Your start-right guide to keeping koi (part 1)

Are you looking for a hobby that is both rewarding in terms of taking care of an animal, as well as adding something relaxing and beautiful to look at to your life? Keeping koi might be something that you will enjoy. No idea where to start? Animaltalk chatted to Chris Neaves of the South African Koi Keepers Society to get a glimpse of the basics behind koi keeping. “A pond can enhance a garden, and koi can enhance the pond,” he explains. Let’s discover more.

What is the first step to take after deciding that I want to become a koi hobbyist?

It would be to your advantage to join the South African Koi Keepers Society. Their members will give you reasonable advice, and you will get the opportunity to visit other members’ ponds to see what they have done, possibly providing you with some inspiration. Secondly, decide if you want a formal or informal pond, where the formal pond appears more on the manmade side and the latter has a natural appearance. Now you need to research the materials needed to make a pond and get as many quotes as possible on constructing a pond. There are many options, and it is important to build your pond correctly from the beginning, or you may live with an expensive mistake!

Attend South African koi shows in your area. Many dealers take koi to the shows to sell, and there you will have the choice of comparing various koi.

Where should I purchase my koi from?

Before you start shopping, learn the basic varieties of koi and the characteristics of each variety.

There are reputable dealers located in various cities around South Africa, and some of our local breeders are breeding very good-quality koi. After purchasing your koi, it is preferable to have a quarantine facility to place new koi. This can be a temporary pond. Any possible viruses, pathogenic bacteria or parasites can be isolated and treated before entering your pond.

What size should my pond be and how many koi can I keep?

Koi ponds should not be overstocked. A rule of thumb is one koi per 1,000ℓ of water. This may seem excessive if you have small koi, but koi grow rapidly and in a few years a 10cm koi can grow to 60cm. Rather keep too few than too many koi.

Thus, be careful to never build a pond too small. Every time a koi doubles in length, he quadruples in size. Therefore he will consume much more oxygen out of the water and excrete much more impurities into the water as he grows.

Koi keepers recycle their pond water so there is no wastage, and government water conservation policies are adhered to. There are many types of filters available to recycle the water and purify it. Any cleaning of filters can be done onto the garden and fresh water added to the pond.

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