Lucky is the pond owner who enjoys having a beautiful Kohaku koi swimming among the lily pads in their very own back yard pond. The Kohaku is the oldest and most well-known variety of koi, and is often the most popular among koi lovers.
Kohaku is a bright white koi, patterned with red. There are two types of Kohaku – one has the red pattern all over its body, which is the most common. The second type of Kohaku only has a red spot in the middle of its forehead. This is an extra-special type called Tancho Kohaku, and is a highly prized specimen because of its rarity.
A Model of the Japanese Flag
The red spot on the forehead makes the Tancho Kohaku a living, breathing model of the Japanese flag, which represents a red sun in the middle of a pure white field.
Kohaku is the most common fish to win “Grand Champion” in Japanese shows, because it is the most popular fish in Japan and therefore, the breeders of koi spend the most time producing the finest specimens of this type.
Judging Kohaku Koi
Judging good quality koi such as Kohaku is not an easy task! There are certain “pattern” basics that you can learn to apply when buying fish, but forecasting the way that pattern will look later as the koi matures is a special talent. Also, body shape and conformation are important features, and few Americans appreciate the complexities of this characteristic. Finally, the way the red, called Hi (pronounced “hee”), breaks into kiwa (the trailing edge of the Hi) or out of the white (sashi) is important. The more crisp the transition from red to white, the better.
The details concerning pattern intricacies of Kohaku during championship judging can seem tedious, so here’s a simplified method of Kohaku appreciation that, although likely inadequate in choosing show-quality koi, is effective enough to choose fish which most folks will value.
Patterns to Look For
When you see a Kohaku with a uniform pattern of a single, red blossom in the center of each scale, and the pattern is pleasing to the eye, it is called Kanoko (fawn). Some of these fish are thought to make a good investment, but rumor has it that Kanoko Kohaku are “going away” and the red dots won’t survive many years in the pattern, which leaves you with nothing but an expensive white fish.
The pattern of the fish can be solid (ippon), lightning strike or zig-zag (inazuma), or it may occur in spots. The appearance of two spots is called “Two-Step” Kohaku or Nidan, and three spots is referred to as “Three Step” Kohaku or Sandan. They even have names for Four Step and Five Step patterns, but they’re generally not as precious as the two and three step koi.
The body of Kohaku ought to be rather fat, rounded off, and sort of voluptuous or “Rubenesque.” The head should have fat “cheeks” in the more mature fish. The base of the tail, where the caudal fin emerges, should be fat and round instead of streamlining into the tail. The fan-shaped pectoral fins behind the head should also be big and round. The rounder and whiter, the better. Thin almond-shaped pectoral fins are a disappointment. The body of the fish should be wider than the head, which would suggest that the fish is a female, which is a good thing.
A Final Thought
Understanding the characteristics of different types of koi helps you make an educated selection when shopping for your finned friends. Keep in mind that unless you’re planning on entering your fish in competitions, it really only matters that you like the coloration and markings of the fish in your pond. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, after all!
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If you like complicated, high-maintenance, have-to-tinker-with-it-constantly types of water features, stop reading now and find another contractor! Here at The Pond Gnome, we believe in keeping things simple by working WITH Mother Nature NOT against her.
The KISS Method of Ponding
Some contractors want to sell you all the bells and whistles to boost their bottom line. All those techno-doohickeys cannot replace what Mother Nature does all on her own. For over 20 years, we've been practicing the K.I.S.S. method of ponding with great success and rave reviews. We believe in installing only what is necessary to give our clients the best possible water feature experience for their personal goals. And we have plenty of options to choose from! We even have rainwater harvesting systems that your HOA won't even know are there!
We also believe in adding to and enhancing/replenishing the natural environment around us. Living, organic, ecosystem water features offer not only healthy drinking water for your pets, but also offer local and migratory birds and critters the respite they need from the concrete jungle that we humans seem to be creating.
Filtration Does the Heavy Lifting
How do we do we keep it low maintenance? We install both biological and mechanical filtration. The biological filter requires annual attention, while the mechanical filtration requires only a few minutes a week -- less time than taking the trash out of the house every week. And the best part: this equipment is hidden from sight! That's right: no ugly giant filters sitting around. Just the beauty of the water feature.
We use natural bacteria and enzymes as our water treatment products -- pretty tough to go wrong with those. If you follow our formula, you'll have clear water almost always (except maybe for a short time after a monsoon). We even have pond management programs to relieve some, or all, of your necessary participation.
With a living ecosystem pond or water feature, gardeners can delight in a place to putter around at will. And what a great place to garden (standing in a pond) during our hot Phoenix summers!
Not a gardener? No problem! We have worker Gnomes to take care of that for you. You can have as much vegetation as you like, or keep it clean and prim -- your choice, our pleasure.
All That's Missing is YOU!
So, if you're interested in a water feature to grace your outdoor living space so that you can hang out, decompress, do yoga, meditate, entertain the kids, or just basically enjoy life, consider a properly built ecosystem pond or water feature.
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If you’ve never owned a pond, or you know next to nothing about keeping koi and pond fish, three basic rules will help you create and maintain a healthy habitat for your new finned friends. We want fish to be happy, and your pond experience to be as enjoyable as possible. Once you become familiar with your fish and their basic needs, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the full benefits of living the pond life!
1. Fish Need Clean Water
Your pond water should always be clean-smelling and have good clarity. On occasion, the water might be green due to suspended algae, or slightly brown due to tannins, or even a bit cloudy after one of our famous dust stroms.
Algae is typically expected in the winter and spring when the plants are not growing aggressively. Once the plants grow, they consume more nutrients from the water, thereby starving algae of food to survive. Ponds in sunny locations experience higher algae growth, but this can be alleviated by shading the pond surface with waterlilies or floating plants like water lettuce.
