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Thread: Russell Water Gardens and Kodama Koi Farm Pair Up /Merged Thread

  1. #101
    Oyagoi bekko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    I thought John Russell cleared things up pretty well and I am sorry I was nearly disparaging towards him. If you want a "proper" koi pond, he will build you a proper koi pond. If you want a water garden he will build you a water garden. If you want something in between, that's OK too. As long as they are helping the customer understand what they are buying and as long as the customer gets what they paid for, then I don't see a problem.

    -stevehop kins

  2. #102

    Fluffing the gravel

    Hello D,
    Thanks for the question about "fluffing" gravel. First off, I'm not talking about "fluffing" gravel that has been sitting in a pond for a year building up muck and debris. That is a catalog marketed type kit pond that too many landscapers build - and that is not what I'm talking about here. Please re-read all my posts here and you'll better understand what I'm talking about. I am dead-set against those types of rock and gravel ponds and the way they need to be cleaned. I am on record all over the country, and on many forums stating that. "Annually cleaned ponds, and the method of cleaning them is detrimental to the health and well being of all inhabitance of a pond - including koi." Aquascape has banned me from their forum for saying that among other things.

    Now, to what I'm really talking about: I recommend "fluffing" the gravel in a rock & gravel Hybrid pond at least once a month - preferably not all at once. A different 1/4 section of the pond each week is best. It takes just a few minutes. This way - you'll be keeping debris removed on a continous basis so it doesn't have a chance to build up to harmful levels. Of course, this is all predicated on having a biofilter that is backflushable and a mechanical filter to remove the larger debris. (Pad & Lava Rock type filters are not backflushable - and are NOT recommended)

    Gravel in Hybrid ponds is not like the 100% river rock found in most pad&lava rock filtered kit ponds. The gravel in Hybrid ponds is more like aquarium gravel that is a mostly pea gravel with a mixture rate of 60% 3/8"-1/2" pea gravel, 20% 1"-2" drain rock, and 20% 4"-8" river rock for cosmetics. As you know, river rock is typically 4"-8" in size with massive "gaps" between the boulders that trap lots of debris. This is a big problem with catalog marketed kit pond types that landscapers build. Most people that install them use way too much river rock. With a higher concectration of 3/8"-1/2" pea gravel, the "gaps" are reduced by over 90% while increasing the total surface area for bio-film growth. With most of the "gaps" filled with pea gravel - leaves, needles, and twigs that the pond skimmer didn't catch won't get trapped "in" the gravel - they'll rest on top for easy removal with a net or tongs.

    Pea gravel is super easy to "fluff". Most people simply use their garden hose connected to 3/4" PVC pipe with a nozzle at the end. The PVC pipe should be long enough to reach the bottom of the pond from a standing position. Turn on the faucet - and gently poke the nozzle into the pea gravel mixture. When done regularly - and that is the key - only small amounts of detritus will "fluff" up into a cloud in the water. Add a scoop or two of Koi Clay or a flocculent to your pump's intake - and the cloud will quickly get trapped in the mechanical filter and the first stage of your biofilter. Simply backflush it away.

    This makes draining the pond, removing the fish, pressure washing the gravel, and vacuuming muck a thing of the past!

    Is this method as easy as keeping bare liner ponds clean? Absolutely not. What it is intended for is to improve koi and other fishes living conditions in rock and gravel type ponds. Thats it. It is not intened to replace traditional koi ponds. Infact, it is learning from people such as you - the importance of "clean" living conditions for koi. I do listen to folks like all of you here.

    I don't know how you think I'm dominating the conversation here - these posts where created by others - and I'm merely responding to accusations, misrepresentations, and answering questions that are asked of me.

    I don't know who you are, or where we've met - but if you're in the Seattle area please stop by for a visit - I'll buy you lunch and you can tell me all the things you disagree with me about and what I should do to change. Hopefuly we can become friends and learn from each other.

    Looking forward to meeting you.
    John Russell

  3. #103

    Steve, you are SO RIGHT!

    Hello Steve,

    You are SO RIGHT! Finally someone understands where I'm coming from! Thank you!

    The people on this forum are a wealth of information and experience - this is why it is so important for me to be a part of this and to get to know all of you. RWG/KKF is an idea that brings people such as yourselves together with people that may not have the experience and education that you all have. People teaching people in a friendly enviromnment instead of the usuall bickering.

    No mass-marketing to lawn-mowing companies here!

