Pond Algae

Preventing Pond Algae

The sound of water has always been associated with tranquility. Having a pond in your space will bring you a place to create a sanctuary of relaxation. And if you already have a pond in your space then you know the importance of taking care of it. Knowing the proper care and maintenance for your pond will mean years of enjoyment. This is especially true if you have fish in your pond, because if your pond’s ecosystem is out of balance it can affect the health of your fish and the plant life in the pond. Without care and maintenance your pond will be susceptible to the threat an algae infestation.

Algae is a single cell organism often called green algae, string or hair algae, or blanket weed. Your ponds algae is actually vital to the health of its ecosystem, but when algae gets out of control then that is when your pond may be in danger. Usually fish, such as Koi, eat algae and can usually keep the amount of algae in your pond under control. Unfortunately, if your pond isn’t well taken care of then what is usually beneficial will become detrimental.

Problems with algae occur because algae can grow at an incredibly fast rate. This can happen for several reasons. If you happen to have a large supply of fish in your pond they are creating a large amount of waste. Excess fish waste provides more food than necessary for algae and this causes them to reproduce quickly. The same thing will happen if you overfed your fish. The food becomes additional fuel for the algae and will encourage growth. To stop this from being a factor in algae infestation, be sure to keep the number of fish you have in your pond to a minimum and do not overfed them.

Something to consider if you don’t have a lot of fish and aren’t overfeeding them is the possibility that your pond is getting contaminated runoff after a rainstorm. Most yards and gardens are cared for using fertilizers and other chemicals. Debris, fertilizers, and other chemicals from your garden can be food for algae.

Green pond Algae
Excessive Pond Algae

 

Unfortunately, an abundance of food isn’t the only thing that will encourage algae to grow. Like any other plant, algae need the sun to survive. If your pond is located in a very sunny spot this can aid the algae in growing. To minimize this being a cause for infestation ponds are best placed in partial sun where it is in shade for the majority of the day.

When algae get out of hand it will cause your pond to look like sludge. Algae, especially string algae, can clog your filters and other equipment. An infestation of algae can also suffocate your fish by depleting the oxygen in the water.

Thankfully there are ways to control pond algae. To naturally reduce the amount of algae present in your pond you can introduce two things to your pond. The first item that should be introduced are floating plants as well as submerged plants. Floating plants protect the water beneath from the sun restricting access by algae. The recommended amount is 50% so that you can take advantage of other means of assistance. Submerged plants also help the fight against algae because they often absorb the nutrients that fed algae before they can get to it.

The second thing that will reduce the threat of an algae infestation is the use of filters. If your filter is be able to move half of the water in your pond per hour this current will reduce the chance that algae will have more food than it needs and will, in effect, stop overpopulation. Part of the maintenance for your pond is taking care of your filter by keeping it clean. Filters should be cleaned once a year. When you service your filter it is also a good time to clean your pond. Regular cleaning will help keep the ecosystem of your pond in balance.

If your algae problem can’t be fixed using natural means then you may need to use your last resort; chemicals. Algaecides can work to well and kill almost all the ponds algae that, unfortunately, then become food for the remaining algae and your cycle of infestation will start all over again. Rather than using an algaecide to solve your problem, try using a microbial product. A microbial product added to your pond before an infestation can help stop it all together. Adding it will help maintain a healthy ecosystem.

When you know how to care for and maintain your pond you can rest assured knowing that your pond will be safe from algae infestation. You’ll be free to sit back in your tranquil space and enjoy the calming effects of the water. Enjoy the peaceful pastime of feeding your fish without having to worry.

Koi Pond Pumps

Choosing The Right Koi Pond Pump

Choosing the right pump for your koi pond
Danner 02527 Pondmaster 700GPH Pond Pump

One of the crucial elements to maintaining a Koi fish pond lies in finding the right koi pond pump. However, to begin this search would be to ask the question, “What are fish pond pumps in the first place”? Effective fish pond pumps are devices that regularly circulate pond water. For Koi ponds it is recommended that this be done at least once per hour for proper water quality. Water that is pumped is aerated, filtered and sometimes even treated to ensure the health and growth of fish, particularly that of Koi.

