Are you wondering what koi fish are or why seemingly normal people often become fanatical about their koi?
Koi are descended from the common carp, a rather unremarkable looking fish that is usually black, dark brown or bronze in color. Today they come in a rainbow of colors and are often referred to as living jewels or Nishikigoi . Once you see them swimming in clear water you will understand why.
The beauty and grace of these fish and the many colors and marking patterns create truly unique fish. No two koi are exactly the same. The endless variety of colors and patterns is what makes folks go koi crazy and become breeders or collectors.
Then too, koi can easily live 30 years and have personalities making them more like real pets than other aquarium fish. Koi learn to recognize their owners and often will hide when strangers approach. They can even be trained to eat from your hand with a bit of patience.
What Koi Fish Are Not
Many people think koi are simply large goldfish. However they are not goldfish at all. One look at one with its barbels will quickly show you they are not the same. In fact, if anything they more closely resemble catfish.
These large fish are not suited to aquariums or bowls like goldfish are. A mature koi would require a minimum of 250 gallons of water. There are folks that have small indoor ponds and keep a few koi and this is realistic. To better understand these fish it is helpful to compare their needs with that of a goldfish and a typical water garden pond.
Koi Fish Ponds Vs Water Gardens
Koi are large fish, some are over 36″ when fully grown. They eat a lot and produce a lot of waste. Because these they are so unique they require a specially designed pond to meet their needs.
A water garden is generally a shallow pond that has a variety of pond plants in it. This is why it is often called a garden pond. It may be a still pond or have water flow. It may or may not have any filtration. It may not even have any fish in it at all, but simply be a planted pond.
A koi pond on the other hand requires constant water movement and filtration to deal with the waste produced. It will need to be larger because koi are active swimmers and also much deeper too.
Say Good By To Your Water Garden
The garden pond is suitable for goldfish but totally unsuitable for koi for several reasons. First it will cease to be a garden pond if you put them in it. While goldfish may nibble at your plants they are relatively easy on pond plants. Koi, on the other hand, are ruthless when it comes to pond plants. Whatever they don’t manage to eat or tear up on top they will root up from the bottom. Koi fish can denude and muddy up a garden pond in record time.
If you have ever looked at a traditional Japanese koi pond you will notice very few plants in the water. You may see a few water iris leaves sticking up or the occasional spatterdock. Generally koi don’t like to eat these very much so they survive. The Japanese have learned to design ponds that work with the koi’s natural instincts and meet its needs and they don’t expect their fish to change to suit their needs. There is a valuable lesson there for anyone building a koi pond.
Koi Ponds Need To Be Deep
Because koi are large and strong swimmers they require deep ponds. A koi pond should be at least four feet deep. There are several reasons for this.
First koi require enough room to be able to swim not just from side to side but also up and down. It is critical for koi to be able to swim vertically to develop proper muscle structure.
Secondly, they make quite a tempting target for raccoons and herons because of their larger size. So it is necessary to keep them in deep water to discourage predators.
Third, koi fish can not handle the fluctuations in temperature or water quality that goldfish can. A shallow pond will get too hot for koi and larger ponds are more stable and forgiving about changes in water quality.
Koi Fish Are The Ultimate Fish To Keep
If you enjoy aquariums or have a garden pond then keeping koi will bring everything to a whole new level for you. But be careful because you may get bit by the koi bug.
If you enjoy beauty and nature then you will enjoy watching your koi fish swimming in their own pond and sparkling like jewels. As you are listening to the relaxing sound of running water it will soothe your soul. Keeping koi brings all this and more into your life and that is why people get crazy about their koi fish.