The Secret Zen of a Koi Pond

Nothing ads more charm to a back yard than an ornamental fish pond. Add an inviting bench and you have your own oasis of peaceful meditation. The essentials are few; and once installed, care and maintenance is minimal.

Japan’s Colorful Carp

Colorful Koi mingle in a small pond.

Koi, meaning ‘carp’ in Japanese, are fish bred for their lovely color markings and can now be found in ponds all over the world. There are many different varieties of markings available, with the rarest (and beautiful) still having to be imported from Japan.

The typical colors of the markings are white, gold, red, orange, black and blue. Koi can grow to be quite large, depending on the size of their pond and the number of other koi in the pond. They can also live to be about a hundred years old.

Zen of a Koi Pond

In fact, the whole purpose of zen gardens and ponds is to bring peace and tranquility of mind.  Behind the typical features of a zen pond lies a symbolic meaning. Ideally your koi pond should have a waterfall and a bridge. The water symbolizes cleansing and purification, while the bridge symbolizes passage into the other world. Other ornaments to include are containers of various sorts made of terracotta, stone, wood or other natural material. Japanese culture reveres age so your zen koi pond could also have some references to age such as gnarled tree trunks, old broken tea pots, and old stone with moss growing over.

If you would like to start out with a few koi and encourage spawning, you should have a few shelves below the waterline for water plant growth and to provide hiding places for the fish. Overhanging rocks will provide shade and some protection from predators.

Plant Life and Accessories

Koi ponds can be as simple or as complex as you wish. They can co-exist alongside a variety of plants such as pansies, honeysuckle, begonia or evergreens.  Bamboo and reeds, as well as water lilies, are a great addition to the pond.

Lights too are increasingly becoming a creative feature of zen koi ponds, making them interesting and colorful at night time. Choose from underwater LED lights, halogen lights and above water lights as a way to accentuate the best features of your pond, such as a waterfall or fountain or fix them along the border of the pond.

Tools for a Koi Pond

These items while not necessary will allow you to keep the water of your pond clear without losing your inner peace.

  • Skimmer – Use this net to collect surface debris.
  • UV Light – Control algae and bacteria growth.
  • Water Pump – Circulate water through filter and UV light and create fountain to aerate the water.
  • Mechanical Filter – Trap solids.
  • Biological filter – Prevent nitrogen buildup.