A koi pond can be a wonderful decorative feature, but many people worry about the difficulty of koi pond maintenance. At Healthy Ponds, we have some helpful tips and easy-to-use products that can help your koi and their pond water stay as healthy as possible.
Fun Facts About Koi
While koi pond maintenance is crucial, koi are amazing creatures and well worth the effort. There are actually dozens of varieties of koi, and some koi fish can live 100 years or more. In fact, the oldest koi on record, named Hanako, was born in 1791 and lived until 1977.
Koi are intelligent and sociable fish, and some koi owners even have trained their fish to eat from their hands. They are omnivores and enjoy treats such as watermelon, blueberries and grapefruit, although you want to be careful about overfeeding your koi. Koi also enjoy meaty treats such as shrimp and sardines.
When you head out to feed your koi, take a few minutes to skim any leaves or other debris. It is never wise to allow debris to collect in the pond as this eventually sinks to the bottom and builds into a sludge layer. This sludge layer reduces the level of oxygen in your koi pond, and this can harm your fish. This is a quick and easy koi pond maintenance tip that can make a huge difference in the quality of your pond water.
As the temperatures drop and you feed your fish less food, we still recommend going outside once or twice per day to skim away leaves and other debris. During the autumn months, as leaves begin to fall, it can be smart to cover the pond with a net to keep out as much debris as possible. As part of koi pond maintenance, we also recommend that you bag up and remove as many leaves from your yard as possible to keep the debris away from your pond.
Checking the temperature is another crucial daily task. As you will read later on in this blog, the temperature of your water has a direct correlation with the amount of food your koi will need. When water temperatures rise, you typically feed your koi more food and as temperatures fall, you feed less. While checking the temperature is always important, during the summer months, check it several times to ensure that the water doesn’t become too warm. Koi thrive best in water temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees.
Treat Water With Beneficial Bacteria
At Healthy Ponds, we have developed several all-natural products that improve water quality and clarity and work to prevent the accumulation of floating green organic matter and sludge. These easy-to-use products contain beneficial bacteria for ponds, are veterinarian-approved and safe for use in all koi ponds. They will not harm fish, wildlife, pets or people.
We have three products that are ideal for koi pond maintenance, depending on the size of your pond. Our AquaLily® Water Cleaner is a good option for small koi ponds with less than 1,000 gallons of water, and our All-Purpose Water Cleaner is the best option for ponds with 1,000 to 2,500 gallons. If you have more than 2,500 gallons, the best option is our AquaSpherePRO®.
All of these products contain beneficial bacteria and release this bacteria for up to 30 days. These bacteria consume excess nutrients in your koi pond, which prevents many common pond issues. The AquaLily® and All-Purpose Water Cleaner include a floating dispenser, and you just refill the dispenser every 30 days with a water cleaner refill pack. The AquaSpherePRO® is a biodegradable sphere that you simply toss into your pond every 30 days.
Filter The Water & Keep It Moving
Koi ponds should include an automatic filtration system so that waste can be removed from the pond easily. Agitating the water is crucial, and we recommend that you include a water feature such as a fountain or waterfall, as this circulates the water and makes your pond even more beautiful.
Aerating or agitating the water also helps to keep the water temperatures cooler in the summer. During the winter months, you might need to install a de-icer if you live in an area where it is common for ponds to ice over. Some koi “parents” will set up a large tank in a garage or outbuilding and house their koi inside during the coldest part of the year, but others keep the koi in their pond. Talk to a local koi expert about the best practices to ensure optimum health for your koi.
Keep The Population Manageable
Koi love to interact with other koi, and they are friendly, peaceful fish. However, if you have too many koi, this can cause serious problems. When there are too many fish, these animals have to compete for oxygen and more animals also equal more animal waste. This waste, as it accumulates on the bottom of your pond, adds to the sludge layer and reduces oxygen levels.
The number of koi that your pond can support depends on many factors, including the size and depth of your pond and the size of the koi fish. Larger fish eat more and create more waste. It takes koi about three years to reach their full size, and an adult koi can weigh as much as 30 pounds. Before you stock your pond, talk to a koi expert about the best way to introduce your koi to their new home and how many koi you can add safely.
Water Temperature & Koi Feeding
When it comes to koi pond maintenance, koi feeding is arguably the trickiest part of the process, but it all basically revolves around the temperature of your water. As the water temperature rises, the parts per million of dissolved oxygen drop. Typically, koi need 7ppm of dissolved oxygen (or higher) and the parts per million drop below this point once the water temperature climbs above 77 degrees, which is about as warm as you want that pond water to get.
If your pond seems to get too warm during the summer, install some shading around the pond. This will keep water temperatures lower and dissolved oxygen levels at a more optimum level. Agitating the water also can help reduce the water temperature. Keep an eye on the water level, as well, as water evaporates quickly in warm, sunny weather and you might need to add more water to your pond.
As for feeding, the number of times you feed your koi each week depends on the water temperature. Koi fish metabolisms work quickly in water that ranges from about 70 degrees to 77 degrees, and they will need to be fed two or three times each day. If water goes above 80 degrees, however, you may want to reduce the feedings.
As the water temperatures drop, you can start feeding your koi less and less food. For instance, once the temperature drops below 70 degrees, you might only feed once or twice per day. When the temperatures range between 56 and 65 degrees, you might only feed your koi four times a week and not daily. The colder the water, the less you need to feed your fish and most koi owners stop feeding the fish if the temperature dips below 40 degrees.
While these are some basic guidelines, we recommend that you speak with a koi expert in your area to determine the best number of feedings and the best types of food for your koi. If koi are overfed, this can cause severe intestinal issues, so it is important to learn all you can about the proper way to feed your koi.
Koi pond maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Skimming the pond, using a filter and aeration system, adding beneficial bacteria and proper feeding can ensure that your koi are healthy and happy for years to come.
If you have questions about any of our koi pond maintenance products, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at any time. If you are having any current koi pond issues, we offer free pond treatment plans for any size water feature at https://healthyponds.com/free-pond-plan/.