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FAQs on Pond Livestocking

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The American hybrid of the Goldfish, the Comet.

Aquatic Gardens

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

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Pond Stocking Recommendation      10/27/14
Greetings Crew, I'm stocking a 3 million gallon reservoir with mosquito fish Gambusia affinis. How many fish would you recommend stocking?
Thank you so much for your help. Aloha Brandon
<Mmm... likely a few to several hundred "will do it" here; with good conditions providing for rapid live-bearing increase.
Do ask help from the D/BLNR or vector control... they likely have a ready stock for free.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Pond Stocking Recommendation      10/27/14
I forgot to mention, the surface area is 80,000sf and 6ft deep. Thanks again I do appreciate it.
<Well... a few thousand if you can get them cheap or free. Take care to not introduce unwanteds... Bob Fenner>
Re: Pond Stocking Recommendation      10/27/14

Thank you Bob you the quick reply. I do have another question. I have a fair amount of toad eggs. I've heard they are poisonous to fish and most fish learn to not eat them. Is there any fish or invertebrate that could
safely consume the eggs.
Thanks again.
<Mmm; you're in Hawaii right? DO contact the Bureau of Land and Natural Resources.
I don't want to get you in trouble. BobF>
Re: Pond Stocking Recommendation      10/27/14

Unfortunately, DLNR didn't have any suggestions on tadpole removal, except for manual removal. I'm a little confused as to how you could be getting me in trouble. I would not able to import fish/inverts that aren't conditionally approved. If you could shed some light on the subject, it would be appreciated. Thanks for your time.
<Mmm; well... our old service company (Aquatic Life Services) did lake management as well as ornamental basins, fountains... I was the qualifier for the Pest Control Adviser and Applicator licenses... First, my carte blanche suggestion: Just leave the tadpoles be... dealing with them biologically or chemically entails more problems than it's worth. B>
Re: Pond Stocking Recommendation      10/28/14

Thanks again Bob. I thought you had a secret biological control, you didn't want to reveal, haha.
<There is none as far as I'm aware>
I was considering stocking Dojos, to at least compete with tadpoles(these are marine toads) and limit numbers that way. I have heard reports through out the state of toad invasions, the dry weather maybe a factor. By the way this isn't my pond, I'm stocking it for some else. I can't thank you enough for all the info over the years. You have a lot of good karma coming your way. Best of luck. Brandon
<And you, B> 

Koi in pond with runoff    5/23/11
I was wondering if you could help me with this. We have a large pond that is spring fed, but has a runoff that goes underground and drains into the river behind the house. We want to put Koi in the pond, but we were told that we couldn't do this as it drains into the river and the risk of young Koi or eggs would get out into the river. Is there a way to sterilize Koi?
<Mmm, there are... but none are 100% risk free. Techniques include heat and chemical treatments... There have been other carps that have been "certified triploid" (e.g. Ctenopharyngodon), that didn't turn out to be all genetically incapable of reproducing. My strict advice is NOT to stock non-indigenous species in any setting where they are likely to get away elsewhere>
or do you have any idea on how to keep Koi from getting into the river?
<Unfortunately I do not... Other than to stock them in an enclosed pond... somewhere else>
Any help would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks Brad
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

New Pond, stkg., turtles    12/25/09
I live in SW FL. My husband has just finished putting in a 1,000gallon pond in our front yard. We got the pond and the 5 fish that are in it (1 8" Koi and 4 misc. Cichlids) from our friend. He says I can't have a Pleco or a turtle in it because they will die In the winter time. (I have never seen it get any colder then 44degrees in 15years)
<Mmm, what species are the cichlids? These will perish if the temp. gets this low. If the temp. is suitable year-round for Cichlids, the hardier Plecos/Loricariids should be fine here... a few of the common species are cultured in S. to near N. Florida outdoors>
The pond is I think 24 inches at least at its deepest point and it's 9 x8'.
I want to know what all I can put in it? I want it to look very awesome and have high expectations. We will be finishing it up tomorrow as soon as the truck delivers our landscaping!!
<Mmm... well...>
The pond setup is as follows. Large pond about 4 inches above ground level, has small pond (300gallons) about 1foot above ground level which waterfalls into large pond. Will have slate rock and river rock around the perimeter
and a 1' tall fence around the area. Total area the pond is in is 12 x 12' (it's locked in by cement between garage, sidewalk, and porch on all 4 sides.) I mainly did this so the turtle if I am able to have one, won't escape.
<The turtle may well go after the fishes... and they are quite "dirty">
I think I will be able to have a nice pond but everyone is doubting that it won't just be a "fish" pond.
I also wanted to say I have been sitting here for 2 hours trying to search Plecos and turtles to see if they are pond friendly and nothing was helpful then I came to your site and am still reading all the articles on here.
Thanks in advance for reading this.
<I would go ahead with your plans for a Turtle (or a few) in the smaller pond... screening the fall area and around the basin so it/they can't escape. Do provide a basking area if they are to be amphibious species (vs. totally aquatic). Bob Fenner>

