The outdoor ponds

The outdoor ponds have been set up, and the koi, pond fish and turtles moved out. We’re expecting a small order of new koi – kohaku and sanke – this afternoon. Plants will be coming in a week or so – water lettuce and water hyacinth, and probably lilies as well.

Plants serve many functions in a pond. Some, like hornwort, are active oxygenators. Surface plants such as water lilies and water lettuce cast shade and provide shelter and hiding places for fish. Fish who have somewhere to hide are more likely to come out. They feel secure knowing they can hide when they’re threatened.

Plants also cut algae growth two ways. They reduce light, and they take up nutrition. Algicides are illegal in Canada, so any help you can get to keep algae down in your pond is good.

The showpiece of the outdoor section is the big pool, 1400 gallons. Currently the large koi from inside the store, as well as a large ID shark and our own Dr Wellfish, the tiger shovelnose catfish, have been moved outside. Fish do better in sunshine, and koi with hi (pronounced “hee” – the red colour) become very much brighter with exposure to sunlight. Algae helps their colour, too.

The pond department

The pond department is going up at Animalia.

Pond plants and pond fish look better and do better when they’re outdoors, so for the next few months Animalia will have an extension on the back to let the Koi, goldfisha nd plants catch some rays.

On Tuesday the koi we’ve overwintered in Wharncliffe will be coming back into the store and going straight out to a custom-built outdoor above-ground pond. About two weeks from now, on June 3rd, we’ll have new small koi which will also be in an outdoor pond. These new fish will be hand-picked from our supplier’s tanks, and we’ll be bringing in the prettiest ones we can find.

We know from past years that the small koi go quickly, especially the sanke (white with red and black spots) and the kohaku (red and white). Be sure to get in early for the best choice! In the meantime, if you haven’t got your pond filter going yet, this weekend is a good time to start it up.

Of conures and koi

The conures have laid a second egg! We just might have babies – fingers are crossed!

There are still some beautiful koi left at very good prices. Most of them are going at $7.49 and $12.49, with a couple of larger ones at $49.99.

The larger koi are the ever-popular kohaku (orange and white), a couple of dark-coloured butterfly koi, and a couple of black and yellows. At least, they’re black and yellow right now, but the yellow on them is going to darken with maturity to red. That means these beautiful, though not showy, fish are going to turn into gorgeous hi utsuri (hee ut-SOO-ri), stunning red fish with black markings.

We buy our koi from a supplier in Southern Ontario. Gord is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic koi keeper. Every time I go to buy koi from him, I learn so much about these lovely fish. When we started to go to him, we saw right away that his koi were better quality than the ones we’ve had from other fish suppliers. Our customers notice it, too; the year we couldn’t afford to make the trip and wound up buying koi from somewhere else, everyone remarked on how much nicer the fish had been the year before.

There’s one good reason for this – he’s a specialist. He has time to know what the qualities of a good koi – or a great koi – should be, and we get the benefit of that knowledge when we buy from him. So do our customers.

Koi can easily live as long as seventy years if they’re well cared for and not overfed. They’re smart and friendly enough to learn to eat from your hand.

There are still several months of pond weather left, and koi kept outdoors get brighter and more beautiful. In part it’s the exposure to sunlight that deepens their colour, but they also benefit from eating algae off the sides of your pond.

Just another good reason to love koi!