Some pond owners shy away from taking the plunge of adding a few finned friends to their water garden. Perhaps it can be traced back to childhood, when they watched Bubbles the goldfish swim around in a small fish bowl while their parents complained that fish were dirty little creatures. Or maybe it was the fact that in most households there was a Bubbles, a Bubbles Jr., a Bubbles III, and so on because those cute little carnival goldfish never lasted long.
Regardless of your past experiences with fish, when you get a pond, keeping fish is a whole new deal. First of all, when it comes to your pond ecosystem, fish are certainly not dirty. In fact, they represent a vital part of your pond’s circle of life.
And when it comes to their life span, with the right treatment and a little TLC, your fish could end up out-living you. It’s true! So push those myths and misconceptions from your mind so you can learn the truth behind fish-keeping and your pond.
Fish are desired for the hobbyist’s pond because they add color and interest to the water garden. With the exception of tempting your senses, plants are neither interactive nor friendly, while fish are both of these things, especially at feeding time. Plants never crowd the surface and wave their leaves for your attention.
Of course, fish are also attractive, interesting, and even personable – much like your pet cat or dog. Their color can enhance the visual impact of a pond. Koi in particular, as a species, grow very large, and their sheer size adds an impressive element to some water features (but not without a significant impact on the balanced ecosystem).
There are numerous types of fish that you could put in your pond. The most popular are koi, goldfish, shubunkins, sarassas, orfes, and even catfish.
Basic Ground Rules
If you are new to water gardening or don’t know that much about maintaining fish, then remember the following basic ground rules.
First, fish need good, clean water. There’s a simple way to evaluate (at a glance) the suitability of your pond. If you wouldn’t let a child wade in the pond, then it’s not good enough for fish, either. The water should be clean-smelling. Clarity of the water right down to the bottom is good and a yellowing of the deeper water is bad. Green water is okay, but it can be troublesome.
Water can be kept clean enough with a filter. Even if there is no filter, there must be some water movement, like from a water pump, which does little more than add circulation to improve oxygen exchange. This is critically important in the summertime when water temperatures are over 60-degrees Farenheit.
Second, fish that are maintained in outdoor ponds can obtain nutrition from a variety of natural sources, such as wayward insects and plants, but they need a prepared (staple) food at least once per week. If you choose to feed the fish every day, you definitely need a filter, but if you only feed them once or twice per week, the fish will grow slowly and will probably not (as far as waste goes) exceed the environmental carrying capacity of the pond.
As you gain more experience in keeping pond fish, it helps to get some guidance along the way. Check out your local library for water garden books, or buy them from your local garden center. You can search for more information on the internet too, but just be sure you find a reliable source like www.koivet.com. Most importantly, enjoy your fish and your water gardening experience will be that much richer.