Dig a hole, fill it with water and watch your koi grow. That’s the secret to your koi pond, right?
Actually, much like a pool or indoor aquarium, koi require some work. In fact, koi are quite sensitive fish that require a carefully maintained environment for optimal health.
Koi are colorful fish that go by the name nishikigoi in Japanese. They are a specially bred form of carp, not oversized goldfish, enjoyed for their vivid coloring.
In the 19th century, Japanese farmers began breeding decorative carp, selecting brightly colored specimens to ornament gardens in luxurious fish pools. The Japanese consider koi good luck.
There are certain varieties that are preferred over others. Kohaku — the favorite — are white-skinned koi with a red upper pattern. Tancho are white koi with a red dot on their head.
Koi are cool-water fish that prefer a deep pond. In the warmer weather they will swim to the bottom of the pond to avoid the heat. When planning on a koi pond, keep this in mind. You may also want to plan your pond in an area that is shaded from direct sun, to moderate the water temperature even more.
Think about installing a koi pond as you would a home aquarium, complete with filtration system. This will help you maintain a clean environment for the fish. Routine skimming of the water surface can catch debris that falls into the water and contaminates the delicate ecosystem of the pond.
Koi should be protected overhead from predators. Therefore, koi ponds generally feature lush foliage for their protection. Rocks or overhangs under which koi can hide are features you should include.
An algaecide is also a necessity, to prevent the overgrowth of algae in the pond. Consider special water additives sold at pet stores or online that can enhance the water environment for your koi.
Because koi generally like to swim unseen, their type of food is a floating pellet, which encourages the fish to come to the surface. This way you can assess whether the fish look healthy. Koi can even be trained to recognize humans and take food from your hand.
Start small with your koi pond. One or two fish is adequate. Experts recommend one small- or medium-sized koi per 500 gallons of water. If you have too many fish, their waste can contaminate the water if not properly filtered.