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Is it normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Is it normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen?

Q: Is it normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen?

Judy – Southport, NC

A: They say a tiger can’t change its stripes – but did you know a koi can change its colors?

As you get to know each one of your koi personally (and you will if you haven’t already!), you may notice changes in the pigment, color depth and hue in the fish’s black, white and red scales. Don’t worry: It’s not necessarily a cause for panic. The color changes can be caused by several factors, including:

Sun Exposure: During the summer when the sun is shining, you get a tan; during the winter, you don’t. It’s the same thing with koi. Their scales can change color depending on their exposure to that bright orb in the sky. They won’t turn an Oompa-Loompa orange during the summer (though that may not be a bad thing to some koi keepers!), but you may notice a color change in some of your fish after their winter slumber.

Genetics: Koi experts will tell you how critical a role genetics plays in the coloration and patterning of koi. Dominant and recessive genes dictate how much hi (red), sumi (black), shiroji (white) and other colored markings appear. And, just like your hair color can change based on your genetic makeup, the koi’s scale color can change, too.

Stress: If your fish are stressed, they may show their unhealthiness in their coloring – just like when you take on a pallor-type tone when you’re under the weather. Make sure to keep your pond clean and well-oxygenated with an aeration system, like the Pond Logic® KoiAir™ Water Garden Aeration System. Also be sure to check your water quality with a water test kit, like the PondCare® Master Liquid Test Kit that measures ammonia and pH, and correct it if necessary.

Diet: A koi’s overall health – just like human’s – is affected by what it eats. Feed your fish food that has enough vitamins and nutrients to support vibrant color, like Pond Logic’s Growth and Color Fish Food. It contains top-quality ingredients, vitamins, natural color intensifiers and chelated minerals that enhance colors in koi and goldfish. To punch up your koi’s colors even more, add some oranges and watermelon to its diet.

Pond Talk: What kinds of color changes have you seen in your koi?

Pond Logic Growth & Color Fish Food - Enhance Fish Health & Beauty

How Well Do You Know Your Koi? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How Well Do You Know Your Koi?

How Well Do You Know Your Koi?

Koi add color and movement to your pond. They’re relaxing to watch. And they’re likely the centerpiece of your water feature. But how much do you really know about your finned friends? Check out these five factoids about koi and impress your fish-keeping pals during your next pond-side shindig.

1. A Long Life Span: Have you heard of Hanako? He’s the fabled koi who lived for 226 years after being supposedly passed down through the generations and was aged by counting rings on his scales. To set the record straight, Hanako has been proven to be an urban myth. Koi typically live 25 to 35 years in a well-maintained fish pond – but that’s still not a bad life span, all things considered!

2. Growth Spurts: Koi, like most other fish, start out as teeny-tiny fingerlings and grow to their genetically determined adult size. But unlike many fish, koi will grow to fit their accommodations – which means they’ll develop into super-sized beasts in the right environment. In their first three to four years of life when housed in an adequately sized pond, a koi will reach about 18 inches long. Throughout its lifetime, it can grow to reach up to 3 feet and more. That’s some big fish!

3. Colorful Gastronomes: The ultimate underwater foodies, koi will eat just about anything, with the exception of meat. Though they love their commercial pelleted diet, like Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food, koi will happily gobble down lettuce, apples, oranges, watermelon, and even tiny shrimp. So why not treat your scaly pals to some healthy fruits and veggies now and then!

4. Feast and Famine: Koi love to eat and will chow whenever food is offered, but these guys can actually go more than 10 days without food during the warmer months – and fast even longer when temperatures drop and they go into their winter torpor, or hibernation, when they pass on meals for months at a time. Of course, if you feed your fish regularly, don’t suddenly stop as doing so can affect their health and happiness.

5. Koi Agility? No, koi unfortunately cannot be trained to jump through hoops like a dolphin or fetch a floating ball like a Labrador, but they can be conditioned to recognize your footsteps and come to the water’s edge for a visit. Simply feed your fish from the same place consistently and, before long, they’ll learn to go there for food and even learn to eat from your hand! Now that’s a cool party trick.

Pond Talk: What other interesting factoids have you heard about koi?

