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Koi Pond – Dispelling Myths About Concrete
What do some liner promoters and salespeople say about professional pond installations that use concrete and rebar and mortar to hold the rocks?
(1) “One of the problems with concrete and mortar structures is that some time after construction, cement lye leaches out, poisoning the pond water with high alkalinity. It also leaves ugly white deposits at the exit points and on the surface. A waterfall of stones.” NOT TRUE!
If the concrete you use to pour the shell is a 7-bag mix with 40% pea gravel and stealth fiber, the concrete is so dense that leaching can’t even occur. In addition, because of the concrete’s density, it is not only waterproof, but stronger than the standard 5-bag mix used to pour driveways, patios and sidewalks. Finally, if you cover the finished surface with Thoro-seal, one of several non-toxic concrete sealers, it can’t leach.
(2) “If you use a mortar mix to fix the waterfall rocks, the water that seeps into the joints of the porous mortar leaches alkali and phosphorescence that poisons the pond. TRUTH was in the past, but not anymore. Ordinary mortar is porous. , lets water through, dissolves and collects cement residues. This had been a big concern of mine for several years, after the waterfall was completed I had to run the waterfall for two or three weeks, shutting it down for 4 or 5 days each time, and clean the white lye residue from the accumulated rocks with acid.
Then, when we’re done, we should acid clean and rinse the pond. Fifteen years ago I discovered a secret formula that would make the mortar mix non-porous and waterproof. It also makes regular mortar mix three times stronger. To make this, add one 45# bag of thinset (used to apply ceramic tile to the shower wall) to two bags of Type S mortar mix. When it hardens, it becomes so dense, completely waterproof, and after it hardens (3-4 days), it does not let the lye out. In addition, this mixture has such a strong holding power that a sledge hammer is required to remove the stone after it hardens. More often than not, the rock breaks down before the secret formula mortar is released.
Not only is it waterproof, but it bonds very well with all types and textures of rock. This creates a watertight barrier, which is useful when building rock dams for a waterfall. The main feature of my special formula is that it allows for much more creativity. You have the ability to raise the water level above the concrete shell boundary without the water leaking through the mortar joints like with a regular mortar mix. This special blend is not available in stores and never will be because I’m giving away the formula for free! This discovery has revolutionized the effectiveness of mortar mixes and their ability to bind, waterproof and prevent alkali leaching.
A dramatic test
The 4000 gallon pool was converted to a concrete koi pond with two large waterfalls held in place with my new mortar mix and an 8′ x 12′ island. The new formula also held the rocks surrounding the island. At the end of the project, all surfaces were given a quick light acid wash and the pond was filled and chlorine remover added. The next day, $3,000 worth of my personal koi fish was taken to the concrete koi pond. They all calmly swam around the island, checking every nook and cranny.
None of them experienced stress and they remained in their temporary quarters without incident for three months. If this dramatic demonstration wasn’t enough to convert skeptics, nothing will. So what is the bottom line? Pond liners cannot be guaranteed not to leak, for a number of reasons. Concrete and rebar ponds, when properly constructed, will remain leak-free for decades, if not generations. Be the judge. You invest your hard-earned money and time into it.
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