Can you help me identify these there plants... Transplanting live plant mat. across State lines...  8/21/07 Dear Wet Web Media, <George> Attached are three plants - are they oxygenators? <Mmm, yes...> They are from Mosquito Lake in Ohio - Would they be ok to put in a backyard pond in Los Angeles? <... I STRONGLY recommend that you NOT use these plants in this setting... IF you have moved them from Ohio, please place in plastic bags, place in a freezer and toss out on trash day... pour the water they are in onto your lawn... REAL troubles in such transplantations... bits getting loose, moved about by waterfowl et al...> The feathery looking one was growing to about 3 feet tall in the lake. The other two appear more like grasses. Regards, George <There are more suitable species available locally... that live in hard, alkaline, warmer water... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/oxgrasses.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

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>

Cory-Eating Koi!  9/19/06 Hello, <Hi Ben, Pufferpunk here.  Please try correct capitalization & correct punctuation in your email.  I have to fix this, before we can post in our Daily FAQs.> Today I came home to find my ghost coy (spelled: koi) had tried to eat my small catfish.  I found it had lodged it's spines through the cheeks of the coy. I had to use sharp scissors to cut both front spines which were protruding on the cat fish and its top spine to remove the catfish and save the Corys life.  I removed the fish after some time but to my surprise the catfish was still alive!  After I had clipped most of his top fin down to his back, including its fin spine, I have put it in an separate tank in attempts to keep it sterile. I am just wondering if its fins will grow back from such massive loss of its top fin? <You can add Melafix to his water, to keep him from getting an infection & to help his fins grow back.  You must keep this water pristine, by doing at least 50% water changes daily, since his tank isn't cycled.  Is there a filter on there?  He will heal best with a heater set to 78-80 degrees too.  I don't suggest putting him back in with your koi.  I'd also add Melafix to the koi's water, as his mouth obviously has been pierced  ~PP> Regards, Ben Walker

Black moor beh., sys.  7/5/06 I made an outside pond over the winter and put in some goldfish, koi, two Shubunkins, two fantails and two black moors in April.  They all seemed to be doing fine and getting along with each other. <Mmm, "fancies" are best not kept outdoors generally, and most often can't compete with Comet goldfish, Koi over time...> A few days ago one of the moors turned white around the edge of all its fins.  Then it developed bleached out looking sides and its head is turning bright orange.  I thought it was spawning because several of the goldfish were chasing it all around the pond.  That has stopped.  It is still eating and swimming well but the bleached out sides and orange on the head seems to be spreading.  Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. <Moors can/do change color at time... more so in "outdoor", changeable water conditions, but the chasing behavior is likely unrelated.... can be trouble, is likely related to breeding... I would separate this one fish, actually both moors and fantails... bring them indoors, keep in an aquarium. Bob Fenner>

Mystery Pond Fish, ID? - 06/20/2006 We have recently done a water change on our 750 gallon pond and have found over thirty black fish with gold undersides, they have pointed tails and scales. Unfortunately we don't know what they are.  We kept two of them after our last water change and they appear to have to the capacity to 'breed like rabbits'! Have you any ideas as to what they are? <Without an image, or a very, very in-depth description of the animals, and knowledge of your location....  unfortunately, no.> Thanks. <My apologies.  Congrats on your find, though!  -Sabrina>

