I was told recently while in a conversation with another koi pond keeper that my koi pond is not a real koi pond.
Now before I get to how this comment came about, let me lay out some indisputable FACTS.
• Fact 1 – I have a pond
• Fact 2 – My pond contains many koi
• Fact 3 – Most of my koi have been with me for about 8-9 years
• Fact 4 – My koi successfully spawned many times in my pond
• Fact 5 – My koi all seem very happy and healthy
Now facts are stubborn things and the 5 lines listed above are indeed facts. With that established; let’s go back in recent time.
Recently I was having a conversation about my koi with another koi pond keeper. It was a pretty typical conversation we were talking about different types of koi that we have, how we manage our pond feedings, maintenance, where we got our koi, and the personality quirks of our fish. All in all just typical fish related conversation about all sorts of stuff. This conversation was very similar to numerous conversations that I have had with fish keepers over the years. But then the conversation took a strange turn.
The conversation changed gears from fish to filters. We both had similar systems in that we both have skimmer and biofalls; and we both aerate our ponds year round. The similarities ended there. He has a bottom drain on his pond, I do not. He has an exposed liner pond; my pond has rockwork and gravel. My pond has aquatic plants, his does not.
When these parameters were established, the other pond keeper then said to me “Oh, then you don’t have a real koi pond.”
I was a little confused given that the first 5 minutes of our conversation was pretty specifically about our koi that we keep in our ponds. So I asked “Why is it that you feel my pond is not a real koi pond?” eager to hear his explanation.
He then told me. “Well, first of all you don’t have a bottom drain and all koi ponds have bottom drains. You also keep plants in your pond and you can’t keep koi and plants together, and you have gravel in your pond and gravel bottom ponds kill koi.”
Needless to say, I was shocked to learn that the koi pond I have been personally keeping for about the last decade, and the hundreds of koi ponds that I maintain and manage that are stocked with koi and built with practically identical equipment that I use are not koi ponds at all!! My head reeled, my vision blurred; how I can explain to all the people that I have been building koi ponds for over the last 15 years that their ponds are not REAL koi ponds! What to do?
So I asked this sage koi keeper, “what kind of pond do I have then, if my pond that has been stocked with happy, healthy, reproducing koi for the last 8 years (my third pond by the way), is not a real koi pond?”
He the explained that it is a pond with koi, but not a koi pond and any koi expert would tell me the same.
Now I never like to call myself an expert on anything, but I have to admit that I do have a great deal of experience with all types of fish, not just koi; and a great deal of experience in the design, construction, and maintenance of ponds and filtration systems. In my many years of experience and service in the pond industry I have had others call me an expert and a professional. The thing is I always thought I was building real koi ponds.
So now, what is a koi pond? This must be asked because it would seem according to the definition I was told, a koi pond has nothing to do with koi but really has to do with filters and design, and I just cannot agree with this.
So, I am taking a stand, for myself and on behalf of all koi pond or “ponds with koi” owners, fear not! And don’t buy into the hype! Let’s redefine what a koi pond is so none of you have to go through the panic, doubt, and suffering that I had endured for a good 10 seconds or so, until I came to my senses after the bombshell of what a REAL koi pond is was dropped on me. If you have a pond, and it has koi, YOU have a koi pond, enjoy it, be proud of it, and let your koi know that they are as real as any other koi that have the “privilege” of a bottom drain, an exposed rubber liner, and a home void of natural rocks, gravel, and aquatic plants. YES! Our koi ponds are as real as anyone else’s, and in my humble opinion a MUCH more natural environment.
And remember: “Facts, are stubborn things” – John Adams, 2nd US President (who maybe kept koi, but I doubt it…)