Starting A Koi
In recent years fish keeping has taken off as a hobby and the biggest growth sector has been that of Koi carp. These fish have a universal appeal because they grow very large and can have an almost infinite variety of colour patterns that mean you can identify individual fish. Also they become very tame feeding out of your fingers. The first golden rule about Koi ponds is the bigger the better. Koi carp can easily reach 2 foot (60 cm ) or more in size. Indeed you can buy them at this size if you can afford it as at this size they can cost many hundreds of pounds, or even thousands for a good specimen.
Koi carp also need a large pond to give a stable water temperature as they are susceptible to shock with rapid changes. A shallow pond will warm up quickly in the spring and autumn sun and cool down at night. All the books say that a Koi pond should be a minimum of 10 x 5 feet ie; 50 square feet, or 5 square meters surface area and it should it should be at least 3 feet, or 1 meter deep. This will enable the fish to exercise their back muscles by going up and down as well as round and round.
A lot of serious Koi enthusiasts make their pools much bigger, anything up to 8 or 9 feet deep. Which may sound excessive, but when housing large numbers of very large fish it can be necessary.
It is almost impossible to grow plants successfully in a Koi pond because Koi love to eat them and are natural foragers digging into the pots. Lilies are tougher and will usually survive, but they need large stones on the pots to hold the compost down.
Consequently most Koi ponds are formal which seems to compliment the many colour varieties that are available. Some are highly prized in their native Japan and the national champion can command a price of tens of thousands of pounds. When first starting to keep Koi carp it is probably better to buy small fish for a few pounds and to watch them grow. It is less of a risk if you lose them and can be very satisfying growing them on to large specimens. Some people on the other hand want an instant Koi pond and buy large specimens.
Koi are now bred in Japan, America, Israel, China and even Britain. As every year goes by the standard of colour markings improves although the Japanese fish always command the highest price. All aquatic retailers sell some Koi, some specialize in large specimens whilst others content themselves with selling the smaller cheaper sizes. All will be happy to chat to you about the needs of these fascinating fish.