Goldfish & Koi Ponds
Goldfish and Koi both are much more at home in a shallow pond that has plenty
of surface area with plenty of surface activity, such as water fountains and
falls. Goldfish average one inch of growth per year with Koi leading the way at
three inches per year. It would take a large aquarium to house even one Koi.
Many people purchase Koi not realizing their growth potential. The same holds
true with goldfish.
The standard stocking level for both fish is 2.5 gallons minimum per inch of body length. Stay at or below this standard to keep a healthy natural balance of the ecosystem. Double the standard, and cut the inch in half to cut maintenance in half. The bigger your pond; the lower your stocking levels; the easier it is to maintain.
The larger the pond, the less maintenance required to keep the water healthy,
but just like aquariums and indoor tanks, the stocking levels also dictates how
much maintenance will be necessary.
When your goldfish spawn, reduce the amount of food you're feeding. The fish will feed on the eggs and any small fry lucky enough to hatch; controlling their own stocking level. Keep in mind, your fish will never stop growing, and as they age, the size of your pond may need to be increased, or fish re-homed in order to maintain a healthy stocking levels. Exceed the stocking level for too long, and the ecosystem may become unbalanced, leading to an unhealthy environment.
Common, comets or shubunkins are much better suited to outside ponds then the delicate fancy variety, but even the fancies can fare well in a pond with the proper care.
Photograph courtesy of Red
A wonderful example algae growth.
Goldfish are cold blooded; meaning they have no core body temperature, so it's important that the depth of your pond is below your regions freeze line. This provides an area that the fish can migrate to in freezing or even warmer weather conditions.
Do not allow your pond's surface to freeze over or the oxygen levels in the water will decline. In some parts of the world it may be advisable to bring your goldfish in during the colder winter months; unless you have a heater for your pond.
Never chop a hole in a pond that has been frozen over; the vibrations may damage the goldfish.
Keeping goldfish save from predators
Most predators interested in goldfish are nocturnal, and goldfish are diurnal, meaning they rest when it's dark. Being bottom dwellers by nature, they should be safe from nocturnal predators. This is one good reason to have an adequate depth in your outdoor pond. A deeper pond not only provides a safe haven from predators, but can also offer cooler water in the summer and warmer water in the winter by being insulated.
If predators are a problem in your pond, it may not be deep enough, or the water may be low in oxygen, and the fish are spending time at the surface where they are vulnerable. Carbon dioxide, a gas created from waste, hangs heavily on the bottom, keeping oxygen from entering, forcing fish to swim higher in the body of water than what they normally would be. Only a real pond pump provides the proper kind of action to eliminate Co2 from pond water.
Goldfish can become a tasty treat for neighborhood cats, dogs, raccoons and herons. The water table should fall 8" to 12" below the edge of the pond in order to keep them safely out of reach. This will also prevent goldfish from leaping out of the water during spawning sessions. Motion activated sprinkler systems work well in deterring these predators.
If you live in the city; it may be regulation to fence in your pond to avoid accidental drowning of neighborhood children. Your own children or grandchildren may be at risk, so please be advised.
If you are considering building a pond; the use of fresh concrete and mortar may leach harmful chemicals into the water; these materials must be cured for 6 months to a year depending on your climate. If the KH (carbonate) levels in your freshwater source are on the high side of the comfort zone, avoid using concrete, as the lime concrete is made from increases these levels.
Algae in Goldfish Ponds
Goldfish ponds have a distinct advantage over aquariums; algae will
grow naturally enhancing the beauty of the pond and the health of your goldfish.
In a fully cycled pond, algae helps to create an almost maintenance free
Algae also offers a healthy food source for goldfish. If a pond has a thick lining of algae, you may not ever have to feed your fish. Algae is mother natures way of icing the cake to the nitrogen cycle. With the help of algae, you could create a pond that requires very little effort to maintain.
If the pumps in your pond are established, nitrates are being produced, and where you find nitrates, algae forms to feed on the toxin. This is extremely beneficial in an outdoor pond.
If your stocking level is low, nitrate production should also be low, and you may not have to exchange much pond water, however, it's always necessary to add water that has evaporated. We call this topping off the pond. This act also keeps a valuable mineral content. The biggest mistake pond keepers make is overstocking.
Test for nitrates to make certain your fish aren't at risk for nitrate poisoning. Safe levels are 10 to 20 ppm.
Algae and Green Water
Locate your new pond in an area of your yard that is free of falling leaves or debris. In the fall, leaves can quickly cover the water's surface reducing oxygen levels. Leaves and even pine needles that are not soon removed leach tannin into the water which is toxic to goldfish
Your goldfish are only as healthy as your freshwater source. Test the
carbonate and general hardness to make sure your goldfish are living in quality
water. Read all about the value of water in the 10 steps to goldfish
keeping. Follow each step faithfully, and this will help you create a healthy
ecosystem and healthy fish.
10 Steps to
Goldfish and Koi Keeping
Every pond, no matter what size should include a pond pump, two or even three in the set up. A simple pond pump that sits on the floor of the pond is all you need. The intakes should be wrapped with aquarium safe sponges, and rinsed in old pond water regularly. The more complicated the filtration system, the more difficult it will be to maintain the pond.
Every pond should also include a natural gravel substrate; pea gravel will help buffer the minerals in the water, give waste a place to settle, and give your goldfish the pleasure of pecking through it; a favorite past time. In an aquarium, a gravel vacuum is used weekly to eliminate waste, but if your pond is large, and your stocking level low, monthly vacuuming is all that should be necessary. Use a gravel vacuum with a hose attachment to increase suction.
Photograph courtesy of Moe
Test regularly for nitrates; the goal is less than a reading of 20. Make sure your ponds receives a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sunshine and most importantly, make certain your pond has plenty of surface action.
Photograph; courtesy of Gwen. A wonderful example of an above ground pond. Stock tanks, whether indoors or outdoors make great goldfish containers; they're large; they're tough and they're also affordable, however, they're not insulated, and the water may be too warm in the summer or too cold in the winter. These types of tanks are better suited for indoors in most regions unless you're prepared for some additional work.
Photos courtesy of polydectus
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Author: Brenda Rand
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