Koi are beautiful and interesting fish that are extremely popular for many reasons, including the fact that they can jump. Their jumping is very cool – but will koi fish jump out of your pond?
Koi fish like to jump, and that means sometimes they will accidentally jump out of their pond. Sometimes they jump just for fun, but they often jump because of problems with their pond or water such as a lack of oxygen or toxic stagnation. If you can figure out why your koi are jumping, you can help prevent it.
With their strong, sleek bodies, koi fish are natural jumpers. If you set up your backyard pond correctly and avoid the problems discussed in this article, you should be able to enjoy your jumping koi, without them jumping completely out of the water.
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Koi Fish Will Jump Out Of Your Pond
Koi fish will jump. People love these fish because they are beautiful, strong and intelligent. Because they are strong, they can jump. And because they are intelligent, they like to explore their environment – which also means jumping.
So if you are getting koi for your backyard pond, you should assume they will jump. And you can even enjoy watching them jump. But what you don’t want is for them to actually jump out of the pond, where they can end up stuck on land and ultimately kill themselves.
Beyond this, jumping poses other dangers for your koi. They can cause themselves injury if they hit rocks or the side of the pond, and sometimes even just hitting the water too hard can be bad for them. Jumping isn’t necessarily a reason to panic, but it is good to try to keep it to a minimum.
The only way to completely prevent koi from jumping out of the pond themselves is to install some netting. Otherwise, your best bet is to set up your pond correctly and keep your water appropriately clean and live-able. A happy and healthy koi fish is less likely to be a problematic jumper.
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Four Main Reasons Why Koi Fish Jump (And How To Stop Them)
There are four main reasons why your koi may be jumping. If you work to prevent these things from happening, you will also keep any jumping to a minimum, and hopefully prevent jumping out of the pond altogether.
1. Poor water quality
It’s hard to overstate how important the well being of your overall pond ecosystem is to the well being of your fish, including your koi. If your koi fish are jumping excessively, it may be because the lack of oxygen in the water is making them want to escape. If this is the case, you will want to remedy this problem immediately.
For example, your ammonia levels might be too high. High ammonia can burn a fish’s gills, making them do things rub up against the pond walls to itch themselves, or jumping to escape the pain.
If that doesn’t make you want to run out and test you ammonia levels today, then note that if ammonia is allowed to stay too high for too long, it can can permanent damage to all your fish, including liver and kidney damage.
Thankfully, it’s easy to test your levels with a simple kit you can find on Amazon. And if your levels are indeed off, there are stabilizers you can add to equalize your pH levels and reduce ammonia and nitrate.
I like to be proactive with my backyard pond. If you install the right filtration system and keep you pond clean, your koi should stay happy and healthy to begin. See my tips for cleaning your pond here.
2. Your koi fish are not healthy
If your water levels are fine, then your fish may be jumping because of parasites or disease. It can be hard to visually diagnose parasites on koi, but there are other ways to tell if your fish are sick.
‘Flashing’ behavior is when fish rub themselves up against stones and pebbles on the bottom of the pond, or along the sides. If you see this happening, your fish may have too high of a parasite load.
Other signs your koi may be sick include a lack of energy or appetite, or even losing their color. If you suspect one of your koi fish is sick, you should separate them from the rest of your fish until you can diagnose and treat them.
3. Your koi fish are not happy
Just because the water is clean in your garden pond, doesn’t mean that you koi will be happy. These are smart animals, and if their environment isn’t too their liking, they may jump to try to escape to what they hope will be greener pastures (or, bluer waters?).
There are some simple ways to keep your koi happy in their space. First, ensure that they have some places to hide from predators. They like to be able to feel safe in their space, and will jump to look for hiding spots if they don’t think they have a good one.
Koi fish also don’t like to be overcrowded (which can be a problem for Koi fish breeders). If you want your koi fish to stay put, don’t give them a reason to try to leave by cramming too many fish into your outdoor pond. Note that when you add new koi to your outdoor pond, your old fish may jump a little more because they’re surprised by their new neighbors. So just be prepared if you plan to add to your population and add netting if you expect a problem.
Finally, your koi may be jumping simply because they are too hot. This is especially true if they are in shallow water with full sun exposure. Sometimes a little shade can fix this problem. See all my tips on how much shade your pond needs here.
4. Koi just like to jump and explore
Jumping is just a natural behavior of koi fish, especially in mating season. Sometimes, they just jump because, well, they want to. Jumping is also how they explore their world.
