Koi, The Jewels of the Pond

Water is an amazing thing. It sustains life, can be either a gas, liquid or a solid, can be a powerful force when on the move and makes it possible to keep koi.

Koi are a type of Carp that originated in Japan. These colorful fish are not only beautiful but they are very long-lived, with a life span of over 70 years. Koi can grow to lengths of over 40” in the right environment and become extremely tame. They will recognize the one who feeds them and can learn to eat from your hand.

Koi need a proper environment to thrive and grow to their ultimate potential. This environment includes a pond of at least 1,000 gallons, preferably as large as possible. Water should be at least 2 feet deep with 4 feet to 6 feet deep optimal. Water quality is of utmost importance in keeping koi. Good filtration, UV sterilization, proper pH and good water flow are all important. Filtration should consist of both mechanical and biological as well as a properly–sized UV sterilizer to keep the water clear, healthy, and pathogen free. Water chemistry such as pH, alkalinity, and temperature should be maintained as consistent as possible. Water flows through the filtration and over a waterfall help to keep the oxygen levels in the koi pond at optimal levels.

Once you have the koi pond built correctly and the water conditions adjusted properly, it’s time to stock it with koi. Koi are available in many varieties or color types. The five most popular varieties that are regularly available are as follows:

Notably, the most recognizable variety is the Kohaku. The Kohaku is a pure white koi with bright red markings. A top grade Kohaku will have a well–balanced distribution of 3-5 red areas against a pure snow white base. Ideally, a Kohaku should not have any red color forward of the eyes.

The Sanke is almost as recognizable as the Kohaku. The Sanke is a white koi with both red and black markings. As with the Kohaku, the red and black markings should be evenly distributed down the body with no color forward of the eyes.

Ogon koi is a solid color koi. The most popular color types Platinum, a metallic pure white and Yamabuki, a metallic pure gold. These koi are stunning in the pond, especially in direct sunlight.

Utsuri koi is a black koi with evenly distributed color down the body. This type has three basic color types. Shiro Utsuri is a black koi with white markings. Hi, Utsuri (pronounced He) is a black koi with red/orange markings. Ki Utsuri (pronounced Key) is a black koi with yellow markings. In the Utsuri type, color on the face all the way to the nose is acceptable.

Showa Koi is a black koi with both red and white markings. Uniquely, this type of koi does not come into its own until it reaches a size of at least 12 inches. The Showa as a young fish is not very attractive, so patience is in order for this type, but it is well worth the wait.

These five types of koi are just a small sampling of the rainbow of varieties available. No matter what type of koi you choose or how many different types you choose to keep together, the colors and personalities of these fish will keep you entertained for years.

Joe Granato owns Star Ridge Aquatics, LLC. Star Ridge Aquatics, LLC is a full-service water garden center specializing in water gardens and koi ponds. They carry a large selection of koi and goldfish as well as all the materials to build and maintain a koi pond. Contact Star Ridge Aquatics, LLC for all your water garden needs.

1 comment

  • Good morning.
    We are looking for a high quality water vacuum to clean the bottom of our koi pond. A koi pond is a new concept for us in that we just purchased a home that has one. Any and all information to help us maintain a healthy pond is most welcome.

    Laura Garcia

    Laura Garcia

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