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A koi pond can be a fun and fascinating feature for any outdoor landscape.  These colorful fish bring hours of pleasure for the whole family with their beautiful looks and amazing antics.  There is little wonder why koi have been a regular addition to Japanese gardens for centuries.

Anyone who has ever had an indoor fish tank knows the relaxation and enjoyment you can get from watching fish.  Koi bring that feeling to a whole new level in your outdoor environment.

While building and maintaining any type of pond brings its own set of challenges, when you add koi to the mix that only increases that prospect.  There are many points you’ll want to take into consideration but for now let’s just focus on five key things that every koi owner will need to think about before installing that pond.

Size – Unlike some things in life, when it comes to your koi pond size really does matter.  Koi may start out small but they can grow to as large as 2 or 3 feet long, so even if you start out with small fish, you’ll need to make sure that you give them enough room to grow.  This means you’ll need to ensure that your pond is big enough and deep enough to accommodate the number of fish you intend to house.  Obviously, the more fish you have the more space you’ll need but with koi, even just a few fish will require a pretty sizable living space.

The standard recommendation is 1,000 gallons but you may want to double that just to be on the safe side.  In order to contain 2,000 gallons of water and a proper filtration, you’ll need a pond about eight to 10 feet in diameter and at least three feet deep.  It’s important to make sure that you have enough ground space to accommodate this size pond before you start digging.

Filtration  –All ponds require some form of filtration, but for a koi pond proper filtration is even more important. All those growing fish will be producing a good amount of waste products and this waste needs to be removed from the water so that it isn’t contaminating the fish’s living environment. The filtration system for your pond should include biological filtration, mechanical filtration, rock and gravel, aquatic plants and beneficial bacteria.  A skimmer for mechanical filtration will assist in keeping the water as clean as possible.  It will also be particularly vital that you clean your skimmer basket regularly in order to keep the water free of any large debris that could be harmful to the fish.

Most importantly is have ample biological filtration for the gallons of water in your pond.  Biological filters found in the biofalls provide a place for beneficial bacteria to grow and colonize, in result balance out the system. Best of all the biofalls also creates a waterfall for beautiful aesthetics while filtering the water.

The general rule of thumb for circulation is to have the pond’s total volume circulated at least once every hour.  This means you’ll need to have a pump capable of providing enough power to meet this requirement.

Predators – While you may think that your fish are safe enough within many other critters out there that would be more than happy to make a meal out of a fat, healthy koi.  You’ll want to take special precautions to keep your fish safe from predators such as water birds.  In the mountainous Albany/Saratoga area this can be a particular concern.

The best way to protect against predators is by providing your fish with enough room to get away.  Providing rocks or shelves for them to hide under serves the same purpose as well as giving them protection from predators.  Another option is to consider designing a fish cave into the pond to give the fish secure shelter from predators.

Cost – Nobody likes to consider the money involved, but it is important to think seriously about it before you commit to building your koi pond.  Building any type of garden pond is an investment. Not only do you have the cost of the fish themselves to consider but also the fact that these tend to be larger ponds with more intricate designs, all of which can add to your bottom line.

Remember, you’ll need a good sized pond, at least eight to ten feet in diameter and a minimum of two feet deep.  You may be able to save yourself some money by digging your own hole but when creating a home for delicate koi, you really don’t want to skimp on either labor or materials and risk ending up with a less than ideal environment. As such going the DIY route isn’t generally recommended.  You’ll also need to include various features to allow for the safety of the fish as well as a proper filtration system.  In the end, you’ll be looking at a cost of at least $1,500 to $3,000 for materials to create your koi pond.

Then of course there’s the extra price consideration related to a koi pond: the fish themselves.  Koi can be expensive, particularly if you buy fully grown fish.  Again, you can save yourself some money by purchasing smaller fish.  Koi start out at three to six inches and at this size are much more affordable, but you’ll still need to ensure a large enough pond to house them once they reach their mature size of 1 to 3 feet.

These are just a few of the particular elements involved in designing and maintaining an environment for koi.  Of course, most koi lovers will tell you that the enjoyment you get out of these beautiful fish far outweighs any of these considerations.

It’s always a good idea to consult with experts before taking this big a step. You could consult with either of the Decker’s retail stores and find out what they carry and what they might recommend.

Of course, since your pond will be a focal point of your overall landscape design, you can also talk with the experts on landscape and pond design to find out what all of your options are.  The folks at Decker’s can help by evaluating your yard space and recommending the best size and shape for your pond as well as the most sensible location.

There is no reason why time, cost or space considerations should keep you from installing your own pond and stocking it with gorgeous koi.  Anyone can have the enjoyment of tending to these beautiful creatures and watching them grow and thrive under your care, it just takes some careful planning and education.  By learning as much as you can before you begin building your pond you’ll be able to breathe easier knowing that you are doing right by your koi.

Look into all of the necessary factors before you design and install your koi pond and you’ll know that your time and money are being well spent.  Then you and your whole family can sit back and enjoy the benefits of this unique type of garden pond.  The wonderful world of koi awaits you!