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FAQs on Pondfish Livestock Stocking, Selection

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

goldfish      7/13/14
please could you let me know what size pond I need for 21 goldfish
, at present I have a 750 litre pond will this be sufficient. thanking you. kay
<Hello Kay. Part of the answer to this depends on where you live. Since your email address has a TalkTalk domain, I'm guessing the UK. Now, in the UK the critical factor with ponds is depth. That's because we have relatively cold winters that cause ponds to freeze over. As a rule of thumb, a pond needs to be at least 2-3 feet deep so that the ice won't go down to the bottom AND there's always a sufficient depth of unfrozen water underneath for the Goldfish to swim about in happily. Realistically, 2 feet
is the absolute minimum in the southern part of England, and the further north of that you go, the deeper you'll want your pond to be. There are lots of variables to this, which is why these depths sound like a lot but are actually there to make life easier. For example, after a couple years ponds silt up, and you'll surely have some plants in your pond too, and that removes some of the available depth for swimming. Also, we're only talking about the deepest part of the pond, not the whole thing. If you have a 2-3 feet deep area at one end of the pond, but the other end is shallower, that's fine -- your fish will sensibly "hibernate" in the safe, deep, ice-free end. Pond capacity is a secondary factor to depth, but important nonetheless. As a general rule of thumb, 5000 litres is recommended as the minimum for Koi, and for Goldfish, particularly large numbers of them, you wouldn't want to too far off that value, perhaps 2000 litres. I know that sounds like a lot, but a pond has to provide so much for Goldfish, while also being easy to maintain. A too-small pond offers no depth for Goldfish to hide from herons, and no distance from the bank to escape hungry cats. Plants use up a lot of space as they grow, as will algae, and unless both are frequently cropped back, a small pond can very quickly become so choked up the Goldfish have no place to swim. The pond also needs to provide food and spawning sites, and unless you have a filter installed, it's got to dilute the Goldfish waste long enough for ambient populations of bacteria to remove it safely. In short, a 750-litre plastic pond is more likely to be a water feature than anything else, and you'll probably find something substantially larger (perhaps using pond liner) a more successful, better-value investment. Cheers, Neale.>

releasing a goldfish     7/7/14
I want to know if a goldfish will survive if released into the local botanical garden fish pond? And if so how do I go about releasing it?
<Mmm; please don't do this without talking with the folks who run the garden. The new fish may introduce disease... Bob Fenner>

Ryukin and pond comets     5/22/14
I got a common fantail and a Ryukin for my pond.
The trouble here is I already have pond comets.

I think the fantail will be ok. But i worry about the Ryukin.
<Fancy goldfish can have problems competing for food when kept w/ comets...
and these can bump into fancies, damaging them. B>

Will the Ryukin be ok in the pond with the comets?
I have no room in my indoor aquarium for the Ryukin and I cannot get a new larger tank yet.
If it cannot stay in the pond, can I leave the Ryukin in the pond, until I can get a larger tank?
Thank you.
re: Ryukin and pond comets     5/22/14

Thank you! I returned both the fantail and the Ryukin. I got a shubikin <Shubunkin> instead.
I got a 500 gallon pond. 4 comets already dwell there. I do not believe there will be any problems with overcrowding or compatibility this time. Do you think there will be any overcrowding or compatibility issues?
<Not now>
re: Ryukin and pond comets     5/22/14

Thank you! I was also thinking, with my 4 comets (at 50 gallons each minimum) and the 1 "Shubunkin" (at 180 gallons minimum), the fish would need 480 gallons (minimum). According to my calculation skills (which are
rather poor) there might be room for 1 more comet, according to my calculation . Should I add 1 more? Or should I just leave the 5 fish I have in the pond without adding anymore? Thought I should ask the experts before making another huge mistake.
<Five is a good number here. BobF>
re: Ryukin and pond comets     5/23/14

Thank you so much Bob!
<Welcome Cam>

Fish for hot climates    4/27/12
I have a large, approx 800 gallon, fish pond. It has three waterfalls (about 3 feet tall), and about 3 1/2 feet deep. I'd like to stock it with a few fish, and wonder what would survive in the hot Arizona high desert. The summer water temps are in the 70 to 80 degree range. The pond is concrete construction. Thanks for your help. Mike
<Quite a large variety of aquatic life can go here, including Goldfish, smaller Koi... You can just search on WWM, elsewhere, visit local fish stores, contact the local pond society folks, order from pond catalogs or on-line... Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish for hot climates    4/28/14
 Bob, Thank you for your response. On the website, it states that Goldfish need water no warmer than 75 degrees. I've tried Goldfish, and they don't make it thru the summer, even with the waterfalls running. Any ideas? Thanks, Mike
<Mmm, maybe for interesting behavior some neotropical cichlids... or just algal control, Platies... Again, you're encouraged to read/scan WWM... B> 

Leech eating fish   8/1/11
Good afternoon. I would like to inquire about stocking my pond with red ear sunfish or any other fish suitable to thrive in Vermont. The pond is in Southern Vermont in the Town of Weston. It is approximately 1 acre in size and is roughly 17 feet at its deepest point. It is a mature pond with a lot of wildlife. Newts, small guppy like fish, tadpoles and frogs. It is fed by a stream that runs parallel with the pond.
<Sounds a lovely natural pond.>
This season for some reason we have been seeing leeches swimming around.
<Many of which are harmless; only a few bite humans.>
They seem to live in a rust colored weed that roots itself at the edges of the pond. This weed is also new, so I think the leeches may be a result of the weed. Anyway, the pond is used constantly for swimming and I am concerned that the leech problem, if not addressed will escalate.
<May not be a problem. Remember, many leeches are predators that eat potentially pest species including mosquito larvae and snails.>
Do you think stocking the pond with red ear sunfish will alleviate the leech problem?
<Nope. If these are blood-sucking leeches, then fish will be potential prey, and the more fish, the more leeches. Plus, these Sunfish will consume the tadpoles, so frogs and newts won't be able to breed there so successfully.>
1. When is the best time to stock the pond?
2. How much do the fish cost?
3. How many will we need?
4. Will the fish eventually spawn?
Thanks in advance for the advice.
<Best to leave alone. Your pond sounds great the way it is. If you're worried, your local Fish & Wildlife may be able to identify the leeches in your pond, and if its a dangerous one, recommend a good way forward. But again, do understand that most leeches are harmless to humans. Rat urine in your pond, for example, is far more likely to pose a health threat (Leptospirosis) than leeches. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Leech eating fish   8/1/11
Thanks very much.
<You're welcome! Cheers, Neale.>