Pond Logic Growth & Color Fish Food - Optimum Fish Health & Beauty

I Know That Floating Plants Help Shade My Pond, But What Do Submerged Plants Do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I know that floating plants help shade my pond, but what do submerged plants do?

Q: I know that floating plants help shade my pond, but what do submerged plants do?

Donnita – Palos Park, IL

A: Got plants? If you’re like most pond hobbyists, you probably have plenty of growing and blooming greenery surrounding your water garden – but what about sub-surface varieties? Underwater plants, like hornwort, and red stemmed parrots feather, offer great benefits to your water feature and its inhabitants, including:

Filtration: Underwater plants naturally filter your water. How? Plants, with their copious amounts of surface area on their leaves, stems and roots, absorb nitrates and fish waste – which is actually fertilizer to them. The result is a body of water that’s cleaner and clearer, thanks to Mother Nature’s nitrogen cycle.

Predator Protection: Sub-surface plants also give your fish and other pond critters places to hide when predators stalk or attack. Koi and goldfish will swim into the lush growth and hide out when a raccoon stops by the pond or a blue heron circles overhead. The greenery provides excellent camouflage for your finned friends.

Aesthetic Appeal: As popular as they may be, gravel-bottom ponds are boring. And they’re not very natural-looking either. Have you ever seen a wild pond or lake with no plants beneath the surface? Nope, didn’t think so. Ponds planted with below-the-waterline foliage create a more realistic-looking – and aesthetically pleasing – water feature, which is something most (if not all!) hobbyists hope to achieve.

Oxygen: Underwater plants are called “oxygenators” for a reason. They naturally produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis – and oxygen is one of the best things for your pond’s health and vitality. When submerged plants are used in combination with a sub-surface aeration system, you’ll wind up with cleaner water that truly supports your pond’s inhabitants.

Spawning Areas: The leaves, stems and root systems of underwater plants give your pond life safe places to spawn and lay their eggs. And when those tiny fry hatch, the plants provide protection, food and a comfy place to call home.

Submerged plants are easy to add to your water garden or fish pond. Simply fill planting baskets, like the Laguna Submersible Pond Planting Baskets, with planting media, add some oxygenators, and place the planted basket on the bottom of your pond or on a plant shelf on the side of your pond. The planting baskets allow the plant’s roots to branch out and find nourishment while containing it and preventing fish from nibbling on its root system.

Add some plants to your pond today. Your fish will thank you for them!

Pond Talk: Do you have submerged plants in your pond?

Create Oxygen For Your Plants - Hornwort Submerged Plants

How Many Fish Should I Put In My Pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How many fish should I put in my pond?

Q: How many fish should I put in my pond?

Grady – Nevis, MN

A: The general rule for stocking your pond is 1” of fish for every one square foot of surface area, but of course there are exceptions to every rule. First and foremost, don’t forget to leave room for your pond fish to grow. Stocking your pond with 10 one-inch fish may be fine for now, but what about next year when your pond fish have doubled or tripled in size?

Additionally, larger pond fish produce exponentially more waste than smaller fish so you need to factor this into your plans. Look at the chart below for an example of what I mean. One 6” fish produces 3.3 times more waste than one 4” fish and 26 times more waste than one 2” fish. In general, it’s probably best not to stock your pond to the max right away. As your pond is more established and you add better aeration and filtration, your pond will be able to handle more fish.

There are a variety of koi fish packages to choose from when you are ready to get started.

Fish Length Fish Waste (Grams/24 Hours)
1″ .10
2″ .75
3″ 2.43
4″ 5.80
5″ 11.32
6″ 19.55

Pond Talk: Do you find that your fish are cozy or crowded?

Koi fish direct to your door. Premium koi packages

5 Tips For Feeding Your Fish | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Is There A Special Way I Should Be Feeding My Fish?

Robert – Santee, SC

Start Feeding Pond Fish When The Weather Warms - Once your pond temperature reaches to 45 degrees, fish feeding can begin. During the colder months, your fish are hibernating live off of their stored body fat.

Train Your Fish - Fish need a schedule. Feed them in the same area at roughly the same time each day. Eventually, they will show you that they are ready for food by rushing to greet you at the edge of the pond with their mouths open.

