• Ethan Hammond

What Is An Ecosystem Koi Pond?

At Amen Corner Ponds we get calls all the time from people who want a koi pond, but they are not sure what an ecosystem koi pond is? Don't know yourself? What if I told that not every koi pond is created equal. That's right, there are several ways to build a koi pond. So which is the right way you may ask? Well let's go over our options.

Let's start with the oldest way to build a koi pond. Concrete Ponds. Yup, that's right back in the day that's the only way they were made. When ponds were first being installed nothing was around for people to use. No skimmers, bottom drains, wetland filters, liner or anything else for that matter. There were not many good things about these ponds, other then they led to what we have today. Having a concrete pond meant lots maintenance and hassle just to keep the water clear. Needless to say when liners began to be used, it changed the industry forever.

Next up we have Bare Liner Ponds. Bare liner ponds didn't crack or stick out like a sore thumb, but they didn't solve the problem of green water. They needed filtration. This one thing was a game changer. It is also where the two modern installation practices split. On one side you have the side that views a koi pond much like a pool. They want to filter it with large bead filters, pool pumps and bottom drains. On the other side, you have those that want to mimic nature. This side is the Ecosystem Pond installers. But before we get to that side let's go back and discuss the first one in more detail. Having a pool pump running a bead filter pulling from a skimmer and bottom drain works great in pools. So in theory it should work with koi ponds as well. Here's where it fails. Pools don't have fish, plants and gravel.

These systems have to be backwashed weekly, backflushed yearly and replaced every few years. Now one of the arguments you hear from this side is that these ponds are easier to clean out then an ecosystem pond. This is mostly untrue. There are some poorly designed ecosystem ponds that are hard to clean out. But, if the installer knows how to properly set up an ecosystem, then a yearly cleanout is easy. On the plus side an ecosystem pond is low on maintenance. A properly installed ecosystem koi pond can be maintained in as little as five minutes a week.

Alright, now that you know the other options let me explain what makes up an Ecosystem Koi Pond. The following system was created and developed by Greg Wittstock and Ed Beaulieu and it has changed the way many live the Aquascape Lifestyle. This article would not be complete without mentioning their names and thanking them for their years of research and testing. The following are the characteristics of an ecosystem pond.

Filtration System

Designing and implementing an efficient circulation system ensures that the water is oxygenated and pond debris (including leaves, mosquito larvae, floating algae, and anything else that’s blown in) will be swept from the pond’s surface and deposited into an easily emptied skimmer basket. Through various forms of mechanical and biological filtration, the aquatic circle of life turns infinitely over and over again in your pond.


Algae are plants, and all aquatic plants feed off of the same nutrients in the water. The more plants you add to your pond, the more the algae will be starved from its food source. Algae growth will be minimized naturally and effortlessly.

A wide variety of aquatic plants are available for your pond. From waterlilies and lotus to marginal plants such as marsh marigold and horsetail. You’ll never tire of the options available to you.


Fish fulfill their role in the ecosystem by eating algae. Presuming they’re not overfed, koi over 10” in length will graze on the algae, effectively reducing its growth. Like plants, a variety of pond fish are available for you to introduce to your pond. Large, colorful koi to rosy reds and beyond! Fish are a delightful addition to any size water garden.

Rocks and Gravel

Like aquatic plants, the bacteria that live on the rocks and gravel in the pond feed on excess nutrients in the water, reducing the algae by starving it even further. The rocks and gravel not only hide the liner and create a natural-looking setting, but also provide a home for beneficial bacteria. Plant debris, fish waste, decaying organic matter, excess nutrients or anything else that falls to the bottom of the pond will rest on top of the rocks and gravel. The bacteria living on the rocks and gravel will then go to work, breaking down the waste and debris, cleaning and clearing the water. Mother Nature’s circle of life is amazing, don’t you agree?

Finally … Patience!

It takes between two and six weeks for the bacteria to colonize and actually begin to do their job. Creating a balanced ecosystem doesn’t happen overnight! Like fine wine, ponds mature with age, so don’t be surprised or concerned if a new pond begins to grow some algae. Once the plants, fish and bacteria are established, the algae will decrease, as will the amount of maintenance on the pond.

And there you have it. We hope this article has helped you learn more about a true ecosystem pond. We at Amen Corner Ponds are passionate about showing people what a paradise an ecosystem pond can be. Thanks for reading.

Amen Corner Ponds is your water feature expert in the CSRA

 (803) 226-1002
Aiken, SC
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Instagram