KEEPING THE POND CLEAN
The importance of keeping the pond clean, especially with koi, is something that cannot
be stressed too much. The water should be "gin" clear. There should be no suspended
particulate matter and the fish ought to look as if they are floating in air. The fish
have to breathe and drink the water. To the extent the water is not clean, the fish will
suffer. They literally have to live in their own toilet bowl.
In nature, the ecology
takes care of this for them. But our ponds are not natural, no matter how nicely we
landscape and build around them. They are large in-ground fish tanks. They need a lot of
filtration. Koi in particular, need excessive filtration. And much like a toilet bowl,
the largest dirt settles to the bottom, so a bottom drain is imperative.
Koi may be the single-most dirt-producing fish kept in backyard ponds. In part this is
due to our feeding regimen. In nature, they wouldn't be fed fifty pounds of food a week or
even a month. But this is not abnormal in a pond with three to six feedings daily
throughout the summer months.
An important part of the koi-owner relationship is
the feeding. We look forward to feeding almost as much as (or more than?) the fish. We
love to see their open expectant mouths waiting for us at the edge of the pond. We enjoy
hand-feeding. We like to get the close-up view that feeding time affords us. We like to
make them grow fast, and large. So, we push the high protein foods. In many cases, we
push it right through the fish- in one end and out the other. We, in effect, feed the
pond! And in turn, we contribute our part in fouling the water.
It doesn't really matter whether it's the fish or the owner that fouls the water, the
important thing is to clean it up, for the fish's health. A stressed fish is at risk of
disease. High filtration pays handsomely. Waterfalls, streams, venture jets, bubblers,
bubble bead filters, mechanical and biological filters, vegetable filters, are all aimed at
one thing- fish health. More is better in this case.
Start at the bottom and work up.
Bottom drain, water changes to eliminate phosphate build-up, and lots of water movement in
the pond will keep the water clean. Less food, less fish, or more water are all ways to
improve water quality. Upgrade filtration or add microbial bacteria to boost the cleaning
and break down any matter in the pond. You are the only help your fish have of living a
good life. Give them clean water.
-- Carolyn Weise
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