Q: Are fish really necessary for your pond?
A: Although some pond owners opt out of fish, they play a very important role in the Nitrogen Cycle, and if your pond is not balanced there can be a lot more maintenance involved. A common misconception is that fish provide more maintenance, but that is FALSE! In fact, fish are 1 of the easiest pets to keep! As long as they have water, oxygen & food, they don’t need much else!
Q: How often should I feed my fish?
A: Feed your fish sparingly to maintain optimal water parameters. Overfeeding your fish can cause ammonia spikes, derived from uneaten food & fish waste. A good rule of thumb, is to feed them enough food that can be devoured within 5 minutes. To prevent food waste, feed fish on the side of the pond furthest from the skimmer.
Q: How many fish are recommended for my pond?
A: Because overstocking your pond with fish is a serious mistake, we recommend 1 inch of fish per 10 gallons of water. EXAMPLE: 1200 gallons = 120 inches of fish OR a qty of 10 twelve-inch fish. And remember to leave room in your pond for maturity!
Adding too many fish can wreak havoc on the water parameters, causing a lethal spike in ammonia (fish waste).
Q: What is the proper procedure for introducing new fish into my pond?
A: Acclimate, acclimate, acclimate! Moving fish from 1 environment to another can be detrimental to the health of your fish, resulting in a compromised immune system. First & foremost, it wouldnt hurt to test your water parameters with a simple freshwater test kit to verify that the new environment is safe for your new inhabitant. Large variations in water chemistry should be addressed prior to adding fish.
In order to reduce fish stress, float the bag of fish in the pond for about 30 minutes, or until the water temperature in the bag reaches the temp of the pond water gradually. Then, keep introducing a small amount of pond water into the bag over a span of about 30 minutes. Once fully acclimated, release the fish into the pond without adding the entire bag of water into the pond. Adding water from the store into your pond is never a good idea as you could also be adding other unknowns, such as parasites, viral/bacterial infections, etc…
Q: How do I take care of my fish during the WINTER months?
A: Koi & goldfish are quite hardy, and can survive the winter months in the pond by adhering to the following recommendations.
Once temperatures consistently reach 50 degrees or less, STOP feeding your fish altogether. Koi and goldfish go into a hibernation state in which they are less active. Their digestive system becomes “dormant” and if fed, the food will sit in their gut and ferment causing fish mortality.
If your pond ices over in the winter it is imperative that the layer of ice is broken to allow for necessary gas exchange. Pond de-icers are a great option for keeping a small opening in the ice during winter months.
Q: How do I take care of my fish during the SUMMER months?
A: Spring & summer are the most enjoyable months for koi & goldfish, however extreme temperature can prove to be fatal for your pond fish. You may begin feeding your fish once the temperature reaches a consistent 50 degrees or higher. Otherwise, the most important factor to be considered during these times “boils” down to oxygen & water temperature. Extremely hot temps deplete the oxygen in the pond, which is more so concerning with smaller ponds.
There are several options for easily controlling water temperatures. Plants offer a variety of benefits in the water gardening world, but in regards to your fish, they help to oxygenate the water as well as provide shade. Water lilies & floating plants provide the best shade for your koi pond. A pond net or some sort of sun screen is another alternative to assist in shading ponds with direct sunlight. Adequate water flow, via your pond pump or fountain, is vital. If your pump happens to clog or go out, it is important to have a back-up pump or aerator on hand to throw into your pond while the primary pump issue is addressed.
Q: How can I protect my fish against predators?
A: There is nothing a pond-keeper dreads more that the refined taste of the Blue Heron. As to be expected, they tend to enjoy the more expensive koi cuisine rather than the goldfish alternative. Luckily, there are quite a few solutions available, none of which require a firearm (Herons are considered a protected bird).
The most common solution is a Heron decoy. Because Herons are territorial, if they see another bird (the decoy) they will fly right by, so the trick is that you must move the decoy around periodically to resemble the real thing! Other means of protection include:
-Plants, moreso water lilies & lotus, provide surface coverage-ie shelter-from predators.
-Manmade fish caves incorporated during the construction phase, or flagstone fish caves easily incorporated at any time provide additional protection.
-The Scarecrow is an outdoor animal deterrent which hooks onto your waterhose, consisting of a motion activated spinkler that releases a short but startling burst of water when it detects an unwanted animal near the pond.
-Koi Kastles consisting of aluminum domed frame and fiberglass mesh sit on the bottom of the pond. Koi hide underneath, protecting them from predators.
-A pond net, sometimes considered a last resort, is a protective netting that keeps predators out of the pond.