The Joy of Koi: How to care for koi fish in your pond
If you have a water feature in your garden, you know how much it improves a backyard space – the soothing sound of cascading falls, the wildlife it attracts. Why not add some colorful fish to frolic in your pond? With a little know-how, you can keep koi and enjoy them for many years.
• Size and easy access
To hold about 15 adult fish, your pond should be at least two to three feet deep, and measure 23 x 12 feet. Make sure you can get to the filtration and heating systems – if you live in a colder climate – so that if you need to adjust settings, you’re not balancing on slippery rocks!
• Pick fish!
Quality beats quantity! Choose small, healthy koi with different colors and patterns, but don’t buy too many – cramming your koi pond might lead to a poor water environment where none will thrive.
• Testing, testing!
Test your pond water weekly with a kit that measures pH levels – they should hover between 6.6 and 8.4. Make sure your water shows no ammonia or nitrates – if these levels soar, check your filtration system. You might also have to change out some of the water to fix this.
• Feeding time!
Koi become full in about five minutes, so only feed them quantities they will consume in that time. If you see uneaten food floating around after that, reduce the amount next time. In late spring and summer when koi metabolism is at its highest, you’ll want to feed them up to four times a day. In cooler months, they should eat once per day. When temperatures plunge below 50 degrees, stop feeding them so they go into dormant phase.
• Pesky pests!
What happens if your ‘hood features raccoons, herons or other fish-loving predators? Pond fish cost money, and we don’t want to lose them to someone’s dinner! The deeper your pond is, the better chance herons won’t reach them. If your pond has caves or other hiding spots for your fish, even better. You can create more with large rocks, floating lilies and plants like duckweed. Overturned buckets weighed down by rocks will work, too. Large grasses also offer a border that’s hard for pests to see through. Consider installing an aerator, which will add oxygen to your water and also disguise its surface, allowing the fish below to ‘disappear’. Stubborn pests keep returning? Turn on your motion-activated sprinklers!
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