Betta Pond?   7/11/11
Greetings WWM Crew.
<Hello to you, too!>
I hope I didn't just miss a similar question on your site, but several searches yielded no near matches (as determined after reading the results).
And let me apologize in advance for the length of my missive, I know you want plenty of information to work from, and I seem to have gone with a more is more philosophy.
The only fish I have ever really had is a beautiful veiltail Betta (*Betta splendens*) that has lived with us for almost 3 years now with no problems.
However this also makes me less than an amateur.
My Father-in-law recently built a beautiful rock-pond with a fountain in his garden. At our last visit I realized, as I tried to scratch my skin off, that it had become a mosquito breeding ground. This thought made me curious about fish for the pond, so I started trying to research options.
I am told the mosquito problem has now been fixed (chemically, I believe), but that my father-in-law still thinks fish would be a nice addition and that he would like me to set it up for him. We live less than 2hr away and will be spending the summer with them anyway, so I should have some time to plan it out and get it started.
<Fish can consume mosquito larvae, but their usefulness does vary from one situation to the next.>
The information I have on the pond is as follows: -Approximately 175-200 gallons (guesstimate) -Approximately 9"-12" deep (because of the many rocks on the bottom and on the sides) -The pond is in a garden with a tall chain fence around it to keep the deer and other animals from getting in and eating the flowers and veggies -Water plants, including potted water lilies, are already growing and doing well in it
<All sounds good.>
I also know that I need to check the water's pH, nitrates, and nitrite levels before I really move forward, but since the mosquito problem has been taken care of chemically, do I need to separately check those chemical levels? If so, how do I go about doing that? Are there any other tests I need to do for a tiny pond that wouldn't be mentioned in aquarium guides?
<Well, tropical fish are broadly divided into hard water species and soft water species. Livebearers for example need hard water and tend to be sickly in soft or acidic water. Conversely, while Tetras may tolerate hard water, most are better kept in soft water. Bettas fall somewhere between the two extremes. They prefer soft water, but the farmed specimens are fairly adaptable and will do perfectly in moderately hard, slightly basic water; let's say 2-15 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5.>
I am open to any suggestions you may have about a good starting fish or combo for the situation, but I would also like some specific information on requirements for a Betta pond.
<Nothing much different to Betta systems generally, with two extra cautions. Firstly, temperature. Bettas need consistently warm conditions, at least 24 C/75 F. So outside of the tropicals, you can't keep a Betta outdoors all year; indeed, here in England for example, you probably wouldn't do well with them outdoors even in summer. The Paradisefish (Macropodus opercularis) is a subtropical species and therefore somewhat more tolerant, but it won't tolerate colder water than, say, 18 C/64 F.>
I can't seem to find any more information online other than that Betta ponds are possible and sometimes do very well. I realize that keeping a Betta inside is very different from a pond and that any Bettas in the pond would have to be brought inside should it get too cold, especially since the pond is so very shallow. However, since that would be the case with most fish, it seems that Bettas would be easier to do this with since they do not require a filter and my in-laws don't have an aquarium (though it could be arranged if needed).
<Ponds with plants can "filter" themselves if the plants are numerous and the fish few.>
I worry that the pond is too small for most other fish, is this the case?
Specifically, what about Siamese Algae Eaters (*Crossocheilus siamensis*)?
Ideally I would put a few of those in the pond. Could I do both SAEs and Bettas? I have seen them in aquariums together. If I was to put Bettas in it, because of the many excellent hiding places in the rocks and plants, would it be ok to put a male in with a few females (not for breeding, just to look nice)? How many would be appropriate?
Thank you so much for your help.
<Actually, without data on water temperature, I wouldn't recommend either.
If you live in the subtropics or warm temperate (i.e., about as far north as, say, Southern France in Europe or the Carolinas in the US) you would probably find Gambusia affinis a better bet, though this fish is aggressive and nippy and cannot be mixed with anything beyond its own kind. It will tolerate down to 12 C/54 F. In the subtropics, Ameca splendens might be a good alternative, tolerant down to about 15 C /59 F for short periods. Both of these need at least moderately hard, neutral water and won't do well in acidic conditions. In soft water the Paradisefish is the obvious choice, but it will need subtropical not temperate conditions. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Betta Pond?   7/12/11
Thank you so much for your very quick reply. You are right (of course), I checked the average temperatures for the area and during the summer the days would be warm enough but the nights would get too cold for Bettas.
The main reason I had been leaning toward Bettas was because I had assumed that this pond is too shallow for any pond fish to survive in over the winter (I have heard 4ft is minimum) is that the case? If it is possible for fish to live in the pond year-round that would be preferable.
<Ponds need to be at least 4 ft deep because ice forms in shallower ponds to such a degree that fish will likely freeze to death. This isn't negotiable. So if the pond is less than this deep, and frost occurs sufficiently often for ice to form on a pond, then fish can't be kept in this pond.>
My in-laws live in the valley in Southern Oregon, so the summers get plenty hot during the day (sometimes over 100 F), but do cool off quite a bit at night (50s-60s F). The coldest winter months have average lows of 31-33 F and average highs of 45-47 F.
<Lethally cold for subtropical fish. Coldwater fish such as Goldfish may survive given a sufficiently deep pond and adequate water volume (at least a few hundred gallons).>
Are there any fish that would thrive in these conditions year-round, such as Shubunkin (Carassius auratus)? Or should we limit the pond life to plants and naturally appearing tadpoles at this point?
<I would indeed agree that fish aren't an option here.>
Thanks again.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Adding Flag Fish to a Koi Pond    4/20/11
Hi Bob,
<Hello Allen>
With Koi all coming from reputable breeders in my area and seeing them being quarantined and medicated for weeks prior to going on sale, I usually take in a new Koi and put it in quarantine for 2 weeks, mainly just to observe it.
Next week I am getting 12 Flag Fish to help with algae control. Would you suggest any other quarantine procedure or prophylactic medications prior to introduction into the pond?
<I would isolate these for two weeks as well; whether they are/were tank-reared or not. For observation, and just in case they are parasitized>
I'm guessing these fish won't have quite the pedigreed origin. As always your opinion would be appreciated.
<Bob Fenner>

