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When setting up a new pond, many steps should be taken before breaking ground. A new pond owner should consider the location, style of the pond, filtration setup, Koi in the pond, and how much attention will be committed to the pond. Before starting a pond, new owners should be aware that this hobby requires mandatory maintenance to keep your Koi healthy and your pond presentable as a water feature.   An owner should decide their budget early on, and they should plan accordingly as this water feature is a long-term investment. Here are some steps that may help better guide you when deciding to build a pond. 

* Do you want an above-ground pond or an in-ground pond? Once a new pond owner decides the budget they are willing to spend and whether it is above or in-ground, the project may proceed. Next, you must find a landscaper who is qualified to dig or build a pond. Ask them for other projects they have finished. Also, is their quote to build the pond within reason of what you're willing to pay? A landscaper in addition should be trusted to stand by their work. Do they offer any long-term or short-term guarantees? When choosing a contractor to dig this pond, keep in mind things will happen to your pond. A pipe may burst or the liner gets a hole in it, will you have someone you can trust to fix these problems? A good landscaper in many cases will be your go-to guy for all your pond problems. They should be able to help with locating where the pond should be on the property, how often you should do a water change, koi that you will add into the pond, filtration setup, and general landscaping around the pond. 

* Once a contractor takes on the job, your next step is to locate where you would like to have your waterscape. When deciding where your pond will be sunlight, rain, predators, and functionality should be put into consideration. Sunlight is a big factor when deciding where a pond should be dug. The reason is sunlight in a large amount will cause algae growth in the pond. This will cause the pond to look less desirable to many. In addition, sunlight in hotter months will increase the water temperature. With a fast increase in temperature at sunrise and a sudden decrease during sunset, koi do not adjust well to fluctuation in a short period. Rain is a factor that can influence the water parameters, and affect the overall health of the fish. By exposing your pond to more rainwater, the pH may fluctuate and in turn cause stress to your koi. When building your pond, predators should be considered. Understanding this, you can best protect your koi from any foreign invaders. This will best help your decision in placing your pond in a certain location. 

* When you and your contractor decide where is the best location for your pond, deciding your dimensions is your next step. One piece of advice I recommend, If you can afford the biggest option go for it. Why? By opting for the bigger pond, you allow your koi to have more space to grow and have an overall healthier ecosystem that does not fluctuate as much as a smaller pond. By having a bigger pond, external factors are not as influential to your koi's health. Think of it this way. If you were to add a gallon of saltwater to 10 gallons of fresh, the saltwater would account for 10% of the overall water. This is a representation of a small pond. In contrast, if the same one gallon was added to 100 gallons of freshwater, that only accounts for 1% of the overall. This is a representation of a larger pond. In real life example, the one gallon of salt water may be a representation of ammonia, nitrite, or even rainwater. This analogy will help you understand that a bigger pond helps dilute these factors much better than a smaller one would. 

*Filtration is something that should be considered when first planning your pond. Filtration is the heart of the pond. If filtration stops, the ecosystem may show unstable and lead to a devastating loss. When picking out filtrations for your water features, there are a couple of things you need to consider. Your first objective should be "will my filter be adequate for my pond?" How do you know if a filter is adequate for your pond? A rule of thumb that you should use when deciding is twice the amount of gallons. What this means, if your pond is 500 gallons, your filtration turnover should be able to filter out 1000 gallons per hour. While this is a general statement, filtration should be determined based on the bioload it must endure. Keep in mind, you will always be much safer over filtering as opposed to under filtering. Once the filtration rate has been figured out, deciding what your budget allows is the next step. There are many options for filtration, and many of them can be combined as a complex system. Some of the filtration available on the market include: Pressure canister filters, Nexus filters, RDF (Rotary Drum Filter), Bakki Shower, Bead Filters, Vortex filter, and many DIY options can be made. 

* Koi that will be added to the pond should be seen as a jewel that brings value to your pond. As stated before, your pond and koi are an investment. When choosing a koi, the koi should not be determined based on the price, farm, or what the dealer says to persuade you to like it.  It should be what you like, at the end of the day, it's your jewel. You will be the one looking at that koi every day, no one else. Now that you have a preference, what should you pick out? Japanese or Domestic? Tosai, Nisai, or even Sansai? This all boils down to budget. When deciding where you get your koi, there must be some questions that you must ask your dealer. The first and most important question should be about their quarantine process. At the basics, a dealer should be able to give you an oversite on the koi you're buying and be able to help you pick a quality koi that will develop in the future. Now pick out your koi. After you decide whether you want a Japanese import or domestic koi, then you should check for all the basic anatomy on your koi to be proportional. What does that mean? Checking for koi proportionality includes making sure the koi has two pectoral fins, two ventral fins, two eyes, and no appendages or scales missing. Then, we look at the body conformation. When looking at a koi body conformation, we want a strong "shoulder"  and we want to see a nice belly on the koi and make sure your koi is not skinny. It's important to understand that we don't mean nice belly as an overweight koi. Finally, the pattern is what we look at last. Before buying your koi, you should do some research before visiting your dealer. See what koi you are looking for at what size, then look for how the pattern will develop. The reason is, each different type of koi develops much differently than one another. Some grow much faster than others while some patterns don't come out as fast as others too. Understanding this, you give yourself a leg up when you buy your koi. Ask your dealer before heading to their farm or shop to go ahead and pre bowl some of the koi you want. 

* Our last step in our pond overview is pond maintenance. What do you need to do to maintain your pond? Once your setup is complete and you have koi in your pond, the responsibilities begin. Once the koi are added to your pond, they will eat and release waste in the water. What does that mean? Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, pH shifts. One important tool we ask pond owners to have on hand is a pond tester kit. This pond kit will set you and your pond up for success. We recommend pond owners test their pond levels once a week. Testing once a week will give a pond owner a general idea of the pond's overall health condition. In addition to checking the pond's health, we recommend pond owners complete a 10-20% water change weekly. When pond owners change their water, they are removing waste that is in the water and replacing that water with fresh water. In addition, koi release a hormone, Somatostatin, which inhibits the growth of your koi to its full potential.  Another maintenance we suggest pond owners participate in is cleaning your filtration. If a pond owner has any filters that have a filter media pad, they should clean these pads often. One thing we must note. Leaving some of the "muck" in the filter is necessary as this beneficial bacteria will break down the ammonia and nitrates in your water. 

* Now that you have the basics for starting your pond, we wish you a successful pond hobby! Happy Ponding!!

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