The Joy of Koi The Joy of Koi
Often, one hears koi referred to as large goldfish, but this is not the case. They are actually distant cousins of goldfish. Calling them Japanese fancy carp is, perhaps, a more apt description. The Japanese, who began to breed them some two hundred years ago, call them Nishikigoi. Some of the most commonly found koi for garden pools are: Kohaku (sports a white body with a red splotchy accent pattern), Tashio Sanke (a white body with red and black accents), Showa Sanke (a black body with red and white accents) and Asagi (unique blue netlike pattern of scales with a red belly).
Koi can actually grow to be quite large by backyard pond size standards. The size of your pond will determine how big your koi get. So, the bigger the pond, the bigger your koi may be. The average size koi can grow to 25 to 35 inches. Koi should be fed once or twice a day, but refrain from overfeeding. Specially produced koi pellets can be purchased in various varieties, but koi can also eat cooked oats and rice or fresh or dried shrimp. By taking care of your koi and providing them with an ideal habitat, they may live several decades!
Locating and Designing Your Koi Pond
A koi pond differs from other kinds of water features because its main function is to provide a healthy and safe home for fish - not simply for aesthetic reasons, although its beauty is hard to deny in and of itself. Ideally, water gardeners should decide if their pond is to contain the species before installation so they can design a pond perfectly suited to the koi - not essential, but certainly practical. As might be imagined, open water that is clean and clear is essential to the well being of the koi.
If you are still in the design stage of your pond, try to choose a sight that is close to the home - not only for enjoyment but also for security reasons. Koi may not appear tasty to you, but there are many wildlife creatures including the neighbor's cats that count koi as a four-star meal. Also, if possible, situate your koi pond alongside a wall to form one whole side of it. It may be a useful and highly decorative endeavor to construct one for your pond. It can be beautifully blended into the landscape, it will be aid in pond support, it can be a useful support for trailing plants and vines, and it may provide a base for a cascade which is a useful pond enhancement to keep the water continually moving.
A wall that forms the side of your pond can also conceal the pond’s filtering system - which is a definite requirement. If you choose not to install a cascade or waterspout, you may easily install container shelves or hang a decorative feature such as a mask or mural. In any case, a wall will provide a great backdrop and give both protection and support to the pond itself. It's also a great feature that can be used to blend the pond with the other surroundings in your landscape.
Also, be sure to give your pond plenty of shade. This will not only help maintain a cooler water temperature, but will inhibit excess growth of algae. When landscaping around the pond, opt for less aggressive varieties. Containing your water plants and placing them beside the pond is the best way to maintain their health and the health of the pond and koi.
When installing your pond, the pool can be sunk into the ground or raised. A raised pond is easier for viewers to appreciate the koi. In either case, the pond should be a minimum of five feet deep and should ideally hold 500 gallons of water or more. A pond with straight sides is recommended and there should be no obstacles contained in the pool that could hurt or cause abrasions to the fish. Plant growth within the pond should be avoided. Koi are destructive to plants; the fish will both tear and uproot them making for messy and unhealthy pond conditions, not to mention and unsavory appearance.
Filtration and Maintenance
Even if your pond is only to contain a very modest number of fish, a filtration system should be installed to maintain the health of the pond water and fish. For large populations, adequate filtering is essential. An elaborate system is not necessarily attractive or easy to disguise, but filtering systems can easily be installed right into the wall and they can be disguised, but they should be equally easy to get to in order to service and maintain. The pond should be filtered 24 hours a day.
Many contemporary koi ponds make use of a drainage system contained on the pool's bottom. It is a special filtering system that requires expert installation, but it is extremely beneficial to the pond as it removes debris gently and with the help of gravity. Routinely checking the pond with a net or other cleaning device should also form part of your maintenance repertoire as you routinely check the health of the water as well as the koi. Your filter should be cleaned at least twice a year. Also, every two to three weeks, change or add new water to the pond for optimum health and check the pH balance as often as you may.
Caring for your koi and their habitat requires great commitment on the part of the water gardener. It may be necessary to keep back up parts, an aquarium and common koi medications on hand should a problem arise. Koi are greatly susceptible to shock, so dramatic changes to the pond environment should be avoided. By installing a pond that is best suited for keeping koi, many problems can be warded off and your water garden will simply be enhanced by these lovely creatures sure to please friends and family alike.