Clear Lake area koi pond is a colorful backyard addition
When Scott and Linda Sartorius decided to expand their Clear Lake area home nine years ago, it consumed half their backyard, leaving just the right amount of space to add a koi pond. Or, perhaps, a koi pool.
The 25-by-35-foot pond is 4 feet deep in the center, 3 feet deep around the perimeter and holds 10,000 gallons of water. Its 30 colorful occupants of varying lengths, weights and ages all have names. The couple can point out each and every one of them without missing a beat. Fred, the bullfrog, lives under the waterfall in an adjoining smaller pond, with an assortment of goldfish.
“Before I started building the pond, most people who had ponds told me they wished they’d built it bigger,” Scott Sartorius said. “So, I decided to go big.”
Linda Sartorius wasn’t too thrilled about the project, however.
“I initially didn’t want anything to do with it,” she said. “Scott is the fish lover who had a fish tank all through college, but I didn’t want any part of it.”
As the house was being remodeled, the couple hunkered down in a small guest bedroom. Construction took a long 14 months. After the 1,000-square-foot expansion was finished, Scott Sartorius told his wife: “You got your house, so I’m getting my pond.”
He basically designed and built it himself, with the help of friends, but did hire a pond expert who came out on four occasions to offer technical advice.
The pond and yard have a number of Zen elements — tall bamboo plants, Asian statues, Japanese lanterns and a Thai spirit house. Tree branches hang low over the pond and aquatic plants keep the pond clean by consuming all the nitrates the fish produce. Four different filtration systems also keep the pond healthy.
River rocks surrounding the pond are decorated with replicas of dinosaurs, dolphins and mermaids, along with other touches of whimsy, while an assortment of pink flamingos are scattered about in a nearby garden. During the evening, outdoor lights — in trees and under water — provide the couple with a showy array of color.
“It’s like watching jewels in the water,” Linda Sartorius said.
They feed the koi special pellets twice a day. The fish come to the surface to dine, often eating right out of the couple’s hands.
Juliette, an orange and black female, is the biggest fish in the pond. At 36 inches long, weighing more than 15 pounds, she is thought to be somewhere between 20 and 30 years old.
Shrek, a golden-orange male, weighs more than 12 pounds, is 8 years old, and might gain another 10 pounds before he’s fully grown.
Bar Code, a white male with big, flowing fins, is about 15 years old. He’s a rescue that was found in a drainage ditch.
Pepé Le Pew, a black and white fantail male, has the markings of a skunk.
As for predators, the number one threat are the blue herons. But if a pond is 3 feet deep or more, the koi are safe.
“The herons typically wade if in attack mode, so the depth keeps them away,” Scott Sartorius said.
As vice president of the Lone Star Koi Club, Sartorius also is on the rescue committee. He gets three to four requests a month from owners who can no longer care for their fish because of a job transfer or other reasons. The committee finds a home for the fish.
Anyone interested in koi fish are welcome to attend a club meeting. Also, the Houston Pond Society, in cooperation with the Lone Star Koi Club, has a tour each May.
It didn’t take long for Linda Sartorius to warm up to the koi.
“These are our babies,” she said. “We love them so much and they are totally amazing.”