The history of raising nishikigoi fish (popularly known as koi) for decorative purposes dates back to the 1820’s. Japanese breeders bred the Amur carp for their ornate color variations then revealed the ornamental fish to the public during a 1914 exhibit in Tokyo. From then on, koi ponds quickly became a worldwide phenomenon. Much like tending to a rose garden, cultivating a koi pond became synonymous with cultivating beauty, vitality, and tranquility.
If you’ve ever played with a Japanese rock garden, you may understand the sense of calm that can come from any active meditative practice. The same holds true of starting and maintaining a koi pond. It’s not easy. In fact, koi ponds can be quite difficult to get right. Water needs to be perfectly filtered, aerated, and temperature controlled. Size, depth, and longevity are all factors. But the rewards that come with creating something so beautiful are well worth it.
The Benefits of Koi Ponds
According to the principles of Japanese aesthetics, water, greenery, and animals return us to our natural state. In other words, when we are surrounded by nature and natural elements our own well-being is enhanced. Japanese koi ponds then, can add a sense of serenity that flowers alone cannot accomplish. For those who already understand the benefits of gardening, those benefits can be enhanced by the addition of a small ornamental pond. Crystal clear water, vibrant green lily pads, and a burst of golden color swimming in their midst, are benefit enough.
However, none of this is to say that koi ponds are purely aesthetic. There are certainly practical and functional benefits as well. For instance, koi fish are wonderful at mitigating mosquito populations. Not to mention, koi ponds create an aquaculture that attracts snails and crustaceans as well as a variety of water plants. For those interested in beekeeping, these water gardens provide moisture for controlling the humidity of the colony and keeping honey from solidifying.
Things To Consider Before Building a Koi Pond
If, so far, we’ve made this sound like an enchanting hobby, there are few things you might want to consider before you jump right in and start a koi pond. For starters, it’s important to remember that what you are actually building is an ecosystem. A container in which live fish can thrive and grow. One medium-sized koi requires at least 250-300 gallons of water. That means if you have several fish, you’re looking at a pretty large pond.
Proper filtration, drainage, and water temperature are important considerations. In the winter, koi can withstand a certain amount of ice, but the pond needs to have at least some access to the air. And if there are predators in the surrounding area, fences or electrical fences might be a necessary installment as well. Finally, remember that koi fish can be expensive to purchase and maintain (some of them range in the thousands) and they can live more than 100 years in good conditions.
Taking Proper Care of a Koi Pond
One of the most important things to think about when building a koi pond, is what you intend to line your pond with. In order to prevent water seepage, your pond must be lined with some form of geomembrane material. However, not just any material will do. In fact, many geomembrane liners leech hazardous substances into the water that can be detrimental—if not fatal—to the health of your fish.
To avoid this, make sure you use potable-grade liners. BTL Liners make NSF certified potable-grade liners. That means they are food, drinking water, plant, and fish safe. They are reviewed by the toxicology department of the National Sanitation Foundation and do not release plasticizers or harmful byproducts into the water they are lining. This makes them safe for organic farming methods, aquaponics, hydroponics, and yes, koi ponds.
If you are interested in building a koi pond, talk to one of our specialists. We would love to help you calculate exactly what size your koi pond should be and how much lining material you will need to make it.