Need Help!!! Oranda in a koi pond, I know it's serious...  6/20/06 Hi, My grandmother has a 5" Oranda in a koi pond, she discovered it a few minutes ago with its wen in shreds, and mostly missing, fungus all over its body   and its fins all shredded. She says it looks like its been through a meat grinder! <Yeeikes!> I told her to put it in a spare 10 gallon there, but she is elderly and unable to set up the tank. What can she do medical wise? <Salt/s are best here> It is her favorite fish; what can we do? <Move it, indoors as you've mentioned...> As of now it is sitting in a pot, treading water. It is a large pond, but she has fungicide and salt on hand, as well as "heals all". What  can she do? PLEASE HELP! Thanks, Anthony <Please have her read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshdisease.htm Orandas don't do well in ponds in general... can't compete with other goldfish types/breeds for food, reproduction... or other coldwater livestock, predators... 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>

Orandas in Ponds  6/5/06 Hi, Great site!      I have two questions: 1.  Can Orandas be kept in ponds with koi, catfish, and single  finned goldfish? The Orandas are 5-8", the koi are 8-24", the  single tailed goldfish are 8", and the catfish are 10", 14", 18". Right now the  three Orandas are in a 55 gallon tank, and are beginning to outgrow it. <Mmm, not a good risk... the chubbier varieties of fancy goldfish take a beating when mixed with these likes. Can't compete/move for food...> 2. Also, can these be kept in the pond during the  winter? I live in New Jersey. Thanks, Anthony <Mmm, again, not worth trying IMO. Bob Fenner>

Pondfishes in the GWN  3/3/06 Hello I am thinking of setting up a small outdoor pond - 180 gallons - which contains no heater and a basic filter. <... likely too unstable at this volume...> I am located in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. I have a couple of questions: What type of fish would you suggest? Can they survive the winter? <Perhaps some of the local life...> What happens if the water freezes in the pond? <If all the way down, fishicles... See WWM re ponds please: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm See all those blue file names? They're links... Bob Fenner> Thank you Pat

Fish Selection for Hot Weather Ponds  - 02/25/06 Hey Guys/Gals, <BK> First of all, thanks for the site and all the great info, I've learned a lot. Secondly, I have a question.  I've spent the last three hours trying to find an answer on this site, but you never (as far as I can find) address it directly.........and yes, I did read the "hot pond" question.  My situation:  I live in Palm Springs, Ca. in a first floor condo with a walled-in Lanai that I am about to landscape with the focal point being a Water Garden.  The temperature here goes from the 30's at times in our "winter" to over 110 degrees in the summer.  My Lanai gets direct sun for approximately 5-6 hours a day in the summer.  I am planting a couple of trees and some other shade producing plants but space is quite limited and they will take time to produce the desired effect.  I read in one of your responses that a waterfall and aerating fountain head will help lower the temperature of the water.  I will have a four foot high rock water fall and a fountain at the opposite end of the pond.  There will also be a "mist system" on three of the four walls surrounding this area which lowers the air temperature by approximately 15 degrees, but I don't know if this has any bearing on the water temperature or not. <Interesting possibility> You also noted that the depth of the pond was a factor.  The larger part or the pond will be four foot deep, the remainder three foot with a small area six to twelve inches deep for some of the shallow water aquatic plants.  I have also found some dwarf Water Lilies that will help shade the water.  Now my question: can "cold water" fish like Goldfish survive in this environment? <Yes, likely so> The only Koi pond I've seen here is in complete shade.  I can put a heater in the water for the colder months if necessary but I'm concerned about the summer.  The Goldfish are the main reason for building the pond so I need to know if they'll be all right before I get into construction (supposed to start next week). Thanks in advance for your help. Brian King <I do think goldfish will do fine here. Your system is large enough to discount swings in temperature... the falls will help, as will the shading> P.S.  Several sections of your site and more than one of your links came up as "Page Not Found" when researching this question.  Also, it would be a big help if all questions having anything to do with ponds were in the one area instead of having fish selection, etc. in with the generic fresh water fish section.  Goldfish are obviously both and this would sure help guys like me that aren't exactly sure where to go to make sure I've done my research on a specific problem before contacting you.  Thanks Again, BK <Thank you for this input. Some "pages"/files are principally "markers", unwritten (as yet) article files... The cross-over to freshwater is due to the use of some animals in both pond and aquarium settings. With growth, time, all parts of WWM will become more environment-specific. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Fish Selection for Hot Weather Ponds  - 02/25/06
Bob, <Brian> Thanks so much for your (amazingly) prompt reply.  I can breath a lot easier now and proceed with construction of my pond.  I also really appreciated the gracious manner in which you addressed both my problems with parts of the site and my comments regarding segregation of all the "pond info".  Your site will be my first point of contact for any further questions/concerns I may have as I make my way through this exciting new venture. Thanks Again, Brian <Very welcome. Enjoy the process. Bob Fenner>

