Read about Pam Spindola

"Pond tours are so enjoyable . . ."

2009 AKCA Seminar
Pond Tour
San Diego, California USA

by Pam Spindola
Click images to enlarge

The 2009 Associated Koi Clubs of America seminar was held in San Diego this past February. Over three hundred koi hobbyists attended lectures given by a first rate lineup of speakers over the three days. The calendar of events also included two koi shows, a breeders' show as well as a hobbyists' competition, and a convention area filled with commercial booths highlighting the latest in koi husbandry and pond design. Representatives of numerous companies talked about the newest innovations of water filtration, aeration, pond fittings including pumps and motors, koi nutrition and health. There were also many gifted artists displaying their koi inspired works.

On Sunday morning, the last day of the annual seminar, a bus tour was arranged to visit five outstanding ponds. This anticipated event provided opportunities to see various applications of pond design, landscaping features, and wonderful collections of koi. The four hour tour also allowed plenty of time to talk to the owners of the ponds as well as hobbyists from all over the world. The ponds ranged from public gardens to private homes, some commercially constructed, others built by owners. All designs provided much to think about, to analyze, and to dream about with envy!

The first stop was the Self-Realization Fellowship Retreat, a 17 acre center established in 1937 and dedicated to meditation and the teachings of the founder, Paramahansa Yogananda. It is located in Encinitas, a small coastal community north of San Diego. As we entered the gates of this Shangri-la we could hear the bubbling of a waterfall and smell the perfume of the first flowers of the season.

The compound consists of gardens, a temple, and a retreat. We climbed a series of steps and pathways to reach all levels of the koi pond. The three series of ponds total 8,000 gallons (30,283 liters) and are purified by two pressurized filters. The koi appeared to be very healthy and happy in this tranquil environment. Although many of us wanted to stay longer and enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean from the top of the hill, we needed to keep on our schedule.  



Image from Koi USA



Our second pond was at a private residence in Encinitas. The new pond was built by two sons as a promise to their mother upon her recovery from a serious illness. The rockwork which covered the deck as well as the pond's waterfall was very dramatic. Accenting this rockwork were a wide variety of plants, all part of a xeriscape plan for low water consumption. The koi were in good health and seemed very happy in their new environment. We learned from the owner how much joy this new pond has brought to the family.  

Image from Koi USA

Traveling to the third pond, we entered the exclusive gated community of Rancho Santa Fe. The huge bus barely maneuvered the windy two lane road reminiscent of highways in the Italian countryside. The 7,500 gallon (28,390 liter) pond dominated the entry courtyard of this beautiful Tuscan style home. The owner, having had five koi ponds previously, knew exactly how he wanted this special pond built. The actual work was done by a well-known koi dealer and builder in southern California.
The pond is traversed by a graceful bridge leading to the front entrance of the home. This owner also enjoys raising small koi and has designed a safe area in the pond for his babies, the offspring of his mature koi. To maintain excellent water circulation, the pond has two drains, two skimmers, and two waterfalls. The bottom drains feed to two pumps which send the water through two Ultima II filters. The purified water is then sent through a series of UV lights before returning to the pond. We all envied the wonderful water quality of this pond. However, after seeing the extraordinary equipment, the reason for this quality was evident.   

Image from Koi USA >

The next pond we visited was also in the beautiful Rancho Santa Fe community. The long private drive was bordered with many beautiful citrus groves and the perfume of orange blossoms filled the air. We entered a lovely courtyard with a fountain before entering the pond area. This pond, although decorative, had features of a professional style pond. The volume, filtration, aeration all were designed to encourage growth and maintain the health of the koi. The 7,000 gallon (26,498 liter) pond is 5 ½ feet (1.68 meters) deep and feeds into a 2000 gallon (7,571 liter) filtration system.
The design consisted of the pond water exiting through two bottom drains by gravity feed into a settling chamber which separates the solid wastes. The water then is passed through a series of brushes (five rows) and then through a bio-filter with spring-flow media. The water returns to the pond via an immense flagstone waterfall designed by the owner. This pond also features two skimmers cleaning the surface of the water. This pond is very dramatic in design and technically provides an optimum environment for the koi. 

Image from Koi USA


The last pond was designed and built by an architect-owner in 1979. Not only was the pond fascinating, but also all of us enjoyed the dramatic sculptures, hand carved panels, and the views of the Pacific Ocean from the house. The pond had three levels totaling 13,500 gallons (51,103 liters). The top pond has a unique koi sculpture in the center. The water is filtered through a gravel filter as well as bubble bead filters. The forty koi seemed very healthy and happy in their exclusive home. 

Pond tours are so enjoyable. Many koi clubs organize these excursions as fundraisers and to possibly encourage membership for their clubs. One is able to formulate ideas for one’s own pond by seeing other ponds, talking to the owners, and sharing ideas with fellow hobbyists along on the trip. This pond tour was no exception. We all enjoyed the morning and were very impressed with all the ponds. We also met some very nice people along the way! Next year’s AKCA Seminar will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, in June, 2010. For anyone interested, there will soon be information for this seminar which is open to the public on their website,

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