Providing live plants within your koi pond is one of the best ways to make your pond attractive, provide a natural source of water filtration, and maintain the health of your fish’s environment. As well as looking attractive and adding depth and scale to the appearance of the pond, plants will provide shade for your fish, help to keep the water quality in balance and help to bind and process biological waste.
Koi can be hard on pond plants for a variety of reasons. Koi will generally cheerfully eat most types of coldwater plants, and as koi are bottom feeders, they also have a tendency to uproot plants when foraging on the base of the pond for food.
Some koi keepers despair of ever successfully keeping live plants with their fish, and it is certainly not absolutely vital to keep live plants within your pond; but this being said, we’d certainly suggest giving it a go!
Choosing and maintaining the right plants is largely a matter of trial and error, but you can get a head start by picking pond plants that are a good match for your fish in the first instance. Read on for our suggestions…
Rushes planted within the shallows and at the edges of the pond can provide shade for your koi, and while they may nibble on them, rushes are not usually among their favourite snacks! You can protect growing rushes from inquisitive fish by planting them in a cage or fenced off area of the pond that your koi cannot access until the plants are large enough to withstand your fish’s attacks!
Floating lilies on the surface of the pond are often associated with fancy ornamental koi, but they are also one of the koi carp’s favorite foods! Planting your lilies in sturdy floating baskets that your koi cannot knock over is one way to address this issue, and may allow your plants to grow large enough to regenerate and keep up with the demands of your fish.
Water irises are short-flowering and very attractive plants that grow well submerged in pots and in shallow areas. Planting them in sturdy pots and placing rocks over the base of the pot can give your plants a head start and keep foraging koi from uprooting them.
Stopping koi from eating your pond plants
Understandably, if your koi are hungry then they are more likely to attack your plants! However, even well fed koi enjoy eating greenery, so you should minimize their interest in eating your pond plants by supplementing their feeding with a range of fresh greens, including lettuce and cucumber.
Pond plants placed in shallower areas of the pond and in sturdy containers will also stand a better chance of being protected from your fish, as your Koi are more likely to attack roots and plants in the deeper areas of the ponds than those near to the surface.