Five Fish Myths Debunked
#1 Your pond must be at least 3-4 feet deep to keep fish.
A pond only needs to be 2 feet deep to keep Koi. Because of ground heat, the “warm” water in the pond is at the bottom. This is why natural lakes and ponds freeze from the top down. The ice only ever gets 7-8” thick in two foot deep ponds, and it actually gets thicker in deeper ponds. Fish that die over winter in a frozen pond rarely freeze. They actually suffocate. What you should do is use a pond heater or an aerator to allow for the ammonia in the water to gas off and to add vital oxygen. A pond over two feet deep is considered to be a swimming pool according to most municipal by-laws and will therefore require a permit and a fence. Also, deeper ponds are more expensive to build and maintain. Koi are river fish and love shallow water. Build your pond two feet deep with plenty of shallower areas for marginal plant shelves and your fish will love you for it.
#2 Koi can’t be kept in a pond that contains plants.
In a natural ecosystem, Koi and plants need each other! Fish feed on plants. As a result, the fish produce waste, which is broken down by aerobic bacteria on the bottom of your pond, which, in turn, is used as fertilizer by the plants to grow and produce more natural fish food. It’s known as the nitrification cycle. In fact, you don’t really need to feed your fish at all if there is enough plant life in your pond – but then where’s the fun in that?
#3 You must bring your fish inside for the winter.
Fish – like humans – hate change! By bringing them in for the winter, then out again in spring, you run the risk of exposing them to disease and infection due to stress. They are cold blooded and are not bothered by chilly water temperatures. So long as you oxygenate the water, and keep a hole in the ice with an aerator, they will do fine over winter. Their metabolisms slow right down in cooler temperatures, and they simply go into a hibernation-like state on the pond bottom. They require no food in the winter as they stop producing the enzymes to digest it, but come spring their hungry little mouths will be back to the surface, ready for a tasty treat.
#4 You can’t have Koi in a pond with rocks and gravel.
Koi are ancestors of Japanese carp, who have thrived for centuries in shallow river beds and streams. They are scavengers and love to eat everything that’s available on and in between the rocks and gravel on the bottom using their extendible puckering mouths. Many Koi enthusiasts will refuse to keep their fish in a rock and gravel pond because they are afraid their expensive fish will injure themselves. To compare, that’s like keeping your children in a plastic empty room rather than letting them have fun in the park and playing in nature.
#5 Koi are too expensive.
Just like purebred show dogs & cats, there are also some very expensive Koi available for sale. In Japan, Koi are national treasures and some fish have sold for $100K or more. But, there are also some gorgeous select and premium quality fish that can be purchase for less than $50. Like all collectibles, beauty and value are in the eyes of the beholder. Sometimes the difference between a $50 fish and a $1,000 fish is nothing more than a freckle! Cindy Crawford had a freckle on her lip and she turned out to be a sexy supermodel. Hint: Buy a small beautiful fish and feed him good quality food. He’ll grow to become a big, beautiful fish.