Pond, Watergarden, or Water Feature

Hanover Koi farms Pond Building Service



Water Feature

(Three very different things from one another)

Many folks and even contractors that install these things don’t fully understand the difference between Ponds, watergardens, and water features. Hopefully I can help everyone better understand the differences. They each have their place in the hobby, yet there are critical differences in what makes each what it is. So before you build, it is best to decide which one of these meets your needs and goals.


A pond usually implies that there will be fish in situ. With that it has to be specifically designed and maintained accordingly with the fish being the priority in the total function and design. You can still have and enjoy water plants as well, but understand that some Koi as they grow and mature may trash water plants. They enjoy eating certain plants and simply love rummaging through them. They also like to lay their eggs on them and can destroy the plants with that spawning activity.

pond and fish by hanover koi farms
In a "Pond" the health and wellbeing of the fish take priority

Ponds need a minimum of three feet depth to truly begin to be a safe and comfortable environment for fish. Again this is the MINIMUM depth…the deeper the better. I would rather see a deeper pond as opposed to one that is shallow with a larger surface area.

Fish need stability in water parameters like biology, chemistry, and especially depth. In ponds less than three feet deep, stability simply cannot be achieved. Period! For example, the ambient air temperature will affect the stability of the water column temperature too quickly and this stresses the fish. Evan rain will stress the fish in a pond less than 3 feet deep, as it can change  both the chemistry and the water temperature too quickly.

Ponds can cost slightly more than watergardens but not by much depending on what level you take the design and filtration to. A BASIC pond can actually cost the same as a watergarden. As a matter of fact you don’t put rocks and gravel in a pond as stated, but you can in a watergarden. So right there you eliminate the cost of those rocks and gravel. So remember that YOU DO NOT WANT rocks and gravel in the bottom of a pond for fish! A basic pond can still even have the basic and minimum filtration as used in many Aquascape type watergardens, which usually incorporate a Waterfall filter, and skimmer as the primary filtration. A pond MUST HAVE  proper biological filtration whereas most watergardens do not.  The biggest difference comes with the type of filter media used in this filtration (waterfall filter and skimmer). Understand that the degree of water CLARITY is more important in a pond. After all if you have fish  and you will want to see them clearly! Most watergardens as normally designed and equipped cannot achieve this level of clarity. Ponds can be taken to higher levels of filtration depending on your total budget, BUT they don’t have to be to adequately support fish life.  There is much more detail throughout our website as to what exactly makes a good pond and why. Start by reading the article there called “The Science of Water

koi at hanover koi farms
Clarity is of the utmost importance in a Koi Pond- unless your fish look like they're swimming in midair, your pond isn't really clear

Remember that YOU DO NOT WANT rocks and gravel in the bottom of a pond for fish!

Gravel on the bottom of a koi pond does nothing but trap fish parasite&pathogen-holding muck!

So, in a newly designed and built pond for fish they minimally should incorporate a waterfall filter with staged media for biological and mechanical filtration, a minimum of three feet in depth, a UV light to keep green water away. (Without a UV you WILL experience green water otherwise) and a specially designed bottom drain tied into the filtration. With this installed the pond will stay far cleaner, be less maintenance, and have much more clarity for you to enjoy the fish. Some misinformed and inexperienced builders will tell you that bottom drains are dangerous due to the possibility of leaking. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE! They are easily installed, and when done properly there is no chance of failure. This of course is assuming you use a quality made bottom drain.


A watergarden is a pond of sorts, but it is designed in looks and function for the main purpose of plants, combined with the aesthetics of the water’s surface, and the waterfalls as the key goals. Some folks just like the sounds and appearance of the water flowing. Therefore they can be very shallow and they don’t require biological filtration. It is fine to have rocks and gravel on the bottom of a watergarden that does not house fish as well. You can also get away with only very basic mechanical filtration alone to achieve basic minimal water clarity. You will still have your waterfalls and skimmer that ponds have, but they take on a lesser function and can be sized smaller since they do not have to be biological filtration. You can also have a “simple” waterfall as opposed to a waterfall “filter”. The primary difference is a waterfall that is not a filter is made shallower and not designed to hold any amount of filter media other than maybe a filter mat or two.

Again however let me stress again that a watergarden IS NOT designed to house fish life and that is fine. However, being in this business as long as I have, I have seen firsthand that many folks that have watergardens end up wanting fish later.  Let’s face it, boredom can set in quickly just staring at an empty lifeless pond. When that happens and you decide to add fish, the watergarden has to be tweaked in function and design to safely house fish. The first thing you would do is REMOVE ALL THE ROCKS AND GRAVEL from the bottom of the pond. Any chemical additives you may have used for water clarity of the fishless watergarden must cease as well, as many hurt fish, and/or many sold are “snake oils” and “fairy dust”  or things you don’t need anyway. Most do nothing in reality anyway to benefit the watergarden or pond!

