Koi Pond Design

Koi pond design is a matter of making choices.

Traditional pond design digs a hole and lays down a liner.

Modern pond design does the same but then adds small stones and gravel to act as bio-filters in the water itself.

Both require cleaning in the fall and/or spring to remove excess sediment. The gravel is going to look much more real than a black liner but it isn't traditional.

Koi Uproot Plants

Koi can really eliminate the plants inside the pond. By their nature they love to mess around on the bottom of the pond and uprooting plants is a traditional, native sport to these powerful fish.

So if you like the look of uprooted (and expensive) water lilies floating on the surface, then you're in luck planting them on the bottom of a koi pond.

My best advice, if you want a lot of koi, don't have plants. If you're prepared to have fewer koi (and remove the inevitable babies) then you can mix plants and koi

Grow Plants In Tubs

You can grow lilies and have koi but you have to grow them in large tubs that are well protected with large rocks so the koi can't disturb them.

Understand the differences between having a few koi in the pond and having a pond full of koi. A few koi means you have a mixed ecology pond. A pond full of koi means you're growing koi - and not plants.

Oxygenating Plants

Oxygenating plants don't stand a chance in a pond with koi - they're lettuce to these guys. This means your design has to take this into account and find other ways of adding extra pond aeration. Adding aeration means designing your pond pump and filter system and here are the articles on doing this.

In traditional pond design, the edges are mostly tiered with shallow edges around the pond and other ledges built into the sides to offer support for different kinds of plants. You can still use the shallow ledges for pond side plants (these areas will be too shallow for big koi to swim and enter). I'd suggest an area of shallow water such as this to give the baby fish a place to hang out away from possible big-fish predators.

Ledges For Koi

But, I'd suggest you also create an area where you want to see your fish and not have any ledges in this area. Have a sidewall straight down from top to bottom of the pond. This will give your fish a spot where they can come right from the bottom of the pond to the top and you can feed them there. You can walk right to the edge to visit with your fish.

So my best recommendation at this time for koi pond design is for a pond of your desired size and fish carrying capacity with gravel bottom, ledges for pond-side plants but a sizeable top-to-bottom area so the fish can approach the side of the pond.

Other decisions include, and articles are or will be up on this site about, pond aeration, filtering for fish, pond heaters etc.

backyard fish pond

Shopping Resources for this Page

A good selection (multiple vendors) for koi pond design and operation equipmen