If you plan on adding fish to your water garden feature, there are several key factors to keep in mind. Listed below are some key factors you should keep in mind before adding fish to your pond.
1.) What type of fish will I be adding to my pond, Koi or goldfish?
2.) Is my pond going to be large enough and deep enough to give my fish the environment they need for hot summers and cold winters?
3.) How do I keep my fish free of parasites?
4.) How can I maintain good water quality for my fish?
5.) Be aware of fish predators!
1.)Koi or Goldfish
Koi and goldfish are both descendants of the carp family. Koi were originally bred for food in Asia in the 400's, then bred as domesticated ornamental fish, into the koi industry that we know today. Koi are bred for color, pattern and shape. A koi fish has a tapered body, barbells and whiskers. Goldfish come in many varieties are an ornamental fish as well and their colors and patterns vary widely. The goldfish shape is a little more rounded and they do not have whiskers or barbells. Both koi and goldfish may have butterfly fins and tails or common triangular fins and fan tails.The most important difference between koi and goldfish is that koi are more aggressive towards plants. Koi will eat many plant varieties, or tear the plants apart. Goldfish will not eat your plants or bother them. Both koi and goldfish can be quite beautiful, goldfish are better suited to coexist peacefully with plants, while koi are better suited to have a pond of their own. Neither koi or goldfish need to be fed, they are quite content with eating the naturally occurring algae in the pond.
There are some unique ways to have koi in your pond while protecting your plants. You can use floating islands or plant barriers.
Floating Islands are perfect for moisture loving, aquatic plants. They look great when filled with calcined clay and your favorite water loving plants! The clay absorbs nutrients from the water that the plants need and use for growth. This reduces the amount of nutrients in the water and reduces the likelihood of an algae bloom. The plants never need watered as their roots are virtually IN the water. Tall plants(pickerel rush, arum, lizards tail) can be in the center of your floating island with shorter, creeping or trailing varieties (creeping jenny, rotala, crystal ball) along the edge. These lovely "floating gardens" are wonderful filters for your pond as well.
Plant Barriers are great in pond with koi fish. The plant barrier contains the floating plants (botswana wonder, frog bit, water lettuce, or water hyacinths) and allows their roots to absorb the nutrients from the water but does not allow the koi fish from eating the plants. Another great water filter for your pond! Plant barriers can be purchased from PondMegastore.com
2.) Pond Environment for Fish
If you do decide to put fish in your pond, make sure you have enough oxygen for their survival. The use of aerators, waterfalls or fountains is important. Tap water contains chloramines, you will have to use a dechlorinator. The pond should be deep enough to keep fish from freezing in winter and shaded by floating plants to keep fish cool in the hot summer months, you should add oxygenating plants to add oxygen to the water and marginal plants to take up toxins in the water. To have good quality water for fish, you need water without a lot of decomposing organic matter and water free of parasites. You must protect your fish from predators such as Heron, snakes, frogs, cats and raccoons.
By keeping good water quality, your fish are more likely to thrive and flourish. Keep your water ph levels between 7-8, Use plants as a filter to remove toxins from the water, add four ounces of baking soda per 1,000 gallons of water for proper KH values. Add non-iodized salt to your water to aid in the treatment of parasites.
Make sure you feed your fish a high quality fish food. Fish will eat inexpensive fish food but are not able to digest it, this adds to fish waste and decomposing organic matter in the pond. High quality fish food is full of protein and vitamins that the fish are able to digest and will help to keep them in optimum health.
Please note: NEVER feed your fish in the winter as they are inactive during this period and feeding them in the winter may kill them!
There are some common parasites that plague pond fish. I will list the parasite and common treatments. ALWAYS make sure you have good aeration when treating fish for parasites!
1.) Anchor Worm-Can be treated with KnockOut Plus
2.) Costia-Can be treated with Paracide Green
3.) Epistylis-Can be treated with Paracide Green
4.) Lice-Can be treated with Anchors Away
5.) Ich-Can be treated with Paracide Green
Salt Treatment is an effective treatment against many parasites, it is important that you use NON-IODIZED salt and quarantine new fish before introducing them into your pond.
4.) Maintaining Good Water Quality
When building a new pond, you will have to add a dechlorinator to remove the cloramines from the tap water. You will want to keep the water PH levels between 7-8, you can add baking soda to your water for proper KH levels, (four ounces of baking soda per 1,000 gallons of water). Use a plant filter or biological filter to remove toxins from the water. Keep your water free of pollutants like ammonia and nitrites. Plants improve the quality of your pond water. Remember to add floating plants to shade the water, oxygenators to add oxygen to the water and marginal plants to take up the toxins, nitrates and ammonia. (When you overfeed your fish, the fish add nitrates and ammonia to the water) Fish waste is a leading cause of algae in a pond. When you have too many nutrients in the water, you will get an algae bloom. Plants will help to take up the extra nutrients in the water. Plants are one of the most important factors in keeping good water quality.
5.) Fish Predators
Herons, snakes, frogs, cats and raccoons are among the predators that may eat the fish in your pond. There are a few ways to deter herons form preying on your koi or goldfish. On way is to insert wooden dowel rods around the perimeter of your pond and use fishing line a couple of inches above ground, to create a barrier around the pond. Heron land near your pond, then walk into the pond in search of fish. The fishing line confuses them and they fly away. You may also use a heron decoy to discourage other herons from landing, but it is important to move it from time to time, for it to be effective
Another remedy that you can use is called a scarecrow. It is a device with a sensor that sprays a gentle stream of water when an animal approaches your pond. It will startle herons, cats and raccoons from your pond. The scarecrow must be plugged into an electrical outlet and a water source.