Needless to say, there are many types of fish pond pumps out there to confuse the search. Some pumps are submersible, others external. Submersible fish pond pumps are most commonly suited for smaller ponds and water gardens. They are generally easy to install and use, and are placed under pond water. Their highest flow rate is up to 3600 GPH (gallons per hour). Of these submersible fish pond pumps are the Direct Drive, the Magnetic Drive and the Statuary Pump:

Direct Drive Pump: The Direct Drive kinds are best used to pump ponds with large waterfalls and streams. Direct Drives employ a powerful electric motor that turns an impeller which pushes the pond water in one direction.

Magnetic Drive Pumps: Magnetic Drive pumps on the other hand are more efficient submersibles than Direct Drives but are not as powerful. They are called such because they use a magnetized impeller surrounded by an electric apparatus rather than an electric motor. This fish pond pump thereby uses less electricity and is best suited to create moderately flowing waterfalls or streams in ponds.

Statuary Pump: The least powerful of the submersible fish pond pumps is the Statuary Pump, which is used to power fountains, spitters, and other stand-alone pond ornaments. Hence, it is an optional choice in one’s Koi fish pond and not a necessary one.

In terms of longevity, however, External fish pond pumps trump any of its submersible counterparts. In general, all submersible pumps need regular maintenance and cleaning due to debris in the water that may eventually clog the motor. External pumps are easier to maintain and thus last longer than submersibles. Finally, external pumps are designed to move larger volumes of water and have flow rates ranging from 2200 GPH up to 9600 GPH.

This make it an ideal choice for serious Koi keepers who find that the larger the pond, the larger the number of Koi that can be nurtured. Larger Koi populations are in turn, said to produce the healthiest and best Koi variety. Now you can ask, “What is the best fish pond pump?” Determining the correct fish pond pump for your personal needs must take into consideration pond size and water volume. Keep in mind that for Koi ponds water must circulate once an hour.

So if you have about 4000 gallons in your pond, you would naturally need a 4000 GPH pump or better. It is also crucial to calculate your pond’s head pressure. This includes friction, vertical distance you want to lift water and resistance from fixtures in your pond that slows the flow rate of your water. Finally, you will know it is worth your while when you figure in the utility cost of running and caring for the pump you choose. If you can’t afford the proper pump, it is perhaps best to abandon your quest for caring for ornamental fish.

Koi Feeding

The Essentials To Koi Feeding And Nutrition

Learning the proper discipline for Koi feeding is essential in order to ensure that your Koi fish remain healthy and look their best. The first thing to know in this regard is what can be considered food for Koi.

Koi fish are omnivores; as such they will eat both plant and animal matter. They will eat duckweed, algae and soft aquatic plants. Of course, they will also eat bloodworms, shrimp, earthworm, even tadpoles!

Your role is to ensure that they eat what is best for them in a nutritional sense. The items mentioned above are acceptable provided that you balance their diet. Commercial Koi pellets make for a practical means for delivering a well balanced meal for your Koi. Supplementing this with some other treats, such as lettuce, garlic (which they adore) and oranges is fine; so long as you adhere to certain guidelines.

Feeding Koi Fish Pellets
Hand Feeding Koi Fish

 

First, never feed koi any food that has a casing or skin. Corn, cooked beans, even grapes, should be avoided as their digestive system is not geared for digesting such roughage. Intestinal blockages can also occur with Koi. If you feed them earthworms, bloodworms, shrimp, etc., chop them up into small pieces to avoid such maladies.

Knowing what is the appropriate food for Koi is the first step. Second comes knowing how much and when to feed them. The same rule of thumb used for aquarium fish can be applied to Koi. A Koi feeding should only last 5 minutes. Any food that was not eaten within that time frame should be removed immediately from the pond to avoid contaminating the water.

In the summer months when the water temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit and above, Koi should be fed 3 to 4 times per day. The food for Koi in this circumstance should consist of a high protein diet. This can be covered with 35% protein Koi pellets.

Koi Pellet Food
Koi Food in pellet form

 

When the water is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but below 72F, the feedings should be decreased to only twice per day and the diet should be low in protein. Low protein pellets are also available for this.

