Monday, August 30, 2010

Our Beloved Koi

Such a great deal of energy and time was spent this spring remodeling the koi pond. We changed the shape and finally leveled the edges. While we were at it, we made the drop offs steep instead of sloping like they used to be. One reason for this was so that the pond wouldn't be friendly to unfriendly creatures such as raccoons. I've heard many horror stories of them cleaning out a koi pond, biting off the heads and then leaving the corpses scattered around the yard.

We also changed the pond liner. The theory was that we'd use a much cheaper liner and just replace it in the spring and fall, negating the necessity of scrubbing algae. Unfortunately that theory didn't really hold water because the cheap liners don't hold water very well. We have to re-fill every few days to keep the water within an inch or so of the top.

A couple of weeks ago, we bought a giant UV light designed to keep the algae at bay. So far so good although, we still have stray algae floating around in the water. We also bought a new pump to fit inside the skimmer that we finally installed.

Every day I clean the skimmer and the filter pads. Three or four times a day I go out and feed the big guys in the big ponds and last year's babies in the little 'holding' pond.

And all this begs the question, why are we doing this? Years ago, I would get home from work and Mr. Right and I would sit out by the pond in our tall patio chairs and feed the fish. It was fun and relaxing. We would feed them rather slowly, breaking the larger pieces in half so that the younger guys would get their share and we would feed until we had observed that everybody had gotten something to eat. I'm not sure the fish appreciated this torturous way of feeding them but they grew and thrived until the two great ponds disasters described in this post.
After that we enjoyed our ponds but we didn't get too attached to the inhabitants.

And it's still that way. When I examine my feelings about the koi, I find that I like them, we're pretty proud of them and how they're growing, they amuse us, and they're unbelievably interesting. But I'm not down there trying to hand feed them and I don't love them like I loved the ones we lost.

I do love to walk out the back door and see all the koi drop what they're doing and come swimming to my side of their pond.

But sometimes one of them will be so distracted, horsing around with some algae he found or a bug or something that he won't even notice I've come out.

The other guys will swim over to tell him, circling about and swimming over him, before they can get his attention:

I enjoy throwing out hands full of food and watching them jockey around trying to get the best spot and then slapping their tails in the water and splashing about for some koi reason.

And somebody will get obsessed with the fold in the liner where there might be a piece of food lodged. And everybody else will hurry over to see what they're missing.

And I love when they swim along looking for food in the wide open - half their heads in the water and half out - like they think they might be amphibians.

And I love that after I clean the skimmer and the filters, they all gather under the waterfall where the fresh new water will come out. Isn't that bizarre?

One day I stood on the bench next to the pond to try to get an overhead shot. They didn't know what to make of my behavior so they kind of milled around in the middle waiting to see what I'd do next.

Before I go in the house, I turn around at the door for one last look and I appreciate that they really are beautiful......and friendly.

And I know that we don't keep the koi just because the grandkids love to feed them. We also keep them because that would be one huge hole to fill in if we got rid of them.

Just tricking! We keep them because we like them, we're pretty proud of them and how they're growing, they amuse us, and they're unbelievably interesting. And yes, I guess we really do love them as much as the ones that went before them.


  1. Your pond is beautiful. I knew you loved those fish!

  2. Yeah, I didn't believe it when you said it, I know you love those koi just as much as the others. I love your pond and I love your fish and I KNOW that all of your grandchildren love them and it will always be in there memories just like Grandma's still is in my mind, even though it was much smaller and and much more simple than yours, I always loved visiting it.

  3. What a lovely, poignant, story. You may not WANT to love these koi as much as the ones you lost, and may not try NOT to love them as much...but you do...even tho it would be very painful to lose them too...and you don't want to go thru that again. The lessons we learn are painful. Change happens. Nothing remains the same. Never hold anything too dear because it may be taken from us. Or do we learn to cherish what we have while we have it. And live to the fullest every single day with what ever we have? To enjoy to the fullest all we've been given every day? Thanks for a thought provoking post. It was lovely.

  4. I am soooo jealous of you koi Mary,they are beautiful! It is so nice to see them come up for food when you walk by...they are so happy to see us!

  5. What's there to not love? Not only are they lovely attraction you garden, for some reason, being around them brings sense of calm and quiet to our inner self. Their maintenance may keep you busy, but the peace and wonder they bring to you and your home’s curb appeal is worth all the work. Marc at Nature's Image


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