Have you ever seen your koi fish hiding out at the bottom of your pond instead of near the surface where they usually swim? There are a few reasons why this may be happening.
Why Are My Koi Fish Hiding Or At The Pond Bottom?
Find Out What’s Bothering Your Fish In Your Maryland, DC, Or Northern Virginia Pond
It can be frustrating when your koi friends seem more interested in hiding at the bottom of the pond than coming up to the surface to say hello. After all, one of the joys of having a backyard pond is watching your graceful koi swim and interact with each other.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common reasons for koi fish always hiding and explore some solutions to get them back to their usual spot near the top of the pond.
Why Are Your Koi Hiding?
Koi fish have several reasons for hiding. One of the main reasons is that it’s a self-defense mechanism. When people are scared, they either fight or run and hide. Fish aren’t known for their fighting skills, so they hide instead. By hiding, your koi fish are protecting themselves from some form of danger.
Let’s take a closer look at 6 of the most common reasons why koi fish stay on the bottom of the tank or pond.
1. Have You Recently Added New Fish?
After adding new koi fish to your ecosystem pond they’ll be a bit skittish. Koi are social creatures, and they may be trying to adjust to new koi fish in the group.
It’s like moving into a new home. You want to get all settled in before you go exploring and meeting neighbors, but unlike your neighbors, any fish you had may hide too! If this is the case, give them some time to acclimate, and they should return to the surface soon enough.
It may be a while before they all come back out, but you can try to use food and coax them out. Try giving them a week or so to acclimate before you start worrying. If they’re still hiding after that time, it’s possible that they are feeling threatened by the new fish, and you may need to rehome one of them.
If it’s not because of new fish, it could have something to do with the water.
2. Have There Been Any Changes In Water Quality?
Change is stressful, even for koi fish. Water quality, pH levels, or oxygen levels changing can be the cause of your koi fish always hiding. You’re going to need to test the water, which is as easy as making brownies–just follow the directions! There are test kits you can buy that’ll quickly give you a pH reading by adding a solution to a sample of the pond water. Test it in the morning and evening to get an average pH level.
You’ll want to use an aerator to oxygenate the water. This is especially true for the summer when water holds less dissolved oxygen. Without the right levels of dissolved oxygen, your fish can start having health problems. You can easily add artificial aeration if needed. Also, be sure to check your skimmer regularly because it may need cleaning or a replacement of the filter mats.
Change is stressful, even for koi fish. Water quality, pH levels, or oxygen levels changing can be the cause of your koi fish always hiding. You’re going to need to test the water, which is as easy as making brownies- just follow the directions! There are test kits you can buy that’ll quickly give you a pH reading by adding a solution to a sample of the pond water. Test it in the morning and evening to get an average pH level.
You’ll want to use an aerator to oxygenate the water. This is especially true for the summer when water holds less dissolved oxygen. Without the right levels of dissolved oxygen, your fish can start having health problems. You can easily add artificial aeration if needed. Also, be sure to check your skimmer regularly because it may need cleaning or a replacing of the filter mats.
3. Have There Been Any Recent Visits From Predators?
Cue the “Jaws” theme song. Herons, raccoons, and other predators like to hunt in ponds. This can cause your koi fish to hide more often out of fear of becoming a snack for a predator.
One of the best ways to protect your fish is by installing fish tunnels or caves. You could also install a motion-activated sprinkler and put it near the pond. It’ll spray any predator bold enough to try fishing in your pond, including cats. Of course, this isn’t always a permanent fix because, after a while, predators may realize it won’t harm them.
4. They May Be Feeling Sick
Stressed or sick fish will also hide. All animals hide when they feel sick. Don’t be alarmed. These sicknesses have medications and are treatable. You can also use salt treatments. Just make sure to contact a fish professional before adding anything to your pond. The medication can be tricky, and treating the water with salt can harm the plants.
5. Poor Quality Fish Food
Another reason why your koi may be hiding is that they’re not getting enough nutrients from their food. This is usually due to feeding them poor-quality food that doesn’t contain all of the necessary vitamins and minerals they need. To remedy this, switch to a high-quality pellet food designed specifically for koi and make sure that you’re feeding them 2-3 times per day.
6. Stagnant Pond Water
Lastly, stagnant pond water can also cause koi stress which then leads to hiding. Stagnant water doesn’t have enough oxygen in it for fish to breathe, so it’s essential to make sure that your pond is properly aerated. You can do this by installing an air pump and diffuser or by installing a waterfall or fountain. These devices will help circulate the water and add much-needed oxygen.
How To Get Koi To Come To The Surface
Now let’s take a closer look at 6 solutions to the various issues that can cause your koi to hide or lay on the bottom of the pond.
1. Install Fish Shelters
One reason your koi may stay hidden is that they don’t feel safe. Floating logs or rocks placed around the pond’s perimeter can provide some refuge for your fish, giving them a place to duck into if they feel scared or threatened.
You can also purchase pre-made plastic shelters explicitly designed for koi ponds. Be sure to leave some open space in the middle of the pond, so your koi have room to swim and socialize. Oddly enough, providing your koi fish a “safe space” to hide in will encourage them to come out and socialize more.
2. Test and Maintain Water Quality
Koi are sensitive creatures and will not do well in water that is dirty or of poor quality. Test your pond’s water regularly using a simple home test kit and take steps to correct any imbalances you find. Water pH imbalances or high levels of ammonia are common reasons why a pond’s water quality may be degraded.
You should also remove any debris from the pond on a regular basis, such as leaves or twigs that have blown in. A clean pond will go a long way towards keeping your koi healthy–and happy!
3. Install Predator Deterrents
If you live in an area with herons, raccoons, housecats, or other predators, they may lurk around your pond looking for an easy meal. Heron decoys can help deter these predators, as can netting placed over the top of the pond (be sure to remove it during winter, so it doesn’t trap any falling leaves).
You may also want to consider installing a sonic deterrent device, which emits a high-pitched sound that will help keep predators at bay. Remember to regularly check on your koi fish to ensure that your deterrent works effectively since some predators may eventually adapt and ignore a deterrent.
4. Treat Koi for Parasites and Infections
If your koi are stressed or sick, they’re likely to stay hidden away from view. Test a water sample for parasites and pathogens, and follow professional recommendations for treatment if any are found. Often, treating the entire pond is necessary, even if only some of your fish are affected. Regular cleaning and maintenance will also help prevent parasites and infections from taking hold in the first place.
5. Try A Different Koi Fish Food
One reason your koi might be hiding is that they’re not getting the nutrients they need from their food. If you think this might be the case, try switching to a different kind of food. There are lots of different types of koi food on the market, so you’ll have to experiment a bit to find what works best for your fish.
6. Improve Pond Aeration and Filtration
Lastly, your koi might be hiding because the water in their pond isn’t as oxygenated or clean as it should be. Koi, like any fish, needs a certain level of dissolved oxygen in the water in order to thrive.
Low levels of oxygen can occur if the pond lacks enough aeration or the filtration system isn’t working correctly. If you think this might be the problem, you should clean the pond and ensure the aeration and filtration systems are working correctly.
Let Premier Ponds & Lighting Help Maintain Your Koi Pond
There are a few reasons why your koi might be hiding and not coming to the surface. But with a little trial and error, you should be able to figure out what’s going on and get your koi to come out and enjoy their pond again.
If you want help maintaining or cleaning your koi pond, fill out our contact form today. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Koi are such beautiful creatures, so it’s worth taking the time to figure out what’s going on and how to fix it so they can swim around and enjoy their home just like they deserve. Except for in winter when the pond freezes, you’ll need to care for them in a different way.