Temperatures between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit call for feeding frequencies to be curtailed to only once per day with the low protein pellets. Once water temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit the Koi’s metabolism begins to enter a state of dormancy. During this time period koi feeding should be done once every other day.

Please take note of the following: if the water temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, Koi fish must not be fed. At those temperatures they simply will not digest any food that is consumed. If water temperatures remain below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 30 consecutive days, a small feeding, less than a quarter in volume of that of a summer feeding, may be given for one day. This feeding should consist of as little protein as possible. Cheerios are actually perfect food for Koi given this circumstance.

Adhering to the specific types of food for Koi that are permissible and avoiding those which are not, will ensure that your Koi grow large and strong. Ensuring that they are fed according to the seasonal schedule that is best for their own metabolism will make for a koi that not only looks beautiful, but that has a strong immune system.

In short, properly fed Koi are healthy Koi. In turn, healthy Koi are pleasant companions and beautiful centerpieces for any pond.

Buying Koi Guide

What you need to know before buying Koi

You have successfully built your Koi pond. You have spent weeks, perhaps even months waiting with intense anticipation for the moment to come when you would actually buy Koi fish. Before doing so, however, it is important that you are aware of some basic guidelines for selecting and buying Koi fish.

First, you must be aware that not all Koi fish are equal; not even those that belong to the same variety. This will become evident when you buy Koi for the first time and you notice a wide range of prices for Koi fish. The key factors that are used to distinguish individual Koi fish are size, grade and age. Koi fish prices can range widely. It is possible to find specimens in the $40-$50 range, just as it is possible to find others selling for tens of thousands of dollars.
Although there are exceptions, it can generally be stated that smaller sized Koi will be available for a much lower price than larger specimens. The smaller Koi are usually 3” to 6”. Above that, size classifications include specimens measuring 6”-8”, 8”-10”, 10”-12”, 12”-14”, 16”+ and so on, until reaching fully grown Koi surpassing 2 feet.

Likewise, the grade of the specimen is also reflected in the price. When you buy Koi fish, you must ask yourself what exactly it is that you wish to obtain from the fish. This may sound like a simple question. Your initial impulse might be to answer that you want a majestic animal to grace you with its beauty. To some degree, all Koi owners could include that in their answer, but in order to determine which grade of Koi is best for you, it is important to identify underlying and ancillary expectations for your Koi pond.

Koi fish are classified as either Pond Grade, Ornamental Grade or Show Grade. Remember, all Koi fish are technically members of the same species. They are all Common Carp; however, much as the domesticated dog has been selectively bred to develop desired characteristics among different dog breeds, so to is the case with the breeding of different varieties of Koi fish. It can help to draw another correlation from this analogy. View a Pond Grade Koi as a mutt, while a Show Grade Koi is your pure bred show dog. Just as one would expect to pay an enormous sum of money for a pedigreed dog of prized lineage and one would pay next to nothing for rescuing a mutt from an animal shelter, so too is the monetary difference when you buy Koi of different grades.

Bigger Koi Cost More
Remember: The Bigger The Koi, Generally The more Expensive It Will Be.

 

Pond Grade Koi are normally bred by hobbyists, they are sometimes sold informally, and their breeders may lack some of the quality control mechanisms to ensure healthy specimens; but they are also the cheapest of the bunch. It cannot be said that you should completely avoid Pond Grade Koi when considering to buy Koi fish. If your plans for your Koi pond are limited and you are not looking to invest too much money in populating your pond, Pond Grade Koi can be a good choice. Just keep in mind that Pond Grade Koi will likely never develop the bright full coloration of their higher grade cousins and that they may also be prone to ailments or diseases not found in the higher grades.

Ornamental Grade Koi are those bred to display good coloration and markings. They are commercially bred and are not intended to participate in Koi competitions, but they are the best entry level Koi for most first-time Koi ponders.
Show Grade Koi as the name implies are the upper-class elite of Koi. They are also priced accordingly. Unless you plan on participating in Koi competitions or breeding the next generation of Show Grade Koi, these specimens may be well out of the range of the average Koi pond enthusiast.

