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What is a Koi Pond?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2014
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A koi pond is a water feature which is designed to house koi, otherwise known as carp. Koi have selectively bred for centuries to achieve very large sizes and distinct patterns of white, black, gold, red, and orange on their bodies. Koi ponds are used as aesthetic features in gardens, atria, and other locations, and many people use them to add an Asian look and feel to their gardens.

Some special features differentiate a koi pond from an ordinary garden pool or a pool filled with aquatic plants, because the pond is designed to house fish, and the fish have special needs. While koi prefer dirty, muddy water and dense foliage, people usually like to look at them, so the pond may be equipped with a filtration system to keep the water clear, and the aquatic plants in the pond will be carefully managed. The pond also needs to be properly oxygenated to keep the fish healthy, and it may need to be fenced or covered with a screen to deter predators.

Koi enjoy eating plants, and when planning a koi pond, people generally select foliage that is safe for the fish to eat. Lilies are especially popular for koi ponds, although other types of plants may be used as well. Stocking must also be done with care, as larger koi will cheerfully eat smaller fish or each other, and the fish require regular feeding and inspections to check for general health.

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Many gardeners design a koi pond as a focal feature of a garden, and they may include seating around the pond or devise garden paths which all eventually lead to the koi pond. Some koi ponds come complete with little islands, bridges, and similar features, and the pond is often designed to encourage people to linger and contemplate the colorful fish. Gardeners who like to meditate may construct a meditation platform near a koi pond, so that they can relax and clear their minds to the sounds of splashing water.

It may come as a surprise to some people that koi can be very friendly fish. Large koi especially will swim over to investigate visitors, and some like to be touched or tickled. Familiar visitors may be able to hand feed the fish with treats, and the fish may also play with human visitors. Especially large and colorful koi can also be quite valuable, with specialty fish commanding prices comparable to those of new cars.

Gardeners who have not worked with koi before may want to consider hiring a professional to install a koi pond and establish the fish. There are also numerous guidebooks to the care and feeding of koi which can be used as references for people just starting out with a koi pond.

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