl stone for the waterfalls. This stone and the stone we’d selected earlier was delivered early Monday, 10/22. At noon Mel and Zack arrived and we began setting the key stones in place around the edge of the pond.
For the next two days we set the stone on the pond edge. Mel and Zack also helped me set the ERIC filters in place. I spent most of my time working on securing the filter house to the foundation and sealing some of the openings in the foundation.
Over the weekend I worked on plumbing the filter house. I needed to connect three pumps and a UV unit in a very tight space. I had modeled this in 3D, but when I got to the real thing had to make some adjustments.
On Monday, Mel and Zack returned. While they worked on setting stone, I continued with the plumbing. By the end of the day the pond edge was about 2/3rds complete and all of the pumps were set in place. Mel and I returned to Peninsula Building Materials to pick up about 20 larger stones that we figured we’d need to complete the pond and streams.
By October 31st the rockwork around the pond was complete. On Thursday I vacuumed all of the water and debris from the pond bottom. I then started washing the pond with muriatic acid. On Friday I washed it again. The pond surface was now clean and etched and ready for the Rubberize It! finish.
On Monday Mel and Zack returned to begin work on the streams. The last two sweep elbows arrived allowing me to complete the filter house plumbing.
I also got a quote from Anthony of Enterprise Koi for the Rubberize It! coating and we agreed to spray the pond Tuesday. I masked the pond edge stones in preparation.
Tuesday, 11/6/12, was a big day at Koten-En. The forecast was for 81° and Anthony was due about 11:00 to spray the pond with Rubberize It! a revolutionary new liquid rubber sealer. I had already used Rubberize It! to seal my plywood quarantine tank. That was pretty cool, but I was really looking forward to seeing a professional do it.
Anthony and his assistant Andy arrive right on time. Within an hour they were setup and ready to go, having prepped the pond by sealing the skimmer, tangential jets and bottom drains. The application took less than an hour, leaving the pond surface covered with a 60-70 mil layer of fresh black rubber.
While the guys from Eco Rubber Coating Servicing were coating the pond Mel and Zack were laying stones in the South stream. By the end of the day, the stream was nearly complete and looking very nice if I say so myself.
Advanced Landscape had to work on some other projects during the week of 11/30 and it rained most of the week so I starting rebuilding the control system. The control system controls all of the pumps, air pumps and UV. It also monitors air and water temp, ORP and pH (I hope). I haven’t been able to get the pH monitor to work after several years of trying.
Complete mystery to me. ORP works just fine and they use similar probes, identical transmitters, but my pH signal has never been stable. I can’t figure it out, but I plan to get an expert to look at it once I get the pond up and running.
My previous pond had a single water pump and a single air pump. the new pond will have three water pumps and four air pumps, so the control system and software has to be extensively modified. Over a two week period I made these modifications as recorded here. (Ed: 6/12/20: All of this was replaced with a new Pond Control System based on Apex System from Neptune Systems. This provides much more functionality and works great.)
The weather finally cleared up on 12/7 so I pumped out the rain water, cleaned out the leaves, did a little touch up and washed down the stonework with acid. Once I’ve cleaned up the two streams I’ll be ready to start filling the pond.
Since Advanced Landscapes finished up I’ve been working on finishing the filter house. I extended the filter house about a foot so I had to figure out a way to cover the extension. My original plan was simply to lay a 2 x 12 plank over the opening, but that wouldn’t have been very convenient and probably wouldn’t have kept the rain out very well either.
So after a bit of study I decided the extend the filter house structure to cover the extended base. This took some since I had to paint a number of panels and generally could only paint one side per day. The extension was covered with a cedar shake roof.
By 12/18 I had the roof completed, the control cabinets and air pumps installed.
The pond was filled on 12/11. A few days later I flushed the filters for the first time. I saw a cloud of fine debris coming from the bottom drain when I refilled the filter. I recognized that as debris from the construction.
Since then I’ve been running the system without air and without flushing the filters to collect as much of this as possible in the filter. Today, I finally had time to see if I could clean it out. At this point they’ve been running for 20 days.
Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take before and after photos of the pond. There were quite a few leaves on the bottom of the pond, mostly surrounding the bottom drains
I pulled out the ole PondVac and swept those up. I also vacuumed the streams to remove fine sediment that had accumulated.
When this was complete I removed the Emats and brushes from the filters to see what had accumulated. As hoped a large amount of sediment was collected. Especially in the right filter (Waddy’s E3).
A fair number of leaves had made it past the brushes, but I was impressed with the effectiveness of the brushes as evidenced by the large amount of leaves and seeds that were collected on the face of the brushes and the absence of any debris on the back side.
I plan to look for ways to seal the ends of the brush box better to make the mechanical filter more effective. It’s pretty clear that the area covered by brushes is filtered very well.
The brushes in the left filter (my US model) was much cleaner. Since this filter services the bottom drain that sees the heaviest leaf load, I can only put this down to the fact that this filter had been flushed several times as I was carrying out various test. I had flushed it twice the previous day to adjust the pond water level.
This supports the contention that flushing the filter does a good job of backflushing the brushes. The amount of debris in the left filter was also considerably less than right due to the intermittent flushes.
I vacuumed both filters to remove as much debris as possible and then flushed. This left both of the filters very clean, although the flush uncovered debris that I had missed with the vacuum in the left filter. It appears that the rear of this filter may be a bit lower than the front which would keep all of the debris from being removed.
I’ll check the level tomorrow. I may need to shim the left filter a bit.
Now there a just a few wrinkles to iron out before putting the fish back in the pond. One of the waterfalls is seeping. I need to re-plumb it. I blew the cover off of one of the bottom drains. Next weekend my diver friend is coming by to replace that.
I need to double check several of the fittings to make sure they are not seeping. I need to install the UV lamps and I really screwed up the skimmer circuit. I neglected to install a one-way valve in the line, so if I service the pump basket I flood the filter house. Not bright.
I’ve dropped the pond level about a foot. I probably need to take it down some more to open the line and install the valve.
I’ve got a replacement thermostat for the QT heater so I’ll get that in and try to get the temperature of the QT to match the pond. If the weather cooperates, I can move the fish back home as soon as the bottom drain cover is back on.