Once you’ve built the koi pond of your dreams, you can keep it looking good and requiring few repairs with some basic maintenance steps. Make time for all of these routine pond chores to keep your fish thriving for as long as possible.
1. Stick to Daily Feedings
When a koi pond is located outside your home, or next to your workplace, it’s tempting to bring the fish snacks a few times a day. However, this quickly leads to overfeeding and the resulting water quality issues. To keep them hungry enough to eat all of their food quickly before it can sink and disappear, limit koi feedings to one time per day. Make sure guests and visitors aren’t throwing food in, especially since many foods are inappropriate for koi and can damage their sensitive bodies.
2. Get a Tool for Measuring Pond Sludge
There are plenty of specialty tools sold for fishpond maintenance and a reflective underwater measuring pole is definitely worth the cost. These poles are visible at odd angles and in deeper water so you can get an accurate reading of the sludge layer of the bottom of the pool. Check in multiple spots to ensure there’s plenty of space for your koi to swim, especially when winter is on its way. Waiting too long to clean out the sludge layer at the bottom of a pond can result in gas releases that damage koi gills and weaken their immune systems. A measuring pole will also keep you from over-cleaning when there’s only a little sludge.
3. Keep Up with Water Checks
Even if you install a full set of high-tech water quality management tools, you should perform a few manual “water quality checks” each month to verify your readings are accurate. Without advanced sensors, you’ll want to test the water at least every week to monitor the levels of various harmful chemicals. Don’t forget to check the pH at least once a month, or even more often for a new pond that’s still fluctuating. Skipping a water check because everything looks fine can leave you with rising ammonia or nitrite levels that quickly damage your fish.
4. Track Water Levels to Notice Leaks
A pond will lose up to 10% of its volume per week in evaporation alone. This can occur at a more rapid rate if it’s shallow, less shaded, and located in a hot or windy environment. Install a water use monitor on your hose to track how much water you're having to refill.
5. Check for Dead Fish and Other Debris
With a decent tight-beam flashlight and a net for shifting apart plants, check your pond monthly for any fish that might have died or wildlife that wandered in and passed away. Dead fish, frogs, and other decaying animals drag water quality down very quickly due to the bacteria they harbor. It’s not the most pleasant task for maintaining your pond, but it’s an important part of keeping the habitat safe for the fish that are still thriving. Try to design fish hides and caves so they’re easy to check for trapped debris without having to stick your hands into hidden spaces.