2009 AKCA Seminar
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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 ones 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 years 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, http://www.akca.org.