The start of a new year is met with plenty of reflection and introspection. It’s a great time to think back on the past year, ponder which areas of your life could perhaps use some extra attention, and make changes and resolutions for the year ahead. For many, that area may be their koi ponds. If you feel you didn’t give your pond the care it deserved this past year, or maybe just feel there is always room for improvement, now is a great time to start thinking about some of the changes you can make to ensure your koi are living their best life this year. Here are a few koi keeping resolutions to adopt in 2020.

“This year, I will perform routine pond maintenance tasks once a week”

Was your pond water not as healthy as it should have been this past year? Did you have issues with excessive debris or sludge? If the answer is yes, make an effort this year to perform routine maintenance tasks more regularly. Completing a few simple upkeep tasks once a week will help keep your pond water clean and your koi healthy. The first thing you should do is clean your filters. Koi create a lot of waste, which is removed from the pond by your filters. As waste begins to build up, your filters will perform less efficiently. To keep your filtration system running smoothly, open it up once a week, remove any debris, and rinse off any mechanical bits so they don’t clog. Maintaining your filtration system will help keep your water healthy, which will help keep your koi healthy.

Leaves and debris can also negatively impact water quality, which is why it’s important to also clean your skimmer basket once a week. If left in the water too long, leaves and debris can break down and create toxic gases. Cleaning out your skimmer basket more frequently will ensure your skimmer continues to operate efficiently. For larger pieces of debris that your pond skimmer may not catch, use a skimmer net to collect them manually.

Lastly, you should replace up to 25% of your pond water every week. Since ponds are closed ecosystems, any substances that enter your pond will eventually break down and pollute the water. Though filtration helps with this, there are some substances that cannot be completely neutralized by filtration alone. Replacing a portion of the water will help remove any remaining toxins and improve water quality in your pond. To do this, use a pond vacuum to drain a portion of your pond water or connect a hose to a submersible pump or your pond pump’s out-take pipe and let it drain into your garden. Then, refill the pond with a hose. Many city and municipal water systems contains chlorine, which is harmful to fish. Because of this, it’s also a good idea to add a dechlorinator to your pond when replacing the water.

Checklist for Success:

  • Clean filtration system once a week
  • Clean out skimmer basket once a week
  • Remove large debris with skimmer net once a week
  • Replace up to 25% of pond water once a week

“This year, I will be a better water keeper”

Taking care of your pond water goes hand-in-hand with regular pond maintenance. Just because your water looks clean doesn’t mean it’s healthy. In fact, most pond pollutants are invisible. The only way to measure and monitor these pond pollutants is by testing the water parameters, which is why you should invest in a quality water testing kit that checks ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and pH levels.

It’s also important to monitor the oxygen levels in your pond. Without proper oxygenation, your koi become more susceptible to disease. The simplest way to add oxygen to your pond is to add an aeration device like a water fountain, spitter, bubbler, or aerator. You can also maintain proper oxygen levels by adding aquatic plants, removing waste, and cleaning filters regularly. The best way to measure the amount of oxygen present in the water, or dissolved oxygen, is with a dissolved oxygen meter.

Temperature also plays a role in maintaining water quality and oxygen levels. The higher the water temperature, the less dissolved oxygen it will hold. Organic materials will decompose more quickly in higher temperatures, which can negatively impact water quality. The ideal water temperature for koi is between 65°F and 75°F. Installing a floating or sinking thermometer is the easiest way to monitor water temperature. If you live in an area that experiences hot weather, adding shade and/or floating plants can reduce direct sunlight and help keep your pond cool.

For more tips on maintaining water, how and when to test your water, and signs of poor water quality, check out this blog.

Checklist for Success:

  • Invest in a quality water test kit, DO meter, and floating or sinking pond thermometer to monitor pond pollutants, oxygen, and water temperature
  • Add an aeration device or aquatic plants to help maintain oxygen levels
  • Add shade or floating plants to reduce direct sunlight in hotter temperatures

“This year, I’ll take proactive steps to keep my koi safe and healthy”

The simplest way to solve a problem is by preventing it from happening in the first place. Did a few of your koi get sick this past year? Did you have problems with predators? By taking proactive steps now, you can reduce the risk of losing koi to disease and other threats.

One of the best ways to protect your koi from disease is by quarantining. Every koi keeper should have a quarantine tank to help prevent the spread of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. If you recently purchased a new koi, it can be tempting to add the new addition to your pond as soon as it arrives. However, this can be harmful to both your new koi and your existing collection. Quarantining new fish allows you to monitor them for any indication of illness, and ensure infection doesn’t spread to the rest of your pond. It also allows your new koi to recover from transport, which can often weaken the immune system.

In the event that any of your koi do get sick, you’ll be able to respond more quickly if you know what to look for and how to address it. Read up on common koi illnesses and how to treat them. This will help you recognize symptoms when and if they occur, and take action before the illness worsens or spreads. The Pond Experts put together a handy table of common koi diseases and tips for treating them.

Predators also pose a huge threat to koi safety. There’s nothing worse than checking on your pond and finding a few of your favorite koi have disappeared. Luckily, there are plenty of simple ways you can deter predators from your pond and keep your koi safe. Installing a pond net can make it much more difficult for predators to reach your koi. Plus, pond nets have the added benefit of keeping leaves and debris out of your water. Putting decoys or motion activated sensors or alarms around the perimeter of your pond can also keep predators away. Or, you can add a fish cave or floating plants to give your koi a place to hide.

Checklist for Success:

  • Always quarantine new and sick fish
  • Learn about common illnesses and how to treat them
  • Put predator decoys or sensors around your pond
  • Add hiding places for your koi, like fish caves or floating plants

“This year, I will avoid impulse purchases”

Sometimes it’s tough to say no when you see a beautiful koi or the perfect pond accessory, but impulse buys are never a great idea. Doing some preliminary planning can help keep your koi healthy and save you some money in the long run.

The beginning of the year is a great time to take stock of your pond and plan for the season ahead. Is there any equipment that needs replacing or updating? Are there any supplies that need to be restocked? Do you have room for a few new additions? Make a list of your wants and needs for the coming season and set a budget. If you want to upgrade a piece of equipment, research different models to find the best fit and compare prices. This way, if you suddenly spot the item you want at a reduced price, you can feel confident knowing that you’re getting a great deal on a great product.

If you know you want to add a few new koi to your pond this year, don’t hit that “buy” button until you know you have the space and resources. Overstocking your pond can be harmful to your koi. Koi Organization International points out that a crowded pond can create stress and increase the risk of illness. So, make sure you have enough water, as well as adequate filtration and aeration for if you plan to increase the number of koi in your pond.

Checklist for Success:

  • Take stock of pond and pond supplies
  • Make a list of wants and needs
  • Research and compare prices before making any purchases
  • Set a budget

“This year, I will enjoy my pond more”

With all the time and effort that goes into koi keeping, it’s sometimes difficult to remember to spend time enjoying your pond. If you aren’t taking time to appreciate all the beautiful work you’ve done, what’s the point of doing it all? Once the work is done, don’t forget to kick your feet up and enjoy some pond-side rest and relaxation. You deserve it!

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