When you enter the pet shop or the pond store, you make a bee line for the fish aisle.
After all, the best part of owning a pond, many say, are the fish. They make a water garden come alive. They breathe life into an aquatic microcosm. They are the big reason we build backyard ponds.
So if you think you are going to grab a fish, take it home and literally send it off to sink or swim, you might want to think again. Here are some steps to make your fish-buying experience one that won’t leave you reeling hook, line and sinker.
- Look for a fast fish. One that hides in a corner while the others are darting around is not a fish you want to bring home. It will become hawk or raccoon food in a matter of minutes.
- Look for any visible signs of disease. Protruding bulges or sores are a good indicator that this is not a healthy fish.
- Fish that look lethargic in general, and are swimming around in murky water with dead fish sitting on the bottom, means you want to leave the store immediately.
- When you bring the fish home, acclimate it to the water by floating the bag in your pond for about 10 minutes. Then add your pond water to the bag and float it for another 5 or 10 minutes. Then release the fish into the water.
- Know the limits of your pond. You need at least 600 gallons to support koi. They grow up to three feet long. You should buy no more than one goldfish for every 20 gallons. They grow to 18 inches and produce a lot of waste.
- Rule of thumb: A lot of plants and a few fish will sustain a healthy pond.
- Consider adding not just fish, but tadpoles and snails to keep the algae away.
- Don’t feed your fish more food than they can consume in five minutes. The uneaten food will simply pollute the water.
- If you are a new pond owner, consider buying common goldfish. They cost twenty five cents or less and are very hardy fish.
- If your pond is less than 18 inches deep, don’t keep fish. They won’t survive the temperature variations.
- Fish need a hiding spot. Create a “cave” either built with rocks, or one pre-made from the pet store. Otherwise Blue Heron and Hawks will eat them for dinner.
- Buy good quality food. Your fish will grow faster and produce less waste.
If you follow these tips, chances are your fish could be around for 50 years or more!