sub-tropical pond fish options, stkg.     4/8/11
Hello WWMQ,
<Hello Adam,>
This weekend I plan to convert an old Jacuzzi tub to a subtropical fish and lily pond.
<Sounds fun.>
I want to go with subtropical fish as opposed to goldfish and was considering Rosy barbs and Buenos Aires tetras which have worked well in the past.
<Yes, both are hardy and do well down to 18 C, perhaps even a bit less.
Both can be nippy though, so consider that when choosing tankmates.>
Another option however is the Brazilian Earth Eater (Geophagus braziliensis), but I am not sure if these would be too destructive in a planted pond.
<Also bear in mind Geophagine cichlids generally are not at all easy to keep, and very sensitive to non-zero nitrate levels. Acaras, on the other hand, in particular the Port Acara, include some very hardy subtropical species.>
I know they will be fine temperature wise (we are on the same latitude as Porto Alegre) but can I trust them with potted water lilies?
<Cichlids vary in their impact on potted plants, and in theory Geophagines should leave them alone. Acaras are diggers, though again, potted species should be okay. You may find floating plants, e.g., Amazon Frogbit and Floating Indian Fern, altogether easier to maintain. Alternatively, epiphytes such as Anubias might be rather wonderful when allowed to grow above the waterline.>
Would they make too much of a nuisance of themselves?
Thanks in Advance,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: sub-tropical pond fish options, and Macropodus f'   4/11/11
Thank You,
I set up the pond over the weekend and I think it looks pretty awesome. I checked out the Brasiliensis in my LFS and they are nice, but would soon outgrow my pond I think. Given that I have planted water lilies, I opted instead for some blue paradise fish and rosy barbs.
<Paradisefish are aggressive and do jump, so not perhaps the ideal fish for this set-up. Do be careful.>
Might get some swordtails down the track.
<Even more jumpy! Not really subtropical either, more low-end tropical. Of the commonly traded livebearers, only the Variatus Platy is a truly subtropical species. Ameca splendens and Xenotoca eiseni are both subtropical fish that do extremely well at room temperature year around, and while superb fish in many ways, as well as fascinating in terms of breeding, they can be nippy, though Barbs might be okay with them.>
Thanks again for all your help,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: sub-tropical pond fish options  4/11/11
Thanks Neale,
Yes, Paradise fish are jumpy and I have lost one once from a water-filled pot. I have attached a photo of the finished pond. Hopefully it is big enough that they don't feel the need to leave.
<Wouldn't bank on it!>
I have never seen the Xenotoca or Ameca offered here, they might not be permitted.
<Shame; they're both nice fish.>
I might have to look at Buenos Aires tetras instead. Failing that, Murray River Rainbows.
<Yes, I would have thought at least some of the native species would be viable; perhaps the guys at ANGFA can help?>
Would blue Acaras shred plants or just dig in the sediment?
<Acaras can uproot delicate plants as they forage for food, but aren't otherwise particularly destructive. Blue Acaras aren't subtropical fish though; Port Acara are much better at lower temperatures, down to 16 C according to Fishbase. Do bear in mind that cichlids will fade their colours in tanks/pools with light coloured substrates, so unless your Jacuzzi is black or dark brown, cichlids would be a poor choice.>
I don't think digging would be much of an issue with potted plants. They might be ok if they're happy to use the edges or pots for breeding..
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pondfish in SF, stkg./sel.    6/14/10
Hello. I would like to know what types of smaller (less than 6 inches) tropical fish can be kept outdoors for the summer in Palo Alto, California.
I have a tub outside with mosquito fish and the temperature ranges from 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the day to 60 degrees at night during the summer months.
<Not that many, and the size of the "tub" is the crucial thing. Bear in mind that fish jump, so while Macropodus would be one option, they'll jump out of a tub sooner or later. Ditto things like Danios or Minnows. Your best bets would be Common Mosquitofish (Gambusia spp.) or Dwarf Mosquitofish (Heterandria formosa). They are hardy subtropical fish, but Gambusia are not widely sold and may even be a "pest" species in your region; consult your local Fish & Wildlife bureau about the legality of owning them.>
Also, are there any varieties of fancy goldfish that can be kept outdoors year round?
<Again, depends on the size of the tub. If it's a few hundred gallons, then yes, Comets and Shubunkins can do well. If there's no risk of water temperatures below 10 C/50 F, then the hardier fancy varieties like Black Moors are an option. But if we're talking about a half-barrel type thing, then no, Goldfish aren't really appropriate.>
Thank you.
<Cheers, Neale.>

golden algae eater and platys in outdoor pond   8/6/09
I have a large terracotta pot (150 litres) with water lilies and other plants in it.
I have nine adult Platys and probably about a dozen babies (4 different sizes). I then have a golden algae eater.
<Is this Gyrinocheilus aymonieri? This is a fish I strongly DON'T recommend. It's a lousy algae eater, particularly when mature, and notorious for becoming extremely aggressive when mature. At 25-35 cm when fully grown, it's also far too large for a 150 litre aquarium, pond or anything else.>
The water is beautifully clear and we live in North Queensland so it doesn't get too cold at all. There is no filtration or aeration in the pot but I change about 1/3 to ¼ of the water every 2 weeks.
<I have maintained Corydoras in similar conditions, with success. Does assume the "pond" isn't overstocked, so remove surplus fish as and when you can. Also give the bottom of the pond a bit of a clean every few months to remove excessive amounts of detritus and decaying organic matter.>
I seem to have some very fat fish. Will the algae eater (about 5cm long) eat the new fry?
There is no chance that I can catch and separate the pregnant ones.
I LOVE my fish.
<And I'm sure they love you, too.>
Thanks for your help,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: golden algae eater and platys in outdoor pond   8/6/09

