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Plants for Koi Ponds

by Elmer Epistola

Posted: September 3, 2004




Plants and koi don't really co-exist well in the pond itself, thanks to the penchant of koi for foraging the pond bottom and munching on foliage.  This is the reason why most koi ponds don't have plants in the water, save for a few clusters of lilies or rushes here and there.  Still, there are plants a-plenty to choose from for livening up your koi pond with some flora.


Plants used in koi ponds and water gardens may be classified into 4 categories:  1) oxygenators or submerged aquatics; 2) deep water aquatics; 3) marginal plants; and 4) floating plants.




Oxygenators, or 'submerged aquatics',  are plants that live just below the surface of the water.  Like most other plants, oxygenators generate oxygen in the daytime as a byproduct of photosynthesis, consuming carbon dioxide released by the koi in the process. They also provide security to the koi and may serve as a spawning mat during the breeding season.


Examples of oxygenators for koi ponds that are popular in the West include the Elodea pondweeds, the Water Starwort, the Hornwort, the Willow Moss, the Water Violet, the Spiked Water Milfoil and the Common Water Crowfoot.


To plant oxygenators, the following steps have been recommended by some hobbyists: 1)  take any aquatic planting basket or tub and fill it with peagravel; 2)  create several bunches of your oxygenator, with each bunch consisting of 4 to 6 strands of 4-inch plants tied together by a lead wire;  3) push these bunches into the planting basket; and 4) place the basket in the pond, with the plants no more than 12 inches below the water surface for them to get sunlight.  The basket may be moved to deeper areas as the plants grow.


Figure 1.  Callitriche starworts are

good oxygenators for ponds


Deep Water Aquatics


Deep-water aquatics include the most popular group of plants for koi ponds:  the lilies.  Most people want plants in their pond simply because they find the exquisite beauty of these flowering plants irresistible.   Deep water aquatics, as the name implies, have stalks that are long enough to support the large circular leaves floating on the water surface even while the roots are planted on the pond bottom.  Deep water aquatics are good consumers of extra nutrients in the water and therefore give algae a strong competition for food, thus helping clear up the water. 




Figure 2.  Charlie's Choice is just one of

the many lilies available for your pond


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