Koi Rescue
Phoenix Arizona

Koi hatchery tank & super tank area

I was lucky to be able to acquire 5 fish hatchery tanks, and even luckier to have an arrangement with my wife of a spot in the yard to put them. The only problem was 4 cubic yards of dirt in the way and no money to hire contractors. So I tried to be as creative as I could.

To get rid of the dirt, I dug it up with a shovel, stacked it neatly near the gate to the alley, and advertised it on craigslist.org as "free dirt and rocks, I'll help you load!!". With the high rock content, it makes great fill because it won't sink the first time it rains.

The first guy that came over wanted to load a huge pile in the back of his pickup truck. It didn't look like it was that tough of a truck, and as he was leaving it looked severly overloaded. He didn't return, and I wonder if he damaged his truck on the way home. So I weighed a bucket full of my dirt and rock, then did the math to figure how much my mixture would weigh per cubic foot, and when people would come over I'd ask how many pounds their pickup truck could carry. I'd then measure their truck bed to see how full we could fill it and stay in that weight limit.

Couple of years ago I had a concrete project to do, and was just about to rent a concrete mixer when I spotted one at Harbor Freight. It was $99 for the mixer, or $40 for a one time rental of a similar sized mixer. You would think it would be a good idea to get the mixer, but what happens is after you own a concrete mixer, you start to see all sorts of possible concrete projects, and end up doing lots of projects. Then your friends find out you have a mixer and it is all down hill from there.

One thing that took a long time is the mixer was designed for you to put a wheel barrow to the side, mix the concrete, and dump it in the barrow, and then wheel it over to your area. This takes a long time to do, especially for a single person working alone, so I made a chute from plywood. The next problem was the mixer doesn't have a very good handle on it. My neighbor had a trampoline, threw it away and I dragged in the parts of the frame to my junk pile. The tubes off that trapoline made a great handle which I welded onto the mixer. It is even a take apart handle, with a socket to store the handle along side when not using.

Another big money saver was this simple plywood box I made for my little Harbor Freight boat trailer. I could go pickup bags of concrete, then when I got home all I have to do is unhook the trailer, use the dolly to wheel it back to my koi area, and drop off each load of concrete bags. As far as gas usage, I calculated it and the deliver fee for all the supplies at once would have been about even, but loading and unloading all that concrete was fun excercise that I would have missed. :)

It doesn't show very well, but the dirt slopes up from the bottom left of the picture, to the area where the pool filter is. That was a lot of dirt to dig out and remove.

more and more piles of dirt to remove....

Got it dug down far enough so I could put up some form boards.

This was my biggest pour to date, I used 40 bags of concrete. With the heat and dry air, I had to pour some, smooth it, pour more and continue. The first half cured a bit too quickly and looks horrible, but will have hatchery tanks sitting on it so won't be able to see anyway.

More digging and form boards.

My pool filter is sitting on a raised area of dirt, so it needed some special consideration. I setup a form board & poured a concrete retaining wall against the open side so the dirt underneath it's pad wouldn't erode away, and eventually collapse.

Getting close, only one more concrete strip after this.

Looking back the other way to get a better feeling for the area.

To divide my junk yard area from our back yard, we have a mound going across the yard. The mound has windsor stacking blocks to make a retaining all along the front side. Those are nice, but are about a foot wide and so I wanted to make a skinny retaining wall. The problem is a skinny wall will not hold up well against the pressure of the dirt. So to compensate, I placed perpendicular blocks that go into the mound, which all are tied together with rebar.

The rebar is in every cell, and this is all filled up with mortar mix.

Fixed up my hatchery tanks, and presto we have them running now.