Thanks Neale
I do do the vacuum thing every couple of weeks when I change some of the water and add some barley liquid too.
<Barley liquid? Whatever for? In a pond this small, the Platies should be able to handle any algae, and I'd be relying on water changes (or rainfall) to swap out "old" water every couple of weeks.>
Should I catch the Gyrinocheilus aymonieri (yes, that is it - I checked a photo) and take him back to the Pet Shop?
<If you can, yes.>
What should I replace it with?
<Nothing. Platies eat algae, it's their natural diet in the wild. You could add some pond snails if you wanted, but otherwise wouldn't worry about algae.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Thanks Neale for your practical advice and quick response.
Much appreciated,
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Oranda fish, fancy goldfish breeds not for pond stocking  6/7/09
I have a 1000 gallon garden pond in my back yard. It has 11 goldfish and 2 Oranda fish in it. The biggest fish is 7", the smallest is 2".
<Oranda, and indeed most Fancy Goldfish, aren't suitable for ponds.>
Two weeks ago is when I purchased and added the 2 Oranda fishes.
Everything seemed fine. This morning one of the Oranda's was floating on top. It was fine last night. After examining this fish, I don't notice any type trauma or swelling.
<Without any symptoms, it's difficult for me to say what happened. Could be a variety of things.>
The fish store assured me that these were hardy fish very similar to the standard goldfish.
<You were assured wrong. Fancy Goldfish are far less hardy. There are multiple issues, not least of which are their deformities, which prevent them finding food, interacting with "normal" Goldfish, and avoiding
predators. Some people find these deformities attractive, which is fine, but you can't escape the fact a deformed swim bladder, a crooked back, and face covered with warts are all impediments. So Fancy Goldfish need to be kept indoors, where humans can watch over them. I strongly recommend Standard Goldfish be kept in ponds, i.e., Common Goldfish, Comets, and Shubunkins. Apart from their odd colours, all these have a single tail and a straight back, so they can interact (i.e., fight for food!) normally as well as swim away from predators. Black Moors and Fantails are a step down in terms of hardiness. They mix OK with Standards in aquaria, but I wouldn't recommend them for ponds. All the other Fancy Goldfish should be considered aquarium fish only, and preferably mixed only with their own kind. In other words, Orandas together, Pompons together, and so on. On top of this, the more inbred a fish is -- which is always the case the more "fancy" a Goldfish is compared to the Standard -- the less resistance it has to things like disease and environmental stress. It's the same reason mongrel dogs live much longer than pedigrees, and the same reason human societies have taboos against inbreeding. For ponds, you really are best with Standards, Comets and Shubunkins, all of which are rock-solid in terms of hardiness, given adequate conditions and appropriate preventative healthcare.>
One of the things I noticed about Oranda's is it seems difficult for them to feed at the top of the water like the others. Because of the shape of their faces they have to get in an straight up and down position to take
food from the water surface.
Most of the time, coming up for a morsel and then retrieving back lower in the water, without the food.
<In practise this means it takes them much longer to feed, and other fish, the Standards, will likely out-compete them at dinner time.>
The water as always, tested perfect.
Thanks so much for your help and the wonderful website.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Albino Channel Cat (Catfish), sel./use in ornamental ponds   12/4/08 I live in Southern New Jersey. I have the opportunity to buy a 18 inch Albino Channel Cat (Catfish - $30.00), will he survive in our outdoor pond with our goldfish ? ( the gold fish are breeding, so I know they are doing well - no heater which the Cat is use to) Thank you for you help. Bob <Ictalurus sp. generally make extremely poor pond residents. Not only do they get enormous (potentially over 130 cm, about 4 feet) they spend all their time at the bottom of the pond, hidden from view. So if you want to keep a huge fish you won't see, that will put a major strain on water quality, and will very likely eat some of the Goldfish as well as all of the interesting wildlife (frogs, dragonflies, etc.) in your pond, then go ahead. Cheers, Neale.>

Handling of fish... koi, pondfish... Mucus f'    10/21/07 Hi, Too many times I see people that sell fish especially koi pick up and hold them with their bare hands and then measure them. Correct me if I am wrong but doesn't this remove the natural slime not to mention stress the fish out? I figure netting the fish is enough trauma without going through all of the excess torture. Am I wrong to not want to purchase from places that put their fish through so much stress?? Thanks, Doris <Hello Doris. Indeed, most fish do not like to be handled, and yes, you can risk damaging the scales and skin. Up to a point, the mucus will be re-secreted if any is lost, and I'm not convinced that handling a fish is any better or worse than netting a fish as far as losing mucus goes. It's probably six of one, half a dozen of the other. Mucus has a low metabolic cost, so assuming a fish is in basically good shape, loss of mucus isn't particularly serious (it's comparable to mucus produced in our nose, mouth and throat, where mucus is constantly being lost). What matters is minimising the time a fish is out of water. I have seen aquarists handle large fish like koi in preference to using nets. Expert fishkeepers at least may consider the relative softness and smoothness of their hands kinder to the skin of their fish than the coarse netting used in large nets. But that's probably a personal judgment call rather than anything objectively tested. Anyway, to answer your specific question: a good fish retailer won't be handling any fish out of water regularly. Indeed, the less often, the better. If the fish are handled excessively and without care, it should be apparent by missing scales, damaged fins, Finrot, fungus, etc on the fish in the store. On the other hand, koi are large fish with solid bodies and heavy scales, and up to a point they tolerate handling well (their ancestors, plain Carp, Cyprinus carpio, are incredibly durable fish). So while you're right to be cautious, if the quality and health of the livestock on sale is good, the fact the retailer handles the fish shouldn't be a reason to boycott the store in and of itself. Cheers, Neale.>

