Fish

Your pond does need to stabilize for a while before introducing any fish. Like many people, we were a bit impatient and bought a few gold fish a few days after installing the pond. A couple of them died but most made it. Since then, we have added more fish on a couple of occasions. We bought a total of about 17 fish in six different varieties over the first summer of our pond. In late summer, they began producing babies and we now have about 32 fish! I think we are getting close to the limit that our pond will support so we may need to start giving some away if they have another reproductive frenzy this fall. Common goldfish and their cousins can live for up to 30 years with proper care.

Do seek advice from a reputable pet store about fish. There is a chain of stores in our area called “Feeder’s Supply” that have been a great source for excellent advice as well as fish, bird seed, and pond supplies. 

You do need to monitor your water condition for PH balance and acid content. You can do this yourself with water test kits available at pet stores, pond supply stores, and other outlets. You simply mix a few drops of your pond water in a test tube with the appropriate chemicals and the resulting color of the mixture is matched with a color chart to show you the condition of your water. It is important to check your water occasionally, especially with a new pond, to make sure your fish stay healthy. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can put a little pond water in a plastic bag and take it to your local pet store and they will test it for you for a couple of bucks. 

Primarily, pond fish tend to be some variety of goldfish, comets, shubunkins, and koi.

BUYER BEWARE! Be sure you get your fish from a reputable source. One diseased fish can infect and kill ALL of your fish. A fiend of mine had several fish that had lived in his pond for many years. He bought some new fish to add to his pond and they turned out to be diseased and he lost them all.

Koi
Koi are a different breed and require special care. I should point out that I don't have any koi and thus have NO firsthand experience with them. I am simply relating what I have been told by those who do have experience with them, for whatever that is worth. I mention them here because many people relate koi to ponds. Koi are basically a Japanese variety of goldfish that can grow very large (over a foot in length) and live for over a hundred years. (That’s right, I said 100 years!) I am told that they need more care than other varieties of fish and they do not play well with others. If you have koi, you should have ONLY koi (according to most experts that I have talked with, although some people dispute this and say they have koi living well with goldfish,) 

Goldfish (regular, plain old goldfish)
I have about 7 goldfish ranging from an inch or so to about 4 or 5 inches in length. 

Black “Goldfish”
I don’t know what the official name is for these fish. They look exactly like ordinary goldfish in size and shape, but they are jet black. Surprise! Last year one of these black fish slowly changed from black to gold! Now, you can’t tell it from other goldfish. The others stayed black. Go figure.   

Fantails
I have two fantails. These are large goldfish (about 8-9 inches in length) that have absolutely beautiful long, flowing tails. 
My favorites.

Comets
I have 3-4 comets. These are a little larger and flatter than goldfish and come in a variety of colors including mixtures of white, red, blue, orange, and black. They are very active during the summer and dart around the pond really fast.

Shubunkins
We have 4-5 shubunkins. They are fairly large (about 6-7 inches in length) and have a mixed of colors including black, dark blue, and orange.

Sarassis
We have 2-3 sarassis. They are slender, about 6 inches long, and are white with brilliant red patches. Really beautiful fish.

Feeding Your Fish
We feed our fish with fish food from pet supply stores. This comes in flakes or pellets. Our fish seem to prefer the flakes. Do not over-feed your fish. Give them only as much as they will eat in 5-10 minutes and feed them once or twice per day. You do not want to leave uneaten food in the pond to decompose.

Your fish should eat well over the summer and they will eat more in the fall when they begin to store up reserves for the winter. In the winter, you should taper off and eventually stop feeding your fish. They will stop feeding, go down to deep water (where it is a little warmer), and move very little during the winter to conserve energy.

Try to feed your fish around the same time every day and in the same place in the pond. Your fish will soon become accustomed to their feeding time and place and will anxiously wait for you to come and feed them.

Your fish will learn to eat from your hand if you want them to. It takes a few days for them to get comfortable and learn that you are not going to hurt them but they will do it. My fish will all come up to me whenever I approach the pond and even follow me as I walk around the pond. If I put my hand in the water, they will swarm around my hand and even let me stroke them. This is because I have hand-fed my fish and they are no longer afraid of me at all.

Introducing your fish.
When you bring your fish home, they will usually be in a little plastic bag full of water. Before you release your fish, examine it closely. If you see anything unusual such as parasites or unusual growths on the fish, do not release it. Take it back to where you bought it. Parasites and disease can spread and infect other fish. 

DO NOT just dump your fish into the pond! You need to “float” your fish in their bag for about 20 minutes. Add a little of your pond water to the plastic bag (about 20%). Place the bag in the water. It will float. Keep the bag shaded. If you place it direct sunlight, the bag will magnify the sun and possibly kill your fish. After about 20-30 minutes, the water temperature in the bag will acclimate to the water temperature of the pond. You can let the go into the pond.

Next: Enjoy!

 

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