how deep is your pond?

garden_mama_66June 16, 2009

I know the experts say minimum depth for a pond with koi is 3 feet. Our current pond ia 100 gallons, deepest part is 18". We have one koi that is about 9" long, another new one that is about 4" a few goldfish and a small turtle. We are planning a larger above ground pond in the coming months. From an aesthetic standpoint, 2 to 2 1/2 feet deep would work best. I would be interested in others with koi in shallower ponds sharing their experience. By the way, new pond will be almost 1000 gallons. We have extremely mild winters here, and have had no problems with predators. Also, everything has done great in current pond. Thanks for your input!

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hardin(7 SE OK)

I have a 9' x 11' pond and it is 2 feet deep. I have 12 small goldfish, 2 baby koi, and 1 bullfrog and numerous tadpoles. Our area experiences some cold weather, but rarely does anything ice over. My pond is only 5 weeks old, my experience is limited otherwise.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 6:48PM
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Hi garden mama,

The reason Koi need deeper water is that they get very big regardless the size of the water feature. Mine are over 24" long and they like to swim up as well as just horizontal in the water. Deeper water keeps temperatures more stable as well, very important in an outdoor water feature.

I say go at least 3 feet deep if you want to keep Koi. Most Koi keepers recommend 250 to 500 gallons of water per Koi, and I agree with that. The more filtration, the better.

My pond is 4' deep and 5700 gallons including the filters. I only have three huge Koi but when they swim up from the bottom it is not too far a trip for them.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 7:15PM
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If you are able to go three feet deep, by all means do so. It'll give you more water for the koi, better temperature stability, and it will be safer from predators. You haven't seen any predators in your area, but trust me, they're there.

That said, I kept koi in 2-1/2 feet deep water for two years with no problems and there are many in my area who have done the same thing. It is not the optimum conditions for koi, but they adapt. I did add another section to the pond this spring that is three feet deep and they love to swim in that area, but usually my koi are surface swimmers and I rarely see them on the bottom, even in the deep end.

As has been stated, koi have the potential to grow very large, so be very careful to not overstock. For a while, I had a good koi to water ratio, and then came the spawn!

Good luck, and enjoy your new pond!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 7:53PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

another problem with too shallow is that fish jump. IME the deeper the water the less likely to do it.
Of couse don't do what I did. Train them to jump by offering pellets higher and higher out of the water. Somehow I figured they would only do this when I was around but apparently they connected jumping with food not me. Eventually they all jumped

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 5:38AM
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joe_09(z7 ny)

what i did is to have the viewing and feeding area,up against the deck that is 2 ft. can see the fish better,and the rest of the pond 3 ft.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 7:53AM
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I have about decided that I will excavate about a foot so the fish get the depth they need while I get the appearance I want. Someone is coming out to locate the utilities (ours are all underground) this week. I'm hoping they don't all run right through the middle of our (planned)pond!!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 6:18PM
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(Am I the only one hearing the Bee Gees singing this question??)

What about too deep? We have turned a 7' deep pool (well, at its deepest) into a pond. I wonder what the depth does for good or for bad.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 8:07PM
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In my opinion you cannot go too deep for Koi..Only makes it better for Koi to get the exercise they need. Of course I do not have Koi. I have goldies and 2 Koi-Comet Hybrids. My pond is 5 ft. deep and I wouldn't want it any shallower. Pics of some of my fish.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 9:14PM
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Five feet would be great. I was just saying today that if I'm ever able to get a bigger place, I'm digging a five foot pond and installing a couple of bottom drains. Deeper is always better.

Those are beautiful shubunkins.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 10:32PM
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LOL!!! BeeGees!!!!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 11:56AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Koi in shallow ponds do not develop all their muscles like koi in deeper ponds because they cannot swim from top to bottom only side to side. Koi are by nature, bottom rooting fish and just being able to swim back and forth isn't natural for them.

While a hobbyist may not realize their koi's muscles are stunted, many believe it isn't fair to the fish to keep them in shallow ponds for this reason alone. Not to mention temperature swings and predators.

Since everyone doesn't have room for a deep pond it is great that goldfish come in so many colors and are so much smaller. They don't outgrow their ponds like koi do either.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 5:57PM
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Well it figures. First they came out and marked the electrical line. Goes through proposed pond site, but at the edge. So I'm thinking I can excavate a portion of the pond. So the phone people come out today and the phone line goes right through the other half. So right now I really don't know what to do. I am very much about making any kept animal's habitat as pleasant and natural as possible. At the same time, I want my pond to work well with the rest of yard, and be somewhere where we can get maximum viewing and enjoyment. Back to the drawing board I guess.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 10:24PM
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Love the koi pics. Once we figure out the new pump and filter, purchased but still in their boxes as we await the electrician (the post about electrical scared me from trying it myself!!), I'd like to think about koi.

But right now we have very happy mosquito fish that are breeding and are adorable in their curiosity and the way they hang on the very shallow beach (maybe to get oxygen since we are not filtered yet -- I do feel bad if that's the reason). We have three schools of other fish but in the murk we rarely see them. Fantails - about 2 of them are left, feeder goldfish who have since doubled in size - a school of at least 6, and a school of feeder guppies who also have grown since we got them.

And we have frogs - and tadpoles still to turn. All are fun to have and watch, and I don't know if koi would be MORE fun or possibly just MORE work. ??

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 3:20AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Those aren't koi posted in this thread. They are goldfish!

Koi certainly are more work. They require more gallons per fish, more depth and more filtration than goldfish. They also grow to about two feet long no matter how small the pond unless they are severely stunted by poor water quality and poor nutrition.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 11:28AM
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If you really wanted to keep the original shape and size you plannned you may be able to work around the lines. If the lines are buried deeply enough you could dig around them and leave the raised sections where they run dug down deep enough to allow the fish to swim over them. Underground lines are usually 4-6' below grade level in my area. If you check with the city they may be able to tell you how deep they should be. It would require hand digging to work around them and the safety margins that you would have to leave may make it pointless but it can be done. Quite likely if you are only going down a foot or 2 there would be no issue at all unless you were using an excavator. The city should be able to give you the neccessary info to make the decision. Feed lines need to buried deep enough to ensure that they are not accidentally hit by a tiller or staking or any of the things a person may do to the surface of their yard. Good luck

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 4:24PM
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That is a possibility. We continue to look at the layout. I think I will be able to make at least a portion of the pond deeper. I do think my husband would have a cow if I even talked about digging around the utilities. lol

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 11:10PM
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I know, mine did too until the inspector explained to him where the original grade was and how deep the lines had to be. Our lines run over 8' deep because the lot slopes. Just do not try to get to close because it is important that the ground stays stable so as not to shift around the lines and pull the lines to tight. Suddenly it was not important because I had 4' to spare and even I am not that big a klutz.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 12:18AM
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jpinard(z5 MI)

Garden mama - what you should do is make some areas deeper, and then if needed you can go shallow where the lines are in the way. This is actually a great option so you can view the fish better.

In the pic below you can see a raised area which is our "feeding shelf". That is only 5" deep, where-as the rest is 3-4 feet deep. Please, take the extra teim/energy to do it right the first time. Trust me it will be so worth it, and you wno't be kicking yourself in a year saying, "Why didn't I just do it a little bigger!" It took me 4x to listen to my own advice (kicks self).

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 1:31AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

"Feeding shelf", great name for an open door to raccoons! :O

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 11:21AM
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Well it looks like you got it right with that pond. How did it turn out? I bet your kids had a blast filling it!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 12:52AM
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