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> 

Minnow and comet pond... container 07/01/05 Hi, <Hello there> I have a 35 gallon container on my patio. 5 2" grey minnows, 3 comet goldfishes and 1 medium rosy red. I got the grey minnows from the pet store. The pet store said that the minnows are rosy reds ... but they're grey ... <Do change color with season, temperature...> Anyways, I added the 3 comets recently and one of the minnows was aggressive to ALL the fishes. The aggressive minnow is always around the same bush of Anacharis. Picking at it and chasing anything that it sees. <Happens> I thought minnows are supposed to be peace and that's why I added comets. What should I do? Is this a temporary thing? Thanks, LH <Mmm, best to remove the most aggressive fish here... May seem like a lot of space, but the crowding is a factor. 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>

Goldfish/Koi in Mud Pond and Dirty Birds Hi Robert, <Wendy> We had a pond dug last summer, it's about 20x60 by 30 ft deep at the deepest. It filled with ground water and a slightly underground stream/run off feeder in maybe 2 months during the hottest part of the summer (so I feel pretty comfortable it has fresh water supply). A couple weeks ago we released ~40 goldfish and when no "floaters" happened we got perhaps 80 more goldfish and 3 very small koi. This morning I found 1 dead goldfish (I'm not very worried about that. one of the bag of fish releases was not very gentle - my 4 yr old!).  The goldfish definitely look bigger already. <I'll bet!> I'm wondering now if we have overstocked this pond. Do you have any feedback/recommendations for us? <Not overstocked... as of yet... but these fishes will reproduce... perhaps crowd themselves in time. I do hope, trust the water does not overflow from this basin into outgoing waters...> Lastly, my husband saw an adult duck w/some ducklings the other day, but our dog scared them off into the bushes. I hear they might eat some of the fish? <Not ducks no, some ducks will eat small/er fishes> Any info you have is greatly appreciated! Thanks, Wendy Armstrong <Congratulations on your new pond. A few years hence you may want to consider the introduction of a few predators (catfish, sunfishes) for balance. I would keep the waterfowl life to a minimum... very "dirty", disease (for humans as well) carriers. Bob Fenner>

Placing aquarium fishes outdoors Hi there <Hello> I have four fish which I would like to release into an outside pond. I've had three of them for 3 years and one of them for one. I don't know the exact names of the fish types but they are coldwater fish: one is a fantail, two look like 'normal' goldfish (they swim very fast)... <Ah, these American hybrids are called "comets">  ...and one is a cross between the two (with very long floaty fins). Are all three of these okay to go outside as they have always live inside? Also, does it depend on their size? And if they are ok to go out should I wait until it is much warmer? <Can live outside, but as you speculate, do need to be accommodated in terms of temperature... I would wait till the daily range is within five degrees F. of their present water... in the meanwhile using the pond water for their frequent, partial water changes. Bob Fenner>

New farm pond We have just completed a new road project in our area... now we have a 18-20 acre pond courtesy of the state DOT. One end (6-7 acres) is 5-8 feet deep, and the other 10-12 acres ranges from 15-30 feet deep, most is 20+ on this end.  Sand is mostly the bottom, with clay/dirt on the shallow end. Water is about 3 feet from the top, still rising. Last digging was 6 months ago. <Nice> I need to check pH balance and would like to know steps for stocking. Should I introduce feeder minnows and such now? I plan to add some cover, trees, limbs, etc. to deeper regions for cover. <Better to wait a few weeks... there are concerns for suspended solids, some large chemical and physical changes in all this new water, sediment... I DO suggest you contact a "lake management" concern for their input... re local conditions, stocking... and that they or some agency (perhaps there is a public entity that will come on to your (I take it) private land... and measure the soil and water (now and going forward) for nutrient content principally (though pesticides might be an issue...). Knowing what soluble phosphate in particular is very valuable in developing a management strategy> What steps do I need to take for a faster set up? Is an auto-feeder recommended as natural food sources need to develop and what kinds of fish are needed? <Mmm, let's step back a moment... what is your intention here? To make this a fee-fishing basin? Oh, I see, there's more below> Would like to add Bass, Brim, cats, bluegill, sunfish or what is best recommended. I am contacting local sources too. <Hold off for a bit... and let your water settle in... will you have incoming water seasonally, regularly? Will this water overflow... into where? I would check with the "Fish and Game" in your State... re livestock issues... they may well have a line on "excess stock"... for instance, many potable reservoirs have to be drained periodically... to check earthquake safety, flood-gates... and they may be willing to give you some stock... A great savings. If this is to be a more or less simple "farm pond" I would not supplement feed... but I WOULD devise a planting plan... and be CAREFUL about what you let get in your system...> We are located in Fayetteville NC about 90 miles form the coast...below Raleigh NC. Thank you for your time, Laurin Cooper <Thank you for sharing your new experience. Bob Fenner>

