Koi are some of the most beautiful and graceful pond fish. These fish are quite intelligent and can become very tame over the years. With good care, they often live from 25 to 35 years and can live for as many as 200 years. However, the flashy Koi has some special requirements that make it a bit more challenging to care for than ordinary carp.
Koi need a lot of oxygen in their pond and they must have a high quality filtration system, especially if you'd like them to live for several decades or more. The best filtration system to use in a Koi pond to maintain excellent water quality is a biological system. Biological filters work by processing all of the debris and waste in the pond naturally so the water can be kept clean and clear.
Of course, it stands to reason that big fish need a big pond. In fact, if your Koi don't have a big pond, they won't grow very large. The ideal Koi pond should be able to contain 500 gallons of water. The depth should be at least 24 inches (60 cm), especially in colder climates. Since a major cause of death for Koi is being eaten by birds of prey and wildlife, the pond should have vertical walls to protect the fish from predators and to give the pond more volume.
In order to prevent your Koi from becoming ill you'll need to take some precautions. Stress is the major cause of disease in fish. You should change some of the pond water regularly to maintain a good quality. You'll need to use test kits at least once each season to make sure elements such as ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are in order.
You will need to check the pH levels as well, as the wrong PH could lead to low oxygen levels in the water. You will also need to check the hardness of the water regularly. The pH level of the pond should be around 7.2 to 7.4. To raise the pH you can change some of the water. To lower the pH you can use water softeners formulated for pond use.
Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels should be at zero. The higher the pH of the water, the more toxic these elements will be to your fish. You will also need to regularly maintain the pond surface with a special tool called a surface skimmer to keep the surface of the pond clear and to allow enough oxygen to pass through the water.
Koi are omnivorous creatures so they can eat both plants and animals. They even eat fruit, especially oranges, lemons and watermelon. Wash any fruits thoroughly to remove all traces of pesticide before you feed them to your fish. Cut the fruit into slices and remove any seeds to make the fruit easier for the Koi to eat before dropping it into the pond.
Be sure to remove any fruit skins after the Koi are done feeding. Feeding Koi fresh fruits is a way of giving them the necessary nutrients that may not be available in manufactured Koi food. Koi can also eat catfish chow, trout chow, bread, peas, lettuce, fresh shrimp, earthworms and krill.
You can also buy food that is specially made for Koi in pet stores or from online stores. Finally, while you're worrying about giving your Koi the perfect home, don't forget to take some time to enjoy the beauty of these fish.