Click here to read about
author Pam Spindola

 Koi, waterlilies and other gorgeous plants
live happily together . . .

At Home With
Raydell Bobst
Anaheim, California USA

by Pam Spindola
Images by Larry Falke
Click to enlarge

I met Raydell Bobst, an energetic senior citizen, at a monthly Nishiki Koi Club meeting in southern California. Upon hearing my name, he mentioned that during his daily one-hour treadmill workout he watches my late husband's video on koi classification.

First, I can hardly complete 20 minutes on a treadmill. An hour there is definitely noteworthy to me. Second, to watch repeatedly the same 32-minute video seems a bit tiresome. Nevertheless, such is Raydell's enthusiasm to learn about koi. Exercising on a treadmill an hour every morning while watching the same video impresses me as a man driven! This ardent habit gives a clue to Raydell's approach to life - enthusiastic and tireless. 

Is he new to the hobby? No, he had installed his beautiful pond 25 years earlier (built correctly, I hasten to add). Moreover, he had constructed two other ponds before this one. His pond features effective filtration, plenty of aeration, bottom drains, ample swimming depth, and shade. When I learned that this was his third pond, I assumed that he must be one of the pioneer koi hobbyists of southern California.
His collection of koi and long fin koi exhibits exceptionally good quality. The fish are very healthy, colorful, and mostly of show quality. Raydell definitely has an artistic eye. However, when questioned about any of the marvelous features of his pond or koi collection, Raydell assumes a very modest position claiming he didn't know anything about koi nor pond construction. It was all by chance!

The concrete pond measures 24 feet (7.3 meters) long, 4 feet (1.2 meters) deep and holds 2600 (9842 liters) gallons and features three bottom drains. Three venturi jets create a steady current that directs the waste to the filter while providing fun and exercise for the koi. Eight air stones continuously aerate the pond. The 400-gallon (1514-liter) biological/mechanical filter of the up-flow gravel type maintains the clear and healthy water.  

Waterlily containers rest on concrete blocks that provide appropriate water depth for them. Because the tubs are wrapped, the koi do not bother the plants. Raydell does say that sometimes koi eat the azure pickerel plants that grow in the pond.

His koi collection totals about thirty fish, one measuring over 2.5 feet (0.8 meters) long. The outstanding assortment includes many varieties, all very healthy and of excellent quality. His favorite koi varieties are kohaku (white with bright red markings) and yamabuki ogon (metallic yellow).

Raydell's favorite fish, however, are his long fin koi. A relatively new development, these attention grabbers combine the long graceful fins of goldfish with the beautiful colors and patterns of koi.

This enthusiastic hobbyist related a few stories that prove we learn from our mistakes. Once, above the pond, he hung beautiful flower baskets and then fertilized them. Runoff from these baskets fell into the pond and killed his beloved fish collection. This experience warns that we must keep our koi ponds free from any runoff that contains toxic-to-koi fertilizers (and other toxins, too). On the other hand, if desirable aquatic plants grow in the koi pond, we must be careful that koi treatments do not endanger the plants. Some chemicals that benefit fish can harm plants. 

Another lesson Raydell learned is to construct the pond for ease of maintenance. He once spent four days shoveling gravel in and out of a filter in order to clean it. Nowadays, many hobbyists use an air blower to help with waste removal. In addition, many other filtration materials weigh much less (per given volume) than gravel.

It is an inspiration to find a person so enthusiastic about his hobby. The koi and waterlilies, along with the wonderful sound of the waterfall, and the fragrance of many beautiful flowers all contribute to Raydell's wholehearted enjoyment and appreciation of water gardening.

More Images from Raydell Bobst's Garden >

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