    Thank so much!
    John Russell

  4. #104

    Koi pond photos

    Hello Cheryl,

    Thanks for the questions. As I stated in an earlier post - we have moved our Flagship store and completely demolished everything - including our lake - at our old place. The new store is open, and we are in the process of building all new displays. As we re-build, we are going to take "step by step" photos of each display for instructional use on our web site, owners manuals, and brochures. The old 3 acre place wasn't very secure - we had many robberies and thousands of dollars in koi and filter systems stolen several times. So we built our "koi ponds" inside a greenhouse above ground that can be completely seen by a surveillance camera we had installed. The koi in the ponds where beautiful, but the ponds themselves weren't worth photographing as they were built mainly as "test" ponds to work out the bugs in our HBV filter designs and HC centrifugal pumps. This is why there are currently no photos of koi ponds on our web site. We are working on it now - and will have them up prior to next spring.

    At our new place, I do have our "indoor" koi pond built and running - although it is not "cosmeticaly" finished. I'll photograph it, along with the equipment used to build it and post it on our web site - I'll post some photos here as well. The pond is "L" shaped. 20' x 10' on the verticle part of the "L" and 12' x 10' on the horizontal part of the "L". It is 5 feet deep with 3 1/2 feet below ground and 1 1/2' above ground - bare liner. We constructed a "box" around the pond out of 4"x6" timbers - we'll later cover the outside of the timbers with "Cultured Stone" to finish it out.

    The pond features two pumps - our HC-050 Hydro Centrimax centrifugal pump connected to a Bottom drain at the elbow of the "L". This pump then pushes water through one of our HBV-28 bead filters that then passes the water back to the pond. This pump sends water to one of the 5 Hydro Columns at the head of the "L" and one submerged jet into the pond. We have a second pump - a submersible - our Hydro Dynamax HD6000 inside our Piper HydroClean pond skimmer that sits outside the box to show customers how this skimmer can be moved away from the pond's edge and be adapted to concrete ponds, or "box" ponds. This pump then passes water to a second HBV-36 bead filter. This water then passes back to the remaining 4 Hydro Columns and a second submerged jet.

    The pond also has an air compressor and 6" airstone to aerate the bottom of the pond. We have two "Heron" fountains in the pond, as well as about a dozen or so Umbrella Palms and Papyrus plants sitting on the one plant shelve. We haven't installed a UV yet, the pond is indoors and we're seeing if it is needed - so far it hasn't been. I haven't counted, but we have about a dozen koi in the pond ranging from 10" to 20". "Jelly" is the name of the largest. She is a Kohaku from the Kodama Koi Farm and a big sweetie-pie.

    Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have, and please, tell me your concerns with our web site and how we can improve it for you.

    If you are interested in learning more about the products used in the koi pond I described above, the links below will take you to each product for you to see.

    Centrifugal pump

    Submersible pump

    Bead filters

    Hydro Rock columns

    Pond skimmer and extension

    Air compressor and stone

    Thanks Cheryl,
    John Russell

  5. #105


    First off, in what dream world do ponders have you come by and fluff their gravels once a month. Hell, most dont even backwash their filters that often. And if the truth were known about the cleaning of aquascapes ponds, many if not most have never been cleaned. Ever. So unless you sell them the maintenance when you sell the pond, it aint gonna happen.

    Several other things too I could cover, but got too much to do.

    All I can say is good luck!

    And if I am in the area, lunch will be on me. Unless you are too busy running your world wide monopoly.


  6. #106
    Tosai Jagger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Kemsing,Kent,(That's in England)
    Now I admit to being a Limey,and therefore haven't been exposed to these Aquascape,AES,Hybrid, or whatever ponds but that doesn't mean I haven't seen some rubbish koi environments in my time,I've even owned some over the learning years.I've also seen a few crackers too.

    What surprises me here is the ferocity of the attacks on Mr.Russel especially in the land of the free and the home of the brave,the very home of capitalism.That's where the rule of caveat emptor (buyer beware) rules,yes? As a buyer, you buy what you want.If you then find out what you bought wasn't what you wanted then it's you that made the error.

    I'm willing to bet that a huge majority of us made serious pond planning errors in our past and learned from our mistakes.I'm also willing to bet that a huge majority of eventual "proper" koi pond owners will do exactly the same in the future.It's human nature.

