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Building a Koi Pond is an exciting endeavor yet overwhelming with details. Koi are the fanciest, yet most complex of all pond fish. They are the considered the ultimate level of pond keeping in the trade and many people go all all on designs and aquascapes and there are many professional koi pond installations that go well over $15,000 all said and done.
In this post, I’m going to go over everything today on how a professional Koi pond is constructed. Then I’m going to simplify everything so you can build a reasonable Koi pond with the best koi pond kits available on the market. Sure, you can spend several thousand with a professional and have a wonderful cement based bottom drain Koi pond, but I imagine if you are here that is not your idea of how much you want to spend for a Koi pond.
I will go through the concepts of why so many professionals focus on big installs and then get you into the contractor’s mindset so you can build a wonderful Koi pond for less and be satisfied with what you create. Let’s first talk about what makes an ideal Koi pond.
The Ideal Koi Pond Setup
Let’s first start with the basics and walk in the shoes of a professional Koi Pond install. Actually, let’s take it a step further and go into the shoes of a commercial installer. A Koi Pond should be in its basics:
- A clean and healthy environment
- A safe environment
That seems really simple to provide, but let’s dig into the details. When a commercial installer refers to a clean and healthy environment, the installer refers to a koi pond setup where all fish waste is pulled from a central area in the pond. Let’s illustrate this with a sample 3000 gallon Koi Pond setup below:
As you can see here, there are two bottom drains in this pond build. The pond surface is made in a bowl like shape so fish waste and detritus flows downward into the drain. The pond uses a waterfall feature and a pond skimmer. This is what we would call in the industry the pinnacle of koi pond keeping. This is how commercial installs are done and they require little maintenance, however, they are only affordable to commercial businesses or very wealthy individuals. We need to narrow our focus down to a more reasonable setup, which we will get to later.
Now let’s talk about the next point, a safe environment to provide the best care for your Koi. A Koi Pond needs to be dig deep enough so the fish can hide away from predators on the surface. We want to make sure our Koi are safe from animals such as raccoons, possums, and herons. In addition to this, we want to make sure the Koi are protected from sharp objects like sharp rocks or sharp surfaces. This becomes even more important as Koi start to spawn.
What happens when you take all these principles together is you get a 1500+ gallon koi pond that is at least 3 feet deep with a bottom drain with the highest end equipment available such as Pond Bead Filters, completely bare bottom, and plant-less. It creates an easy to maintain Koi pond that is all about the Koi, but also very expensive. We need to dig into these principles and focus on more cost effective way of building a quality pond. So let’s dig in.
How Big Should My Koi Pond Be?
This should be the first question we ask ourselves. Koi are very large fish for a pond and need a lot of space. You should not consider putting Koi in a pond unless you are going to make a pond that is at least 1000 gallons. 1500 gallons and up is preferred for most experts. You can go a bit smaller if you only house 1 or 2 Koi and mix with goldfish, but the general consensus is at least 1000 gallons for Koi at minimum.
A More Cost Effective Method
Getting a commercial installation of a Koi Pond is a consideration — if you have the money to do it! However, lets take the contractor’s perspective. A commercial install is a major pain for a contractor. You have to get a building permit, there is heavy equipment that needs to be brought in, and the build take get several weeks to do. Manufacturers like Aquascape Pros have been made by contractors for contractors. They focus on all in one koi pond kits that have everything you need to get started and you do not need heavy equipment to perform the install.
These pond kits are made for contractors who want to make big margins creative value based large pond installations. Where the buyer is satisfied that they got a great looking, easy to maintain pond, for a reasonable price. The contractor is happy because they made a big margin without the mess of a building permit, large crews, and heavy equipment. It’s a win-win for all. And you can do it yourself if you want to remove the contractor all together!
What you end up with is a design as shown below by Aquascape Pros
The waterfall pushes water down and into the pond skimmer while plants are placed in the middle of the pond.
Building A Clean And Healthy Environment
Let’s focus on the equipment that comes with these Koi Pond kits and why they are great for Koi Pond setups.
A pond skimmer works on keeping your pond clean. They function like the skimmers built in pools, these are just designed for your pond. They remove debris, returns water to the surface, and aerates your pond. It is in essence a mechanical filter for your pond. They are one of the essential filtration tools for a pond.
