Plants in the Pond from Koi
Posted: September 1, 2004
beautiful Nymphaea lotus plants in Manila is not easy, which
is why I still remember the day I was able to buy one for only 500
was a very healthy plant, having clusters of large leaves around a
huge base of roots. More importantly, it had a bud that I knew
would eventually become a majestic floral centerpiece in our pond
enough, the bud eventually bloomed into an elegant flower, which
stayed at the center of our pond for weeks. Then the
unexpected happened. The plant started to deteriorate quickly,
losing its leaves one by one at a very alarming rate. Before
long, all that it had are small sprouts of leaves that are too small
to be appreciated by the naked eye.
to say, I tried to determine what went wrong. Upon closer
inspection of the plant, I discovered that it no longer had any
roots left. I then realized that the koi made the roots a part
of their daily buffet. That explained why the koi loved
tugging at the plant - they were eating it! After that incident, no more plants in the pond for me.
Figure 1. Koi love
foraging on vegetation
many koi experts warn people about the incompatibility of
plants and koi in the pond. In fact, serious koi hobbyists
(the purists) never put any plants in their ponds. Whatever
flora they need are simply used to outline the pond and accentuate
it at highlight points.
again, there are also koi enthusiasts who simply can't imagine a koi
pond without plants. To them, a koi pond with just water and
fish is bare to the point of being 'unnatural.' Furthermore,
studies have clearly established that various plants have direct
beneficial effects on the pond.
provide shade and security to koi. They can also help
stabilize the water temperature. Plants also compete with
algae in consuming nitrates in the pond, thereby helping to keep the
water clear. Lastly, and most importantly (to me, at least),
plants add natural beauty and elegance to the pond if properly set
up. This is why koi/plant hobbyists devise ways and means of
protecting the plants in the pond from koi.
There are several ways by which
koi can damage plants. They can munch on them to their fill,
as what has happened to our lily. Being natural diggers, koi
can likewise uproot them. Koi also love using plants as
breeding material, and can easily mess up your plant set-up doing
Figure 2. Koi can
easily detach leaves
from a plant
The natural thing to do to
protect your plants, therefore, is to keep the koi away from them!
This doesn't necessarily mean that the plants will have to stay out
of the pond. One simply has to fence the plants in with
barriers to keep out the koi.
To protect the roots of the
plant from koi, plant them inside a suitable aquatic planter or tub.
Choose a tub that has extra space for roots to grow in. Pack
the roots of the plant in the tub with loam or aquatic soil, before
topping it off with a half-inch layer of gravel. You can then submerge the tub
in the pond, with the roots of your plant now properly protected.
To protect the stems and leaves
of the plant, one can make a cylindrical fence out of plastic wire
mesh. This 'cylinder' mesh must start at the tub and end above
the water line, in effect shielding the plant from the fish.
If properly set up, this fence would be hardly visible at all.
A word of caution though - an
improperly constructed fence can hurt your koi so make sure that
nothing in your design can possibly be harmful to them. Sharp
edges or protrusions can easily damage a koi's skin, so nothing of
this sort must be present in your fence. Note as well that koi
are good jumpers, so make sure that they will not be able to jump
into your fence and get hurt or trapped in the process.
If what you have or want to
have are water lilies, you can also protect them by constructing a
'floating' fence around them. The floating fence will also use
plastic wire mesh to protect the roots and leaves of your lilies,
but this time they simply need to be supported by a floating frame.
Needless to say, the mesh will be underwater below the roots of the
lilies to keep the koi out.
There are really many ways to
keep your koi and plants in one pond, if this is what you prefer. On
the other hand, the availability of these solutions doesn't mean
that koi ponds must have plants. After all, there are many koi
enthusiasts out there who prefer not to have anything else in the
water other than their highly-prized nishikigoi. As I always
say, it's really all up to each of us.