To plant or not to plant? Whether or not to add aquatic plants to your koi pond is a question that koi fish enthusiasts will find ample time to debate. And for those that fall on the “yay” side of the discussion, they will more than likely have their own ideas as to which types and the quantities that work best, too.

The Pluses

Aquatic plants can offer huge benefits to the quality of the environment. Here’s how:

  • Water Quality — Healthy Koi fish like to eat and a natural result of that is waste. Plants perform the important task of converting that waste and utilizing it as nutrients, thereby helping to maintain a healthy water quality. Some varieties of aquatic plants can also help to naturally oxygenate the water.
  • Shade — Plants offer shade that can keep the pond cool, in turn helping in part to control the algae blooms that warm weather bring.
  • Protection — By keeping your koi away from the prying eyes of predators as well as providing a place to spawn, aquatic plants can help to keep your pond stocked.

Oh yes, they look great, too.

The Minuses

There are two major challenges that come with adding greenery to your pond:

  • Koi Appetites — As we discussed, koi are not afraid of a meal and many varieties of pond plants with exposed or hanging roots can end up as part of the menu, which potentially heralds the untimely end to your Azolla or an underdeveloped Hyacinth.

    There are different methods of segregating your koi from your plants (as briefly discussed here by Everything Ponds and Rosepond Aquatics) to solve the issue of your koi fish dining a la carte.

  • Guidelines Some popular species of plants might be kosher in some parts of the country but not others, being deemed as invasive. Checking to find out if your plant choice is not on a list somewhere is advisable before opting for that plant.

And then there’s the question of will they harm my fish if they eat it. No worries. has created a comprehensive list of those plants that have been known to have adverse effects on koi.

The Types

Depending on where you look, the categories may have different headings, but essentially there are four different types of aquatic plant, each of which has its own benefit:

  • Submersed

Also known as oxygenators, they grow under the water and bubble off oxygen as a by-product from the detritus and koi fish waste. It helps to control algae and provides protection for breeding.

Some popular types are: Fanwort, Parrots Feathers, Anachris, Arrowhead

  • Floating plants

As the name suggests, they sit on the surface while their roots hang underneath out of the substrate or planter. Providing both protection and shade (up to as much as 60% is recommended) it can keep your koi comfortable in the warmer months by helping to control algae as it feeds on the nitrates from the waste products.

Popular varieties are Water Hyacinths, Water Lettuce, Water Poppies and Lotus

  • Deep Water Plants

Requiring deeper water to reach their full potential, they are either anchored into the pond’s natural bottom or can be put in containers that contain the necessary nutrients.

Water Lilies (and the many varieties thereof) are the most popular type and add a lovely splash of color on the surface that matched the “Living Jewels” beneath.

  • Bog Plants

These also go by “marginals” and are great for those moist, boggy areas around the shallower outer edges of a pond. They are generally easier to grow, but might not work for those worried about having to create shallow shelves (favored by predators like raccoons) to house them.

Common varieties are Cattails, Cannas, Grasses, Reeds, Water Iris, Horsetail and Hibiscus.


Much like the number of koi fish that you can comfortably keep in your pond, the number of plants that you should consider using is based on the size of your pond. Again, offers some insights as to how many plants you should consider keeping in your pond, not only by size of your pond but the types, too.

Plants or no aquatic plants, no matter what your preference, Next Day Koi can accommodate your tastes when you are ready to stock your pond or tank. We offer a wide selection of koi fish sourced from some of the best farms around the world to help you stock it.

Coupled with a great selection of both sizes and types, we leverage our high volume of shipping through UPS to bring you some of the most competitive Next Day Air shipping rates in the industry.

Contact one of our representatives to see how we can help you stock your pond.

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