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KOI GARDANT LA MANIÈRE CANADIENNE

Par Simon Fredette





We met Simon at the 2015 Central Florida Koi show in Orlando. He was vacationing in Florida with his family and, as is often the case with Koi Keepers, we got chanting. We were amazed to hear his story and see his wonderful Koi pond. We asked this humble, talented guy to tell us a little bit more about his pond and hobby, please bear in mind he lives in Quebec, Canada and is French speaking. We absolutely loved his response and wanted to share it with you.

I've been in the marine aquarium hobby since I was a young teenager, now in my early thirties, I have always loved fish keeping but never knew much about ponds and Koi. After buying my first house, I wanted a small water garden in the backyard, which I made in spring 2011. I discovered Japanese Koi about a month later and then I understood why there are real koi enthusiasts! Only two months after we'd completed my first pond, I changed the pond to make it much bigger to be able to keep Koi... I was hooked!

In September 2012, I changed my pond again, to make it even bigger, added a bottom drain and changed the pond landscaping. Since November 2013, I also have an interior winter pond and bring the fish inside every winter, as the winter weather in Quebec can be very extreme so this kind of facility is necessary.

I have ambitious plans for the future, to make it a little bigger again, but also make it better, with more space for filtration systems. I have a young family with other priorities so will take my time, but my pond runs well now and the Koi are happy and healthy. In order to maintain planning permission for my hobby from my long suffering wife, I also follow another important guideline: respect the budget!

I understand that Koi keeping is not for everyone, in addition to being a real learning challenge, it involves lots of work. The keeping, the maintenance, is not for everyone, but perhaps mostly it's the costs implicated in this hobby are definitely also not for everyone. The fact is keeping Koi is an expensive hobby!

But what I like with my pond is the fact that it demonstrates that it's possible to have success in this hobby without a huge budget. Of course you must invest a minimum in terms of capital costs, and here in Quebec at least, you also have to work hard to find the necessary components for a Koi pond. In addition, sourcing correct information about how everything works, as well as the materials and equipment needed to build a Koi pond correctly isn't easy. In addition, actually building the pond, working on the filter, taking care of the fish, water changes and maintenance etc. all require good information and hard work.

A major difficulty for me is, as I alluded to above, the place I live is not eay for this hobby. Koi keeping is not a very popular hobby in Canada generally, but real Koi keepers are very rare in Quebec province where I live, as the hobby is almost unknown here. This makes it hard to find pond equipment, accessories and good Koi food. The climate is also not easy too for Koi keeping. Our summers are not bad and can be pretty hot, but our winters are really hard. Freezing and snow often start to show up in November, are always there in December and the ice rarely disappears before late April. With at least 5 months of cold weather, generally between -5C to -15C, and some days down to -25C, the winter is cold, long and extreme for Koi. That is why I keep my Koi inside during the winter.

My pond is basically a liner pond, primarily for budget reasons. My yard is almost completely on sand, which is very drainable so the earth doesn't move around the pond in winter. The pond top surrounding is made with landscaping wall blocks. The pond is 4.9m (16ft) long, width average of 1.98m (6.5ft), average depth of 1.37m (4.5ft) with a max depth of 1.67M (5.5ft) at the drain. The exact pond volume including the filtration system is 13,230 Litres (3,495 US gallons/ 2,910 UK Gallons). Although this volume is considered relatively small in terms of Koi ponds in the USA and UK, but here in Quebec people think it's huge.

The bottom drain flows in via a 4 inch pipe into a tank at the same level of the pond, with a pre-filter and decantation section. From there I have two pumps going to the filter and water blade device. The drain and pre-filter tank is the best thing I made for my pond. My experience with aquariums taught me the importance of filtration and good water quality, so with my Koi pond these lessons have been well learnt and my system works well.

With a bottom drain collecting all the debris in the pond, working together with the pre0filter tank, I can flush the debris to waste in a matter of seconds. This also enables me to prevent a lot of decomposition pollution by removing the waste from the pond before it has chance to start to decompose. Because the bottom of the tank is higher than the bottom of the pond, if I have a problem in the pond and lose water between the pump and the filter, the pond can never completely empty. The filter is pump0fed and is located just at the top of a small cascade. At the moment, it's a home-made trickle tower filter and the last section is in-water filter media. In the filter trays, I use Japanese mat, bioballs, K1 and some lava rocks. I also have a UV clarifier.

Maybe someday I will buy a proprietary Koi pond filter, but for the moment this filter with quick and easy maintenance keeps the water clear of pollution and delivers good water quality parameters. Most of my Koi are from Japan and a few of them are born from parents imported from Japan. To be honest, I don't like our local Koi here in Quebec. My personal favourite Koi is my Gin Rin Chagoi simply because it's so friendly and has such a calming effect of the rest of the Koi. My best Koi is a Sandan Kohaku from Sakai Fish Farm closely followed by my male Dainichi Showa. Koi keeping can be an expensive hobby, but there are ways to bring down the cost to a manageable level if you look hard enough. This hobby is by far my favourite and is perfect to share with my kids. I've always loved animals and Koi and I'm teaching them the same. Keeping Koi is a beautiful and sociable hobby. I have wonderful moments with my daughter around the pond watching and feeding the Koi. My baby son will follow too, he is already staring at the Koi when in the backyard.

Koi keeping is a long-term hobby, watching Koi I grow and develop is interesting and beautiful, I know I will always have a pond in my backyard. The pond is therapy after hard days, and, it's also a bonding experience for family, it can bring new friends in Koi keepers, and it brings only positive elements to my life.