Go with the flow with your own koi pond

‘Kohaku, sanke and tancho’ at your doorstep

The burdens of living in Nick Joaquin’s “noble and ever loyal city” are many. It takes residents admirable gumption combined with a profound faith in the divine to get by every day, what with the lack of sane public transportation — something that millions of Filipinos struggle with every day—inadequate garbage collection, expensive utilities, and ghastly traffic conditions.

Go with the flow with your own koi pond

Many dreams of an escape to less hostile environments; the rest have no choice and choose, to stay. Which is why more and more urban denizens are choosing to create an oasis of peace and calm in their garden, by building a relaxing koi pond. 

Easy appeal

Koi carp ponds are becoming a must-have for Filipinos as people see how beautiful they look in their friends’ gardens, and want to have one for themselves.

The appeal is easy to understand. Koi carp can live to be 40 or older, and in the right environment, can grow impressively large. Originally bred in Japan from the common carp, they have been treasured for their beauty for centuries. They come in an amazing variety of colors, from purest silvery white, to pale gold, through to yellow orange, coral, flame red, blue, and all the way to velvety black. They also come in many intricate pattern variations.

As you sit in the late afternoon at your pond, watching the fish glitter and flash under the water as they swim between the stems of lilies and through forests of water plants, their cool and calm world is truly an antidote for the tired mind. A small fountain or waterfall serves to add oxygen to the pond and keep it healthy. It also adds the sound of moving water, which is soothing for the spirit.

Bring in the professionals

Anyone can have a pond dug in their garden, fill it with water, throw in a few fish and plants and hope for the best. But there is no substitute for having a professionally designed pond. Ponds can be modern or traditional, raised or sunken, large or small. They can have bridges, waterfalls, be on more than one level or they can even be built so that they are partially in the garden and partially in the house. 

The surroundings of your pond are important too. Maybe you’d like marble paving edging the pond, or a low balustrade on which you can sit and enjoy the beauty of the water. Perhaps you want something that looks natural, as if you stumbled across this pond in the jungle. It could have overhanging plants and flowers, set in grass or incorporating a stream. Maybe you just have room for a tiny pond; you can have a perfect miniature koi pond which will give you hours of pleasure.

Beautiful koi, high-maintenance pets

The quality and price of the koi tend to be determining factors in choosing the design and type of pond to be built. 

Koi prices range from 200 to 2 million pesos. But whether one is a casual keeper of koi who just wants a water feature for his home, or a passionate hobbyist, it is to his and his koi’s best interests to achieve the minimum factors for a koi pond. 

An efficient filter system is important to koi’s health and survival. While a koi pond and its filtration system may be structurally separate, the two are functionally one and can never be divorced. Some manufacturers claim to have filter systems requiring no maintenance, but the best systems are those which have the following components:

Go with the flow with your own koi pond

• Bottom drains

Partially covered pipes at the bottom of the koi pond where water from the pond exits and is moved to the filter system

• Skimmers 

Placed about one centimeter beneath the pond surface, they suck in floating debris and deliver them to the filter system. Skimmers are indispensable in keeping the pond surface clean and glassy.

• Mechanical filter

The first in a series of filtering chambers is one where large debris like fallen leaves, fish waste and excess koi food are trapped by filter brushes or other suitable material

• Biological filtration

From the mechanical filter chamber, water is transferred to a biological filtration consisting of finer mesh where bacteria thrive. These microscopic organisms converting toxic metabolites to harmless, even beneficent compounds.

Ultraviolet light

Submerged ultraviolet lamps clarify pond water by breaking down microscopic algae that would otherwise render a pond green. It also helps to control the proliferation of harmful bacteria.


For water to move from the pond via the bottom drains to the series of chambers in the filter system, and then drive it back into the pond via a waterfall or a simple return pipe, a pump that works round the clock is used.


Since fish breathe by extracting oxygen from the water, pumps that blow air into diffusers or porous stones at the bottom of the pond are a must.

Aquatic plants do no thrive in koi ponds. Koi feed on plants and the water salinity required to treat koi skin problems could be harmful to most types of aquatic foliage. Best to separate your water lily pond  from the koi pond.


A koi pond is not a static pool of water but a dynamic, living habitat, governed by the laws of natural science. 

Koi are intolerant of the accumulation of toxic waste products, namely, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. When the concentration of these metabolites rise, koi growth is impeded, the brilliance of their colors begins to wane, their resistance to disease is compromised, and when allowed to further rise, may result in their death.

Even with the most efficient filter systems, removing a percentage of water daily or weekly is mandatory—like flushing the toilet whenever there’s waste matter in it. Some hobbyists change 10 percent of pond water, while most change 30 percent once or twice weekly.

Viewing koi

Unlike other fish, koi are best viewed from above, rather than from the side, as in an aquarium. This is because their beautiful patterns are on the dorsal or upper side of the fish. When a koi pond is seamlessly integrated in a part of a house that is designed for relaxation, the koi’s vivid colors and graceful movements appear to have been created just for that purpose.

Go with the flow with your own koi pond

Koi and other fish

A koi pond is designed with the intent of keeping just koi. Should the owner wish to have other kinds of fish, the larger goldfish like sabao and tamasaba can co-exist with koi. But carnivorous fish like arowana and arapaima may lead to the extinction of one’s koi collection.

Topics: Nick Joaquin , Koi carp ponds , koi , home , interior
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