Ridding pond of channel catfish -- 08/17/07 Sirs: Please excuse me for circumventing all the other paths on your web site; but, I'm really up against a problem, and have spent weeks now searching the web for an answer, to no avail. Then, by chance, I ran across your site. Three years ago, I stocked my pond with 25 channel catfish. At the time, they were fingerlings. Three of them died shortly after putting them in the pond. By the next summer, the others had grown to about 8". I should tell you that I was told by the fish farm where I bought the cats that they were all bulls...I didn't want them reproducing. Being a novice, I had no way of knowing whether they were or not. They weren't, and by the third spring, there must have been 300-500 baby cats in the pond. This summer, we fished out all the remaining original fish, and the ones from last summer will probably breed next spring. Short of draining the pond, how do I get rid of all the catfish so I can start over? There are no other species in the pond, and I don't need thousands of channel cats in a pond this size. The pond is a rounded oval shape, roughly 55 ft X 85 ft, and an average depth of 10-12 ft; very steep sides, no weeds to speak of, and very little algae. It is used primarily for swimming; and, as an emergency water source in the event of a neighborhood fire, since most home-use water in this area is trucked in. Some homeowners have wells, but the flow is very slow (avg 12 gph), and most have iron in them. Thanking you in advance for any advice you can offer. Paul F. Shagnot Ashtabula, Ohio <Unfortunately there are no specific Ictalurid poisons... though there are fish mostly types... I am hesitant to suggest their use however, due to the chance of poisoning other wildlife... and the uncertainty of the disposition of run off water here. My best advice is actually to drain AND lime AND dry this basin... and refill. Otherwise, I suggest you check with your State "fish and game" re their suggestions. Bob Fenner> Thanks! <Welcome! Please do write back re the outcome of your search, efforts. Bob Fenner>

Schooling and spawning I have a two-part question. First, I have a small pond (1500 gallons or so) heavily stocked with about 30 feeder goldfish. The fish are getting quite large - all appear to be 4-5 inches long, and some are a good bit larger. They've lived together for the past three years, the first two in a much smaller pond (200 gallons). They are exhibiting aggressive mating behavior since the weather got warm. Is my pond getting too small for them? Second question: the two oldest fish are now seven years old, but are still large and active. I didn't think goldfish lived that long. How old can I expect them to get? Jeff Resta <Hi Jeff. As a rule of thumb, each goldfish should be given about 30 gallons of water, so by my reckoning 30 x 30 = 600 gallons so you're fine. This assumes the tank is filtered and basically well cared for. You might want to "thin the herd" a little if you find water quality isn't as good as it should be. Sharing good quality, pond-bred goldfish shouldn't be difficult given your fish will be far healthier than anything available in the average pet store. As for age, the oldest goldfish known are around 30 years of age. So yours are a ways off drawing their pensions just yet! Cheers, Neale>

Mystery Fish pond genesis?  -- 06/27/07 Hello Crew <<Just a small part of it, Kirk. Tom here.>> I have a strange question for you. <<You've come to the right place.>> In my backyard there is a small natural pond that dries up in the summertime. This year, as the pond was shrinking, we found a 6" long sunfish. The pond is not connected to any other bodies of water and is located in the middle of a field. There has never been any other fish in this pond and nothing has ever been added to the pond by people. <<That you know of, perhaps?>> I've also heard stories of ponds with minnows in them that also dry up in the summer. Where do you think these fish come from? <<In all likelihood, Kirk, a bird. Depending on where you live, I couldn't totally discount something as seemingly obscure as weather phenomenon such as a twister/tornado but my money's on the probability that a bird snagged your Sunfish from another body of water nearby and 'lost' it in your pond, which it might have stopped at to dine on its catch. In my area of Michigan, we've still got wading birds similar to Egrets/Herons that occupy our wetland areas -- even golf courses -- and these creatures will snag 'something' (frogs, crayfish, fish) and fly off to another water hole to eat their prey. A six-inch Sunfish would be a lot to hold on to and I'm betting a bird like I've described just couldn't finish (start?) the job. (It'll be a 30' Pike when he tells his buddies, over beers, about the 'one that got away'. :) ) >> Thank you very much Kirk <<No problem, Kirk. Have a good one! Tom>>

Myxocyprinus asiaticus, in Michigan pond?  4/8/07 I was wondering if I could winter one of these over in a pond?  Have you ever heard of this? I live in southern Michigan.                                                                                        Thanks guys,                                                                                                             Holden <Mmm, I don't think so... this species is listed as subtropical on FishBase: http://fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=12304&genusname=Myxocyprinus&speciesname=asiaticus 15-28 C... but do know that it gets much colder in your State. Bob Fenner>
Re: Myxocyprinus asiaticus, in a MI pond   5/10/07
Well, I'd figure I'd let you guys know that a couple guys that I know had 3 of these guys overwinter here in Michigan. <Appreciate this> They got pretty big over last summer and now they are big and happy.  These are roughly 30 inch deep plus ponds that have a ice melter to keep the surface open. <Good idea... Fishbase still lists the species as subtropical with a lower temp. range of 15 C... http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=12304&genusname=Myxocyprinus&speciesname=asiaticus Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Ponds and Platys  4/21/07 Hi, <Claire> I sent up a small garden pond in July last year, approx. 2m x 2m and about 1m deep, no filtration just plants and some good bacteria from a swamp down the road. It took about 6 months for the pond to settle and become clear. <Okay> I put in 2 platys and 2 goldfish, I now have about 500 platies!!!!! <Neat!> There are also about 1000 toad tadpoles, it's teeming with life!!. I have been giving a lot of platys away but can't keep up, so last week I decided I needed predators. I was hoping the kingfishers would take a few. Also had a visiting helmeted terrapin who are supposed to be carnivorous but all he did was eat the fairy moss and then left. So now I have 2 Oscars, do you think that they will eat some fry and tadpoles? <Are tropical species... will likely perish if your water is cold...> Also there has been some changes in colour of some new platys, they are grey with no red/orange pigment, could this be the inbreeding? <Of a sort, yes... and "natural selection"... the colorful ones are likely "standing out" against the background... getting eaten selectively> Just in case you are wondering I live in Tanzania. Many thanks Claire <Ahh! Then rather than a neotropical (South American in the case of the Oscar), I might try a "native" cichlid species here... Bob Fenner>