    That education at the point of sale will make a huge difference to this situation is something that I agree on, but it seems that is exactly what Mr.Russell is setting out to do from his posts here.Whether he manages to affect the majority of pond buyers is another matter entirely,dependant on the customer actually wanting to learn.That is a situation that is far from guaranteed in my view.How many purchasers will buy a nice water garden and then add a few of those nice brightly coloured little fish from the fish store down the road and consequently end up with an unsuitable environment for their koi in ensuing years? It's the way I started keeping koi and it's the way a huge proportion of other koi keepers started.It will continue to happen all the time that vendors will let koi be purchased for unsuitable ponds.

    It seems that Mr.Russell is learning and is willing to admit that he is learning.An underestimated trait it appears.I don't think that he can be held to account for koi ending up in the wrong pond.The blame must lay equally with the fish vendors and the fish keepers.

    As serious koi keepers we have all learned one way or another how best to keep our pets and rightly hold strong views on how others should best keep them.The only way to improve the lot of koi all over the world is by sharing enlightenment and education,not by taking cheap shots at individual establishments or people especially when they are showing signs of improvement.

    Some years ago the Japanese would not allow a single decent koi out of the country to be "ruined" in a foreign pond.They would only export the culls.This situation has now changed thanks to the efforts of people like Peter Waddington to educate the great unwashed in the finer points of not killing a high grade fish in an unsuitable recepticle.Progress has been made.Long may it continue.But don't expect it to happen over night.

    Take Mr.Russell up on his invitation to learn from each other and maybe the world will be a nicer place to be a koi tomorrow.

    End of rant.

  7. #107

    Answers to Don's questions

    Hello Don,

    Thank you for the questions. Here are my answers.

    Yes, Mr. Russell . . .
    please address the following points which we, as evolved koi keepers, would consider absolute minimums that any pond would have to meet prior to being considered a 'true' koi pond by any serious koi keeper:

    1. Volume
    Russell Watergardens is a little different in calculating "how much water a koi needs". There on many "rules of thumb" that are correct, but only to a point. 10 gallons per inch, 100 gallons per 10" are all fine places to start - but these calculation do not consider the filter's capabilities. Our philosophy at Russell Watergardens goes a step further and takes into account the Total Specific Surface Area (SSA) of the biofilter and pond in relation to how much waste in can metabolize per 24 hours. According to many sources found around the internet (links below) - biofilters metabolize an average of .1 grams of fish waste per square foot of biofilm. It takes roughly 50 square feet of biofilm to metabolize 1 gram of ammonia per day. Koi produce approximately 1/3 of their weight in waste every day.

    So, with a minum of 10 gallons of water per inch of koi - we also add the biofilters SSA and the pond's SSA to the mix to tell us exactly how much fish - by weight - that can be placed in the pond.

    The Total SSA tells us exactly how much fish waste and ammonia the pond and filtration system can metabolize per 24 hours. The total fish waste tells us how much fish - by weight - produced it. The total amount of fish weight tells us what size fish, or fishes can be placed in the pond.

    The reason we take this approach is because 10" of fish could be 10 1" fish, 5 2" fish, 2 5" fish, or 1 10" fish. Fish produce waste and ammonia in relation to the weight - not length. For example, a 1" koi weighs (on average) .28 grams, 10 of them have a combined weight of 2.8 grams. BUT, a single 10" koi weighs (on average) 275 grams! Koi produce approximately 1/3 of their body weight in waste per day - so the 10 1" fish with their combined weight of 2.8 grams only produce .93 grams of waste per day - but the 10" koi produces a whopping 91.67 grams of waste every day!

    The 10 1" koi, in addition to the 100 gallons of water they require, needs a minium of 9.3 SSA filter/pond biofilm SSA to metabolize their .93 grams of waste per day. (.93 / .1 = 9.3 SSA)

    The 1 10" koi, in addition to the 100 gallons of water it requires needs a minimum of 916.70 SSA filter/pond biofilm SSA to metabolize its 91.67 grams of waste per day. (91.67 / .1 = 916.70 SSA)

    So you see, for the correct volume of water and koi - we also need to look at the total intended fish weight (including future growth) of the pond to calculated exactly. For example, a biofilter with 1,200 SSA could metablozie 120 grams of fish waste per day. (1200 x .1 = 120). That 120 grams of fish waste was created by 360 grams of fish weight. Look on any fish wieght chart to see what 360 grams of fish equals.

    Koi need a minimum of 10 gallons of water per inch in length AND 3.33 square feet of Specific Surface Area (SSA) biofilm per gram of total fish weight. This tells you how much water, and how much SSA your biofilter requirements are.