Note that koi fish may feel the need to explore more if they feel hungry, so be sure you are feeding them properly to prevent them from trying to jump and escape.
And if you add to their environment by adding things like new rocks or waterfalls, they will want to explore them. And new fish will always want to explore their new homes.
In both of these cases, you may want to consider at least installing temporary netting, and keeping an eye on your fish until they adapt.
How High Can Koi Fish Jump?
Knowing that koi fish can jump, the next question is often: well, how high can they jump. The best rule of thumb: koi will likely jump higher than you would think, even up to 6 feet.
In fact, it’s certainly not unusual for them to clear at least a few feet. Be prepared!
So again, prevention is the best medicine when it comes to keeping koi safe from jumping out of the pond. Keep their pond and water in tip top shape, keep an eye on new fish, and install netting as necessary. This is really all you can do to keep them from hurting or even killing themselves.
How Long Can A Koi Fish Survive After Jumping Out Of The Pond?
Let’s imagine the worst case scenario. One of your koi manages to jump clear out of your pond and strand itself. How long can it survive without water?
First, this should go without saying, that it is not good for any fish to be out of water. Being out of water for any length of time can have long term consequences. But thankfully, just because a koi strands itself on land, doesn’t mean it has to die if you catch it in time.
How long a koi (or any fish for that matter) can survive out of water will depend on a few factors. The larger the fish, the longer it can survive. And obviously, the heat and humidity outside will play a large role. A fish that finds itself stranded at noon in the summertime in a hot, dry location will not do well for long.
Koi come from the carp family, and they are known to be resilient fish. They have been known to survive for several hours out of water, although I would not try to recreate this myself! But it is good to know that even if your koi does jump out of your garden pond, that doesn’t have to be a death sentence.
This is also all the more reason why should keep an extra close eye on new fish who may be exploring. You might be able to save them if it does strand itself.
How To Revive A Koi Fish Who Has Jumped Out Of The Pond
Again, we want to avoid a stranded koi at all costs. And we want to rescue a stranded fish as soon as possible.
If you find a stranded koi, it may be possible to revive it. Your instinct will be to throw them back in the water as quickly as possible. Resist this instinct. Yes, get them back into water as quickly as possible. But do so as gently as possible, too. Your fish will be in shock, and you don’t want to increase the shock to its system.
If your fish has been out of water for any amount of time, you will need to hold it when you place it back in the water, to keep it from turning belly up. Keep them moving gently through the water. Do this as long as you have to. It may take awhile, but saving your beached fish will surely be worth it.
The following video proves that a breached koi fish can be saved, if you care for it properly:
Koi are a lovely addition to any backyard pond. In fact, they are the reason that many people go through the trouble of making backyard ponds to begin with.
You can’t prevent a koi fish from ever jumping. But you can prevent them from feeling like they need to jump, by keeping their environment and water safe and clean. Doing so will go a long way towards keeping them from hurting or killing themselves.
Otherwise, use nets as you see fit, keep an eye on your fish, and remember that it is possible to save a koi that has jumped out of the pond. If you’re like me, then you’ll do anything to keep your beautiful koi happy and healthy.
Why Are My Fish Jumping Out Of The Pond?
Some fish are more inclined to jump than others but, in general, fish jump out of their pond due to poor water quality. If the water in your pond is low in oxygen or has high levels of toxins like ammonia, the fish will try to jump out to avoid suffocation or chemical burns to their gills. The best way to prevent fish from jumping out of your pond is to ensure the quality of the water is high by testing it regularly.
How High Can Koi Jump?
Koi are athletic fish with lots of energy, which makes them extremely good jumpers. Many koi owners report their koi jumping as high as 6 feet in a large pond. Most koi will jump either to escape poor quality water or even by mistake after being startled by one of their fish friends.
Do Koi Jump For Fun?
Koi are intelligent and curious fish, so having fun doing small jumps in and out of the water is completely normal behavior. A healthy and curious koi might also jump out of its water as a way of exploring the outer reaches of their surroundings, in the same way humans explore the depths of the ocean and outer space.
Do Koi Jump When Spawning?
It’s not entirely known if koi jump when spawning, however some koi owners lower their pond’s water levels when spawning to prevent them from jumping out entirely. This would indicate that there is at least some evidence that koi are more likely to jump while spawning.