Koi ponds are inherently fascinating because of the elegant, graceful, and colorful fish that fill them. However, as seasoned pond-owners know, the benefits don’t stop there. Koi ponds make beautiful additions to any backyard. There are many reasons you might choose to install a koi pond on your property, but one thing you will have in common with others is the enjoyment it will bring.
You don’t need to be an expert or a pro to enjoy the perks of koi ownership. When constructed properly with the proper biological and mechanical elements, ponds require relatively minimal maintenance. However, once your pond is built and stocked, you will most likely find that you will go far beyond the minimal upkeep. There will be more ponds to build—or at least additions and features to add.
Here are some ways that having a koi pond can enhance your daily routine and your living space.
Most people want to reduce the amount of stress they experience, and building a koi pond is one way to do that. The sight and sound of moving water, and mesmerizing activity of the fish, can help you relax after a stressful day at work. (Retired folks will also note that the tranquility of their ponds does not grow old.) Though just about anyone with a pond will tell you this, some scientific evidence exists to back up the anecdotes.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science found that regular exposure to water features increases psychological well-being and reduces risk factors for mental illness. Other research suggests that routine exposure to ponds can correlate with a reduction in blood pressure and anxiety symptoms. People who visit blue spaces often report better overall well-being than those who don’t.
Koi ponds can also potentially aid in recovery from injuries and illnesses. Some stroke patients have reported faster recovery times after routine exposure to koi ponds during their treatments. People suffering from high blood pressure and heart disease have improved health after interacting with koi ponds. The good news is that it doesn’t take much time to activate these benefits—just 10 minutes a day is enough to make a discernible impact.
If you have never kept koi, you might assume that this is not a high-value, high-reward relationship. While it is true that koi require less care than most other pets, the rapport you have with them will be proportional to what you invest. In a study published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, people who owned fish that they cared for and watched regularly described a meaningful experience that provided them with a sense of purpose and enjoyment. These reports were similar to dog and cat owners who discussed the impact their pets had on their lives.
Avid hobbyists will tell you that relationships form with koi even at the individual level, as you will notice distinct personality traits among each resident of your pond. (Almost any trait you can find in a human—shy, bold, playful, and more—you can find in a koi as well.) You will probably even develop a favorite or two. Koi adapt well to contact with humans, and can learn to recognize their owners, and you can even train them to eat from your hand. Establishing routines surrounding the care and enjoyment of your pond will help you form strong bonds with your aquatic companions.
You’ve probably heard of a dog show, but what about a koi show? Yes, they exist too. Owners enter select koi into a competition, each fish is kept in its own tank, and judges evaluate the contestants for conformation, color, pattern, quality and elegance, and imposing presence—as well as other potential criteria specific to the show.
The judging categories are separated by class or variety, and then by size. There are typically several awards given within each category, and an overall winner is determined. Many enthusiasts compete for the experience and the bragging rights, but the hobby can become lucrative. The grand champion at the 2017 All Japan Koi Show sold for $1.8 million.
Many regional and national hobbyist groups run forums where members can discuss events and share knowledge about keeping koi. These forums are a great place to learn all the nuances of the hobby and tricks of the trade, troubleshoot issues, and connect with others who have a similar interest. They are also great sources of information about local koi shows, rules and regulations, and even judging criteria.
Any koi pond adds instant curb appeal to your home, from the most simple to the most ornate. You might be surprised by how popular of a spot your place becomes once you’ve installed a gorgeous pond and stocked it with living jewels. You will suddenly find that your backyard is the preferred one among your friends and family for barbecues and other get-togethers. It also will make those gatherings more comfortable in the summer, as koi tend to eat the pesky mosquitoes that can plague outdoor parties.
There is no standard size and shape for a koi pond—it can be customized to the space and aesthetic you want in your yard as long as its specifications make a suitable habitat for the koi. To further the ambiance, you can add plants and other features to the pond to elevate the ambiance, including different sizes and shapes of rocks or even miniature waterfalls. A well-designed habitat should also draw some desired creatures, such as frogs, butterflies, and birds.
For those fascinated by folklore, koi have strong symbolism in Chinese and Japanese culture. They are said to bring luck and good fortune and have special significance based on their color.
- Red or Orange: Motherhood, love, power, bravery
- Gold or Yellow: Wealth, prosperity, growth
- Silver: Success, fulfillment
- Black: Fatherhood, strength, endurance
- Pink: Femininity, representing a daughter
- Blue: Masculinity, representing a son, tranquility, peace
- White: Career success, balance, harmony
Koi also are associated with the traits of strength and perseverance, as they are known in legends for swimming upstream regardless of the conditions.