Backyard Koi Ponds - Helpful Tips For Healthy Fish And Happy Pond Owners

They may have originated in Asia, but koi fish have 'migrated' in large numbers (with the help of human importers) to North America in the last 20 years.  Thanks to some designer breeding over hundreds of years by various Asian dynasties, koi ponds have become a modern and popular addition to many backyards.

Many people mistake this brightly-colored species for a relative of the goldfish family.  In reality, koi are actually a domesticated breed of carp.  While common carp are brownish or silvery in color, koi have been bred over the centuries to take on radiant color patterns.  Many koi are orange (like goldfish) or yellow-gold in color, though they can be white, silver-gray, or brownish in color.  Most koi have some type of black markings, and patterns of markings vary.  Koi are considered a symbol of luck in the Japanese culture, which is why you'll probably find them in many Japanese-style ponds and gardens.

Some homeowners make the mistake of placing these Asian-bred fish into a regular backyard pond.  Though they are fairly hardy fish, koi need somewhat specialized pools to thrive.  One of the most important early considerations you'll need to make about having a koi pond is the amount of space that they require.   A rule of thumb to go by: you should have about 150 gallons of water for each single fish.  It's important to remember though that some koi can grow up to 3 feet in length.  In this case, you might need to have about 500 gallons of water per specimen.  So plan on building a medium to large-size pond.

Koi ponds need to have some depth to them.  At least four feet is recommended, though the entire pond does not have to be that deep.  Koi can swim in very shallow water, and it's enjoyable to be able to lure them up close to shallow edges with food and watch them feed and move about.  But koi need to be able to retreat into deeper, cooler waters when it's hot.  Koi pond owners in warmer, drier regions will likely fare better with a pool that is 6-8 feet deep.

Depth is also important for being able to escape predators.  Dogs may not eat a koi, but may still chase and kill one if they are easily accessible.  Depending on where you live, these fish appeal to raccoons, and birds of prey like herons and kingfishers.  Deeper waters mean you'll lose fewer fish to larger animals in the food chain.

Proper filtration is essential to your school's survival rate.  It also makes your pond more enjoyable for you, the owner.  A good pump and filter will keep the water clean and clear for viewing.  An external pump can even be positioned to create a waterfall, adding aesthetic quality to your koi pond.  Make sure you get a filter that is designed specifically for koi ponds (not swimming pools or water gardens).

Your pond can either be constructed above ground or under ground.  Both styles are suitable for keeping and raising a healthy school.  Under ground pools are more common and tend to be more aesthetic.  The important thing to note with underground pools is that a liner is necessary in most cases.  These are easy to cut to fit and to insert, and will keep the water in your pond and minimize the risk of flooding your yard or home.
 
Your local hardware or garden supplies store will probably have much of the information that you'll need to get your project started.  In fact, you may even find an afternoon 'how-to' seminar which will teach you how to build your pond and care for your stock.  They'll also have useful tips on things designs, how to winterize, and the benefits of treating your water with salt.  Like thousands of other koi owners, you'll come to find that caring for stock will be both fascinating and enjoyable.

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