Creating the Ideal Koi Pond

DIY Koi Ponds

Koi need a lot of space. Make sure that the pond is large enough to give them room to move.

Call 811. This is necessary before digging any holes to ensure that you do not dig into underground utility lines.

Add pond underlay to the pond site. This will protect the pond liner and help to keep it from puncturing. Grade and compact the soil around and on top of the bottom drain.


Koi fish are a very large species of fish that require ample room to swim. They can grow to over 13 feet in length and should be housed in a pond at least 3 feet deep. Koi ponds are often designed in unique shapes such as circles or hexagons to create a focal point in the garden.

Koi are cold-water fish and can withstand a light frost but may go into hibernation when the water temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The pond should be insulated and protected with an aerator or de-icer.

When stocking a new pond with Koi, it can take a few days to a few weeks for them to adjust. The best time to add Koi to your pond is in the morning when they are less likely to be preyed upon by predators. Before you put your koi in the pond, make sure the soil is compacted around the drain and on top of the pond liner. This will prevent leaking and other costly issues later on.


A waterfall is a desirable feature in a koi pond but it should be constructed carefully. Koi are curious fish and they can easily be injured by sharp or pointy rocks. Ideally, a waterfall should be constructed atop or behind the pond, not in front of it. In the latter case, pile the dirt dug from the pond to create a berm that is the same height as the base of the waterfall(s).

The berm should also drape over the liner used in the pond so water cannot escape. Next, pack the berm with a layer of river rocks artfully so that they vary in shape and color.

Build the skimmer and BioFalls as described above, ensuring that the liner extends up over the skimmer/BioFalls area. This will prevent the liner from being exposed to wood splinters, stabilizes the temperature of the pond and reduces vibrations that could startle the Koi. Also, styrofoam insulation should be installed between the liner and retaining walls.


The filtration system is vital to a koi pond. It should have two sections; mechanical and biological. The first section should include a settling chamber that will remove solid waste from the water. The second section should contain porous materials such as lava rock and bio-balls that will provide a surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize.

Koi require a specific type of bacteria that keep their water conditioned for them. This bacteria is created in a bacterial tank and must be circulated to the pond. Most people use a waterfall or other means to do this.

You will also need a container to store the water when it evaporates. It should be a bit bigger than the pond to ensure that there is enough room for the fish. If you want to introduce the koi to their new home, wait until the water is cycled for a week. Also, avoid putting the koi in direct sunlight to prevent them from overheating.


Koi thrive in ponds with plants that provide shade and places to hide. They also help to regulate the water temperature and increase the nutrient content of the water.

Water lilies are popular in many landscapes and can be a beautiful addition to your koi pond. They give the appearance of floating on the surface but are actually grounded by rhizomes. They have a wide range of colors and bloom in the spring. They grow quickly, up to 4 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide, and are a good choice for larger ponds.

Water lotus is another favorite plant that floats on the surface. It has large leaves and flowers ranging in color from white to pink and yellow. However, it is invasive and can take over a pond if not trimmed regularly. Also, koi are known to eat the leaves and roots of this plant. As such, if you choose to use this plant, it is important to quarantine any new plants before introducing them to the pond.

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