How to care for koi & goldfish and other pond fish in winter

1 inch of goldfish per square foot of pond surface or ½ inch of koi per square foot of pond surface
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6). Jumping Out– This is a situation that generally affects novice koi keepers as more experienced keepers have usually experienced their fair share of suicidal fish. Whether they are chasing each other, chasing a meal, or are simply not happy with their current environment, koi are notorious jumpers. Ask anyone who has ever tried to keep a koi in an aquarium without a lid. Most often, the fish will jump and land safely back into the water, but some are not so lucky. Unless you have someone standing watch at all times, it’s almost impossible to prevent every death due to an overzealous acrobat in your pond. If you do find yourself with a jumper, you might think about installing a bird net.
We have left out Koi in the pond since we began 10 or 12 years ago, and have rarely lost any fish.
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Atchley's job as caretaker is a responsibility fraught with unforeseen dangers. This pond is safe for its nine koi only as long as all the equipment is working. As any consumer knows, one tiny part can fail, meaning death for Atchley's giant fish. You can grow veggies and edible aquatic plants in your Koi Pond & if you really…. Really… REALLY had to; you could eat your beloved Koi Fish!
Photo provided by FlickrYou can grow veggies and edible aquatic plants in your Koi Pond & if you really…. Really… REALLY had to; you could eat your beloved Koi Fish!
Photo provided by FlickrHome Improvement expert Josh Temple demonstrates how to create a backyard focal point by building a spectacular koi fish pond.
Photo provided by Flickr
A koi pond is a purpose built habitat for those lovely fish we call “Living Jewels” and as such, differs from any other garden water feature. To introduce koi into other types of water features is usually a disaster waiting to happen and though one can get away with it for awhile, the end result is predictable. So, instead of doing what so many do, that is dig a hole, throw in a liner, add water and a few fish, and call it a koi pond, we want to help to get it right the first time. You only need to do it right once but you can get it wrong over and over.Perhaps one the most difficult but truly critical aspects of building a koi pond is where we put it. The whole point behind doing this in the first place is to be able to see it and enjoy it so if we put it off somewhere in the “back 40” we might as well save ourselves the trouble. Ideally, the pond will sit where we can see it from the house all year ‘round. We may need to remove an old concrete patio or demolish or remodel a deck or even transplant or remove some existing plants or trees, but it will be worth it in the long run. Deciding just where it will go and what it might look like will take some imagination but that can be helped by using a rope or garden hose or even spreading lime to outline the pond’s perimeter on the ground. Then, viewing it over several days from many angles from rooms in the house as well as from the surrounding property will help in deciding the ideal spot. And finally, while we’re at it, we may decide to replace some windows with a larger expanse of glass so as to incorporate the outdoors with the indoor living space. This is an excellent way to heighten the enjoyment, particularly if the pond is close enough to the house that we can walk to that window and actually see into the pond and watch the kaleidoscope of colors as the fish swim in ever changing patterns.An ideal way to have the beauty of a water garden AND the distinct pleasure of a koi pond is to have both! - a lovely water garden tippling off into a koi pond. The plants can’t be disturbed (or eaten) by the fish because the fish can’t get to them and the fish can be viewed in all their glory, unfettered by pots and plants.They’ve just discovered an eleventh stone tablet somehow missed by Moses. The inscription reads, THOU SHALT NOT BUILD A KOI POND WITHOUT A PROPER BOTTOM DRAIN. Imagine that. Even then they knew. The ideal set-up is to have the drain(s) CONTINUOUSLY gravity feeding to the filter system(s). Why gravity feeding? So the big stuff stays as much intact as possible as it enters and settles in the first phase of the filtration system, appropriately called the settling chamber. Why continuously feeding? Because crud lying static in the bottom of the pond and in drain pipes waiting for someone to purge it, quickly becomes anaerobic (lack of oxygen), starts producing that sulfuric or rotten egg smell, and poses a dire threat to the health and well-being of our treasured friends. This becomes even more acute during the winter if the filter system is shut down. Why? Follow this line of reasoning: If the water is not being re-circulated and stands relatively still, where is the worst water in the pond? AT THE BOTTOM. Where do fish stay in the winter? AT THE BOTTOM. If we don’t run our systems we force the fish to live in their own, continually worsening sewer. No wonder so many folks dread deadly springtime. AND, to absolutely compound matters, starting up from scratch each spring means all the pain and agony of “ New Pond Syndrome” every year. Ugh!! They say it takes a couple years for a biological processing station to become mature and although arriving at that conclusion was not done scientifically, experience sure bears that out. And as the water warms and we start and then gradually increase feeding, the filter is ready to react on demand as opposed to going through the tenuous ammonia and nitrite cycles/spikes on its way to kicking in. One last thing: a minimum of four inch drain pipe from a drain similar to the one on page 32 of the Tetra Encyclopedia of Koi, is still the state of the art (though a new drain from the UK that incorporates aeration shows great promise as well). Even a four-inch pipe will need to be cleaned out from time-to-time after about the fourth or fifth year of use as crud grows on the walls and really slows down the flow.