Creating a koi pond

Last Updated 16 June 2011, 15:31 IST

A koi pond satisfies both! Koi, the docile and human-friendly species of colourful fish, estimated to live for about 30 years if well-cared for, can be your pet besides enhancing your garden’s aesthetics! Visit koi ponds to decide if you’re fascinated enough. 

Then, answer these basic questions. First, koi being very sensitive fish, pond maintenance is quite rigorous. Then, calculate the cost of filtration equipment, water-supply, drainage, electricity supply for pumps/heaters/water-treatment devices.

Can you spare the required time, patience, resources and energy? Next, is there adequate space in your garden? If not, you can also accommodate one indoors.

Moreover, is it just a fad or are you serious?  These fish popular today the world over and believed by Chinese Feng Shui to fetch luck, garner information about rearing them.

Will you set up the koi pond yourself using a DIY pond kit or hire a professional?
The latter’s usually advised owing to the intricacies involved. Even so, prior knowledge about the particular fish’s habits/lifestyle will help you create the optimal habitat. For ground preparation for pond-building, proper landscaping knowledge is a pre-requisite.

Remember, the pond’s architecture can profoundly influence the koi’s health and well-being! Incorporate maximum life-support and safety elements. 

What about pond-shape? A formal European pond has a definite geometric shape (rectangle/circle/hexagon). Else, be innovative in conjuring unique shapes. And then, the style, simple and swimming-pool-like appearance, natural look with woody ambience around or surrounded by waterfalls and ornamental rock formations.

The Japanese garden blending greenery with water is currently the most popular traditional style. Concrete is more durable than rubber liners. Fibreglass is an expensive option.

Scout for an ideal location. Can you watch it from your house, standing at the window? Proximity to a water-source is an added advantage. The spot should receive four-eight hours of sunlight daily. If it’s always sunny, build arbour/canopy over it. But, locating it under a tree can create debris problem (falling leaves/twigs).

Also, it shouldn’t be accessible to vandals. Delineate the selected spot’s border with lime-powder or a garden-hose. Consider if it’s suitable in all respects. 

Now for the size. A gigantic pond renders cleaning/maintenance regimens arduous. But, a little one limits the number of fish/plants you can add. Plus, koi grow substantially. So, usually, fifteen 24” fish in a 25’x13’x3’ pond is recommended. A 6’ depth and a small fish-castle at the bottom help them escape from predators like cats.  So, what are the pond essentials?

Crystal-clear, clean, oxygenated water is a must for koi health and better view. The huge amount of waste they generate accumulates into toxic mounds rapidly. Install a bottom drain-pipe while digging out the trench for the pond. Both mechanical and biological filters are necessary. A skimmer clears floating debris; a vacuum scours the bottom of the pond.

If using municipal water, dechlorinate it. Choose between submersible and external pumps. Ultraviolet lights and anti-algae devices are necessary. Provide for aeration by adding a beautiful fountain or a tiered waterfall.

Avoid placing overhanging rocks or arranging sharp rocks beside the pond.
They can injure jumping koi. Since koi tend to gorge on plants too, select species they don’t relish. Also ensure they aren’t overfed.  As for maintenance, scoop out surface debris daily. Observe the fish keenly for any abnormal behaviour – an illness indicator.

An hour’s weekly maintenance is demanded. Replace part of the water (10 per cent in winter and 25 per cent in summer), clean the filters, check pH, ammonia and nitrite levels and sequester sick koi, if any.

(Published 16 June 2011, 15:31 IST)

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