Feed Pond Fish Slowly - At first, add only one or two pellets to the pond. This causes a ripple on the pond surface that will get the fish’s attention. Once the fish begin coming up for food, you can increase the amount of food given.

Don’t Over-Feed Your Fish - New fish may only be able to eat a small amount. Once they become more alert and accustomed to being fed, they may start to eat a little more. Don’t offer any more food than what your fish can eat in about five minutes.

Use The Right Food - This one depends on what kind of fish you have. Some of the most popular pond fish for backyard water gardens are Goldfish and Koi. We recommend feeding these fish either Pond Logic® Growth & Color or Tetra Pond™ Koi Vibrance.

Hardy Water Lilies

We’ve had a mild winter so far, does this affect the dormancy of my fish? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

We’ve had a mild winter so far, does this affect the dormancy of my fish?

We’ve had a mild winter so far, does this affect the dormancy of my fish? 

Ivy – Schaumburg, IL

We may be having a mild winter, but a mild winter for humans doesn’t really mean the same for your fish. During the winter months, fish living in outdoor ponds will go “dormant,” slowing down all their systems and responses in order to conserve energy during cold temperatures. Monitoring your pond’s temperature is easy – we recommend this handy Pond Logic® Floating Thermometer.

The signs your fish are ready for dormancy are relatively easy to pick out – colder temperatures will mean less food, to which your fish will react to naturally. Their metabolism and digestion will slow down, as will their movement in general, while they conserve energy. Don’t be alarmed if your fish appear “lazy” or don’t have any appetite – this is all normal. It’s also a good idea to wait until spring, or whenever it is consistently warm, to start feeding your fish again regularly. Do remember that your fish will require a couple days to digest their food and even if they become more active on a warm day you won’t want them returning to a dormant state while still digesting.

However, if Old Man Winter does sneak up on you, don’t wait until the first freeze to make sure your fish have enough oxygen and aeration to keep the water from freezing over. We recommend using these Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration Systems to keep your pond, and your fish, in good stable condition for the winter.

Some people like to leave their aeration system running year ‘round, so feel free to do so as well, we’re sure your fish won’t mind!

Pond Logic Floating Pond Thermometer

My koi are moving really slowly, but scatter when I get close to the pond. Is that normal? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My koi are moving really slowly, but scatter when I get close to the pond. Is that normal?My koi are moving really slowly, but scatter when I get close to the pond. Is that normal?

Karen – Arlington, VA

When the water gets cold, koi fish get lazy. Okay. Maybe not lazy – but they slow down considerably as their bodies conserve energy to withstand colder temperatures. But despite their natural tendency to slow down in the off season, their survival instincts remain intact. Thus, when they sense motion from the outside world, they get nervous.

As denizens of the deep, it’s only natural for koi fish to assume that everyone out of the water is looking for a quick meal. With that logical perspective, it’s normal for them to demonstrate a brief burst of energy in the interest of self-preservation.

It’s also natural for koi fish to lose their appetite when things get chilly. During the winter months, both their mobility and their metabolism slow down to preserve energy until things warm up in the spring. That’s why we recommend our PondLogic® Spring & Fall Fish Food for the months leading up to winter. This food is designed for easy digestion, and provides healthy nutrition until the water drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. After that, koi fish can subsist safely on available organic matter at the bottom of the pond. They’ll eat what they need, and no more, and resume feeding when temperatures climb above 40 degrees again in the spring.

Pond Talk: Are you fish still coming to the pond side to greet you or have they taken cover for the winter?

Pond Logic Spring & Fall Fish Food

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Frank – Queens, NY

Just as variety spices up life, interesting shapes give a boost to the appeal of any backyard water garden. Because the kidney shape curves conveniently to form a perfect vantage point – where the entire pond is visible – it’s especially popular. It’s also a simple feature to install, starting with our custom cut Firestone 45 Mil Pond Liner. Using this 45 mil EDPM liner and some careful preparation, you can have your own custom-shaped water feature up and running in no time.

