On my iPhone: “Koi Pond” Reviewed - Macenstein

On my iPhone: “Koi Pond” Reviewed

Koi Pond is one of the more popular paid apps for the iPhone, and I can definitely understand why. First, at 99¢, it’s as close to free as Apple lets a developer get without simply giving away their app. But more importantly, Koi Pond is one of those cool little apps that really shows off just how powerful and interactive the iPhone graphics can be, and one of those apps we iPhone owners love showing our non-iPhone owning friends who then lamely look down at their Verizon handsets which can more or less simply display the time.

I had seen Koi Pond on the iTunes store for some time, but only recently decided to give it a shot. For some reason the stills on the store just didn’t seem all that compelling to me, and if in looking at my screengrabs you feel the same way, let me just say Koi Pond is all about subtle motion, and must be seen in action to truly be appreciated.

The Goal

Well, there is really no goal to Koi Pond, it is not a game i the traditional sense – rather it is meant to serve as a soothing time-waster/meditation style app. So I suppose if anything the goal is to achieve some sort of relaxation when using the app.

As the name suggests, Koi Pond puts a virtual fish pond on your iPhone. The lifelike movements of the fish and the realistic refractions and wakes that you can create by dragging your finger across the “water” are what create the “wow” factor of this app. It really is well done, and one of the few 99¢ apps that I do not feel like saying “Geez, why are they even charging for this?”. Some real effort and skill went into creating this little virtual pool, and the developers deserve to be paid.

Above: You can choose between 4 different background colors for your pond, although admittedly backgrounds 1 and 4 aren’t all that different.

Not quite a one trick pony

Since Koi Pond is a virtual version of a real Koi pond, which in and of itself is not all that exciting, you may think Koi Pond would quickly lose its novelty, and admittedly for many it might. However, there are some nice design touches her that may make Koi Pond a bit more useful than you might think.

First, there are quite a few customization options available. You can choose the background color, the number of fish, lilly pads and whether it is day or night. But as impressive as the visuals of Koi Pond are, the sound design is equally nice. There are 4 different types of sound effects you can have play in your pond to help add to the realism and relaxation factors. You can choose between birds, wind, frogs, and insects, or any combination of the 4 (or complete silence, if that’s your thing). You can also create rippling and splashing sounds by dragging your finger across the pool, or tapping on the screen to create ripples. I really appreciate these high-quality ambient sound effects because there are a couple standalone “white noise” apps on the iTunes store right now that do not provide a whole lot more audio “bang for your buck” as Koi Pond’s audio does.

In fact I occasionally set my iPhone up on a PED 3 stand by my monitor and hooked up to some nice speakers. The ambient noise of Koi Pond really IS quite relaxing, and I occasionally find myself just staring at it, sort of like my old Serene Screen Marine Aquarium ScreenSaver.

Above: Koi Pond’s settings allow you to adjust the look and sound of your pond, as well as how many fish you have living in it.

So aside from changing the look and sound of your pond, you may not think there is all that much left to do. It is, after all, a Koi Pond, and those are basically just meant to be stared at. However, because of the virtual nature of the pond, you are allowed to do somethings which are traditionally frowned upon in real Koi ponds – namely, scare the hell out fo the fish.

By tapping on the screen, or dragging your finger around, you create ripples and waves that will send your startled fish off the screen in a panic (don’t worry they’ll come back when things calm down). One fun thing to try is to keep tapping on the fish, trying to scare them, yet keep them within the screen by blocking their exit paths with more splashes. Yes, you sort of feel like a 6 year-old brat tormenting the fish, but hey, they’re virtual. (In fact, I think it might be cool if you could drop virtual rocks into the pond, but maybe there’s something wrong with me). If you really start feeling guilty, you can shake your iPhone to release some fish food pellets into the pond, and you can watch as the fish snap them up. You can also allow the fish to “nibble” your finger by placing it on the screen and keeping it completely motionless.

Above: Koi Pond’s controls are fairly intuitive, mainly because there is not much you can do. Shake the iPhone to drop food pellets, hold your finger still to cause the fish to come over and “nibble” it.


Koi Pond is one of those odd apps that I love to show people on the iPhone, yet for some reason I feel stupid for buying. It nearly always impresses people with its visuals, yet the first question many people ask is “did you buy that?”, implying only an idiot with a virtual pet fetish might drop some coin on such an app, and to be honest, I DO feel a little weird using it. After all, I really should be doing something better with my time than tormenting fish relaxing by my virtual Koi Pond, but I suppose the fact that I keep coming back for more means the app has successfully struck a cord with me in some weird way.

Above: You can drag the lilly pads around the screen to place them where you like.

While I am not about to start naming the fish (well, except for old Bluey) , I admit Koi Pond delivers on both relaxation and replay (if playing is what we are doing) and is more than worth the 99¢ price tag.

Koi Pond by Brandon Bogle

Pros: Realistic fish, very cool water effects, great sound design, less than a buck (well, excluding tax)

Cons: Unless you find the pond extremely relaxing, it may turn out to be more of a graphical parlor trick you use to impress your iPhone-less friends than anything you come back to time and again for your own enjoyment

9 Responses to “On my iPhone: “Koi Pond” Reviewed”
  1. J Dawg says:

    Ahhh Serene Screen. . . . I’m not one who smokes the ganja but if I was I’m sure that would be one of the best screen savers ever. Even the iTunes visualizer (which is pretty awesome and intense) could keep you staring for hours if you’re high I’d imagine.

    But remember, drugs are bad mmmk.

  2. Bunyip says:

    Hehe, this review is about Koi Pond, but I too have to weigh in with my appreciation of Serene Screen. The fish tank for those who don’t have a fish tank. I still have it fired up on both of my macs.

    As for Koi Pond, I bought it based on this review and I agree with everything written here.

    Here fishy fishy fishy….

  3. Alan says:

    ok…i’ll get myself a copy…wondering if there will ever be a ant farm for the iphone…NOW THAT would be awesome!

  4. Kerouac Beatnik says:

    i love the iPhone and i love Koi Pond for doing things others might think was stupid – because when I really tried it (and I never understood why pple reared fishes when you can’t touch them) its really quite exhilarating in a geeky way haha

    Excellent writing and great review, i found myself laughing real hard at the shared sentiments peppered throughout.

  5. Ethan says:

    You pay tax on iTunes purchases? That seems peculiar to me. I’m in California and have never paid tax on an iTunes Store purchase.

    As for Koi Pond – plan on buying based on review.

  6. Ethan says:

    Well now that I’ve bought Koi Pond I agree with most of the review. I disagree with your comments about the audio though. I honestly think it’s horrible and annoying. Overall Joi Pond is pretty fun though.

  7. GTAStud says:

    It’s a fun little application. It’s amazing how easy it to lose a good 10-15 minutes just goofing around…

  8. wendi brock says:

    thys is a really awsome game i play with it all the time on my aunties iphone and she always shows me different stuff to do with it butt after looking at thys website i can show her some new stuff, right.

    P.S. i loveeeeeeeeeeeee thys game

  9. sindhu tiwari says:

    dude i want to make color flow in the iphone and when ever user touches the color must blend .. please help me with this..

    sindhu tiwari

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