Koi Pond in Wisconsin part 2

by DFS-Pet-Blog on November 5, 2009

**Guest post by Eric. R**

Koi fish in a backyard pond

Koi fish in a backyard pond

The day after our move, I awoke to four koi fish lying on a concrete floor after they jumped out of my holding tank during the night. I was completely upset with myself for not taking the time to put netting over the tank, but after an 11 hour drive and lots of unpacking, sometimes you take shortcuts that end up being costly mistakes. Netting went over the tank the next day and we had no more issues with losing fish due to jumping.  We lived in this rental house for the first 9 months we were in Wisconsin and didn’t lose any more fish at that location.

We moved in August 2002 to the house where we currently reside.  Being so late in the year and no time to plan out a pond, we used the same tank and housed the remaining 16 koi on the porch of our new home.  We were aware of how cold it gets in northern WI by this time and took a little extra precaution. We used 3” Styrofoam under the tank and wrapped the entire tank in insulation.  We made a makeshift lid for the tank with Styrofoam.  We also added 6 aquarium heaters to keep the tank from freezing.  Amazingly, we were able to keep this tank in the low 50’s throughout the winter.

blog-eric-rWhen winter passed and we could finally go outdoors for yard work, we planned out our pond. My wife took care of all the aesthetic designing issues and I took care of all the equipment to run the pond.  It took her a couple days to get a design that she was happy with and took me a couple months to gather all the equipment for the project.

We started digging the pond in June 2003 and did not finish digging until August.  The pond turned out to be approximately 40 ‘ X 20’ and up to 6’ deep at one end and 4’ on the other.  I installed all the plumbing and half the filtration and then we brought a group of about 12 people over to help get the liner into the hole we dug.  We wanted to get the fish into the pond and conditioned before winter as we did not want them to spend another winter on the porch.

Once the liner was laid down, we started the filling process.  Our neighbor offered to let us use his water as ours has so much iron in it and he claimed his did not. We did not put any rockwork around the pond at this time mainly because we were more interested in getting the fish into this huge hole we dug.  It took about 24 hours to fill the pond with the neighbors water,  in which he was wrong about the lack of iron in it, as the water was orange.  I had it clear within a couple days and had some of  the filtration running.

We acclimated our koi to their new home and they seemed to adjust pretty well, but within a couple days, we had lost a few more fish.  We found five fish were no longer in the pond; they were laying in our yard.  There was not much of a lip around the perimeter of the pond so it was not much of a jump for the fish to get out.  We ordered our rock (50 tons) shortly thereafter and put up a perimeter so the fish were less likely to jump out into the yard.

We ran seven de-icers on the pond the first year, making sure to keep good gas exchange throughout the winter and all remaining 11 fish were still present come springtime, 7 months later.  The fish stopped eating in October that first year and started eating again late-April.  We were prepared to finish the filtration that next spring and summer but things just didn’t work out that way.

It was the second winter when catastrophe took its toll on our fish.  We ran seven de-icers again the second winter expecting the same results.  We had to keep moving snow away from the de-icers throughout the winter to keep them working properly.   We thought all was well until I went out one day to check on everything and found that all the de-icers weren’t working.

As I walked out on the pond to check on them and the ice cracked under my feet, I knew there was a problem.  The ice gets well over a a foot thick up here and to have it crack under your feet means some death and decay are happening under the ice and causing a heating effect.  The smell of dead decaying fish rose out of the water and no fish were to be found until spring when we could see them thawing out of the ice itself.  It was heartbreaking to have fish for so long and have something like that happen.  All our fish were lost that year.

I know many people in the pond industry and luckily was able to acquire some really nice fish from Blackwater Creek Koi Farm in Florida.  Joe Pawlak who owns BWC is a good friend and has some really nice healthy fish.   He stocked us up really well and we were pretty excited about our new fish.  Once the new additions went through quarantine and were added to our display pond, my wife and daughter had them trained to eat out of their hands within a couple weeks.

I made a change for the coming winter on how I would deal with the de-icer situation.  While I still ran de-icers, five this time, I also added an air pump to the mix. Since air at -20 will freeze everything up and cool water below freezing, the air pump was in the house, the tubing then ran through the porch and outside to the pond.  Any tubing that would come in contact with air was insulated and then I used  heat tape to keep the moisture in the airline from freezing.  I ran a 12 inch airstone and use a Styrofoam float to keep it at the surface of the water.

In the next part, learn how the new kids fared.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny June 23, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Hi Eric,
As a fellow northern Wisconsin ponder, I read your posts with a lot of interest. So, how did the new set up with the airstone and heated tubing work out?

I’m very new at the pond addiction and am coming up on my first winter with koi this fall. If someone with your experience and pond depth has problems, I’m a bit worried. I’ve read that the insulated stock tank is a good option for most of us cold weather folks. That was my plan for this coming winter….might need to be a long term solution for me. Of course, my pond is only 1200 gallons so catching my koi won’t be difficult. Now, your 20’x40′ mini-lake…..that’s a whole different story!! 🙂

Terry Roberts May 21, 2015 at 2:36 pm

We moved to Merrill from Southern Wisconsin last fall. We had a pond with 14 Koi. Half were larger probably over 20″. We took them out of the pond and put them in a 12′ dia. pool at my grandson’s house. We moved the next week. One of the first things I had to do was put up another pool in the basement. The next week My grandson transported the Koi to Merrill in 2 aerated stock tanks and put the fish in our basement pool. Now I’ve set the 2nd pool up outside and will transfer the Koi to the outside pool. I have someone that will help dig my permanent outside pond in July. In all this we didn’t lose one Koi.

Terry

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