A duck and goose = dirty pond I initially got a 175 gallon flexible liner pond for water plants (lily's) and maybe small guppies. However in the meantime acquired a duck and a goose, both about two months old. Well guess who is in the pond everyday? <Bad visual> I have to replace the water every day or two. I want to keep duckweed in another receptacle to feed them because they'll eat it up before it can clear the pond. What other filtration system can I use on a pond this small-or do I have to build them a lake!? <More likely the latter. The 175 gallon volume is way too little to even try to filter, keep one waterfowl/foul... I would keep changing the water. Bob Fenner> Rita De Ferrary St. Thomas, VI

Moving pond fishes Hi I'm moving home soon and am wondering how to transport my fish to the new pond the new house it is 15 minutes drive away. I would be grateful if you could advise me on this, I have x 4 Koi approx 5 inches long and x4 large goldfish. thanks,                                                             Heather Roberts <Best to move some (perhaps half) of the fishes old water to either the new setting or an intermediate holding system (like a covered "kiddie wading pool") ahead of time... and move the fishes in large (like plastic trashcans) of water in two thick (doubled) plastic trash can bags lining these (secured with rubber bands or twist ties (to prevent splashing). For larger Koi, or having to haul for more than an hour, securing "fish bags" (likely from a fish store or garden center that sell ornamental aquatic livestock) and using oxygen would be suggested. Bob Fenner>

Pond livestock from nowhere, chicks for free Hi there, we have a stock tank on our property that we had dug ourselves, it filled with rain water the 1st year, it's approx. 12 ft deep at it's deepest point.  My question is, we never stocked this tank with fish, there is no area from which they could have flooded in.  We have always been told by the 'ol country folk here in Texas that if you have birds visiting your tank you will get fish. <Does happen...> After about 3 years, the vegetation grew etc. etc. and now we have tons of fish in that tank.  The Dr. I work with does not believe me when I told her that they came from the birds.  Presumably bird dropping fish eggs thru feces or by mouth.  Believe me they ARE there and we never added fish.  Now there is a healthy system in place, frogs, turtles, etc.  Can you please answer this debated question for me?  If they didn't come from us or the birds, where did they come from?  Thank you for your help[. TWALLACE <If it's a "real mix" of species I am inclined to wonder if some "two-legged" birds were perhaps involved... in stocking this pond. Have you heard, visited "Tres Cienegas" in Mexico? These are some really isolated desert basins that have a unique fauna, including a turtle species... I have read of "meteorological" effects (dust devils and such) proposed as mechanisms... but aquatic birds bringing in fertilized eggs on their feet, in algae and plant material stuck there or to their feathers... seems more likely. 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>

Goldfish Types A number of years ago I was given a number of really nice golden yellow 3" long pond fish. I kept some in a large aquarium and the best I put in a 20 gallon tank where they spawned. I raised and gave away many. The males are deeper in color and have a black patch on their head, while the females are just lighter with no black. Now I have but one left, a male. Through the years I have not been able to identify it so I can not ask for more to buy to renew my stock. Any guesses? <Yes. Please take a read through this site: http://goldfishconnection.com/ Goldfish are all the same species, as with the domestic dog, and will breed amongst themselves. Bob Fenner>

