Please visit our Sponsors

Related FAQs: Pond Livestocking, Pond Acclimation

Related Articles: Acclimation, Koi Selection, Koi Varieties, Goldfish, Goldfish Varieties, Dojo/Weatherfish Use In Ponds, Turtles and Other Pond Animals, Pond Snails 1, Pond Snails 2, Plants: Landscape Plants, Water lilies, Plant Care, Koi/Pond Fish DiseasePond MaintenanceExample Ponds/Water Features

/Aquatic Gardens, Design, Construction & Maintenance

Pond Livestocking Concerns

by Bob Fenner  
Aquatic Gardens

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

V. 1 Print and eBook on Amazon
V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

The diversity of life suitable for aquatic gardens is astounding. If your feature is to be "poisoned", that is, treated with chlorine, bromine, or another general bio-cide this whole LIVESTOCK introduction is not for you. Go on to Maintenance. For those aquascapers with living things in mind, what choices await you!

There are wetland "bog" ponds and gardens, super-duper Koi (Nishikigoi) ponds teeming with Japanese ornamental carp, serene water lily and lotus pools... I've seen trophy bass, trout, tropical fish, African cichlid, minnow-bait ponds; even saltwater settings with giant morays, lobsters and a sea turtle.

Biological ponds may be a few gallons to several acres; a mere jar to lake-size.

Water features that are not intentionally poisoned, should purposely be "stocked" with desirable life forms. Utilizing organisms that will help you reduce nutrient availability and harvest algae will aid in keeping the water clear and odor-free; and also rid the feature of bothersome insect life, some of which are human disease carriers. Besides, life "happens"; all sorts of critters and plants will find there way into your system. You should utilize the water's attraction and inherent capacity to support living things to your advantage.

What you put into your aquatic garden should not result from compulsive, willy-nilly choosing. What goes in, in what order and how it's introduced/placed can be critical to overall compatibility. A clear understanding of what's available, determining your goal(s) as an aquascaper, and commitment to a stocking plan will ensure success.

It's the Water

What do you need to do to ready your aquatic medium to receive your livestock? There are numerous water treatment procedures and commercial "conditioner" products touted as necessary/beneficial; all are, strictly speaking, unnecessary.

If you're using mains or tap-water (as opposed to run off, or pumped up, lake...), and your basin(s) have been properly cleaned and cured, simply filling the feature and letting the water circulate for a week will do everything you need to vent the sanitizer (chlorine, chloramine) in it.

No, you don't need to add "anything", or soften, de-ionize, distill your water before using it. If it's safe for you to drink, it's okay for your livestock. The one exception is when all or a considerable percentage (more than 10) is brand new. Then a water conditioner to neutralize the chlorine/chloramine should be added; otherwise the aforementioned week's waiting period will allow enough time for the sanitizer to dissipate.


Knowing what to look for in the way of healthy livestock is the hallmark of a conscientious consumer; be one. Borrow, buy search magazines, books, the ear of other's to gain insight as to what to look for and look-out for.

Sometimes sex ratio and/or numbers of organisms of a given species figures into the equation. You need to be aware of the habits, growth, ultimate size, feeding and disease issues of each type of stock you intend to keep. The only way to "know" these things is to investigate. Visit and observe example ponds, and by all means, get involved with other water gardeners. There may well be a pond, tropical fish (with water gardening members), or horticulture group in your area with folks who have "walked the walk" and are willing to "talk the talk" with you.

Placement of Livestock:

Order of introduction and method of acclimatization are group and sometimes species-specific. A few general rules:

1) Plants should be placed ahead of non-plants. By placing the greenery, a great deal of good is done in conditioning the water and bringing in complementary microbes. A "break-in" period is best initiated and established well in advance of introducing your possible fishes and invertebrates.

2) The non-fish life is better introduced in stages, not all at the same time. Initially a few "test" organisms are best to ascertain whether the system is really ready. If these show good signs of adapting for a few days, more can be placed every week or so.

3) A process of acclimation, appropriate introduction to the new surroundings can save you enormous headaches. Plants should be thoroughly inspected, rinsed (including their container if any), with dead material, algae and snail eggs removed before putting them in. There are preventative dips available (my favorite are alum-containing) for cleansing new plant stocks.

Fishes should be floated in the bags they've been transported in to mediate temperature differences. Check with your supplier as to further recommendations for "mixing water" beyond this for your species and particulars of shipping.


Where are you going to get your livestock? Maybe all mail-order (See Section F), perhaps you'll go collect it yourself, buy it from retailers, growers, fellow hobbyists... or possibly a mix of all these sources. I know it's hard to do, but I urge you to be patient and to be careful.

By and large joining livestock from disparate outlets/sites presents no problems; however, if ever there was an area fraught with induced danger, this is it.

Provide a good week or two between blending livestock sources; this pays many dividends. A little breathing time for compatibility issues to be settled, disease resistance bolstered, and loss of virulence of infectious agents to name a few benefits. Alternatively, there are no end to arguments about whose livestock affected whose between suppliers.

Planning and Records:

One semi-last pitch to encourage you to draw up written plans and maintain an Aquatic Garden Log. By making a livestock list and keeping track of the what, when, where and how of your system you'll be miles ahead of knowing how large a space your plants need, what you did that was a success, and who to recommend to friends as your best sources.

Aquatic Gardens

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

V. 1 Print and eBook on Amazon
V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: