Koi Ponds have different requirements compared to water gardens and swimming pools. But they also have a lot in common. Whether you are building a concrete pond or a liner pond, you must hire a structural engineer to analyze your soil, water drainage situation and to determine how close the pond can be to your foundation. This report will prevent your home foundation from sinking and cracking and your pond from collapsing, cracking and lifting up.

Koi dealers and pond guys cannot advise on ponds meant for koi pets. Most have no experience in owning Koi long-term let alone raising them. Koi breeders have experience in raising Koi but in a different setup (vast ponds, plenty of water, small koi, economics). A typical home owner's problem is an overstocked pond with overgrown pets that he/she doesn't want to part with but has no time for maintenance,

Maintenance issues can be reduced if the homeowner addresses them while constructing the pond. After hiring several incompetent self-claimed “expert” pond guys, we discovered that hiring a pool builder with your own design is the best choice. A pool builder is quite professional in following local codes and worries about structural integrity of the pond and surrounding structures. Pool builder's team gives you design stamped by a structural engineer. They also have an in-house licensed plumber and electrician.

Pool builders offer and honor warranty because they are big companies who care about reputation. On the other hand, a typical pond builder is a DIY guy whose company may not even be registered. His crew usually includes family members and friends. He offers/honors no warranty or doesn't address the issues in a timely manner. Most pond guys have zero experience in structural safety and follow no code. This is why you must do a lot of homework before you hire someone.

Before you begin:
These guidelines apply only if you consider your koi-time (time spent enjoying the koi)  is more valuable than your pond-time.(time spent maintaining the pond and treating sick koi).

1. If you cannot or do not want to dig 4 ft or deeper AND  cannot have a minimum volume of 2000 gallons, do NOT build a koi pond. Build a gold fish pond or water garden instead. An ideal pond will have 5000 gallons or more. Shallow and small ponds have great fluctuations in temperature, pH and provide no protection to koi from predators and sun. They also allow algae to grow abundantly. Koi sickness and deaths are frequent in such ponds. You will spend more time and money in water/koi treatments than enjoying your koi. Running a larger pond will eventually save you money.

2. Your pond MUST have enough skimmers, bottom drains, bio-filters, waterfall/air diffusers. If you do not have these, you will spend a lot of time maintaining your pond, altering plumbing and frequenting Koi-forums.

3. Do NOT install a pond deeper than 3 ft, within 7 ft of your foundation. Digging a pond loosens soil around it. The soil close to your foundation can loosen up causing your foundation to settle. If you live a area with lime rocks or salty soil, you should consult a structural engineer about the possibility of developing a sink hole under the pond.

4. Choose an elevated area for your pond. Or else, run-off water can get under the pond and lift the pond (even if it is concrete).

5. Choose a site that receives morning sun.

6. Avoid a site that has cherry trees or pines. Pine needles can get into koi gills. Cherry leaves are poisonous to koi and people.

7. Skimmers (both in concrete and liner) pond must be set on a concrete pad. Otherwise, they move, causing tears in the liner/cracks in concrete.

8. Koi pond must have 3 separate water bodies.
Main pond: for Koi
Bio-basin: for bacteria
Plant basin: for plants
Plumbing must be designed so that one should be able to operate the main pond without the Bio-basin or the plant basin or both.

9. Plumbing must have 2 separate water-circuits, operated by 2 different pumps. Select a pump that has a gph rating that is 75% of your pond volume.

Example: For a 2000-gallon pond, 2 of 1500gph pumps are ideal.

10. Use GFCI (Ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets and ground your pond so Koi/people do not suffer from electric shocks.

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