Not Goldfish variety... mystery fish Thanks for the speedy reply, BUT it is not a GOLDFISH!...... <Mmm, many other possibilities...> I have seen pictures on internet that claim to be Golden Orfe. Fish sellers often mis-id their fish.... http://www.huntingcreekfisheries.com/images/newfish/orfe.jpg <Yep> However, Orfe grow much larger. http://www.jjphoto.dk/fish_archive/leuciscus_idus_auratus.htm <Agreed> mine get to 3" max. Finally, today I found a site that shows a picture that claims them to be the Rosy Red form of  Fathead Minnows. http://www.fishpondinfo.com/rosies.htm <Another common species used in the ornamental and baitfish trades in the U.S.> Now another site claims that these are a hybrid of several species. Finally I feel that the variation I have seen is correct. Most of the males I saw had a black spot on their head but some did not. http://www.nanfa.org/archive/nanfa/nanfadec00/0063.html If you have links that I could use. I would appreciate it. Thanks Dan Borman <Mmm, we don't have much on N. American cyprinids... only what is presented on WetWebMedia.com thus far. I would get/use a digital camera and send a few pix to the folks at NANFA re your species identification. Bob Fenner>

Pond stocking densities 7/13/03 Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me if there is a rule of thumb regarding the size of a pond and the amount of fish that it will support, thank you.  I have gold fish and comets.  Jeff <its hard to have a strict rule of thumb for any closed system when issues of husbandry (water changes/water quality/filtration/aeration, etc) are so varied. However, in an otherwise well-maintained pond with an average temperature of 70F, a fair rule is 2ft square of surface area for every inch of fish. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: goldfish in our pond Hi again, Well, it appears your analysis was correct, they did spawn and we now have goldfish fry. Good call!  I am still disappointed though, my goldfish and koi are constantly hiding.  We have noticed water snakes in our pond and have chased them off but I am afraid they still come about from time to time.  We had a heron visiting but has not been around for a week or so.  Could it be the snakes that are making them anti-social? <Yes indeed> We can't even enjoy the goldfish we were so excited about getting... <Mmm, perhaps a small dog to scare off the heron and snake/s? Bob Fenner> Jennifer L. Smith

Re: odd little indoor pond Hey Everyone, <Good morning!> I'm trying to find a good fish to keep in an odd shaped indoor pond. It is about 3'x2', sort of triangle shaped tucked into a stairwell. It was already there so we didn't build it, but basically it is a small water feature in the house. The water will only be about 4" deep, so I'm wondering what the best fish is to keep in there. It's too small for goldfish, and we don't want to have a heater, and we want something that will be visible from above. I was thinking Rosy Red Minnows, but I have no idea where to get them. Someone at the LFS suggested a Betta, but from what I've been reading they will need a heater. And we would like to have probably more than two fish. <Rosy Reds would be a good choice but they can be tough to find. Check with places that cater to ponds. Also, check to see if any are mixed in with the feeder goldfish at your LFS. My father just bought some feeders for his goldfish tank and one of them was in fact a Rosy Red. Another good choice would be White Clouds. They like a cooler water temps than most tropicals (68-72) and are fairly hardy. Your pond works out to about 14-15 US gallons and White Clouds stay about 1.5' so you could put 10-15 of them in there. They're a neat little schooling fish too.> Also, there are two small kids in the house and a cat that isn't afraid of water. So they will probably have to tolerate a lot of people and animals looking closely at them. (we will get the cat used to having the water there and not to go in it, before we add the fish.) <Either of the above choices should be fine. The white clouds will probably be a little faster swimming just in case the cat decides he wants sushi for lunch some day. :o)> Any help with this little problem would be great. Thanks, Mike. <Hope this helps! Ronni>

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>

What Type of Frogs For Pond? I've been looking all over the web and in books for the answer to this question: what frogs make the best pond critters? Most of the information seems to focus on bullfrogs. But due to the aggressiveness of the bullfrog, more than one seems out of the question. And since bullfrogs need large amounts of shoreline, and my pond will be relatively small, it once again does not seem to be the best choice. What I'm mostly looking for mostly in a frog is night music. I've considered tree frogs, and in fact, have a few Pacific Tree Frogs that make nice music, but they are not really water frogs. Can you recommend any small, pleasant-sounding frogs that will make the water their primary habitat? Thanks for any response you can give me. Sincerely, Booktoad28 <Unfortunately, you're correct that bullfrogs seem to be the most common and popular. I've seen quite a few reports of people having tree frogs with their ponds too but I can't find recommendations on any other species that would work. Nearly every place I've talked to though has said that if you build a pond, you will have frogs appear, even if you don't add them. So if neither of the above suit your needs maybe wait for nature to take its course. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful! Ronni>