    Metabolization formulas and links to sources may be seen here:

    Fish weights and pond stocking levels based on SSA may be seen here:

    2. Depth

    According to the many breaders I have met in Niigatta Japan, as well as Mr. Mamoru Kodama, as well as many of you tell me - the recommended water depth for optimum koi health is 3 times deep as the longest koi. For example: A 10" koi should have a minimum of 30" of depth, an 18" koi should have a minimum of 54", and so on. Keep in mind koi grow - so make the pond three times as deep as you think your largest koi will grow. This 3:1 ratio is for optimum conditions for koi - and the rule is not "set is stone". The water can be slightly deeper or shallower and the koi will be fine.

    3. Pumps & Circulation (turnover and TPRs)
    In ponds 10,000 gallons and less, I recommend turning the water over once per hour through the filtration system. This is to help reduce ammonia spiking - especially right after feeding. On ponds 10,000, but under 20,000 gallons - once every two hours is sufficient. Ponds 20,000-40,000 once every 3-4 hours is fine. Over that we get into once every 6-24 hours. The higher the water volume, the more dilluted ammonia gets in relation to "parts per million".

    As for pumps. No submersible pump is rated for "swimming use". Meaning that they should be disconnected from the power source before a human enters the pond. In all cases, they should be connect to GFCI protected circuits. Submersible pumps typically are less expensive to purchase than centrifugal pumps, but more costly to run. The usually have higher head capabilities are most often prefered when build large - or high waterfalls. Submersible pumps hide inside skimmers and are much easier to plumb.

    Centrifugal pumps are much more effiecient in terms of electrical usage. They have know electric motors in the water - so they are prefered in you intend on getting in your pond. They are typically more expensive to purchase than submersibles, but last longer and use less power so they pay for themselves fairly quickly. They aren't as easy to plumb, or hide, than submersible pumps. But, they can be placed virtually anywhere, wheras as submersible is almost always inside a pond skimmer. Centrifugal pumps can be connected to pond skimmers and bottom drains - submersible pumps have to have bottom drains connected to the pond skimmer.

    4. Bottom Drains
    Bottom drains are a "must have" item on all bare liner ponds - be they rubber, polyurea, gunite, etc. Bare liner only has an SSA of 1, and thus doesn't have much biofilm on it to help break down settle debris. Bottom drains facility easier removal of settled organics on the bottom of the pond and make cleaning the pond bottom much easier.

    Bottom drains should not be used on gravel bottom ponds for clogging purposes. Also, the downward force of the water current would causes more debris to get sucked downward to the gravel instead of horizontal to the skimmer. The gravel doesn't let the debris to "skip" across to the bottom to get into the bottom drain - and thus cause more problems that its worth.

    5. Skimmers
    Skimmers are essential in all bodies of water in all situations to capture and facilitate removal of wind blown debris.

    6. Supplemental Air
    Supplemental air is reccomended on all ponds deeper than 24" for multiple reasons. The first is to increase disolved oxygen, the second is to circulate bottom water upward. As the air bubbles move upward, they pull water upward also - creating a bottom to top water current. The third reason is for keeping a hole in the ice open in freezing temperatures.

    7. Settlement Chamber
    Settlement chambers are great when space and customer's budget allows. They place less burden on biofilters by removing higher amounts of solid waste than mechanical filters can perform on their own. The key to settlement chambers is slow water movement.

    8. Mechanical Filtration
    All water features of any type should have mechanical filtration of some sort. Typically pond skimmers have mechanical filtration characteristics in addition to floating debris removal. Mechanical filtration, whether it is inside pond skimmers, or between settement chambers is accomplished with brushes, and/or various types of filter pads. The key to mechanical filtration is servicability.

    9. Biological Filtration
    In bodies of water containing any living creature from frogs to koi absolutely require biological filtration. There are many types, and brands of biofilters - they can also be "hand-made". The key to any biofilter is how much Specific Surface Area (SSA) does it have? How do you clean it? How does water enter and exit it?

    10. Off-gassing (TT, Baki, &/or falls & streams)
    I don't know what TT or Baki is - but Off-gassing through falls, streams, or fountains is essential to ecosystems for the purpose of releasing nitrogen into the atmosphere. Nitrogen is a byproduct of the nitrification cycle. It is also recommend that when filling, or re-filling a pond - the water source should be above water level for Off-gassing of chlorine gasses, and other gasses that may be present.

    12. Water changes (%age & frequency)
    Water changes in ponds without significant aquatic plants should be at least 20% per week. Nitrate is a byproduct of the nitrification cycle. In ponds with significant aquatic plants, the nitrates are consumed by the aquatic plants. In ponds with significant aquatic plants there is virtually no nitrates left in the water, so a minimum of 5% per week is ideal.

