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Choosing Fish for Your Pond

Gold and Red Koi Fish Swimming

Selecting Fish

Whatever fish you add to your pool, be sure that they are pond fish suited for outdoor life. Aquarium fish generally do not do well. We suggest stocking your pool with our Japanese Koi and/or Goldfish varieties. Both are members of the Carp family and can be mixed in your pool. Start with at least the three to four inch size. Koi (which means brocaded carp) have been developed to a magnificent variety of patterns and colors. Metallic golds, silvers and coppers, brilliant tri-color combinations, blues, lemon yellows, bright oranges and platinum whites are some of the colors available. Koi have distinctive personalities and can be trained to eat from your hands and do simple tricks like jump through hoops or eating from a baby bottle. 

We have many Goldfish varieties suited for an outdoor life. Included are Comets with straight, darting bodies of red-gold, and Fantails with flowing triple tails and graceful movements. The Chinese Moor has telescope or "popeye" eyes and a velvety black color. All are the Goldfish family. We carry a good selection of pond fish at the Gardens.  Click here to see them.

Game fish do not usually make good pond fish and may destroy plants as well. Ducks, turtles and large fish should not be added until pond is well established and plants well rooted.

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Taking Them Home

After you have made your selections, the fish will be netted into plastic bags containing a small amount of water and then filled with oxygen. When transporting the fish home, do not allow the sun to shine on the bag, as it will build up a tremendous amount of heat inside. Do not put the fish in the trunk.

When you arrive home, immediately place the bag, still closed, in the pond water and allow the bag to float in the water. This will let the water temperature inside the bag gradually reach the pond temperature. The gradual change will prevent a sudden shock to the fish, which can weaken their resistance to disease. After the bag has floated for 10 to 15 minutes, open and let the fish swim out.

While fish are floating add Formulated Fish Salts and Fish Stabilizer K-7. This will help them adjust to the new water, and heal any injuries that may have occurred. Do not be surprised if the fish hide for several days. They will soon be accustomed to their new home.

If you need to move your fish to clean or treat your pond, follow the same precautions as above. A child's wading pool makes an excellent temporary home and it is wise to provide some aeration with a pump and fountainhead. Be certain the water temperatures are the same before transferring them and treat the water with Formulated Fish Salts and Fish Stabilizer K-7. The easiest way to catch them is to drain pond down to two inches of water, then push them gently into net.

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Feeding Your Fish

In a balanced pond, fish should never be fed, however a treat of one of our special fish foods is okay. They are the ponds gardeners. They eat the excess plant material, algae, and pests.

We recommend that when you get your fish; get a pound of fish food, preferably a floating tablet type. Our Koi food or wafers are the best. Throw one tablet in the pond a day, for two weeks, at about the same time each day. This is to introduce your fish to you.

Now we are in the third week of training your fish, and I want you to throw in the fish pellet and have a cup of coffee or something. But stick around the pond for about five minutes each day. Now somewhere around the twenty-second day, take a chair, a radio, coffee, and make yourself comfortable. Throw in one pellet per minute, it will take about twenty to thirty minutes, but after the first fish comes to the top to get the food, they will be your friends. They can be talked to, trained, taught to smoke cigars, if you like. But remember, there is a difference between gapping mouths and intelligent responsive friends. The food is used only as a reward, not as a continual diet. Two to five inch fish have a natural survival instinct. This includes Koi. That is, they will respect the amount of food available to them and learn to live within their means. When you feed them, you remove the survival instinct.

A healthy, balanced pond has no more than fifteen inches of fish per square yard of surface area. That is one fifteen-inch fish or two seven inch fish, but no more.

Fish are essential to every garden pool. They eat pests such as mosquito larvae, aphids and other insects. They also bring color and movement to your WATER VISION and the personality traits they develop will delight you.

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Fish Breeding

Most pond fish will breed with regularity in a pond containing plant life. It is always fun for everyone to see the baby fish hatch and see what colors and characteristics they develop. The breeding will occur during the Spring and early Summer months. The female fish, her body swollen with eggs, will swim rapidly over and through aquatic grasses, particularly Parrot's Feather and through the network of the roots on Water Hyacinths. She will deposit her eggs and will be followed by the male, fertilizing the eggs. The fish may eat most of the eggs, but those overlooked will hatch in five to seven days. The tiny fish will at first be dull and almost colorless and will spend most of their time hiding in the grasses. As they get larger and able to fend for themselves, they will begin to assume color and bravery. Watching the life cycles of the fish is one of the most rewarding aspects of a garden pool for the whole family.

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Chloramine, which is a combination of chlorine and ammonia, is currently used in most water districts for the purification of drinking water. At the levels necessary to purify drinking water, it is highly toxic to your pond fish and plants. For the addition of tap water to your pond, try following the helpful instructions below.

For the average pond owner, we have found:

  • The addition of up to 5% chloramine at one time does not hurt plants or fish. In fact, it appears to have value as a fungicide and algaecide.
  • A float or some automatic means of adding water on a regular basis, instead of all at once, is preferable.
  • Untreated water should be added slowly. Water should only be added where there is no direct contact with aquatic animals, such as near a waterfall.
  • Electric sprinklers wash plants and add small amounts of water to the pond on a regular basis, either nightly or every other night. A small amount is important.
  • Do not use a sprinkler that will deluge the pond. A common lawn sprinkler 10 minutes per night seems to work sufficiently.
  • You should not drain the pond halfway. Even if you use a chloramine reducer, it is not stable enough for this type of action.
  • The waste in the bottom of the pond should be vacuumed off on a monthly basis. The reduction of feeding the fish to stop a fish waste build up is essential since fresh water is not available through the tap.
  • If you have a large filtration system, proper backwashing, on a regular basis, is needed to prevent the influx of large amounts of tap water. The addition of 20% NitroBond to the filter material will help remove the ammonia and chloramines.
  • If you have half or three-quarter inch water refill lines should cut the water pressure to let the water refill more slowly and over a longer period of time.
  • Enough chloramine reducer to cover your water gallonage should be kept on hand at all times, in case of accident, such as a crack.
  • If you have to drain your pond, you must use fresh tap water treated with QuickStart to hold the fish.
  • We suggest that you let the new water set in a chloramine reducer for at least 10 minutes, before adding fish, snails and plants.

Instructions are based on our experience and basic knowledge of water, water systems, and chloramines. Van Ness does not, however, accept responsibility for loss of plants or fish as a result of following these instructions, as there are too many variables and a water test is needed for us to make exact instructions for the water conditions in your area. Following these instructions without such a test is done at your own risk.

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Sick Fish Treatment

Day One: Use 1/2 pound of Fish Salts and 2 ounces of Fish Stabilizer K7 per 100 gallons of pond water. ADD BOTH TO POND.

Day Two: Mix 1/2 teaspoon Uberkler per 100 gallons of pond water in 1 gallon of water and mix into pond until pond turns a lite pink. You may NOT use all of it. DO NOT GO RED OR PURPLE

Every 5 Days Thereafter For 4 Treatments: Use 1/4 pound of Fish Salts and 2 ounces of Fish Stabilizer K7 per 100 gallons of pond water.

Repeat Uberkler Each Day After Fish Treatment.

Products needed to fulfill this treatment per 100 gallons are:

Note: The process is to treat the fish then sterilize the pond to kill the fungus free floating. Please see schedule for maintenance and progress schedule.