During your planning and preparation, you’ll want to consider the kidney shape, which allows much more than a convenient point to view your water garden. It also adds a touch of style without sacrificing function – while keeping the pond healthy by ensuring a generalized flow of moving water. That flow, of course, is best achieved by the use of pumps, skimmers and filters, which draw water from one end of the water feature to the other.

For maximum circulation – an immediate boost of visual interest – we strongly recommend the installation of a waterfall at one end of your water feature, with a skimmer and pump at the other. With the use of our Atlantic Pro Waterfall Filter Falls Box, your waterfall with double as an efficient filter designed to establish and maintain a balanced ecosystem for both fish and plants alike.

Pond Talk: What shape is your water garden?

Waterfall Filter Box

I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why? I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why?

I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why?
Crystal – Menomonee Falls, WI

Think about the things that make you feel healthy and happy. Like good food. Low stress. And enough sunshine every day to keep the blues away. With that simple recipe, you’ve described the perfect balance. And if you don’t stay true to it, everything suffers. Including your complexion. Just ask your koi.

Okay. Asking your koi probably won’t help. But if its color is starting to fade, the odds are good it’s not in peak health. Fortunately, with a few changes to your regular koi-keeping routine, you can restore its vibrant color – and put the spring back in its…um…swim.

One of the first culprits for a fading koi is the lack of consistent sun exposure. So take a look at your water feature. Are there too many water plants? Is the feature in a shady spot? While it’s important to provide protection from predators and constant direct sunlight, your koi needs natural light to thrive. Make sure to clear out excess vegetation – and brighten its day.

Stress can also take a toll on your koi – and its color. Unlike humans, though, koi stress doesn’t come from bill collectors and overzealous bosses. It comes from predators, parasites and poor water quality. In order to give your koi the ability to keep stress at bay, our PondLogic® Stress Reducer Plus helps to restore its natural slime coat – while removing chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals ordinarily found in tap water. While Stress Reducer Plus is great for new ponds, regular treatments will help to keep your koi in peak health.

Food is another critical ingredient to a bright, happy koi’s existence. Koi, like people, can’t thrive on junk food. With a regular diet of PondLogic® Growth & Color Fish Food or PondLogic® Professional Fish Food, your koi will have the nutrients it needs to retain its vibrant colors – and thrive.

Finally, it’s important to consider genetics. Coloration is a fundamentally genetic trait – and over time, dominant and recessive traits can become more or less pronounced. So, while it’s critical to provide the right environment and food for your koi, diminished color may be the result of natural changes. So do what you can – and leave the rest to nature.

Pond Talk: Have any of your koi changes colors?

Pond Logic Growth and Color Fish Food

I have a waterfall in my pond, is that enough aeration? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I have a waterfall in my pond, is that enough aeration?

I have a waterfall in my pond, is that enough aeration?
Robert – Racine, WI

Waterfalls are one of nature’s greatest creations. In addition to providing breathtaking beauty and places for daredevils to kayak and – for some inexplicable reason – ride over in padded barrels, they serve as massive aeration systems, introducing fresh oxygen into the ecosystem that fish and plants need to thrive. In backyard ponds, waterfalls serve many of the same functions – but their scale is often inadequate to provide sufficient aeration. They also fall a bit short as places for kayakers and barrel riders to strut their stuff.

So, while your backyard waterfall definitely helps to keep water oxygenated, additional aeration is always helpful – especially when algae begins to grow, and fish are faced with warming water and reduced oxygen levels. To provide the aeration any backyard pond needs, we strongly recommend our KoiAir™ and PondAir™ Aeration Systems. With a wide variety of options available for ponds of every size and depth, these systems help to increase circulation and reduce stratification to provide the healthiest possible environment for fish and decorative plants.

For signs that your pond’s aeration is insufficient, look for increases in muck and debris at the pond bottom. When properly aerated, muck is broken up naturally, leaving the bottom clean and the water clear. If you have fish, and they surface regularly or gather beneath a waterfall, your aeration may be inadequate. If that’s the case, you’ll give your fish cause for celebration by installing additional aeration – and you’ll have the satisfaction of a clean, clear pond that makes your backyard the perfect sanctuary.

Pond Talk: Do you run a separate aeration system in your pond?

Pond Logic Pond Air

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