Perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions i receive from Koi hobbyists around the world when I meet them is, ‘Do you have a pond of your own?’.  For around 10 years, the answer to that question has been no, however my pond keeping days stretch back over 30 years, my fish keeping days over 35 years, so most of my life I’ve been a fish keeper.

The past 10 or 11 years have seen me spend significant periods of time outside to the UK, and certainly not enough time in the UK to even contemplate a pond beyond the 30 year old Koi pond which was built with my dad in the summer of ’88 in my parents garden, the same pond which was recently refurbished and filtration upgraded to an Evolution Aqua EazyPod, and later EazyPod Automatic – http://nishikigoi.life/2018/03/15/evolution-aqua-eazypod-automatic-review/.

30 year old pond refurbished September/October 2018

30 year old pond refurbished September/October 2018

For several years now I’ve had an increasing desire to have a new pond of my own, whether to grow Koi of my own breeding (long term), or so grow small selected Koi.  I’ve also become increasingly fascinated by aquaponics in conjunction with Koi after visiting Mat and Jen McCann at Beni Hanna Nishikigoi – https://www.benihannanishikigoi.com/ – back in September 2016.

Organic lettuce growing at Beni Hanna Aquaponics

Organic lettuce growing at Beni Hanna Aquaponics

Organic chilli growing at Beni Hanna Aquaponics

Organic chilli growing at Beni Hanna Aquaponics

As the idea of constructing something new gathered momentum the practicalities of what and where came to the fore.  One option was to rebuild on the site of the existing pond, entirely feasible given that the liner was leaking, however it was always going to be an outdoor pond, which didn’t necessarily tick all the boxes for what i wanted.

So, what were the boxes I wanted to tick:

  • to be able to practise some of the theoretical things I’ve preached over the last 10 years
  • inside/under cover for environmental control
  • low/easy maintenance for times when i wasn’t here
  • relatively low cost as a proof of concept ‘entry’ level system
  • modular, should it need to be moved in the future, which also ties in with the entry level system as well

The next question was where was i to propose putting this new ‘pond’, considering that it’s not my house or garden – I’m just the ‘occasional’ lodger.


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For many years an irregular shaped corner of the garden has housed a greenhouse, a greenhouse which for several of my teenage years was home to a 1000 litre ‘growing’ tank.  The main garden pond contains a Koi which spent some of its life in that growing tank having been purchased from Koi Water Barn at a few inches long back in around 1990.  That growing tank has long since been demolished, and the greenhouse no longer used as a greenhouse.  It was the logical place to ‘pitch’ my plan, out of the way, unused space.

The unused corner I planned to takeover

The unused corner I planned to takeover

The 130 sq. ft space was going to be a challenge to utilise if filtration was going to go in there too.  However, by moving a piece of fence which separated front garden from back, would expand the space to around 166 sq. ft.  Coincidentally the plant bed the other side of the space had just been cleared of shrubs and needed replanting.

With my use of the space agreed to, it was time to think in more detail about how to use it……

I looked around at the readily available fibreglass ponds from Denby and EZ-Pond, these worked perfectly in terms of being modular.  I couldn’t get what I wanted to fit my space off the shelf.  I also considered building wooden railway sleeper ponds, and discussed these with Adam Byer at Byer Koi Farm (Visit to Byer Koi Farm – 16th September 2018) and Chris Thomas at Kitsu Koi (Visit to Kitsu Koi on 9th September 2018) knowing they’d both built and used this style of ponds.  While theoretically a sleeper pond could be made any size/shape, using anything but standard length sleepers would entail significant cutting of sleepers.  A box welded liner was not cheap.  Ultimately whatever was created in that manner wasn’t going to be easily modular/portable in the future.  As such sleeper ponds were disregarded.