The waterfall filter is your biological filter in your pond. It works to maintain the proper biological balance in your pond so you have a proper nitrogen cycle to maintain proper pond parameters. Many waterfall filters on the market are very unsightly and not easy to hide. With these kits we will go over, they are meant to be integrated parts of your pond so they will hide well not stick out like a sore thumb. Because they are meant to act like a waterfall, they provide aeration and flow into your pond. When designed correctly, they create a beautiful looking water feature. They are also pleasant to hear providing excellent ambient noise.
All these kits come with a properly sized pond pump, taking out all the guesswork regarding head-loss and sizing your pump to your filtration unit. It is way easier to get a kit then figuring out what works with your equipment of choice
Liner and Underlayment
These kits use Pond Liner and underlayment instead of concentrate surfaces like with commercial installations. These liners are made of EDPM, usually 45mm thick. They are designed to retain water in ponds. A properly made EDPM pond liner should be backed by a long warranty, such as 20 years and should provide resistance to UV, ozone, and oxidation. A well made liner and proper install should provide years of trouble-free use and enjoyment.
Now that I have your attention regarding Koi Pond Kits, let’s look at a list of recommended kits to get you started. Just so you know, Aquarium Store Depot may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page (learn more).
All these kits are excellent kits with everything you need to get started on building the Koi Pond of your dreams. All can be installed with hand tools.
In A Hurry? I recommend the Half Off Ponds Savio Signature Kit with UV
|Half Off Ponds Savio Signature with UV Kit||Buy On Amazon|
|Aquascape Complete Pond Kit||Buy On Amazon|
|Savio EPDM Pond Kit||Buy On Amazon|
|Simply Ponds 2100||Buy On Amazon|
The Top Choices For The Money (2023 Reviews)
Let’s get into the reviews of these pond kits below.
1. Half Off Savio Signature – With UV
With premium Savio parts and a UV sterilizer, this pond kit has it all and will operate reliably for years!
The Half Off Pond Savio Signature series pond kits are a great deal to consider. This particular pond kit actually comes with a UV sterilizer. I actually wish more pond kits would come with UV sterilizers because I feel they are an essential tool for combating green algae blooms that tend to be all too common in the summer. This pond kit also comes with some accent lighting, which is another consideration you may want to put into your pond for added aesthetics.
Savio is a well known quality brand in the pond industry. They have been making pond kits for equipment for many years and they have videos for their installs available for you to view.
This is a really good pond kit, with the only downfall being that the max depth of these kits is only 1.5 feet deep. It is spec’ed to 1900 gallons, making it a large pond kit. See the full review for all Half Off Ponds kits.
- Savio name
- Comes with a UV Sterilizer
- Good Price
- Designed for only 1.5 feet deep
2. Aquascape Complete Kit
High quality equipment backed by a 20 year warranty. Aquascape works with contractors around the US for peace of mind install work
The Koi Pond kit from Aquascape offers some of the highest quality equipment of the koi ponds kits on this list. It both the skimmer and the waterfall filter are great filtration systems that the Aquascape team created many years ago with their own experience making high quality pond builds. There is also a dosing system that comes with the kit, allowing you to dose supplements into your pond easily.
The pond liner itself is made of 45mm EPDM and backed by a 20 year warranty and the filtration components on the skimmer and waterfall have a lifetime warranty. Aquascape also works with a network of contractors so if you would like to hire help, they have a list of contractors that they recommend that you can work with. They market these kits to show they can be built with hand tools and their instructions provided are pretty detailed.
They are at a premium price though. It’s easily the most expensive pond kit on the list. There is a cheaper pond kit without the dosing system also available.
- Very high quality equipment
- Comes with a dosing system
- 20 year warranty on liner
3. Savio EPDM Kit – Great Price and Brand Name Kit
A cheaper variant than my Editor's Choice. Same high quality Savio parts!
The Savio EPDM Pond Kit is a great kit for a great price. The Savio name and the quality of this equipment is ideal for a new Koi pond. This is essentially the same pond kit as the above Savio kit but without the UV so you get a slightly lower price for those of you who are being extra budget cautious. It has the same downfall being designed for depths of only 1.5 deep with the dimensions provided on the kit, but you can build a deeper depth, you just have to be aware that the footprint will be smaller if you go deeper on the depth with this kit.
