This photo was taken this summer. The frenzy of color began with just three 2-year-old koi. When I installed my first small pond described in my earlier post, I had no idea how many koi I could successfully stock. I wanted to see them, the colors, and the graceful weightlessness they portray as they glide through the water.
My first attempt at koi brought on many struggles that could have been prevented if I had adhered to suggested stocking levels based on pond size, filtration and water volume. This stocking chart will help you considerably, “Koi Pond Stocking Tips”, located in the article section of our website. The temptation to purchase new koi and goldfish anytime I happen to be somewhere that sold fish was too much.
Initially, I started with twelve 2″-3″ koi. By the end of my first summer, that number had soared to approximately fifty fish. Way too much for my 500 gallon pond. Koi grow very quickly and produce much more waste than other fish. This created a constant effort and weekly water changes to keep the pond clean and clear. The filtration was too small and the bucket of food could not be resisted as I sat by the pond.
I had never set regular feeding intervals or limited the amount of food they consumed. All of those hungry mouths at the surface of the water begging for more. I didn’t realize how often the filter would have to be cleaned and didn’t have the time during the week so my weekend was filled with pond maintenance and poor water quality.
When I installed my new pond in the spring of 2007, my filtration was upgraded to include 2 Pondmaster 6700 pumps, a Little Giant Skimmer and Waterfall Filter and the new Biotec18 Screenmatic. Somewhat of an overkill but worth it to ensure the best in water quality for my koi.
What a relief to be able to sit back and enjoy the sound of the waterfall, the koi and their many unique quirks and watching the pond take shape as the pond season goes from spring to fall. Being in northern Wisconsin, the pond season is short and the winters are long. I had frogs on the rocks inside the dome in December with negative zero temperatures outside of the dome.
The results of my initial overstocking ended tragically and left me with a lifeless pond. I can’t stress enough the importance of not overstocking your pond. I was devastated when my koi perished as by the time I realized something was wrong, it was too late. Regular water testing would have prevented the lethal ammonia levels that emptied my pond.
It was months before I could bring myself to restock, with a Butterfly Koi, one Asagi and a Matsuba. They did very well in the five hundred gallon pond for the first year. By the second year, they had grown to almost 15″ as I wintered them inside to extend the growing period.
That next spring I drained the pond, expanded the surface area and dug it deeper to the extent of 1000 gallons. They did very well health-wise but my filtration was still way too small and I had to continually battle green water algae.
Maintaining a clear and healthy pond starts with the initial installation, proper filtration, regular testing and filter maintenance and keeping the stock levels based on your pond capacity. If you love your koi as I do mine, losing them to a preventable condition is devastating. Whatever your budget allows from container ponds to thousands of gallons ponds, under stocked ponds are healthier and easier to maintain.
Upcoming topics include:
- My attempts of eliminating algae and the final success.
- What I did to drastically reduce the weekend pond maintenance to almost nothing but spraying off the Blue Bonded Filter pads and emptying the skimmer net.
- Ensuring that you have the correct filtration and water movement.
- As winter approaches, I’ll visit different ways to overwinter your koi from safely leaving your koi in the pond, basement tanks or one year I installed a protective dome over the entire pond with heat.