I knew that Manor Koi (www.manorkoi.com), my local dealer for over 30 years, made fibreglass tanks along with all manner of other fibreglass filtration systems.  Their largest off the shelf unit fell a little short of what i wanted in volume, although 2 of them fitted in the available space.  Chatting with Martin Green at Manor the idea came up to make 2 custom tanks, same surface area, but slightly deeper to gain extra volume.  With the thought of custom tanks in mind the idea expanded to making a custom tank which would make best use of the space and provide the desired water volume.  A tank with internal dimensions of 8ft x 7ft and 36″ water depth would give me just over 1000 gallons and would fit perfectly in the allocated space, allowing for the framework of the tank as well.  With confirmation from Martin that his guys could make the tank the order was placed, and as I type (10th January) the tank has just been completed by the fibreglass guys at Manor Koi.

Tank under construction at Manor Koi - 21st December

Tank under construction at Manor Koi – 21st December

Completed tank - it's a bit of a beast

Completed tank – it’s a bit of a beast

Completed tank - 10th January

Completed tank – 10th January

Inside of completed tank - 10th January

Inside of completed tank – 10th January

For me, the decision of what filtration to use was a fairly simple one to be honest.  I’ve been a massive fan of fluidised bed filtration since it first hit the market, in fact i was playing around with a K1 ‘copy’ before Evolution Aqua started to sell Kaldnes K1 in the UK pond market.  Fluid bed filtration combined with Bakki Shower is, in my opinion, a great combination (Although i have no immediate plans to include a Bakki Shower I suspect one will be added at a later stage.  I rather like the look and idea of the Koi Water Life Centre Protein Shower units which incorporate protein skimmer functionality).


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As detailed above ‘low/easy maintenance’ and ‘relatively low cost’ were overall objectives.  My previous experience with the Nexus, coupled with my experience with the EazyPod Automatic, put the Nexus Automatic firmly in the frame with the 220 at £1440 or the 320 at £1640 – the model chosen would be governed by space.  I have no doubt people will be reading and asking, ‘what about drums’.  Well i could have gone for a ProfiDrum Combi Bio perhaps, but the price for the Combi Bio 15 is over twice that of the Nexus 220 Auto that pushing my ‘relatively low cost’ objective.  I also felt it added an extra layer of complexity to the ‘low/easy maintenance’ objective.  Whilst on a day to day basis they may be relatively maintenance free, should something go wrong then they are likely a lot harder to resolve from a distance.  The same goes for all drums, and the lower priced/specified models than the ProfiDrum would fill me with less confidence of reliability and/or support if a problem occured.

Back in September I visited the pond of hobbyist Mike Bailey with Tim Waddington of Quality Nishikigoi (www.qualitynishikigoi.com), you can see it in the video below.  Mike’s pond is one of a number designed/constructed by Quality Nishikigoi which utilise Nexus Automatic filtration systems.  Speaking to Tim he re-affirmed the confidence he had in the reliability of the system.

As it worked out the space available dictated using a Nexus 220 Automatic, which on paper is of course way over specified for a 1000 gallon pond.  With a maximum flow rate of 2200gph, Evolution Aqua state the unit is good for a Koi pond of up to 4,000 UK gallons.  Those numbers are of course general rules of thumb, and the intention will be to turn over the pond significantly faster than the ‘once every 2 hours’ rule of thumb.  A variable speed pump will enable those numbers to be tweaked as desired over time.

The basic layout of the tank and filter would be as such….

Simple diagram of tank and filter layout

Simple diagram of tank and filter layout

This post was originally started when the project was in the early stages before Christmas, the site had been cleared and construction of the wooden frame for the twin wall polycarbonate Koi house which will cover it was the next job.


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Clearing the site - 12th December

Clearing the site – 12th December

Thankfully that is now completed, and the next job is to put the roof on and get the concrete base for the tank laid ready for delivery of the tank in around a week or so.

Wooden framework of Koi house complete - 10th January

Wooden framework of Koi house complete – 10th January

Hopefully everything will be finished in the next 2 weeks before I head off to Japan for the 50th All Japan Koi Show.


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