Re: Koi & Goldfish Ponds I need a little bit more info on quarantine?  All the fish keep having babies.  But your saying the NEW fish need to go in gradually? <<The babies don't need to be quarantined since they won't introduce any diseases although moving them to a separate tank may prevent the other fish from eating them. Any *new* fish need to be kept away from your other fish (in a completely separate tank) for at least 4 weeks to make sure they have no diseases that will be introduced to your fish. This tank can be a simple tank with just a filer of some sort. It doesn't have to have substrate, decorations, or anything. another bothersome question but............one of my koi has a growth near the end of his body.  It looks like a wart.  Can I let this go if he looks and acts normal except the wart lookin thing?  Before my largest koi had a big bloated stomach and it burst! He went along no problems and today looks great and healthy. <<This could be a tumor of some sort and could be completely harmless. Isolation is recommended but that is up to you. I can't recommend any medications without knowing exactly what this is.>> thanks, David <<You're welcome, Ronni>>
Re: Koi/Goldfish Ponds
I have about 25 koi / standard gold fish all different sizes in an indoor pond about 1000 gallons. AWESOME!  They move to the outside pond(1400 gallons) in the spring.   <<I'm incredibly jealous! Been trying to talk my husband into building me a pond for ages but he keeps saying no. :o( >> All is well and they are ranging from new borns to 1 1/2 feet beauties.  My question to you is can I add 2 new fan tail gold fish with no concern?  My friends keep giving me there fish because they are bored of them.  I can't get enough. Thanks David <<With a proper quarantine period of about 4 weeks you should be fine. You don't want to risk bringing a disease into your established pond. Ronni>>

Overwintering, not feeding Goldfish Hi,     I have some goldfish in a pond in the summer. The winters here are pretty harsh and I have to bring them inside.  I was wondering if I can winter them in a container kept at about 40 degrees and not feed them.  I've heard that their metabolism slows right down and that this can be done??? Want to make sure before I try it. Thank you Lynn <Yes, this should be fine. If temperatures stay below 55 F. no feeding should be necessary. Bob Fenner>

Frogs Here's my question. My husband believes that frogs are eating our smaller fish in our new pond. I think that the larger fish are eating them and/or that when they die they are lodged in-between the rocks. Your opinion? Thank You <Could be either or both... what sorts of frog/s and fish/es? It is very common for larger frogs to eat fishes... but not common for goldfish or koi to eat even small ones. Bob Fenner> KBland

Pond Fish in UK hello, <Cheers, Steve> I would like to buy carp, roach, tench and bream for a small pond in Yorkshire. can you help <Ahhh, I could add another blessing to my charmed life if I was so familiar with the countryside of the United Kingdom. Alas, I haven't made it across the pond yet. Here in America, however, we get a most excellent magazine called Practical Fishkeeping from England which is positively dominated by merchants advertising pond fish and livestock. They are even sorted by region in the listing. Do try to find an established merchant through this avenue first. I suspect that you won't be disappointed. Also look into clubs and societies for pondkeepers in you region...truly invaluable! Kind regards, Anthony> thanks, Steve greenwood

Question re distribution of pond life by waterfowl My name is Viki Williams and I have a question for you. Do ducks and geese that migrate bring fish to ponds to naturally stock them. Maybe by eggs being in their feathers or something? <I think this has been demonstrated to sometimes happen, yes... as well as vascular plant "weeds", algae, insects... Bob Fenner>

Gold fish question I bought a fish that goes with the minnow family. this fish needs to be in a school. Can it go into my goldfish pond? <Maybe so... the Minnow family (Cyprinidae) is very large (more than a thousand species) and some are quite tropical... do find out if you're dealing with a cooler water species here (find out the scientific name for me and I can tell you), AND do acclimate your minnows to the conditions of your system as it is (probably much cooler, so this may take weeks to months), AND make sure at the same time (by quarantine) that you're not introducing an infectious or parasitic agent in the process... AND lastly, please assure your friend Bob that your pond can't overflow, release these fish into a native habitat... that is, that this is a closed system with no chance of introducing an exotic species into the local environment. Thanks. 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
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