If you are thinking about adding a koi pond to your property, you can find articles, websites, and online forums that provide countless hours of reading material. But with the wealth of information comes the occasional misinformation. And if you’re a seasoned veteran, you likely have heard several inaccuracies about koi ponds during your time as an enthusiast. Here are some common misconceptions about pond ownership.
A Pond Will Attract Mosquitos
Koi consider mosquito larvae a delicious snack. It is unlikely that mosquitos will lay their eggs in a koi pond, as they prefer stagnant water. However, your koi will naturally take care of most of them in the event they do, and your pond skimmer will catch many of the rest. If the presence of mosquitos around your pond still concerns you, consider adding mosquitofish. As their name suggests, these fish will dine voraciously on mosquitos. They also make excellent companions for koi.
Algae Is Bad for Your Pond
You will discover plenty of online content explaining how to reduce the algae in your pond, which can give one the impression that algae is undesirable. While too much of anything can be harmful, algae in moderation is an essential component of your pond. It is a food source for fish and is an integral part of the pond’s nitrogen cycle. Algae produces oxygen while reducing nitrites and other harmful minerals.
You Must House Your Fish Indoors During Winter
Koi are hardy when it comes to tolerating cold temperatures. In the winter, koi go into a type of hibernation, known as torpor, that allows their bodies to acclimate to the weather by leaving them nearly motionless as they conserve energy. This is why you do not need to feed your koi while the pond’s temperature is below 52 degrees. Your koi will be just fine in the winter as long as the pond doesn’t freeze. A general rule is that colder climates should have deeper ponds, with depths of up to six feet in the most frigid states. Another way to keep your pond from freezing is to purchase a pond heater or a de-icer.
You Can’t Have Koi and Plants
Plants are a valuable addition to any koi pond due to their contributions to biological filtration and ability to provide protection and shade to koi. The presence of plants also helps keep algae levels in the helpful rather than harmful realm. It is true that koi eat plants, but many plants will mingle well with koi. Three categories of pond plants are floating plants, shallow water marsh plants, and submerged plants. Depending where you live, different plants might be more suitable than others. In nearly every region, some common aquatic plants are water hyacinth, water smartweed, water lotus, water lettuce, and water lily.
Maintaining a Koi Pond is Like a Full-Time Job
The size and beauty of a koi pond can lead a novice to believe that it requires a nearly impossible level of care and maintenance. However, koi ponds require less effort than most people assume. As long as they are properly constructed with the correct elements, they do most of the work for themselves. Set up your pond with good biological and mechanical filtration systems, and the bulk of maintaining the pond is just monitoring. Water changes need to occur once a week at most. Feedings only occur once a day in most seasons, with weeks between during cold winters. In general, homeowners find that koi pond maintenance easily fits in with regular backyard maintenance.
Fish Only Grow As Big As Their Pond
Some truth exists in the conventional wisdom that fish grow to the size of their environments, but the reason is not so innocuous. Stunted growth often occurs in fish living in small ponds or tanks, typically because of poor water quality and inadequate nutrients in their food. When cared for properly, koi will grow to the size their genetics dictate—not their environment. The size of the pond, along with other factors like health, feeding, water temperature, and water quality affect the speed of their growth, which typically reaches between 22 and 36 inches.
You Will Lose All Your Koi to Predators
No matter your location, there are animals around that view your pond as a take-out menu. However, because this problem is far from novel, decades of innovation have gone into solving it. The construction of your pond itself can help to ward off predators by giving fish a deep bottom to retreat to, as well as pond shelters and plants to hide under. Netting can be successful at keeping many types of predators out. Motion-activated decoys are an option, as well as highly realistic, to startle anything encroaching on your pond. Noise-producing features such as waterfalls also can make some predators nervous enough to leave your pond alone.
You Can’t Put Goldfish in Your Koi Pond
Several types of non-aggressive fish will work well with your koi. Goldfish are safe to include in your pond and get along very well with koi–with some caveats.
Though distinct species, koi and goldfish are both descendants of carp and have many characteristics in common. However, if you decide to add goldfish to your pond, you need to get them from a credible breeder, not a local retail pet store chain. Also, remember that koi (and goldfish) are omnivores and will eat other fish that are significantly smaller. So, a one-inch goldfish from the pet store will most likely be mistaken as food rather than friend.
The Best Place for a Pond Is the Lowest Part of the Yard
Although it might sound aesthetically pleasing, the lowest point in your yard is probably the worst place to install a pond. The koi pond will function better on higher ground. When the pond sits in the lowest part of a yard, run-off is more likely to accumulate, which can negatively impact water quality and potentially harm the fish.
You Can’t Install a Koi Pond in an Area with Trees
A pond near trees can be a good thing. One of the biggest dangers to a pond in the summer is the beating heat of the sun, and surrounding trees can provide significant natural shade to keep things cool. The shade that trees provide also helps make it easier to maintain proper oxygen levels and contain algae outbreaks. It is true that you will accumulate more leaves, but a skimmer will collect most of the debris. Any remaining debris can be scooped out with a handheld skimmer net.