Chances are that the first and last time you saw a koi pond was in your favorite Asian-inspired restaurant or if not there, perhaps in the lush gardens of a posh hotel where you recently stayed. Other than those places, most people don’t have a koi pond next to their tomato and pepper plants or along side their garage or flower beds. However, this isn’t quite as true as it might sound as water features in general are becoming much more a part of the home landscaper’s overall designs and for many of these people, the koi pond is the likely choice for their outdoor waterscape.
The Humble Beginnings of the Koi Pond
First of all, a koi pond refers to the type of fish that inhabits the pond once you build it. Koi resemble large goldfish and are often mistaken for these carnival prize, glass bowl dwellers. Koi are bred all over the world and they are among the most popular freshwater fish used in ornamental displays. The Koi is a mascot of Japan and a representative of sorts of the Japanese culture. The Koi originally came from east Asia and China and were introduced to Japan over 2,500 years ago. Back then the koi was considered an excellent source of nutrition and were therefore kept in rice paddies to provide food in the winter. Some koi were kept closer to the family home in ponds, which is where the koi pond had its humble beginnings so many years ago in rural Japan. Today, the hobby of keeping koi in ponds has dramatically changed the coloring of these fish with the original black koi giving rise to over 100 color variations of these pretty fish. All of these color variations are unique and different with each fish having its own “fingerprints” of sorts based on its color. Koi ponds, once the domain of those that collected and exhibited these fish, is now a hobby enjoyed by many enthusiasts around the world, especially those people that use Koi ponds to add aesthetic beauty to their homes and gardens.
Thinking of Building A Koi Pond?
If you are ambitious enough to want to build a Koi pond on your own you’ll want to check out the detailed process and steps illustrated by the people at Russell Watergardens. One look at the multi-step instructions, diagrams, and photos of how and where to build a Koi pond is a terrific primer for anyone about to undertake this project. On the other hand it is also a realistic look at the work and skills required to do the job right, a look that is likely to have most people reaching for the Yellow Pages to call a landscaper that is experienced in building outdoor waterscapes, especially living Koi ponds. When you see photos of several burly fellows in hardhats you know that this is not a job for the home Mr. Fix It.
Once you decide that you can or cannot build the koi pond on your own its time to figure out your next step, which in my case would be to sit down with the landscaper and ask him or her the best way to go about having them build one for me. In many cases, while you might not be able to handle the heavy work, or might not want to, you can be the best designer for the job. A good landscaper will listen to your input and to the best of their ability, try to replicate your designs. Your part of the process can include deciding on the size of the pond, the shape of the pond, any aesthetics such as waterfalls or structures (such as walkovers or bridges etc.) as well as choosing the material you want to use for the project. As with almost everything the material and equipment used to construct your koi pond will vary in price and quality from one manufacturer to the next – such as pond pumps, which are the life blood of your koi pond. With a little research you can be a good general contractor for your koi pond with your landscaper doing the actual construction.
Choosing the Fish
In order to save a few bucks you should buy young koi fish when you are starting out with your new pond. You could have a few casualties when you’re getting your feet wet, so to speak, with your new koi pond so you won’t want to spend a lot more money on large colorful fish until you’re comfortable and confident that your pond will keep them alive. After that, you should simply choose the koi based on the color patterns that you like as well as those fish that appear to be the most healthy. You can check the health of the fish by examining the scales for breaks or gaps, by looking for parasites that will show up as red patchy areas, and by avoiding fish with cloudy bulging eyes. You’ll want to have at least four to five koi in the pond to start but this will depend on the size of your pond.
Now you’re ready to introduce your colorful new neighbors to their custom-built home.