Of course, regardless of the size or grade of Koi that you purchase, remember to follow the same rules that are used when buying any fish. Before you buy Koi check out the dealer or pet shop from where you intend to purchase it. Preferably, observe the fish for a few weeks. Avoid specimens which seem sickly, pale or that do not display an appetite. If you buy Koi fish online, check out Koi forums and determine what reputation that online dealer has. Also, ascertain what, if any, DOA policy the online dealer has in place prior to making any payment.

Butterfly Koi

The Beautiful Butterfly Koi

The Black and White Butterfly KoiThere are some Koi connoisseurs who would consider talking about butterfly Koi one of the worst faux-pas that a person can make. Butterfly Koi are just something you shouldn’t talk about to them; they are considered the mutts of the fish world. Some Koi fans even consider the butterfly Koi to not be a Koi at all. Then there are others who are more open and consider the butterfly Koi to be one of the most beautiful Koi there are, depending on their size, their pattern, and their finnage.

When looking at the butterfly Koi it’s important to begin at the beginning. Their origins begin back during the 80s when groups of grey and brown common carp that had long fins were discovered in the ditches and canals of Indonesia. A New York company were interested in the Koi and had them sent to the US to be sold. The fish were considered ugly and so failed to sell too well. However there were a curious bunch of enterprising breeders at the Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery. They ordered a dozen of the fish just to understand more about them. They came to understand that the fish were ugly and had long fins. They spent several years breeding these large and long finned fish with their own regular-fin Koi. Over time they came to realise several things.

  1. The genes that cause long fins are dominant meaning it was impossible to breed the gene causing long fins out by breeding the fish back to color
  2. These long-finned Koi were hardy and resistant to disease
  3. It was possible to breed the fish back to color; now many of these colorful breeds of Koi with long fins have all been birthed at the Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery.

A man called Wyatt LeFever was the breeder at Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery responsible for cultivating the long-fin Koi. The name “butterfly Koi” came from Randy; his son. One day Randy was in the hatchery with his father and, after seeing the fish, remarked that they looked like butterflies. Wyatt liked the name and it stuck ever since.

The Relation Between Butterfly Koi Size and Value

As the butterfly Koi grows it becomes even more impressive. This is because their fins will continue to grow until their blood vessels become unable to sustain any more growth. The older a butterfly Koi is the more impressive and long their fins are. When you watch an older butterfly Koi swimming around it’s almost like watching a majestic dragon cut throught he water. The barbels (the whiskers) of the fish can grow long like their fins and form intricate and elaborate designs.

While their body size is a little smaller compared to other Koi, at full length a butterfly Koi can be as long as 40 inches if they are provided with the right environment and food. Butterfly Koi are incredible graceful in the water and can be a real joy to watch as they swim.

A White and Gold Butterfly Koi

What About Their Patterns?

The pattern of a regular Koi can add a lot of value to the fish, so it’s only right to assume that a butterfly Koi with a standard pattern and a lot of bright colors is more valuable. There are also some additions to this though. While butterfly Koi with proper patterns are more valuable than those without, the beautiful fins of a butterfly Koi can increase their value even if they have a poor pattern.

As well as this platinum and yellow colored butterfly fish are considered nothing short of incredible when they are fully grown. If you can grow a platinum or metallic yellow ogon butterfly Koi to their full size they are an impressive and large size. This makes their movement slower, but much beautiful to watch because of how graceful it is. Their fins may be long but the gold or neon-white color really stand out in the water. Watching a fish like that swim is like watching a comet move through the sky. Or water in this case. All we know is that it looks beautiful to see their fins stream behind them like fire.

Noteworthy Butterfly Koi Breeds

When it comes to butterfly Koi adults it doesn’t get much more incredible than the sorogoi. The sorogoi Koi has an overall grey body with a “fukurin” or black fish net pattern. If you were to take this color and apply it to the more impressive fully grown butterfly Koi you would have something that looks like some majestic sea monster gliding in the water. It doesn’t look as attractive at first thanks to the grey colors but you’ll quickly notice the graceful body and the awy the fins move around and you find yourself drawn to how robust and mysterious the grey fish is.

