Pond Fish Care
There are various species of fish including goldfish, Koi, orfe, rudd and tench which can be added to a garden pond. All of these species are members of the Cyprinidae family and can be widely found throughout Asia and Europe.
You should try to ensure the water in your pond remains within the water parameters outlined below to help your fish remain healthy, although these fish can acclimatise to a wider range over time. Temperature: 4-24°C pH: 6.5-8.5 Ammonia: 0mg/l (0.02mg/l may be tolerated for short periods) Nitrite: 0mg/l (0.02mg/l may be tolerated for short periods) Hardness: moderately soft – moderately hard (5-15°dH)
Fish are all poikilothermic (meaning their body temperature is the same as the water in which they are kept). Tench, orfe and Koi can grow up to 75cm in length and therefore benefit from being kept in a larger pond. Goldfish remain smaller making them appropriate for most pond systems. The most common maximum body length is up to 30cm. There are several popular colour varieties including Shubunkins, Sarasa and red comets. Currently there are many colour variations of Koi available including yellow, blue, black, red and gold making them a popular ornamental fish kept in garden ponds. Orfe and tench are not as commonly kept as goldfish or Koi. Orfe and Rudd are shoaling fish while tench are bottom feeders. A number of colour varieties such as Golden and Blue Orfe, Golden Tench and Golden Rudd are popular and generally available.
These fish can thrive for many years in a healthy pond with good water quality.
Ponds for fish should ideally be at least 45 to 60cm deep, preferably over 90cm for Koi. This ensures there is a cool zone at the bottom in the warm spells and a warmer area at the bottom in freezing winters. The should receive some sunlight as this helps to promote plant growth and to maintain warmer water throughout the spring and summer months. Shallower ledges around the edges of the pond will help you to grow a wider variety of plants.
Goldfish are suitable for most smaller pond systems, Koi, Tench and Orfe get much larger and it is recommended they are kept in a pond of 1500 litres or more. If a pond is only lightly stocked with goldfish, orfe, tench and rudd, a filter may not be necessary. However, when a filter is installed, it can help to prevent the build-up of toxic ammonia and nitrite. A pump and fountain will be beneficial by circulating and oxygenating the water, especially where a filter has not been installed.
Koi require specialist ponds and equipment including filtration systems, pumps, UV sterilisers and different UV filters to keep the water by reducing the amount of algae floating in the water. Therefore, it is advisable to seek advice from your OATA retailer regarding what is required to maintain these fish before purchase.
Test the water in your pond on a regular basis. Any build-up of waste such as ammonia and nitrate can lead to health problems in fish and some pollutants such as nitrate and [phosphate can induce the growth of unsightly algal growth such as blanket weed or green water. Ask your retailer for advice.
As winter sets in, dead plants and leaves should be removed and marginal plants should be trimmed back. This rotting vegetation will break down in the pond and can release toxic gases. Pumps and filters could be switched off but are best kept running in larger ponds and it is advisable to add a pond heater, or floating device to ensure the surface of the pond does not become covered with ice.
Before the start of spring, the pumps and filters should be cleaned with pond or rain water to remove sludge. If the system has a UV unit, the bulb should be replaced as per the manufacturer’s recommendation. Be particularly vigilant about monitoring your fish for signs of diseases as the temperature rises. The immune system can be weakened following the cooler temperatures of the winter months.
All these fish are omnivores, normally feeding upon insects and plant matter. These fishes metabolism and their appetite tends to follow the rises and falls in water temperature. To avoid intestinal problems, consider feeding easily digested food such as wheat germ as the water temperature falls. If the temperature falls below 8oC, it may be better not to feed at all. In very warm summers, over feeding must be avoided. Ask your OATA retailer for advice.
Summer feeding will promote growth and can be used to build up the body reserves of your fish for the cooler winter months, Colour enhancing food can be purchased to bring out the colour of your fish. Different sized pellets are also available depending upon the size of the fish.
Water quality problems will affect fish behaviour and can be shown by clamped fins, reduced feeding, erratic swimming and gasping at the surface. Immediately test the water if any of these symptoms are shown. If in doubt ask your OATA retailer for advice.
All of these fish species can thrive together in the same pond. Therefore, more often than not, the question is whether or not your pond is suitable for each species of fish. Tench and orfe grow to large sizes so only consider these species if your pond is capable of housing an adult specimen. Keeping orfe in shoals of four or fish is recommended. Goldfish are compatible with most garden ponds and do not usually grow as large as the other species.
Goldfish are the most likely to successfully spawn. Generally if these are more adult males than females, and the temperature reaches the correct level, there may be spontaneous spawning events. A shallow area should be provided, which Is heavily planted to increase the chances of the fry surviving.
Goldfish are not good parents and will eat the eggs before they can develop and their fry if they hatch. Koi can be aggressive during breeding and the process can stress the fish, in particular causing permanent damage to the females and in severe cases death. This is more likely to happen if the pool contains more males than females.
Before purchase make sure that:
- You have the appropriate equipment and position for the pond.
- You have researched all the species you are interest in and your final choices are all compatible.
- You are familiar with how to transport and release your fish.
- You are aware of the daily, weekly and monthly maintenance your pond will require.
- You are prepared to look after your fish properly for the duration of their life.
- Pre- formed pond or quality liner
- Filter, pump or UV steriliser (optional)
- Appropriate food for each time of the year
- Pond plants
You should also make sure that:
- The pond is suitable to house the fish species you wish to keep.
- You are aware of the weekly, monthly and yearly care required for the pond and the fish.
- The pond has some shade from sunlight to avoid high water temperatures in the summer months.
- You are aware of the signs and symptoms of the common fish diseases.
Never release you aquarium animals or plants into the wild.
Never release an animal or plant you bought for home aquarium into the wild. It is illegal and for most fish species it will lead to an untimely and possibly lingering death because they are not native to this country. Any animals or plants that do survive might be harmful to the environment.
Important things to remember
Test kits and regular check the water for ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and pH. This will allow you to make sure the water in the aquarium is not causing welfare problems for you fish.
Establish a routine…
For testing the water in your aquarium. Record your results to enable you to highlight fluctuations quickly. Also check the temperature of the water.
The water in the aquarium within the accepted parameters highlighted in the leaflet. You may need to do regular water changes to achieve this.
Always wash your hands…
Making sure to rinse off all soap residues, before putting them into your aquarium. Wash your hands again afterwards and certainly before eating, drinking and smoking.
Never siphon by the mouth…
A fish tank can harbour bacteria which can be harmful if swallowed. Buy a specially designed aquarium gravel cleaner which can be started without the need to place the siphon in your mouth.
If you have any questions or would like any help please ask a member of staff at Pond Life.