Koi make such great pets and they even have individual personalities and extreme intelligence as compared to most fish!

We here at HKF specialize in helping people with this tweaking and making the watergarden into suitable fish habitat.

Water Features

A water feature does not incorporate a pond. These are things like fountains, and pondless waterfalls. We all know what a fountain is, but some of you may not know what a pondless waterfall is. They are simply what they imply. A waterfall that seems to come out of the ground, flow into a stream, and appear to disappear back into the ground. These are usually incorporated into hills or slight grade differences to give the proper effect. There is no filtration involved, simply a pump in a catch basin to pump the water back up to the top and start over again. As you might expect these can’t and are not designed to hold fish ever. These pondless waterfalls do require maintenance and yearly cleanouts however.

So no matter which you have or which you may build in the future, we at HKF can give you what you want for a competitive price when all things are considered! Pond, Watergarden, or water feature we can help with, cleanouts, maintenance, design, new builds , rebuilds and upgrades, fish, aquatic plants, or whatever you may need! So if you are looking to get any of these we can design and build it for you. Simply contact us below!

Cleanout Service

A typical pond or watergarden cleanout service will include the following;


Testing of existing pond water before cleanout.


Complete draining of entire system                   Removal of all fish (if applicable)


Each individual fish will be inspected               Fish will be stored safely in a

for health and injuries                                        separate adequately sized tank


Storage tank will be monitored during               Complete power washing and

cleanout and tested for water quality                  rinsing of entire system, streams

and filters


Inspection for damage of liner, and all                Trimming or removal of aquatic

associated pond equipment & filters                     plants as needed


Re filling of pond to the point                            Complete site cleanup after

of  safe re-acclimation of fish                             cleanout


Testing of newly added source water for determination of safety, and recommending of what may be need to correct.


Important Cleanout Notes;


For cleanout service there is an initial service fee of $95. Each cleanout is billed on a time and material basis of $85 per hour starting with the first hour on site and for each hour until complete.

Using the information you supply on the form below we can usually give you a reasonable ballpark total that you cleanout will cost. The more accurate the info you supply to us, the more accurate we can be on out estimate of total cost per cleanout.


Any trucked- in or water purchases needed to refill the pond or watergarden will be the cost responsibility of the customer unless otherwise noted, and will then be additional to the original cleanout quote.

After the cleanout the pond will be filled with our supervision only to the point to safely accept and reacclimate the fish. This is usually around two feet in depth maximum. Complete filling and monitoring will otherwise be the responsibility of the customer unless otherwise noted, and then may be an additional charge for time on an hourly basis.

The costs of any water additives such as dechlorinator, baking soda, salt etc. are not included but can be supplied for additional costs.


Additional Services Available

A cleanout is the perfect time to address others issues that may need to be addressed. The services and materials listed below will be an additional cost to the original cleanout quote unless otherwise noted. These services will be offered at preferred pricing because we are already on site.

The permanent removal of all rocks and gravel from the bottom of the pond as this is not a healthy environment for the fish, you, your pets, or water quality and clarity.

Replacing old or improper filter media like lava rocks, bioballs, scrubbie pads etc, as these are not functional in a biofilter and impede proper mechanical and biological filtration.

Adding a UV light is a must for crystal clear water and green water control. A UV light is the only practical solution for green water algae control.

Topical treatment of fish with injuries, ulcers or fungal issues.

Treatment of  entire pond and fish for parasite, bacterial, and fungal issues.

We also have a prepay program that will get you preferred pricing and scheduling for cleanouts! We  get booked quite quickly in the spring and since all cleanouts are done on a first come first serve basis make sure you contact us BEFORE spring if possible. The sooner you contact us the sooner you can get on the cleanout schedule.

 The request for estimate form below is primarily designed to accommodate a  ballpark quote for cleanouts. Cleanouts and service work are billed on a time and material basis however. With this info we can in most cases give you a fairly accurate estimate of the total cost your work will be without a site visit being required. This helps keep total costs down. However the request form can also be used for quotes for new ponds, upgrades and additions,  repairs etc. Not all info on form is required for these type things. Simply tell us what you are looking for in the “Message” part of the form.

    Written by John Fornaro, Hanover Koi Farms. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY HANOVER KOI FARMS, COPYRIGHT © 2018

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