Keep in mind, algae isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Your pond fish will eat algae off the rocks in your pond so it’s good to have a little of the green stuff. Too much algae can become unsightly, but can be controlled with various water treatments.
If you’re going to keep fish, it’s imperative that your pond have proper filtration. A mechanical skimmer is your first line of defense for removing unwanted debris such as leaves and twigs from the surface of the water. If left to decay in the pond, organic material can cause a host of water issues that could make your fish sick. The skimmer also houses the pump, which circulates the water and helps to aerate the pond. A biological filter is positioned opposite the skimmer to create the beginning of a waterfall. This filter uses bacteria to break down pond waste, converting it into less harmful compounds that can act as aquatic plant fertilizers.
2. Maintain a Healthy Population
One secret to making sure your pond water remains balanced and healthy, is to control your fish population. Sure, it’s tempting to add lots of colorful koi and pond fish to your water garden, but you want to avoid over-crowding. Too many fish creates excess waste in the pond water, which in turn can cause water quality issues. As a general rule of thumb, pond fish need 10 gallons of water for every inch of their length. So a 10-inch long fish needs 100 gallons. If you have five 10-inch long fish, your water garden should have at least 500 gallons of water. Keep in mind that your fish are going to grow so be sure to under-stock your pond in the beginning.
3. Feed Your Fish Appropriately
Koi and other pond fish will feed on natural sources such as algae and wayward insects, but they’ll benefit from a prepared, quality fish food such as Aquascape Premium Fish Food Pellets. Just like other pet foods, not all fish food is created equal. You want to look for food that contains a high-quality protein along with stabilized multivitamins and probiotics. Only feed your fish what they can consume in about three to five minutes, at the most. In the summer, you can feed them twice per day, but in spring and fall you should only feed them once per day. Be sure not to feed the fish at all after your pond water temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, although you can give them natural treats like oranges, melons, zucchini, and even Cheerios!
Following these three basic rules for keeping koi and pond fish will help ensure that your finned friends have a solid foundation to grow and thrive. You’ll enjoy hours of watching your colorful koi and goldfish swim around the pond, gliding here and there beneath the waterlily pads. It’s a great stress reliever and a perfect activity to enjoy a bit of nature in your own backyard with the family.
When you want to enjoy your water feature as the sun begins to set, be sure to add outdoor lighting. During Phoenix summers, it's pretty much the only time we can get outside without melting! Most people think to add landscape lighting around a deck or patio, but don’t neglect your water feature for optimal nighttime viewing! Here you’ll find pretty backyard lighting ideas for your pond, waterfall, or fountain.
Adding underwater lighting to a pond helps you enjoy watching your fish swim at night. It’s almost magical watching them dart in and out of the lights.
Waterfall and pond lights add an ethereal glow to your water garden, creating a memorable moment during the evening hours.
For water feature owners, backyard lighting ideas include both pond and landscape lights. Underwater lights allow you to see fish in the evening, while garden path lights accentuate the architectural elements of terrestrial plants.
Underwater pond lights are a must for those with recreation ponds.
For a truly pretty effect add a waterfall light. You’ll find your water feature takes on a whole new look at night.
Water takes on a glowing effect when spilling over rocks. It’s easy to be mesmerized by this peaceful scene.
A small spotlight showcases a fountain in a front or backyard.
No matter what type of water feature you have, you can enhance its beauty well into the evening hours with the addition of pond and garden lighting.
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Many people are opting for (or being forced into) homeschooling in some form these days. Whether you have a kindergartener or a teenager, this can be challenging. Even if you're kiddo is attending online school, you might be struggling with ways to enrich their education, or just flat-out keep them motivated. Believe it or not, a pond can help!
TEACHING THE BASICS WITH A POND
A well-build ecosystem pond or water feature can be a terrific education-enhancing tool for teaching the basics: reading, writing & math. Reading next to a water feature can be a very pleasurable experience. The sound of a well-designed waterfall or babbling brook is relaxing, so if your child has reading anxiety, this could help calm that down. And there are tons of cool articles and blogs about ponds, or whatever actually interests them.
Aside from the calming effect of a water feature to help ease anxieties about the drudgery of school assignments, writing a little story about one of the pond fish could be an excellent lesson in observation and/or creative writing.
Math is not always a subject loved by all, so don't tell the little minx they're about to have a math lesson. Just ask them how they would calculate how much water is in the pond to do a water treatment. Little guys and gals might just want to count the fish. If you happen to have multiple kids, this is the perfect way to get them involved with each other.
POND AND THE ARTS
Music lessons by the pond? You betcha! Water has it's own music, so ask your little prodigy to find the beat and incorporate that into their playing. Allow them to be creative and think outside the box.
Art is an obvious subject to teach by the pond: draw the pond; draw the fish; draw the plants; draw the birds that visit -- you get the idea. Or maybe grab a Monet book from the library and compare his art to how your pond looks.
Recess is a great time for a rousing game of follow-the-leader!
NOT-SO-WEIRD SCIENCE BY THE POND
This should be an easy one! Ecosystem ponds provide all kinds of cool science, anatomy, and biology lessons. If you have a microscope, there are even more possibilities!
THE NEW SCHOOL IS KINDA OLD-SCHOOL
We've gotten so regimented in our school-based learning processes that we forget that everything around us provides learning and teaching opportunities. A pond can be your most useful education enrichment tool, while also providing a calm atmosphere for lessons that might have caused your child learning anxieties in the past. Use your imagination and let your inner kid come out and play with your child -- you might be amazed at how that square peg that didn't fit into the school's round hole will blossom! Bonus: a magnificent sense of parental accomplishment for you. You've now earned that chocolate bar during nap time. ;-)
Feel free to comment below to share your own cool ideas and experiences!
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