If you talk to any veteran koi enthusiast, they will tell you what a fulfilling and addictive endeavor koi keeping is. A koi’s grace and beauty can be mesmerizing. Here are 21 features of koi keeping that can be helpful in preparing for, what oftentimes becomes, a lifelong pursuit.

1. Water Quality is Your Best Friend and Worst Enemy

Your koi will literally live and die by the parameters of your pond water. It is the alpha and omega of pond and koi keeping. There is no sleep for the pond keeper when it comes to staying on top of water quality. And there are no magic bullets when the parameters are out of whack either. Beware those products that claim they are. You will have to be vigilant and patient.

Also, get yourself a good pH testing kit. There are many available.

2. Get to Know The Nitrogen Cycle

It exists and it looks a little like this. The Nitrogen Cycle is really, really important to the health and wellbeing of your pond denizens. Clear water, doesn’t mean clean water. Or healthy koi either. Did we mention how important it is?

3. Everyone is an Expert

There will be opinions—and they will often clash. But ultimately, every koi owner and pond keeper means well and has the best interest of all Living Jewels at heart. Experience is the best teacher, and you can (and should) use the experience of others to your benefit. No one way is necessarily better than another.

4. You Will Have to “Season” Your Pond

This follows from the last point. You can’t just dig a hole, put a liner in it, fill it with water and put your fish in it. You have to allow time for the beneficial bacteria (nitrosomonas and nitrobacter) on your biological filter (you’ll need one of these, too) that helps to break down the various forms of Nitrogen compounds. Some sources say that it can take up to three years for your pond to properly mature. Until then, you will have to weather the fluctuations in your water conditions.

Fresh Home Design with Fantastic Koi Ponds Ideas
Courtesy: ninadecor.com

5. Your First Pond Won’t Be Your Last

Like tattoos and potato chips, one is never going to be enough. Even if it is only an addition, the pond you started with won’t be the one you will end with. As you learn more about ponds, design, filtration or get a pang of pond envy, you’ll continue to reinvent or rebuild. It’s ok. It happens to everyone eventually. There are support groups.

6. Algae Isn’t Always The Enemy

Well, not all of it. The “carpet” of algae that grows on the walls and base of your pond, however unsightly, is healthy for your pond. It helps with oxygenation and your koi can nibble on it. Too much of it, however, is an indicator that your pond is out of balance and that you have too much waste and not enough oxygen. Algae Bloom. Look it up. There’s a pretty good chance that you’ll have one eventually.

7. Don’t Put Your Prized Koi into a Brand New Pond

Many dealers will sell grab bags of koi fish. If your pond is new, even if you have built up the beneficial bacteria colony, you should still put a couple of canaries in the coal mine before you commit any koi that you don’t want to lose.

8. Your Pond Water has Potentially Harmful Bacteria in it

There is no getting away from it. The bacteria Aeromomas Hydrophila (or Aeromonas for short) is in your water. It’s in every pond owners water. Even the biosecure facilities. It is an opportunistic pathogen, so as long as your koi aren’t stressed, they can keep the bacteria at bay. Keeping you water in normal parameters is extremely helpful.

9. You Will Have a Favorite Koi

Like children, you won’t admit to it, but you will have one. You will also be conflicted about the thought of having to put it up for adoption to make way for your next favorite koi. Because you will think about it.

10. You Will Upgrade Your Koi

Just as you may have loved your first car, you will eventually look for something better. Like your pond, once you become more informed you will still start to appreciate the aspects of koi that denote higher quality. And it’s going to cost you. Put money away now.

11. You Will Lose Koi

Nature is unforgiving. Between illness, old age and predators you will lose your Living Jewels. The good news is, if their living conditions are well maintained, they can live up to 60 years! Hanako lived to be over 200 years old.

12. You Will Envy Other People’s Koi

But that’s ok, because there will always be someone that envies one (or all) of your koi. If you have $1m available you can buy a Grand Champion and be the envy of koi keepers everywhere.

