Maintaining a healthy environment for your koi is fairly simple and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You don’t need all the latest gadgets or hundreds of pounds worth of additives to create good water. What you do need is a good routine and some effort, the rest just falls into place.
Here’s some of my top tips for maintaining a healthy pond:
Removal of mechanical debris. Waste sat in your pond or filter system damages your water the more that it sits there. Through several processes waste breaks down into carbonic acid which will de-stabilise your pH. A high level of dissolved organic carbons (D.O.Cs) also affects the appetite and growth of your koi. Ensure that debris is removed from your filter system regularly, good pond design should leave very little areas within the actual pond for the debris to build up so all of the work can be done in the filter system.
- Regular Water Changes. You probably think this is very basic advice but new water coming into the pond is very important - not only to dilute the build up of waste in the water but to help restore some of the missing minerals and control the carbonate hardness (KH). Koi like stability so 50% water changes aren’t ideal but small, frequent changes will keep things ticking over nicely. It’s also advisable to use a water purifier to remove harmful chlorines and chloramines from the incoming water. The very things that are there to make the water safe for us are very damaging to your koi and the whole eco system.
- Maintain a good KH.If I could have only one test kit it would be KH (Carbonate Hardness) and I would class this as the glue that holds the entire system together. As said before, koi like stability and no more so than with pH, a severe swing with this can kill your koi in no time. KH acts as a buffer for pH, mopping up the acid in the water and keeping it stable and the bacteria and organisms in the pond perform better when the KH level is higher. I would recommend keeping a level of around 6dh for optimum performance.
- Correct Turnover Rate. There will always be differing opinions on this and in truth I could write a book about getting the correct turnover rate. In this instance however I am generalising and going for the one glove fits all approach. The turnover rate is the amount of times you pass the water in your pond through your filter system which also links directly with how much time the water spends in your filter system for it to do its job effectively. For most koi ponds and filter systems a turnover rate of once every two hours will do the job. If you have a 2000 gallons pond you will look to turnover 1000 gallons per hour. This makes a big difference to your water quality and clarity; a larger turnover will work in some instances but some filter systems and ponds can cause the system to work inefficiently.
- Be Careful What you put in the Water. There’s a whole range of medications and additives available for solving various problems but you should always pay attention to what you are adding to the water and the effects it can have. A fully established pond is a delicate eco-system which can easily be damaged. It’s necessary to medicate sometimes but that should always be done with proper diagnosis to avoid over medicating as many of those chemicals damage the filters, fish and whole system if overused.
These five tips are a basic part of koi keeping but if done properly and adhered to, you minimise the risk of any major problems leaving you to enjoy your happy, healthy koi.