Koi Pond or Water Garden?
Yes, there is a difference. In a water garden the focus is generally
on the plants and the overall appearance in the landscape while
often keeping a few goldfish as well. With a koi pond the focus
is on the koi and proper accommodations should be made. We will
now detail each a little more thoroughly.
A water garden can be just about any size. With a water garden
you will generally try to establish a balanced ecosystem, or at
least as close as we can get when attempting to recreate nature
in a closed environment. There are 4 primary keys to this:
- Plenty of plants. Plant life should be covering
50-75% of the pond surface. This can be accomplished with floating
plants like Water
Hyacinth and surface plants like water
lilies. The typical water garden setup will have an open
area around the waterfall and another where the goldfish are
fed and viewed. The rest of the pond is usually covered with
plant life. Underwater plants like Anacharis
are also an important element to balancing the pond. These are
placed in the pond bottom and utilize nutrient in the water
thereby reducing the available food source for algae.
- Limited fish load. Trying to keep too many
fish is one of the most common causes of pond problems. The
fewer fish you keep, the healthier your water garden can be.
You can also skip fish altogether and have more of a wildlife
- Good filtration. Note, I didn't say great
filtration. If following the other keys to a balanced water
garden, an average filtration
system will provide the needed benefits. You certainly can't
over filter, so don't skimp on this just for the sake of skimping.
- Routine Maintenance. By performing small
maintenance chores on a regular basis, you will be able to keep
a cleaner and healthier water garden, which means you will be
able to enjoy it more. As plant foliage decays, remove it so
it doesn't become sludge in the pond bottom. If any leaves or
other debris from outside the pond finds its way in, remove
it. Clean the filter as needed, make sure you do not over-clean.
Use packaged bacteria/enzyme
products to keep the beneficial bacteria colonies as strong
and plentiful as possible.
A water garden should have its total volume being circulated
at least once every 2 hours. So, a 1000 gallon pond needs a pump
providing no less than 500 GPH.
A koi pond should be as large as possible. The minimum recommended
size for a pond with koi is 1000 gallons and should have an area
in it that is at least 3' deep. 4-5' deep is preferred. Unlike
goldfish, koi will not stop growing just because they are in a
small pond, they will still become large fish. Large fish need
plenty of room. Koi ponds also need a much better filtration system
than water gardens. The two primary reasons for this are that
large fish produce a lot of waste and most large koi eat a lot
of plants, which would otherwise be acting as natural filters.
The lack of plant life needs to be compensated for with a high
system. Don't take this to mean that you cannot keep any plants
in your koi pond, some may not be eaten. Underwater
grasses and floating
plants will nearly always be a meal for the koi. Each group
of koi is different. Many will also eat water
lilies while others may not. Taller perimeter plants are usually
safe, but these do not provide the same ecological benefit as
the surface growing plants. Another issue when keeping plants
with koi is that even if they don't eat the plants they scavenge
in the soil of the pot and uproot the plant and makes a mess of
the pond. This can be helped by placing cobblestones on top of
the pot to keep the koi out.
A koi pond will usually feature an ultraviolet
sterilizer to ensure clear water. They will often utilize
multiple areas for the water to be pulled from when going to the
filters. This may include a skimmer,
drain, and/or a mid-water intake.
A koi pond should have its total volume being circulated every
hour. So, a 5000 gallon pond needs a pump (or pumps) providing
no less than 5000 GPH.
Other features or considerations with a koi pond include:
- No sharp edges. Koi can be very rough, especially
when spawning. It is important to avoid sharp rocks, etc within
the pond as these can cause serious injury to the fish.
- Since the koi pond contains few, if any, plants, you should
perform partial water changes on a regular basis to remove the
nitrates that build up (plants would be using the nitrates if
present). A phytofilter can also accomplish this. A phytofilter
is an area outside the pond that the water passes through. The
area is full of plants and acts as a natural filter.
- Shade. Without plants shading the water surface,
a koi pond in a partially shaded location will help reduce algae
and be better for the fish. If this is not possible, consider
dye or at least providing shelters within the pond for the
fish (shelters will double as protection
from predators.) You can also place an arbor, trellis, or
other type of shade
structure over part of the pond.
By understanding the pond you are installing or already enjoying,
your chances of success are far greater.