Beyond the basics required for that koi to thrive, there are some optional pond features that are worth considering. All of these features are best when implemented from the beginning rather than worked in as a late addition or renovation. Skipping even one of these features in the design of your koi pond may result in a costly loss or increased maintenance over the years. Build an easy-to-maintain and reliable koi pond from the start with these features.
A Durable and Flexible Liner
Many people new to koi pond designs wrongfully assume that liners are only available for relatively small volumes and surface areas. While this may be true for pre-formed rigid liners, it’s not the case for flexible geomembranes. A layer of a durable and fish-safe liner like BTL Liners AquaArmor prevents water loss through seepage, stabilizes the soil around the pond, and allows for easy cleaning. Even if you plan to spread a concrete lining to seal a very large pond, you’ll want a layer of geomembrane between it and the soil to control leaks and water loss.
Smooth Curves with Minimal Nooks and Crannies
Steep and straight-sided walls are common in koi ponds, but the bottom edges require smooth curves to transition between the wall and floor. Sharp-edged square and rectangles may be the easiest shapes to create for a backyard pond, but koi tend to damage their scales rubbing up against these corners and this design can also impede water flow. Smooth curves, with minimal tight corners or nooks and crannies, ensure you can find koi when they’re trying to hide. This also minimizes the work to clean the pond and encourages healthy swimming habits. Flexible pond liners make it easy to create smooth curves, even with straight and steep sides.
Aside from plants that provide cover, koi also experience the least stress when you provide a few manufactured caves or areas for them to hide. These hiding structures can also protect your beloved fish from predators by giving them a place to flee when a shadow crosses the water. While many new pond owners are worried that hollow logs and resin koi caves will result in them never seeing the fish, they’re surprised to find that koi who have the opportunity to these areas are actually more likely to come out and show themselves. Fish tunnels can be made from corrugated plastic pipe and covered in rocks to create a natural looking cave that is easy to clean out if it becomes filled with sludge or debris.
Beautiful Waterfalls and Similar Features
Not only will a splashing waterfall or sparkling fountain add beauty and value to the koi pond, it also doubles as a backup form of aeration to add a little extra dissolved oxygen to the water. Koi can be damaged if they can access a water feature, so waterfalls and fountains should be designed with this in mind. They should be built in an area separate from the fish or an underwater cage can be installed around the feature to prevent injury to the fish.
In addition to the usual mechanical and biological filtration methods, consider adding a UV light that helps process the pond water. UV treatment is the most effective way to control algae growth without putting your fish at any risk. Chemical and mechanical removal methods can harm sensitive koi, but UV lights are installed in the filter system where the fish can’t access them. There’s no residues or treatment levels to worry about because the light handles all of the work.
Not all commercial or backyard landscaping ideas work well for a koi pond. Choose surrounding plants that can handle the humidity and extra moisture in the soil. Avoid traditional turf lawns running right up to the edge of the pond since you can’t fertilize or treat the ground with pesticides due to the risk of runoff entering the pond. Stick to hardy native plants that provide plenty of shade while requiring little chemical inputs that could be hazardous to the pond’s ecosystem.
Most backyard koi owners have to rely on plastic containers or glass aquariums to house their fish for treatment when there’s an illness or injury. When you’re dealing with a 3-foot long mature koi, finding a container big enough even for temporary use can be costly and tricky. Building a separate smaller koi pond with its own water supply as a quarantine area is well worth the cost if you’re planning to keep dozens of fish or want to raise them for sale.
Advanced Water Monitoring Equipment
Manual water tests may work for smaller ponds, but if you’ve stocked thousands of dollars’ worth of fish in a pond, consider more advanced water quality monitoring equipment. Sensors that keep a constant measurement of pH balance, temperature and ammonia and nitrite levels, will help you stay on top of the needs of sensitive fish. You can find smart sensor systems that keep all this information available at the touch of a finger on your smart phone or computer.