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4 Considerations When Building a Koi Pond

4 Considerations When Building a Koi Pond

4 Considerations When Building a Koi Pond

Water features add texture, movement, and a meditative sound, creating an atmosphere most homeowners would need to spend plenty of time traveling long distances to achieve. Whether your water rushes, crashes, or bubbles, it works to reduce unpleasant, unnatural noises such as nearby traffic or an AC unit. Whether you decide to install a pre-fab water feature, a disappearing pond, or a pond filled with fish, there exists a style that will fit a yard and budget of any size. Koi ponds tend to be larger and slightly more complex than most ponds, but they do not require the amount of maintenance that many homeowners tend to assume. If you are building a koi pond in the Midwest, there are a few things to consider.

Overall Design

Small koi ponds hold 1,000 gallons of water while large koi ponds hold 2,500 gallons of water. A 2,000 gallon pond can hold approximately 15 fully-grown koi. A larger pond means more maintenance. A well-designed pond takes about an hour of maintenance per week to change/clean filters, check water pH, feed fish, and tend to any other issues. The koi can grown 6-8in each year, and within 7-years can be 36in in length. They typically live for 20-years, but are potentially able to live into their 40’s.

Avoid over-complicated designs with islands, channels, and peninsulas or other similar additions. These zones lack oxygen, especially during winter, and are commonly referred to as “dead zones”. If you must have these elements incorporated into your pond’s design, include aeration points as well. Failure to do so may result in fish-kills; especially during winter. A small waterfall not only adds the meditative sound of white noise as the water crashes into the pond, it also aerates the water, keeping it cleaner and oxygenated for the koi.


If trees are densely packed around the pond, needles and leaves can potentially create a mess. Not only will they collect upon the surface of the pond, but they can also clog your filtration system. However, some trees will be beneficial, as the koi will benefit from having some shade. Koi need shade, so if no trees are available, there should be a structure within the pond itself that the koi can use to escape the sunlight.


In addition to providing shade for koi, plants make ponds more attractive by providing color and texture. Because plants floating on the surface of the water compete with algae for space, the nitrite levels in the water will be lower. Plants can even assist your filters in filtering the water, as they get much (if not all) of their nutrients from fish-waste.


The most common predators tend to be cats, raccoons, opossums, beavers, snapping turtles, and herons. If your pond is 4ft deep and 4ft in diameter, it will be nearly impossible for most predators to eat the koi. Netting can prevent predators, especially in ponds that are on the shallower end of the spectrum. At least 3’ deep is ideal for overwintering and keeping predators at bay. While the pond will need a 3’ deep section, it may not be necessary for the entire pond to be 3’ deep. Certain sections can be more shallow or even deeper.  Sprinkler systems that detect movement can be used to startle predators, causing them to flee the area.

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