Koi Fish Care Guide for New Owners
Mon, April 19, 2021

Koi Fish Care Guide for New Owners

Koi, an ornamental species of fish, are descended from carp, as stated by Kali Wyrosdic of vet-authored and approved website PetMD / Photo by: macmackyky via 123RF

 

Koi, an ornamental species of fish, are descended from carp, as stated by Kali Wyrosdic of vet-authored and approved website PetMD. The Chinese farmed carp in rice paddies in the 1600s. This practice made its way to Japan and the Japanese noticed that some carps have odd color variations. They bred the carp and the koi fish was born.

Initially, koi appeared in red, white, blue, and black colors. Since then, they have been bred in different colors. Koi were almost exclusively bred in perfection in Japan. In fact, some species were prized among royal families and immortalized in royal works of art. 

Unlike the Japanese, the Chinese bred koi for consumption.

In the 1900s, koi were bred in some parts of Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. With their vibrant patterns and friendly nature, they make an amazing pet for experienced owners. 

 

A Closer Look at Koi 

Koi can grow up to 36 inches long and live for over 50 years, according to online pet supplies store PetSmart. Notably, the Chagoi variety of koi can grow up to four feet. Koi can thrive in a wide range of water temperatures. They are usually peaceful and docile animals, although they have the tendency to pick on slower fish. Koi are social fish as they love to live in pairs or groups. 

Did you know that koi are intelligent? They can swim to the surface to greet you when they see you or if it’s time to eat. Some koi even love to have a pat on the head. 

 

How to Take Care of Your Koi Fish 

1. Enclosure

Koi can grow large. Hence, mature koi should be kept in an enclosure—preferably an outdoor pond—of at least three feet deep. The pond should contain at least 500 to 1,000 gallons of water for each adult koi you house.  For young koi, the enclosure should be placed in a quiet area indoors. The aquarium should be at least 29 gallons. The enclosure should be away from direct sunlight and drafts and covered with a hood. The hood helps reduce evaporation and splashing, preventing your koi from escaping. However, they need to be transferred to a bigger pond once they grow bigger. 

2. Water

Your koi’s aquarium should have clean, high-quality water in order for them to thrive. Koi are temperature-resistant, as they are capable of hibernating underneath the ice in winter. Hence, it’s important for their enclosure to be at least three feet deep. Otherwise, it will freeze. Koi in indoor aquariums can thrive in cooler water temperatures ranging between 18 to 24 degrees Celsius. 

As for filtration, you have to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for choosing and installing a filter for your koi’s enclosure. Ensure that the filter is the right size. Outdoor ponds should have a filtration system designed solely for outdoor use. On the other hand, an aquarium filter should be capable of processing all of the water in the tank three to five times in a span of 60 minutes.

To illustrate, setting up a filter in a 20-gallon tank needs to push through at least 60 gallons of water every hour. You can add beneficial bacteria supplements to reduce and break down waste in the enclosure.   

3. Heat and light

Koi housed in outdoor ponds are hardy. They can survive the harsh winter season as long as the enclosure is not too shallow to freeze completely. The pond should be partially shaded. For indoor aquariums, install light to keep it illuminated for 8 to 12 hours a day. 

4. Tankmates 

If you plan to introduce another species of fish into your koi’s habitat, ensure that their environmental and nutritional requirements are the same as your koi. Alternatively, if you’re adding a koi to an existing pond, the size of the habitat should be large enough to house a mature koi. Koi are friendly fish. They will not eat or fight with other species. As for the newcomers, make sure that they won’t pick a fight or consume your koi. 

Your koi’s aquarium should have clean, high-quality water in order for them to thrive. Koi are temperature-resistant, as they are capable of hibernating underneath the ice in winter / Photo by: Paul Grecaud via 123RF

 

Maintenance and Precautionary Tips

What if your koi stop eating in the winter? Don’t worry, it’s normal for them to do that if temperatures drop below 4 degrees Celsius. However, consult a veterinarian if your koi exhibit the following symptoms: 

    • Unusual swimming pattern

    • Abdominal swimming

    • Thinness and decreased or poor appetite

    • Inflamed or discolored skin or fins

    • Fins clamped to the side of their body

    • Scraping their body on rocks

Bear in mind that fish and other aquatic animals can transmit diseases to humans. Therefore, it is recommended to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water “before and after interacting” with your koi and its habitat. Pregnant women, children, and individuals with immune system problems should exercise more caution. 

Keep fish away from food or the kitchen (or any area) where food is prepared. Don’t release your koi in the wild! Koi will not adapt well and may damage natural habitats. Avoid using soaps and detergents to clean your fish’s enclosure or decor. These are toxic to fish. 

It is recommended for experienced pet owners to raise koi considering the requirements they need to live a healthy life. It’s a long-term investment too. Are you ready to take care of koi fish? If so, take the plunge! 

Bear in mind that fish and other aquatic animals can transmit diseases to humans. Therefore, it is recommended to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water “before and after interacting” with your koi and its habitat / Photo by: cceliaphoto via 123RF