About the only thing better than the sorogoi is the black butterfly; which is just one of the coolest fish in the world. These fish are pretty rare so their effect is made even more special. You can find a black butterfly Koi with scales or without them. The most valuable and rare of thee fish are the doitsu, karasu butterfly. This butterfly fish has a black body, lacks scales, and has long fins. “Karasu” is the Japanese word for “crow”, which may explain the name.

Black Beauties

The black butterfly Koi will grow up to become a very large fish. This is because the gene of the black butterfly are less restrained than some brighter colored fish. Their bodies can become a beautiful and glistening jet black if they don’t have any scales. Their fins will continue to grow until you have a broad fish that looks akin to a black dragon thanks to its long, streaming fins.

Think about someone visiting your Koi pond, feeding your fish. All of a sudden they see a black shadow looming from the bottom of the pond. As it gets larger and closer they come to realize that there’s no color to the fish. It feels like it really is a shadow. It pops up out of the water to grab the food and then disappears with a display of its long, dark fins. They ask you what they just saw and you tell them the story of your black fish, and how the Japanese regard the black Koi as being lucky. A fully grown black butterfly Koi will definitely be a memorable fish for any child to come into contact with. It’s the closest you could get to owning a shadow dragon that is sure to delight and amaze anyone who sees it.

A Pretty Butterfly Koi

The Fins!

It’s impossible to discuss butterfly Koi without talking about their fins. The reason that the fins on the butterfly Koi can grow so long is due to a genetic defect. This abberation means that the genes that cause the fins to grow fail to deactivate, causing the fins to continue growing. The fins of a fish are genetically coded to stop growing at a certain point. Thanks to the mutation the genes of a butterfly Koi don’t receive the signal to stop growing. This kind of mutation also shows up occasionally in other fish species. It can be found in Siamese fighting fish, the long fin Oscars, the Simpson’s high fin swordtails, and the long fin black tetra. If this mutation is discovered in a species and identified then it will often be bred into the species to find out if the species becomes worth more commercially as a result.

As is the case with other Koi fish the butterfly Koi’s fins are made from dozens of rays of cartilage. The cartilage will radiate outward to support the fin and they will typically grow straight. They tend to become wavy when they grow past their normal length. If a butterfly Koi manages to retain straight rays even in the lengthy parts of their tail they become much more impressive and valuable.

One problem that arises with raising butterfly Koi is they are typically handled as if they were regular Koi. A butterfly Koi will usually have broken their fins or tail before reaching full maturity. So even though the bends and waves in their fins and tails are partly due to the way they grow, they can also be caused by netting damage when growing up. If an adult butterfly Koi has a split in their tail or fin then it will likely not heal and stay split that way. None of this really matters much to the casual observer, as the impact that it has on the fish remains the same, but it can cause their fin quality to vary. Noticing these variations could cause you to choose a particular fish over another.

So Are They Really Koi?

Make no mistake about it; the butterfly Koi is a real and true Koi. Even though this is the case there is some of the same distaste in Japan as there is in the United States for these long-finned fish. Though to be honest the Japanese tend to regard a new color as an eyesore at first. They will eventually become accustomed to the change and come to love the diversity and differences between Koi types.

The butterfly Koi is no exception to this. There was a time when the only Japanese butterfly Koi breeder was Mr Suda. He has bred some very beautiful fish and can even get them to grow to great sizes. Even so Japanese breeders didn’t want to take part in breeding them.

The fish that Mr Suda bred became popular among United States Koi owners. They became so popular, in fact, that they soon became scarce. It was obvious to Mr Suda that he had made the right decision when he chose to breed them. The other Japanese breeders saw the success Mr Suda had with breeding the butterfly Koi. Eventually they overcame their feelings towards them and began breeding them too. There are now several domestic breeders competing in the market for butterfly Koi. They have gone on to become popular fish and it’s not hard to see why.

Photo Credits:

http://www.koi-pond-guide.com/premium-grade-butterfly-koi-5-6.html

http://www.koi-pond-guide.com/premium-grade-butterfly-koi-4-5.html

http://www.blueridgekoi.com/the-butterfly-koi-story/