THE KOI POND
In the Koi pond, the focus is on the fish. Known to be the “flowers” of the pond, these fish come in varied colors and designs, and they can get to be as large as 3’ long and live to be as old as 200 years! It is important to provide a protective environment for Koi, as there are predators who would love to have them for dinner.
Both shelter and shade are strong planning and design considerations for the Koi Pond, as their most common predators, big birds, like open spaces. Also, since fewer plants can live harmoniously with the Koi, shading the pond will provide an environment less friendly toward algae. Because of their potential size (and number!)...be sure to provide lots of space for your Koi.
- Include a deep water area (min. 4 ft.) to give fish vertical as well as horizontal space to get good exercise. The exercising needs of Koi include swimming up and down as well as horizontally. This added depth also provides more gallonage to dilute their waste.
- Include a marginal shelf (at least 24” deep) to facilitate servicing the pond, but deep enough to discourage predators. Emergent water plants can live on this shelf if desired. Set them close to the surface on bricks or blocks.
- Avoid rough surfaces inside the pond. Aggressive Koi can easily bruise and scrape themselves and each other during feeding and spawning frenzies.
- Koi ponds require a much higher degree of filtration and circulation than water gardens. Be sure to include a biofilter for good water quality, whether it exists in the form of an upper pool and waterfall, or if it is hidden or sits offsite like a bubblebead filter. Plan on bottom drains to collect settled debris that would otherwise accumulate and cause fish health problems. If the fish load is considerable, add settlement chambers tied in with the bottom drains. The floor of the pond should gently slope toward the bottom drains.
- Consider a UV sterilizer to help clarify the water to better view your Koi. The UV “zaps” the water as it passes through the unit, killing free-floating algae.
- Another form of filtration- the gravel filter bog- provides a place for plants to grow, away from the mouths of Koi. Built along the margins of the pond (separated by a wall), it is also a place for wildlife to get a drink, while Koi are protected by a steep drop-off into the pond proper. This style of bog also acts as a self-regulating filter: The more nutrients there are in the pond (Koi waste and other decaying organic materials), the more plant growth.
In the Koi pond, the key to good water quality is filtration, filtration, filtration! Regardless of the style or size of filter units, be sure to service them regularly, as specified by the manufacturer. Plan to spend some time weekly working on your pond. How much depends on the relative size of your pond, stocking levels, and the nature of your filtration system.
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