Among those with backyard ponds, the use of gravel is controversial; learn more about gravel ponds before you decide how to line your pond. Experts from both camps proselytize feverishly. It’s hard to know how to make the right decision. Should you line your pond with stones or gravel?
On one side of the issue, experts say that gravel linings create a zone of stagnation that is poisonous to fish and nearly impossible to clean. On the other side, official say that bacteria work to eliminate the brack-water and sludge, so gravel bottoms are healthy and fine; if it happens in nature, why not in your man-made creation? The issue continues to be contentious, and according to the Water Garden News, it could be what separates traditional water gardeners from the so-called koi kichi.
Joseph DiLorenzo says on his Web site that lining your koi pond with stone could be dangerous. Larger koi, he says, can swim along the rock-lined bottoms and injure themselves. And using gravel, he continues, is worse. Fish waste, uneaten food and material from dead plants sinks to the bottom of the pond, collects in the pockets of still, unoxygenated water, festers and releases toxic gasses that can poison and kill koi. Removing gravel, or never installing it to begin with, DiLorenzo says, will both increase the overall volume of your pond – adding to the comfort and health of your fish – and will be safer in the long run. Install a pump to clean water, and enjoy the way your koi look against a solid background.
On the other hand, the Upstate Pond Doctor writes on his blog that gravel bottoms installed after initial pond construction are the problem. If you design your pond with gravel from the get-go, he says, natural bacteria will grow and eat the organic material that collects in the pool. In fact, he says that the end result will be a cleaner, safer pond than one without gravel. Other online writers remark that the original creators of the koi pond in ancient Japan used gravel to no detriment.
Those in the no-gravel camp have produced far more online articles stating their case. Some take the position that only koi ponds should remain gravel-free; gravel liners in water gardens are completely fine. Others say that gravel has no place in a pond with fish.
Of course those supporting gravel ponds dissent furiously, and these conversations and debates are often continued ad infinitum in forums across the Internet.
So what should you do? Play it safe and consult the designers of your backyard pond. Learn whether gravel was installed from the beginning, or whether your pond design even called for it in the first place. Consider which style you prefer and talk to your fish supplier. It’s always best, in cases like these, to determine which decision is best for your specific situation. Nobody on the Internet has your fish and your pond, so be sure the right answer belongs to you, too.