Fishy <I'll say!>... Over bio-loaded pond... stop-gap measures   4/19/07 Dear Bob & crew <Big D> Last night, for no apparent reason, my white tip reef shark bit the fluke of my bottlenose dolphin I bet you wish you had a nickel from every time you've heard THAT, right? (ahem - just kidding) <Heeeee!> Finally, my son's marine aquarium is stable, thanks in great part to your wonderful site and expert advice. Things are nice and quiet. Yep.  You guessed it. Too quiet. Nature abhors me having a nice, relaxing day. <And a vacuum!> So a woman I know called and told me she just bought a house with a Koi pond and asked if I could come take a look.   So I get there and it's a nice house and a nice pond.   There are six 22+ inch Koi and two 8 inch Koi in a 650 gallon pond with a 800 GPH submersible pump emptying into a 30 gallon filter. <Yikes... too much life, too little water, filter...>   OK, it was a nice pond when there were 8 fingerlings in it.   So I whip out my test kit and get exactly what I expected:  1.0+ Ammonia, 5.0 Nitrite & 8.1 PH.    So I ask her:  Are you sure they're not dead and it's just the current blowing them around? <Good one> Well, no I didn't ask exactly that ...  but now I'm under more stress than the Koi. Changing close to 650 gallons of water over 36 hours improved things dramatically, but I swear, even as I'm doing this ... a couple of the Koi would nose to me, head almost out of water and then turn and shoot poop out as if to say "we've evolved, we LIKE ammonia!" <Doubtful> Anyway ... a bigger pond and less fish is the answer and we're working the logistics on that ... but in the near term, what would you think about 4 litres each of Purigen and Phos-Guard in the filter as an artificial assistant while I dig the other hole, pour the other cement and beg the homeowner for the funds to do all this? <This and more or less constant water changing, very limited feeding... Bob Fenner>

Pond Compatibility - 06/14/2006 Ok we have a pond. <Ok.> We would like to put catfish in it. Can we also put tilapia with the catfish in the pond? <Uhh, depends on the climate, the catfish species you intend, the size of the pond, maybe more....> I couldn't find any info on which fish could live together believe it or not. If you have any idea would you please let me know. It would be greatly appreciated! <Do please keep reading, researching....  There are more variables at play than I/we know about your pond at this point.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

New Pond Idea... New Show on Discovery - "Monster Pond"!  11/11/05 Wet Web Crew, <ZT> I've come up with this awesome idea of creating a giant outdoor pond. It started when I came up with the idea of trying to put some tropical fish in a giant pond outside in my backyard. People told me that it would not be possible because of the extremely harsh winters (I live in New York), and that it would take an industrial sized heater and a too much $$$ to make it possible. I wanted to put my 2 Red Bellied Pacu along with a couple other monster fish in there so I would no longer have to worry about tank upgrades for life! Well I decided that I should just wait until I get enough money to get a 300-400 gallon tank for my basement and put in the RB Pacu along with a few other nice sized fish.  ANYWAY, now I have this awesome idea of stocking a pond in my backyard with monster pond fish. I am thinking the pond can be anywhere between 500-5,000 gallon depending on the $ and space. I want to stock it with some monster fish.  Keep in mind I live in NY, so I have some tough winters, but some of the fish that I had in mind where possibly: Bass, Northern Pike or some other pike species, paddlefish (*if the pond is large enough*), perhaps sturgeon, trout, carp or other giants. I don't have a good idea of pond fish because I'm more of a tropical fish guy so maybe a couple of ideas. Please help!  What other fish should I put in this pond??? <Help with? Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm.  This is the Index to our Pond Subweb... the articles, FAQs files are arranged in series... from design, construction, stocking, maintenance... Bob Fenner>
Re: New Pond Idea... more of a notion  11/12/2005
I just wanted to know if the stocking plan can be done? Could these fish fit in this pond? What other should I add? <... what plan? The list is not compatible... take a read on WWM re the species, their compatibility, systems... BobF> 
Re: New Pond Idea  11/12/2005
There is no compatibility list on the site. In the pond section there are only fish species of Koi, Invertebrates, and Goldfish. There is nothing on Sturgeons, Paddlefish or any of the fish I mentioned. Which fish aren't compatible? <Ahh... the last two families... too large, non-competitive to live with these others... Need VERY large systems, mostly by themselves, to thrive. Bob Fenner> 

Koi & bass, stocking a pond in NH I have a manmade freshwater pond that has many frogs and tiny fish.  It is about 1/2 acre and 5 feet deep at the deepest.  We're in NH so it maybe freezes through in the winter? <Maybe... you can find out from a few sources... neighbors, the local farm groups associations with government... Hopefully not all the way to the bottom (freezing, not the Gov> It is spring fed and has runoff from a nearby road. We'd like to stock it with koi and bass.  Is that a good idea?  Any other suggestions? Thanks for your help! Candace Chopra <Have seen this done. You may want to make a census of what is there, chat with local "fish and game" re what they allow... Have seen koi (carp, Cyprinus carpio) and Bass of various species (mainly Micropterus salmoides here in CA) in the same basins... but one needs to be concerned with outflow... the fish getting loose... as well as issues of overall dynamics in the system. It may well be that other sunfish (the family the bass belongs to), like Bluegill, Green Ear Sunfish, Pumpkinseed... would be a better mix. Bob Fenner>  

