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Choosing and Caring for Koi

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Choosing and Caring for Koi

Exotic and Desirable Additions to an Outdoor Pond

Goldfish have always been associated with ponds but koi is steadily gaining popularity in North America.

Their bright colours and non-aggressive nature make them desirable and sometimes very expensive. Koi is a member of the carp family; however, they are available in combinations of red, white, cream, orange, yellow, brown, black and blue. There are some similarities between koi and goldfish, but koi have whisker-like barbels around the mouth, whereas goldfish do not. Koi can grow up to two to three feet long, which is much larger than goldfish. Japan is the leader in breeding and hybridizing koi.

Cost of Koi

Prices can range from a few dollars for small pond grade koi to thousands of dollars for rare prized fish. Ornamental quality is a bit more expensive than pond grade. The value of koi is based on size, shape and colour. Larger koi are more valuable. A torpedo shape body is more expensive. The skin is a factor in valuation. Flaws or blemishes lessen the grade. More intense and balanced colours raise the value. Unless you are interested in breeding prize koi, pond grade fish still look beautiful.

Care and Maintenance of Koi

Koi can live in water temperatures anywhere from zero to 70 degrees, but areas that have cold winters require deep ponds in order to prevent fish from getting caught up in the ice. Deep ponds are also ideal for keeping away predators. Some owners put fences around their ponds in order to keep away the larger animals. Chicken wire can be used around the pond edge Koi ponds should be well covered with vegetation and have plenty of hiding places. Koi are bottom feeders and will eat algae and other vegetable matter. They also eat pellets that can be purchased at most pet shops.

A clean pond ensures a longer life for the fish and better viewing conditions for pond owners. Filtration should contain both bio and mechanical filters. The mechanical filter will remove the garbage that settles in a pond. The bio filter will remove the toxic chemicals such as ammonia and nitrites then change them to healthy chemicals like oxygen, nitrates and nitrogen. This process is called nitrification.

Breeding Koi

It takes a young koi two to three years before it starts to breed. There will not be a lot of eggs at first but a mature female can lay as many as 150,000 eggs. Most of these eggs will not live due to natural death or being eaten by predators.

Feeding time can be fun. Koi are enthusiastic eaters and they love to splash and grab food as if they had not eaten for days. Because these fish are quite tame, there have been instances where they have been trained to have their head patted and eat foot out of their owner’s hard!

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