Creating a Perfect Pond: Use Pond Liner
Page Summary: Modern flexible pond liners are by far the best choice for pond building for most budding pond keepers. Depending where you live the material of choice will be Butyl rubber, PVC, EPDM or HDPE. If you go the liner route make ABSOLUTELY sure you buy a long life liner from a reputable supplier like Bradshaws or Pondkeeper. Pondliner is not any old plastic sheet. The last thing you want is a pond with a hole in it a year after you have completed your pond project. Do not skimp at this stage of your pond project. If you do you will live to regret it. Make sure your get a real guarantee. It is also a good idea to underlay the pond liner with a suitable underlay material.
DIY koi and goldfish ponds
Whether you are going to keep koi, goldfish, or one of the other rather less popular types of pond fish, you are going to need somewhere to keep them. The most common options are to build a pond using some sort of flexible liner (EPDM, Butyl, PVC) or to simply sink a ready-made rigid preformed plastic of fibreglass pond shell into the ground.
Equally effective are concrete ponds, or fish ponds built using bricks and mortar and then plastered or rendered with mortar or fibreglass. These latter options take substantially more work and must be properly waterproofed to prevent the pondwater from seeping out of the shell.
Alternatively you could go the traditional route and build a clay pond using bentonite clay to achieve the once ubiquitous clay puddle pond. Like concrete and brickwork, clay puddling is also relatively hard work, and if it isn't done correctly, it won't hold water or will tend to look constantly murky.
Preformed fish ponds
A rigid, preformed shell makes it possible for anyone to install a fish pond quickly and easily. The toughest part is digging the hole into which the shell will be seated. Another minor challenge is to ensure that the shell is level on the ground; you'll need a spirit level to check this. Water is a dead giveaway when it comes to levels, as it settles to form a perfectly horizontal surface – albeit a liquid one! Then you'll need a bit more energy to backfill the shell, around the outer walls, to keep it firmly in position.
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The main disadvantage though is that preformed shells are generally quite small and relatively shallow.
Materials used for rigid liners range from various plastics and glassfibre (or fibreglass) to glassfibre reinforced cement (which is sometimes used to make fake rocks) and fibrecement.
Rigid fibreglass ponds are particularly tough and reasonably hardwearing, provided of course they are well made. Note that while the terms glassfibre and fibreglass are often used interchangeably, glassfibre is the primary term in countries where "Fibreglass" is a registered trade name. Some ponds of this type are built up by hand, layer-by-layer; others are made by spraying layers of catalyst, polyester resin and chopped glassfibre strands onto a mould.
Of all the thermoplastic materials, the toughest is high density polythene which is moulded from a single sheet of material. It is generally cheaper than fibreglass but not quite as resilient.
Flexible pond liners for koi and goldfish ponds
Flexible in more ways than one, flexible pond liners vary in terms of life expectancy and cost.
At the bottom of the range is heavy-duty polyethylene sheeting, similar to the stuff we used to waterproof our roofs and basement walls. It is close to being "cheap", but unfortunately is prone to puncturing. At the other end of the scale is butyl rubber, dubbed the Rolls Royce of flexible liners. This has a life expectancy of 50 years, and a pond liner made of this material may come with a lifetime guarantee. It is highly resistant to puncturing and degeneration, but it is very expensive. While it is available in various thicknesses, bear in mind that the thicker it is, the more difficult it will be to avoid having to fold the material. A 2 mm-thick liner is perfect for a pond lining.
A less expensive rubber-based product is EPDM (an ethylene propylene polymer product) that is less expensive than butyl rubber, and which will last a lot longer than any of the plastic-type products. It is popular for lining ponds in both the UK and USA. Another option is PVC (polyvinyl chloride), sometimes called vinyl. This is a material that is commonly used in the USA (and some other countries) to construct relatively inexpensive swimming pools. Considerably more stable than the usual "plastic" products, it is also popular as a pond liner in some countries.
Ultimately you have a choice based on what is available in your area, or what you can order online. Decide first whether you are going to stock the pond with koi or goldfish. Also assess how much space you have for the pond. Then shop around to see what is available and what materials will cost you.*******
Don't stress over pond pH and Testing Koi Pond pH
I will make a few very important points here which should be taken very seriously by anyone contemplating measuring pH in a koi pond and then TAKING ACTION based upon the measured result from testing the koi pond's water. If you test do it reliably... Interpet lead this pond water testing field of the koi keeping hobby
- pH of koi pond water will vary depending on time of day measurement is taken and especially if plants are in the pond. This means if you take a pH at 9am it will not be the same as a pH taken at 6pm. This single piece of information therefore must never be the information relied upon to make fundamental decisions
- pH is notoriously difficult to measure even in a laboratory with sophisticated instruments let alone in a koipond or fish pond using a piece of litmus type paper or a vial with coloured scales on it.
- If you must measure pond pH and this is a great part of the hobby then take the pond pH at the same time every day and plot the result on a graph. So now what you're looking for is not a single pondwater result but rather a pH trend in the pond water that you can use to sensibly consider a pH strategy.
- Very high pH in a koi pond is a serious threat to the well being of koi when levels reach about 9.5 because at this pH level ammonia which is a natural metabolic product of the koi and its existence becomes extremely poisonous
- It would be extremely rare for a koi pond to reach dangerous pH levels but could well occur in koi ponds with serious algae problems