Fish for pond OK, guys, I've sent this three times now. I don't know if there is a bad connection or you haven't had the time so here it is! <I would chalk it up to internet gremlins.  We have had a few emails never make it to their destinations for no apparent reason.  Sorry for the inconvenience, it doesn't happen frequently, but when it does it is a bother.> Hey crew! Gage, thanks for your quick response last night; i already read over all of the articles. I saw the biological filters page and the DIY suggestions. Could i buy one already made? <There are many hobbyists that make these as side jobs and sell them to other people.  You might want to check in local hobby groups in your area, or even on eBay. I have found many of the more unique DIY items already made and ready to go there for a lot less than I could build them for.> I plan to settle my pond in sand tomorrow, on Sunday. I don't have a ton of free time to make a filter, let alone find all the supplies. I would like to have the pond running in maybe two months. <That seems like a decent amount of time to get things situated and ready to go.> I don't want to do a in-pond filter, but then again my pond is 175 gallons. There is a ledge level which concerns me. The top level is roughly (in feet) 6X3 1/2X 1. The bottom level is 4X3X1. This is about, oops, 200 gallons. Not extremely large but i got it for free which beats spending several, several grand. <yeah, can't beat that price!  I did like having a filter on my pond, gave me a bit of comfort knowing that it was helping the water.  Though it did get messy pretty quickly, and cleaning took a while.  But, I still think that it helped in the health of the pond and fish.> Another question: i live in North Carolina with the woods in my back yard. Would raccoons, foxes, easily get my fish? <Yes, they would.  Raccoons love to get fish out of ponds like that.  But the real problem with out door ponds is Herons!  These birds will settle on your pond and not leave it until all the fish are gone.  My aunt lost about 5000 dollars worth of koi from a single bird in one year from her pond!  That bird quickly became public enemy #1.> If so, what if it was saltwater? <The salt might deter many would be snackers, but not for long.  I doubt a heron would really care as long as it could get it's beak on tasty fish.> And how much more would it cost to make it saltwater as opposed to freshwater? <The cost of salt is the first major price increase.  Not to mention that you would need a filtration system, and possibly live rock if you to keep the water looking nice.  Salt water also evaporates quite quickly and leaves a salty residue everywhere, so that might not be something you want.  I have never attempted an outdoor saltwater pond.  And it might be something you should ask about at ReefCentral.com.  I always seem to find people trying some zany things on that forum.  You can also check out WetWebMedia's forum and ask people there.  It's sure to spark a good conversation!> If i could make it salt water, Could i put a lid on it, like a plastic cover? <You could, though it would hinder gas exchange at the surface of the water. Thus effecting the health of the fish. Also, I'm not sure what sort of Lid you would use for it.  That might be another question to ask on the forum.  My personal belief is not to put a lid on it.  Adding a lid will take away from gas exchange, and run the risk of causing temperatures to rise and harm the fish.> Also, you suggested an indoor cichlids pond. Could i just buy a good heater for the pond outside and make it a cichlid pond? And since it is an in ground pond, could you even see the cichlids that well? Thanks for listening to me. <Many ponds in Florida have cichlids in them.  Some have totally cichlid ponds, other use a cichlid in their koi ponds to help reduce unwanted pest fish and insects.  The trouble with outdoor ponds is that they can become dark and murky, nothing like the indoor aquarium.  And unless you get some of the brighter colored cichlids then it will be hard to see them.> Thanks in advance, Ryan <Good luck. -Magnus>
Fish for pond
OK, guys, I've sent this three times now. I don't know if there is a bad connection or you haven't had the time so here it is! Hey crew! Gage, thanks for your quick response last night; i already read over all of the articles. I saw the biological filters page and the DIY suggestions. Could i buy one already made? <Check aquatic ecosystems in Florida. They handle lots of equipment and filters for almost any aquatic need. They supply the fish farmers in Florida so they should have what you need at a reasonable price. Check it out then compare them to what you could build yourself> I plan to settle my pond in sand tomorrow, on Sunday. I don't have a ton of free time to make a filter, let alone find all the supplies. I would like to have the pond running in maybe two months.  I don't want to do a in-pond filter, but then again my pond is 175 gallons. There is a ledge level which concerns me. The top level is roughly (in feet) 6X3 1/2X 1. The bottom level is 4X3X1. This is about, oops, 200 gallons. Not extremely large but i got it for free which beats spending several, several grand. Another question: i live in North Carolina with the woods in my back yard. Would raccoons, foxes, easily get my fish? < Wild animals can be a major problem with ponds, especially if you live away from the city. Ponds seem to attract every known animal within  a 5 mile radius. Raccoons sure, foxes maybe, add water snakes, frogs and birds such as herons to the list too.> If so, what if it was saltwater? < While saltwater would be a deterrent to frogs and maybe snakes, the other predators especially the bird would not be stopped at all.> And how much more would it cost to make it saltwater as opposed to freshwater? < salt water fish usually have a much narrower temperature tolerance than freshwater fish. In you area the temperature can get quite high and you might need a chiller too.> If i could make it salt water, Could i put a lid on it, like a plastic cover? < A lid would keep some predators out. Snakes probably still find a way in. A solid plastic lid would retain heat like being in a car with the windows rolled up and could get very hot. Probably too hot.> Also, you suggested an indoor cichlids pond. Could i just buy a good heater for the pond outside and make it a cichlid pond? < During the summer months you may not need a heater at all, but during the winter a heater would be needed. Do you really want to pay a high electric bill for fish you probably won't be watching?> And since it is an in ground pond, could you even see the cichlids that well? < Some cichlids show up very well in ponds. In Lake Malawi in Africa there is a fish collector whose house is right on the lake and keeps many cichlids in his pond. They are mostly red zebras and looked very nice. But overall if it were me, I would set the pond up outside where it looks good and is convenient to watch. Add some pond plants to make it look nice and natural. Then I would add a few cheap goldfish and watch them for a while and see how they do over a year during the different seasons. If the fish are doing well and are growing and thriving then I would add the filtration to the pond with an attractive waterfall or fountain. I suspect the water will turn green with algae and it would be difficult to see anything. Fish that are bright and attractive to your eye will also look the same to a predator too. The indoor pond thing would work but I think you would enjoy the fish in an aquarium better.-Chuck> Thanks for listening to me. Thanks in advance, Ryan

