Posts Tagged ‘koi’

The “OTHER” Butterfly in the Water Garden. . .

March 27, 2009
Butterfly Koi Feeding

Butterfly Koi Feeding

Butterfly Koi by Nancy G. deGarmeaux

     Some of the most beautiful fish you can add to your pond are butterfly koi.  Years ago, koi were crossed with Indonesian long finned carp, Kohaku and Showa, in Niigata, Japan. 

Metallic Butterfly Koi

Metallic Butterfly Koi

They were crossed to improve body shape.  Some of the offspring were unusual but not really desirable.  They stopped producing in 1993 due to unreliable results and poor reception in the marketplace.  Once the market was developed, they resumed production. 

     If you should purchase  butterfly koi for your pond, there are some key elements to remember.  The better the conditions in your pond, the better your fish will do.  Always feed your butterfly koi high quality food with little or no fillers.  You need a great filtration system for your pond. 

Red / Orange

Red / Orange

Bacteria and parasites are free-floating at some point in their life cycle and you will want a UV filter to kill these, as they are the culprits for fish kill in your pond.   

      Depending on the size of the butterfly koi you purchase and the size of your pond, your koi should reach  14″ to 15″ in length.  Under ideal conditions, 30″ to 36″ inches in length.  To reach jumbo size, all conditions must be ideal. 

The life span of your koi will depend on the conditions, ie feeding, filtration, pond size,  water quality,etc.  The oldest koi recorded were 70+ years.   A normal life span for your butterfly koi is 20+ years. 

     Butterfly koi are among the most beautiful fish you can add to your pond.   The colors are the same as regular koi but their tails and fins can really be unusual.  They gracefully swim in your pond and are beautiful to watch from any angle.  Blue Butterfly Koi

Your butterfly koi will look forward to being fed and they will watch for you and come  to the area of the pond you are feeding in giving you a front row seat to observe their coloration and “butterfly” fins and tails. 

     If you buy a $20.00 butterfly koi, it will be worth $200 a few years later! Enjoy!

Small Butterfly Fry


The SPRING Algae Bloom

March 26, 2009

feed3What causes algae blooms? Sometimes natural causes, runoff of nutrients from around the pond after a storm or rain. Most common culprit of Algae blooms is the pond owner him or her self.

Algae is the result of nutrients, sunlight, and water. As pond owners I never recommend algae products as it is a vicious cycle. A balanced ecosystem of plants and fish can lead to a simple pond to enjoy rather than fool with. The number 1 problem with water gardening is feeding the fish. Read on my friend…


Feeding fish before the water temperature is above 55 degrees is always a bad idea, in the winter fish go into a hibernation like stage. Their stomachs are inactive. Pellet or processed foods are dry and if fish eat them too early in the spring you can actually rupture a fish stomach as the food expands quickly inside the stomach and shortly after feeding your fish can go belly up.

Also before you plant plants in the spring you will foul the water by feeding the fish. Pond fish “NEVER” need to be fed. Yes every fish-food container will tell you to feed fish 2-3 times per day but take a second to figure out where they make there money. Fish can eat 10 times a day if you wish, they do this at fish farms. However this is normally too much waste for a pond and the extra waste produces a quick bloom of algae.

String Algae

String Algae

Fish including koi and goldfish naturally eat string algae and bug larvae and eggs keeping mosquitoes and nats to a minimum. Supplementing their natural diet not only stops that part of the natural ecosystem but adds to the nutrients for algae. Adding Submerged plants can highly reduce algae, hornwort, red star ludwigia, lemon bacopa, and anacharis all help starve algae and can even work in cooler water before floating plants like hyacinths and lettuce can takeover on the surface.

Please don’t break the ice!

December 16, 2008

That is, if your water garden contains fish.

Have you ever seen someone tap their finger on the  glass of an aquarium? The fish jump, the sound waves scare the crap out of them. This is not healthy for fish, for some reason making loud noises affects fish negatively, causing them to become susceptible to bacterial infections and viruses. Were am I going with this? It is winter and if you have fish in your pond you probably know that a frozen over pond or water garden often has fish-kill, (fish that die during the winter). Some people think they see the fish under the ice which don’t appear to be moving are actually dead, frozen in the pond.

goldfish chilling out under a thin layer of ice

goldfish chilling out under a thin layer of ice

Unlikely– unless the pond is frozen to the bottom which may happen in North Dakota, Montana, or Upper Minnesota. Here in Ohio we only get the ice 3-6″ deep on the coldest winters. Though your fish can die with a quarter inch of ice, but they will not die from the cold. They die from both the lack of oxygen as they use up available oxygen in the water and no new oxygen can penetrate the ice. If your pond freezes over in Alabama one night and thaws the next day, it’s nothing to worry about– the fish are probably never going to notice, if you live in zone 6 and lower (maybe even zone 7) you should have a thermostatically controlled deicer in the pond over the winter. If it’s 40 degrees outside the heater won’t kick on so your electric bill isn’t going up. If it goes below 32 the heater turns on and off as necessary.

These pond heaters or deicer really started from farmers trough deicers, in fact if you want a good deal, head down to TSC  tractor supply company and get one cheaper than in most garden centers. They are also less expensive on line at some stores ($38-48). Simply plug it in and keep a small amount of the pond unfrozen all winter.

Other alternatives? Keep a pump running that will provide a hole in the ice. Often a pump upwelling from the ledge will provide a strong current upwards. It will however cool the water to a much lower level at the bottom of the pond. Also make sure your leaves & debris are out of the pond before winter, you don’t want your pump getting clogged when its 10 degrees outside and you having to go unclog it. A bubbler or aerator that blows air under the water will keep a hole in the ice as the water is always moving where bubble are coming up. These are sometimes more expensive or need attached to an existing pump.

Deicer keeps a small hole in the ice letting fish breathe

Deicer keeps a small hole in the ice letting fish breathe

Finally, the best trick, if your deicer dies or it freezes over in a pond where you don’t expect it to simply boil a tea kettle, or any pot of water and one or two times per day pour it on the ice slowly creating a small hole. All the bad gases will escape and oxygen will get in. NEVER break the ice, your fish will get stressed and die quickly, every year I hear someone tell me I don’t use a deicer I grab my spud bar and break the ice. I have seen fish jump when an index finger hits the glass of an aquarium I can really imagine a spud bar. I have seen movies where they threw dynamite in the water and fish instantly surfaced dead as a doorknob. I imagine that’s probably close tho the same stress for fish as a spud bar or shovel.  

Last of all, I would like to disprove the myth of fish freezing in ice during the winter. Every year I hear this from people, “I can see them in the ice, they aren’t moving, they are frozen and come back to life when it thaws”. This is by no way true or scientists would be studying the first fish that did this. The truth is that as the water gets cold the fishes metabolism slows down to the point where the fish just basically sits in the pond with his gills moving. They are winter couch potatoes, go out every few days they will have changed position a bit and every thaw they will swim around a little.  The metabolism is so slow you cannot ever feed fish Nov-April. When I was young ,on the first nice day of  spring, I killed my favorite koi by feeding him.  I gave him a big old lunch of pellets and he gobbled them up as fast as possible, he was about 16″ long so he was a great size. His stomach hadn’t digested anything in 6 months, he ate a lot. It was quick, I had no idea what I had done. When he floated to the surface a few moments later he looked so stretched out It was easy to see what had happened. He basically burst from the inside. It was tragic. That’s a little about fish in cold water.