    13. Rocks, gravel & plants
    Rocks, gravel & plants are "good" and "bad". Rocks and gravel increase the total SSA of the pond - which increases the ammonia and fish waste metabolization - but if not kept clean ON A REGULAR BASIS become harmful to the ecosystem. Clean R&G add to the overall SSA biofilm. On average, a 2" deep gravel layer has an average SSA 8. Bare liner has an SSA of 1.

    Dirty gravel adds to the bio-load of the pond and reduces the efficiency of the biofilter itself. Dirty gravel creates a build-up of mulm & detritus organic sludge on the pond bottom. This organic sludge adds to the organic load that can encourage algae growth in the pond (both green water algae and string algae). Organic sludge can also reduce dissolved oxygen levels in the water that can produce anaerobic zones that support pathogenic bacteria like Aeromonas and Pseudomonas. These bacteria strains have been linked to fish ulcers and death. Organic sludge also provides a breeding ground for parasites, flukes, and protozoa that can infect fish and cause severe health problems.

    Clean gravel adds to the biofilm SSA for faster ammonia removal. Provides for "ammusent" for fish. Clean gravel keeps the sun's UV rays from deteriating rubber liners, provides "balast" to keep rubber liners in place, and is more decorative than bare liner.

    Rocks in the pond can be hazardous to fish with non-related rock related health problems. A fish with any sort of skin or gill irritation will scratch, or "flash" against rocks. This may potentialy damage the fish'es scales or skin - rendering it less valuable.

    Aquatic plants consume nitrates from the water that would otherwise feed algae - free floating and string. Aquatic plants provide shade to the fish, and add beauty to the pond. Aquatic plants can introduce parasites into the pond - so before placing aquatic plants in ponds, it is recommended that they recieve a "dip" in Calcium Permanganate or similar anti-parasite treatement. Aquatic plants can also be a source of entertainment for fish - as well as spawning material.

    Please take it from me, John, if you won't (or can't) address all these points right up front then I'm afraid you're not going to enjoy posting on this board. Don

    Thanks for the great questions Don! Keep'em coming.
    John Russell

  8. #108
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    between Okeefenokee and Ichetucknee
    Ah, but Jagger, who is this fellow allied with? Kodama. The father, the son, the farm, the auction and the books. Heavy weight to place in the hands of commision sales people selling pretty ponds to umm, the public, yes that 's a nice thing to call them before they are fluffed.

    Mickey the windowman

  9. #109

    You are right!

    Hello D,

    You are absolutely right. Some people maintain their pond - many don't. This includes all types of ponds and all types of pond owners. There are many businesses around the country that make a good living just servicing ponds for people.

    As a manufacturer, and retailer of pond and water feature systems all we can do is design the best products we can, teach the customers how to properly use them, and do our best to provide outstanding customer service to them over the life of their pond. We teach them the importance of regular servicing and maintainence - if they can't or don't want to do it on their own - we recommend hiring a service company to do it for them.

    Jiffy-Lube is extremely poplular because they perform a service that the majority of us don't want to do. Maybe someone should come up with a Jiffy-Backflush for the pond industry.

    John Russell

  10. #110

    Commission sales.

    Hello Mickey,

    Russell Watergardens does not pay its employees by commission - and we don't sell just one type of pond system or format.

    As we progress with our National Instore Training Program we are creating a "Grade Level" pay system for our employees. What this means is that as employees pass "grade levels" their pay levels increase. For example, a new trainee will be trained in running the POS system - opening and closing the store, etc. Next grade maybe phone system and question answering. Next grade would be koi identification, next disease identification and treatement. Next, equipment specification for water gardens, then Hybrids, then koi ponds. Etc. Etc. Etc. This is to ensure the utmost in quality employees for our customers - as well as provide well paid careers for our employees.

    The reason we are in partnership with the Kodama Koi Farm is to add that dimension to our stores. This enables us to have a direct link to the wealth of information that Mr. Kodama has as well as direct links to the finest breaders in Niigatta Japan. This will ensure that our stores have up to the minute information to pass onto the public. Also, we don't want to sell you pond equipment and have you then go to a pet store to buy fish.

    Everything that we are doing is intend to make us different in the market place and provide the best and widest amount of product and information to the public.

    Will we succeed? I hope so. Do I need your help? You bet I do.

    John Russell

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