Pond Fun Dear Bob: <Sabrina here today, hoping to help with your pond questions!> My wife and I dug out a small pond in our yard last month - January.  It's vinyl lined, and has approx 25 sq ft area, and ranges 18" to 24" deep.  We lined the edges with various type rocks we have collected over the years: quartz from New England, coral from the Keys, granite and marble from Texas Hill Country, volcanic from Mexico, and local sandstone from East Texas. <The only thing here that really concern me is the coral - this will affect your pH and hardness, please test regularly, remove the coral from the pond if necessary.> All in all it looks pretty nice, and there are numerous caves and channels between the rocks and pond edge.  The bottom is also rock and pebbles, but much smaller. <Sounds fun!> We planted some edge plants for shading, and are now collecting local lilies and hyacinth for pond growth.   <Great fun, indeed!  I love local collecting.... er, when/where I can do so legally.> We waited until late January to introduce some fish, and then added about 25-30 minnows from a bayou near our house. <Any idea what kind of fish specifically?> At this time the pond had taken on a greenish glow indicating some algae growth which we felt was good.   <Well, good?  Yeah, kinda, but it will continue to grow to nuisance proportions, ultimately making your pond a tasty-looking "pea-soup" color.  It would definitely be of benefit to add more plants to help outcompete the algae.  With so much great local stuff, this should be a lot of fun.> The minnows seem to like the pond, and we have some mosquito larvae that we dump in from our bird bath.   <Yum!> We live near Houston, TX, the water temp at present is around 55F, and we have a small 200 GPM pump that feeds a waterfall that aerates the pond. <Very good.> We are looking for other fish to add, and this week, I bought 8 each Rosies because they seemed to be a pretty hardy fish, and add a little color.  They are doing well, and I feed them fish flakes.   <Although these are quite hardy little fish, it is a real gamble whether you can get 'em healthy; they are sold as feeders, and quite often kept in less than adequate conditions, and tend to contract illness, which they could bring home and spread to your other fishes.  I would recommend implementing a quarantine system to use prior to adding such fish in the future, if possible.> Today is overcast and only 50F - all the fish seem to be laying low; i.e., hidden in the rock crevices. Yesterday was a bit sunny, and closer to 60F, and they were more active in the open water.  Is this normal?   <Yes, absolutely.> Also, during the cooler nights, I cover the pond with a bubble wrap liner - keeps in warmth, also keeps out leaves which are still falling. <Excellent.> When it gets a bit warmer, I want to add some more Rosies <For reasons above, I would skip the Rosies.  It is also best to have lower stocking densities, to prevent organic waste buildup which would lead to health and algae issues.> and maybe 5 or 6 goldfish.   <These will probably absolutely love your pond, and then some.> Probably in March - March 1st is frost free day here.  We want low maintenance fish - are we thinking correctly, or should we take another direction. <Sounds good, to me - just do please be wary of adding too many fish; "less is more", so to speak.  As above, I would skip the additional Rosies.  The goldfish will be a much more colorful, substantial addition, anyway.> Thanks for any advice you can pass on.  I found your website yesterday, and it's something we'll use for our reference - thanks for keeping it up.  Marty Husti <And thank you for the kind words!  We're glad you're enjoying it, and glad to be of service.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Rosy Red Minnows & Northern Redbelly Dace Hello, <Hi there> I apologize for bothering you guys so much, but I'm still on the hunt for diversifying the fish in my pond. There isn't that much information for ponds other than goldfish and koi. Also, since it's too cold to do much with the pond right now I have to get my fish fix online. <No worries at all.> I have been reading a lot lately in search of new fish to add. I've come across the Rosy Red Minnow, and wanted to confirm their usefulness in ponds. Apparently they are more tolerant of temperature extremes than common goldfish, even swimming below the ice in winter. Second is the Northern Redbelly Dace, I know of someone in Maryland who has the Southern variety in her pond, and continually survive winters. The Northern Redbelly can be found in waters much farther north than here (southern Ontario). Again just wanted to confirm their compatibility. <These should both work out just fine. I'm not familiar with them myself but the webpages I was able to find said they are compatible with goldfish and Koi. I found a lot of info on the Rosy Reds at http://userpages.umbc.edu/~rrhudy1/rosies.htm This site also has a little info on the Redbellies.> Also, I have three Koi I'm about to add to my pond (my first). I have two concerns, are Koi normally "high strung"? These don't let you sit and watch them, they dart around for about a minute and then hide and won't come out. They are also a lot faster than the goldfish, especially the two fantails I have in the pond. Will they get picked on by the Koi? <Give them some time to adapt to their surroundings and you should see them more often.> I apologize again for the questions, I can't sit outside and watch the pond because of the cold, and the Koi keep hiding from me. You should watch out for me next weekend it's supposed to be cold again. <It's been chilly here too (NW Montana) but probably not quite as cold as there!> Thanks again, Mike <You're welcome! Ronni>
Re: Rosy Red Minnows & Northern Redbelly Dace
Hey Ronni, <Hi Mike> That's kind of funny, the page you mentioned is the person I was referencing. I've been using her page for information for over a year now, and that's where I got the idea to get those fish. Now I just have to find them. Hopefully some bait shop or LFS just happens to have them. <That page had some good info. They did say that those fish could be hard to find but one of the plusses was that the Rosy Red are easy breeders so if you get some you may end up being able to fully stock with just a few breeders.> Also funny, I'm actually further south than Montana, and it should be a lot warmer here, we just got hit with a cold snap. <Can you tell that geography has always been a killer for me? *G* Oh well, hopefully the cold spell won't move this way, it's cool enough here right now!> Oh ya, I've been checking on the Koi and they do seem more relaxed, but still don't stay out for more than a minute. <That's good. I think they'll eventually come out more. Their whole world changed when you put them in there and they don't know what's around that would consider them prey.> Thanks for the help. Mike <You're welcome! Ronni>

Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

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V. 2
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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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