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Populating Your Pond with Fish

Adding fish to your backyard pond is a great way to enhance its beauty. Here’s what you need to know about preparing your pond, choosing fish and caring for them.

Preparing Your Pond for Fish

To help ensure your fish live long, happy lives, prepare the pond with these tips:

  • Plant several types of plants that grow above and below the water. This shades the pond, cuts down on algae growth, increases water oxygen levels, decreases nitrogen buildup, and gives fish a place to hide.
  • Eliminate the use of potentially harmful chemicals. If you used pond chemicals or plant fertilizers in the past, drain and clean the pond to remove all traces of toxins.
  • Fill the pond with clean water from the sink. While it seems obvious to use a garden hose, many hoses leech toxins into the water and could harm your fish.
  • If you have a large pond, look into having a pump and filter set up.

Choosing Fish

  • Goldfish are the perfect place to start. They’re hardy and inexpensive so you can experiment with the conditions you need to keep your fish alive.
  • Koi are another hardy choice for backyard ponds. They’re beautiful and often reach 6 inches or longer.
  • Exotic goldfish (including lionheads, black moors, telescopes, ranchus, orandas and ryukins) aren’t as hardy as regular goldfish or koi and need a warm climate to survive.
  • Orfes have a bright orange color and tend to swim near the surface, which adds to the beauty of your pond. However, they grow quickly and can reach 24 to 30 inches, which may be too large for your pond.
  • Catfish are beautiful additions to backyard ponds, but they can also grow quite large. The bigger they get the larger things they can eat, including smaller fish.

Populating the Pond

After filling a new pond, wait at least 72 hours for the water chemistry and temperature to stabilize. When calculating how many fish you can get, follow the rule for indoor aquariums, which is one inch of fish per gallon of water.

When your fish arrive, never just dump them from their bags into the water. To make a smooth transition, float the transport bags in the pond for 20 minutes to help the temperature equalize. Then scoop the fish out of their bags with a soft net and release them into the pond. Discard the water from the bags.

Caring for Your Fish

  • Feeding: Your fish may get most of the food they need from insects that land on the pond. You should still keep a supply of fish food to supplement this, but be careful not to overfeed your fish.
  • Nitrogen: Fish excrement and excess food increase nitrogen buildup in the water. To reduce levels, you can try store-bought nitrogen reducers or plant more plants.
  • Algae: If your pond gets overgrown with algae, don’t drain the pond. This could be fatal to your fish and plants. Instead, add a few lily pads to shade the water or buy a snail to eat the algae. These critters reproduce in large numbers, so only buy one.
  • Overwintering: In warm climates, you can keep your fish outside all year round. If you live in a colder climate, your fish are most likely to survive the winter if you bring them inside. Transfer them to an aquarium or even a kiddy pool with a pump attached, which you can set up in your garage or basement.

For more help populating your pond with fish, please contact The Grounds Guys®. We offer both residential and commercial aquatic management services.