Taking Care of the Koi Pond
Koi fish need regular care to ensure their good health and longevity. Maintaining clean, clear pond water is the single most important part of your koi pond maintenance program. For a small koi pond with a small fish population, a homeowner could opt to do maintenance themselves. For ponds in excess of 3,000 gallons, professional maintenance is recommended.
Koi pond maintenance can be scheduled weekly, bi-weekly or monthly depending on your needs. Filters and skimmers generally require cleaning on a weekly basis to assure clean healthful water for the fish. It is also important to periodically inspect all equipment to make sure it is operating properly.
For ponds with a large fish population, we frequently partner with John Bianchi of Blue Ribbon Koi. Bianchi offers specialty koi fish care that includes physical inspection of fish for health issues, partial pond water change and water testing for ammonia, nitrites, alkalinity and chlorine.
Taking Care of the Koi Fish
Bianchi recommends physically examining the fish all season long. It’s quite a process to watch and can take most of a day. Using a seine net that is weighted at the bottom with floats on top, he corrals the fish in one area where he guides them one by one into a sock net. Then he drops them into a bowl to do the inspection.
He examines the mouth and the belly, looking for any sores or scrapes. If they go into the winter with a sore, he says, it will get worse during winter dormancy because their immune systems are down and they can’t fight infections.
If a fish doesn’t seem to behaving normally he will take a scraping from its slime coat and put it under the microscope to determine if parasites are causing the problem. Once he is able to identify a specific parasite, he can recommend a suitable treatment.
And finally, Bianchi says it is important feed the fish high quality food all season because they will be going four or five months without eating during their winter dormancy. He recommends a product called Dainichi. What sets this food apart from other types on the market is that it contains potent vitamins.
Preparing your pond fish for winter
In autumn, a few weeks before the water temperature drops to 50-degrees, we advise changing their diet to a light wheat germ based food that’s easier for the koi to digest. Once the day time water temperature settles at 50-degrees, stop feeding—and it is important that you do not start up again. For example, if there is a warm up a few weeks after you’ve stopped feeding, the fish may come to the surface looking for food. Do not feed them. Their bodies have started to shut down and go into the dormancy state, so they won’t be able to digest food properly.
While Fish Sleep
Although the fish are off to sleep for the winter, there are still equipment maintenance tasks and periodic visual checks that need to be done to protect your fish until they wake up in spring. You can find specific tips for winter maintenance in our post Koi Pond Winter Care.
Does this seem like a lot of work? Here’s the thing, koi aren’t just garden decoration. People who enjoy keeping koi fish do so for various reasons. For some, they are collector specimens; for others, they are pets. Most people say that keeping koi is a source of stress relief and visiting the koi pond provides them refuge from the daily grind.
If you’d like to learn how to take better care of your koi pond and koi fish, contact one of our Garden Management specialists.