Koi Pond Ideas

What everyone should know about keeping Koi Carp in their garden ponds

My take on the best pond design for Koi (I have been a Koi Pond Designer for over 30 years).

Many people say to me, Mark you’re a koi pond designer tell me now.  I want to keep Koi, but I am put off by how technical it is. That is indeed a natural reaction, as you can spend a fortune on keeping koi. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Although there are no cutting corners, you can happily keep koi on a reasonable budget.

A lot of ideas the koi pond designers will give you. Will come down to the size and number of fish that you want to keep. Remember, small koi proliferate.  It makes sense to build the biggest pond that you can afford from the outset. The koi’s growth will be somewhat restricted in a smaller koi pond, but not by that much. I have had several clients over the years regret. As they watched their beloved koi quickly outgrow their lovely garden ponds.  Leaving them wishing that they had spent a little more and built a bigger pond from the outset.  Fishpond owner normal own three ponds in their lifetime, good, better and best!

natural koi pond design
A natural koi pond design

How big should a koi pond be?

There is no getting away from the fact that koi enjoy a big pond. However, the smallest koi pool we would ever recommend for someone starting out is: 6′ by 8′ by 3′ (2m by 2.5m x 90cm). This koi pool design is for maximum water volume.  A fish pool with no shelves, no plants, with a maximum amount of filtration. The whole body of water will turn over every 15-20 mins. This size fish pool is our minimum people can keep koi in smaller pools but that is down to them.  Koi pond design has plants in the filter or margins of the pond.  A koi pool design is more like a swimming pool no plants.

These koi pools must have a minimum depth of around 3 feet. It is essential the fish feel safe (stress is the biggest killer of koi after oxygen). Koi fanatics might go as deep as 8 feet on a larger pool. 2m deep will giv a massive water volume in the same area. Koi require areas where the fish can swim freely. Lots of space will allow them to exercise correctly. You can keep koi in mixed ponds with other fish and plants. You don’t have to just build a big box to hold lots of water.  But Koi pools are designed to focus just on the fish themselves and not the overall look of the pond.

Its all about the koi fish, but you can have other stuff too.

Koi pools tend to be as close to a sterile environment as possible. Designed around fish health and of course to show off the prize koi fish in that beautiful crystal clear pond water. The koi pool sides are very dark (mainly green or black) to highlight the beautiful colours. Most koi pool designs resemble a small swimming pool, the natural aesthetics of the pond design are perhaps less important, after all, it is all about the big fish.

Many people like the idea of having some koi in their ponds. But wish to have a more natural setting that includes planting areas and other fish. Having a natural koi pond design is excellent and in fact. The koi fish will provide a real focal point to the clear water. Remember though; you will still need that minimum 3 feet depth for the fish to be comfortable year round.

Its all about the Koi Pond Design

In the right environment, koi can grow to more than a metre in length. At this size, the fish need much space, and importantly depth, as they gain much exercise by swimming up and down in the water column as well as around the pond. Failing to give the fish adequate space and depth can lead to them becoming deformed.  The Koi Pond Designer will have a lot of ideas to and will be able to show you lots of koi pond ideas.  Water movement is the key to keeping koi carp healthy.

While many people go for a raised, or semi-raised koi pool, my preference is for a ground level koi pond design. Building in-ground ponds are much better as it comes down to fish welfare as koi can be prodigious jumpers and can jump clear of a raised pond. Raised koi ponds stop the fish finding their way back (which they often do in ground level ponds) with the obvious disastrous consequences.

What is the best Koi Pond filter? 

I am an a big advocate of wetland filtration systems on koi ponds. Although these natural filters are larger and have less gadgetry built into them, they work with nature rather than against it. In the longer term, these simple filtration systems require less maintenance and are less likely to go wrong compared to a more compact hi-tech design. I know that for some koi enthusiasts tinkering with their filtration systems becomes an essential part of their hobby. That’s fine if you enjoy and have the time to learn the technical side of filter design, but this does not need to be the case. Remember, you want a pond that you can enjoy and that will take the minimum of maintenance, not something that will require constant monitoring.

More on wetland koi filtration.

As a general rule of thumb a wetland filtration system should be as large as possible, and will be roughly the same area (but not depth) as the swimming area of the pond. The same size footprint or 50% might seem excessively large, but a filter this big will buffer any changes in the water chemistry and also deal effectively with the amount of waste produced by these big fish, cutting down significantly on maintenance. Fortunately, natural filtration systems are straightforward to disguise and are excellent when worked into the pond design in many different ways.

Rather than the large plastic or fibreglass units.  Which are made commercially but are hard to disguise. Resulting in filter houses or large areas of wooden decking.  A natural wetland filter consists of a gravel bed and plants. Where the koi pond water is pumped into the base. Then the water slows down as it percolates up through the gravel. The key is to slow the water down. So the water slowly percolates before reentering the pond, often via a waterfall. The beauty of these filter systems is that they are deficient maintenance. On average they will require cleaning once or twice a year, depending upon the fish load (the number and size of fish) in the pond.

Koi Pond Designers
A example of a perfect Koi pond design

A recap of my thoughts

So, in my opinion, the very best koi pond is an in-ground design with a wetland filtration system. Of course, many other variations are possible. So send us a picture of your space.  Any Pond Limited has the experience of tailoring the pond design precisely to your requirements. Whatever it is you want to achieve with a pond or water feature.  Hence our pond company name Any Pond Limited.

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