Fish Care & Our Most Frequently Asked Questions

Published by Bucks Country Gardens in Bucks Country GardensLandscapeLawn & Garden

Koi in pondWhether you are considering your first fish, wondering what species are compatible or looking for fish care advice, here is some comprehensive information for you based on our most frequently asked fish care questions!

Q: What is the recommended amount of fish to put in the pond?
A: The general rule of thumb for the amount of fish is to have 1” of fish for every 1 cubic foot of pond surface area. I typically suggest 1 fish per 100 gallons of pond water. (More or less depending on filtration)

Q: How soon can I start putting fish in my pond?
A: 3 or 4 days after the pond is filled and running. It is always a great idea to establish plant life in the pond before adding fish. An ideal amount of plants would be about 60 percent of pond coverage.

Q: How do I choose healthy fish?
A: Look for a lively deposition, erect fins, bright colors, balanced swimming, and a good appetite. These are great signs of healthy fish!

Q: How do I avoid unhealthy fish?
A: Some signs that a fish is unhealthy are raised scales, a swollen abdomen, bulging eyes, ulcers, an overlarge head, lack of movement, loss of balance, damaged fins and scales, fungal growths, or the fish is scratching itself up against objects.

Get fish into pondQ: How do I transport my fish?
A: Put your fish in a “fish safe” bag with 1/3 of it filled with pond water. Make sure the bag has plenty of air in it but DO NOT exhale in the bag. Store the fish in a cool place out of the sun.

Q: How do I add new fish to my pond?
A: Float the bag with the fish inside of it for about 15-20 min. (weather pending) – this allows the water temperature in the bag to acclimate to that of the pond’s water. Then, open the bag and release the fish into your pond. Try to avoid getting any of the bag water into your pond water, it may have high amounts of ammonia and waste in it.

Q: How do I keep my fish stress free?
A: Make sure your PH level is around 7.0-8.0
• Never feed old fish food
• Add pond salt to your pond. This will help their gills function correctly.
• Aeration-make sure your pond has proper oxygen
• Never over-stock your pond with fish. The increased levels of ammonia and nitrate will stress out your fish.
• Try not to chase your fish around with a net.
• Make sure there is shade in your pond. The harmful U.V. rays of the sun will stress out your fish. Floating oxygenator or    any pond plants that can help provide coverage would be ideal.
•Keep predators out of your pond, such as raccoons, herons etc. It helps to have something for your fish to hide under in the water if such an event should occur.

Q: Can large and small fish live together?
A: It all depends on the species of the fish. Koi and goldfish are docile fish, but will still swallow a small fry if they can. Predators like Bass and Pike will devour all other fish that can fit in their mouths.

Q: Can pond fish see color?Fish in Pond
A: Yes, koi and goldfish can see color. This is because their retina is generously equipped with cone cells, which are responsible for the ability to perceive colors.

Q: What is a cold water fish?
A: Because pond fish in temperate areas do not require any extra heat, the term “cold water” comes from fish that do not come from a tropical environment.

Q: What is an exotic fish?
A: Any fish that originates from another country. Actually goldfish are exotic to every country except China and Siberia.

Q: Can I put tropical fish in my pond?
A: It all depends on what is considered a tropical fish and a temperate fish. Some tropical fish can be added to your pond if they are acclimated correctly. Most temperate fish need a pond deeper than 2 feet so the water temperature can be regulated. There are a few species that can live in a pond year round without any problems (though this depends on where you live).

Q: Are Koi hardy?
A: Koi are generally not as hardy as the popular goldfish, but if your pond has good water quality and you keep your koi’s stress level low, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Q: Do koi fish breed?
A: Yes, around 8-12 inches or when over 2 years of age they will tend to breed. The first sign is that your female fish will become large with eggs and the males will start to franticly chase the females around. Koi breed once a year around late spring when the temperature changes. Be careful though, female koi can get badly hurt or even die, from the male koi bashing her on the rocks. You should make sure you have lots of plants around for the female to lay her eggs in.

Koi EggsQ: How many eggs do koi lay?
A: There are many factors that determine the amount of eggs a koi will produce. Diet or the fish’s state of health can affect it. For a koi in good health, an approximate figure is about 45,000 per pound of fish. Don’t worry the other koi fish will eat most of the eggs.

Q: Is it true that koi don’t have a stomach?
A: Yes, koi do not have a standard stomach. They have an alimentary canal used to absorb nutrients. This is one reason why one shouldn’t over feed their fish.

Q: How long do koi and goldfish live?
A: Well-kept koi can live 50 years or older. The oldest koi that was found was 226 years old! Goldfish can live up to 20 years. The oldest goldfish found lived over 30 years!

Q: How do I get my fish to eat out of my hands?
A: First you must get them to notice that you are the one feeding them. After they see you, take some steps back until the fish feel comfortable to eat. After some time your fish will begin to trust you and you will not have to walk so far away. Once they are at the point where you put your hand out and they all come up to the surface, start to lower your hand in the water with the food. Before you know it they will be eating right out of your hand.

Q: When should you not feed the fish?
A: Don’t feed the fish when the water is under 55 degrees because the fish metabolism is slowed down and will not be able to process the food.

Q: Do fish hibernate?
A: Yes, koi and goldfish do go dormant in the winter time. Their metabolism automatically slows down when the temperature drops. It is Fish_pond_in_wintersuggested to not feed your pond fish while they are hibernating. Because of the almost dormant metabolism, the food will rot in your fish’s intestine causing them to die.

Q: What do you do with fish in the winter?
A: Leave them in the pond but make sure that there is something keeping a hole open in the ice; like a pond deicer and keep the water moving (if possible). The reason there needs to be a hole in the ice is to provide oxygen and allow gasses from the dying plants to leave the pond.

Tiffany Rausch | Greenhouse & Aquatics Supervisor