- Great price
- Savio brand name
- Designed for only 1.5 feet deep
4. Simply Ponds 2100 Kit – A Budget Friendly Kit
A value priced Koi pond kit. Contains a Savio waterfall filter. Keeps price down with a generic skimmer and pond. Overall, a great value for those on a budget!
The Simply Pond 2100 Pond Kit is the cheapest Koi Pond kit on this list. It provides a good mix of quality and value in this package. They mix high quality brands like Savio in the waterfall filter and use cheaper parts on the pump and skimmer. Because you purchase this package from Half Off Ponds, you have one source of warranty claims for all your equipment purchased, which helps balance out this kit from say the Savio or Aquascape kits who could make the same claims.
The main downfall of this pond kit is the skimmer and the pump. The skimmer isn’t as high quality as a Savio skimmer or Aquascape, but it’s a good trade off for the price. If you want to do a pond cheap but still maintain quality, this kit is a perfect fit for you!
- Good combination of value and quality in equipment make up
- Lifetime warranty on liner
- Skimmer and pond pump is of a lower quality then the rest of this list
Providing A Safe Environment
As you can see with these high quality Koi pond kits, you can build a very effective and easy to maintain Koi pond without having to do a concrete based Koi pond with a bottom drain. But how about protecting your Koi? After all the depth in many of these pond kits are designed for 2 feet in depth so what’s the best way to combat this? Here are a few tips. If you follow these tips, you shouldn’t need to worry too much about predators in your Koi pond:
Purchase a predator decoy
A predator decoy like a Alligator Head Decoy is effective at deterring Heron.
Effective Against Heron
This alligator head decoy is a great tool for keeping Heron away from your pond and Koi
Install A Nite Guard
A Nite Guard is a predator control light that is effective at deterring raccoons. The sudden flashes of lights scare them away and keep your Koi safe at night.
Great Against Raccoons
The Nite Guard is a tool that will flash lights at raccoons to scare them away. Protects your Koi late at night!
Install Steep Declines
Many of these kits recommend a step layout on the pond. These steps create steep declines into your pond. Many predators do not like to get wet and the declines will deter them from attempting to swipe at your fish. This also protects your fish as they won’t venture into the shallow parts of your pond. This is why you should avoid just building a straight oval in your pond design when installing these kits. You can see the illustration below as a guide.
Go More Than 2 Feet Deep
Going 2.5 feet is a good compromise for adding some additional predator protection at the deepest part of your pond. If you go too deep, you will effect the filtration of the skimmer. Do not go more than 3 feet deep with these pond kits.
It’s not an ideal solution because it adds additional work and maintenance, but a Pond Net is an effective tool for night protection of predators. It is a consideration if you live in an area that has a lot of active predators at night.
Of all the Koi Pond Kits here, I feel that the Savio Signature Series with UV is the best Koi pond kit to purchase available today. That UV filter that is included truly gives you everything you need to get started. The Savio name is well known in the industry and the price is very reasonable. You will just need to work with a smaller footprint than advertised on the box as the specs are listed at a 1.5 foot depth and we definitely do not want to make a Koi pond that shallow unless we are installing anti-predator features.
How To Install
Installing a Koi Pond Kit is a long process, but can be done with hand tools and by yourself or with a friend. Below is a great video from Aquascape on how to install their kit as a reference. All the koi pond kits in this post come with very details instructions.
I hope I have provided a solid amount of information to aid you on your journey to build a Koi pond of your dreams. This Koi pond kits will get you started on the right foot of enjoying your own pondscape in your home. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section. Thanks for reading.
Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping – both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.
You mention best depth is 2.5, don’t go deeper than 3 feet. Your highest recommendation went to the savio specked for 1.5 feet deep. You did mention this as a con. What is a compatible kit if you want to 2.5? Most sites recommend deep but the pond lines are 1.5 to 2 feet deep.
For bigger than 2.5 depth, you will want to shop at The Pond Guy, they have more robust kits. It’s best to contact them directly.
It’s risky to use a shower pan liner for a Koi pond. It’s hard to tell if it’s going to be considered safe for your fish and may not last as long as a pond liner. Pond liner is also going to usually be 45mm. This will be thicker than most shower pan liners.
Can you use a shower pan liner for a Koi pond?