13. Don’t Skip The Chagoi

They might not be the brightest or most colorful, but they are friendly. Chagoi have a monochromatic elegance and they are usually the first ones to learn to hand feed. They will usually also be one of the bigger koi in your pond. The hand feeding might have something to do with it.

14. Knowing How Electricity Works is in Your Future

You might wanna brush up on your plumbing know-how too. Something will end up on the fritz or spring a leak. And more often than not, it is in an emergency situation.

15. Predators Are Everywhere

Whether you live in the city or in the country, there are beasties that will see your koi as a meal. Racoons, domestic cats, otters, herons, birds of prey don’t pay attention to zip codes. Research which potential threats exist in your area and have deterrents ready to go. And not all predators have fur or feathers. There are plenty of koinapping stories, too.

16. Not All Quarantine Tanks Are Created Equal

In the eventuality of needing to quarantine a koi fish, you will need a separate holding tank in which to do it. As you become a more accomplished enthusiast your setup will more than likely become quite elaborate and may even resemble something you’d see in an aquarium. But if you are using a galvanized trough or plastic pool, be aware that some of the materials used in the construction can be hazardous to your koi.

A bakki shower setup used to improve water quality
Bakki Shower in motion by Mark Wright

17. Foam Fractionators, Bakki Showers—They Are Real

No, these aren’t things out of a Phillip K. Dick novel. They are actual things. And they can do wonders for your water quality. In fact here’s a How to DIY guide to building a Fractionator as well as one for a Bakki Shower. There are numerous other means of keeping your water within proper parameters. Do your research. You will become quite a water expert on your journey.

18. Koi Diets—There Are Many

Koi will eat pretty much anything that can fit in their mouths. They aren’t incredibly picky. If your koi don’t eat, they are full. Or ill. There is however, a more balanced diet for koi—and there are even recipes for making your own koi food. The type of food used is dependent on season, water temperature and the size of your koi. This fishchannel article covers the basics.

The best brand of koi food is a topic of hot debate. There are also hundreds of different types of food to choose from and you will get a load of advice as to which is the optimum choice. A quick search on any koi keeper forum will give you plenty of “food” for thought as to what you should be feeding your koi.

19. There is More Than One Way to Feed Your Fish

Koi are cold blooded and as such are at the mercy of the water temperature they are in. The colder the water the less active they are and the less they need to be fed. As you can imagine, there are general feeding guidelines (here is one from the koikeepers.com).

20. There is Such a Thing As Too Many Koi

There are generally accepted guidelines as to the number of koi you can safely and healthily keep in a pond according to the volume of water in it. Here is a guideline from the respected drsfostersmith.com website.

Koi Pond stocking guideline

21. There Will Be Trial. And Error

You will get to appreciate them both. Begrudgingly. You’ll make mistakes along the way. You aren’t the first to get it wrong and you won’t be the last. You will even lose some of your koi. But it is an extremely fulfilling endeavor and worth all the effort.

When it comes time to identify the nishikigoi you would like to fill your pond or tank, Next Day Koi has a full selection of koi fish for sale from some of the biggest and most reputable koi farms in the world at incredible prices. Our high volume of shipping will also get you some of the most competitive Next Day Air shipping rates in the industry.


4 responses

  1. Griff Thomasson :

    It is one hobby you will never master !Forget PH get a GH amnd KH test kits and keep those in line and PH will take care of itself !
    Bakki shower , trickle tower , what ever you want to call the.,They work different than submerged filtration . I will never keep fish with out one !
    You learn more from the fish you kill than from your successes !

  2. Hi my name is Juan I would love to adopt a koi fish if you have some available I have 85 gallon tank I’ve been fascinated by koi fish on my life since I was a kid please let me know if I can adopt one or two thank you so much

  3. Eileen Benson :

    I’m glad you mentioned that it’s actually healthy for our pond to have a bit of algae on the walls. My husband and I are interested in buying some koi and fortified fish food because caring for them together sounds like a fun new hobby. Keeping your tips in mind should help us as we start learning how to care for them! https://healthykoi.us/product/healthy-koi-fortified-fish-food/

    1. Very glad to hear that the tips are proving helpful for the two of you. Best of luck!

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