Keeping fish in a backyard garden pond is a rewarding hobby for those that love landscaping, natural systems and animals. It combines the best parts of each interest. Designing and building a backyard pond is a creative and technical challenge. Caring for and raising small pond fish is a fun way to have animals that don’t need much care and attention. If you select healthy fish, introduce them to your pond the right way and care for them properly, they will provide years of enjoyment.
Types of Fish for Your Garden Pond
Goldfish and koi are the two standard options for small pond fish. Goldfish are generally less expensive than koi, but can grow to be 12 inches long and live for more than 10 years. There are several popular varieties of goldfish with differences in coloring, tail length and fins. Koi are actually a domesticated carp species. They generally grow to be larger than goldfish and sometimes live for decades. There are also several varieties of koi with color differences. Koi are typically more expensive than goldfish, but you can buy small koi and enjoy watching them grow.
The size of your pond will help you determine the best type of fish to select. Koi need more space than goldfish in order to remain healthy. A general recommendation for a koi pond is 1,000 gallons as a minimum. That’s about six feet by eight feet, three feet deep. A pond that size can serve as home to five or so average koi.
Another guideline to use is 13 gallons of water for every inch of fish length. Be sure to use the mature size of your fish; they are going to grow!
How to Choose Healthy Fish for Your Pond
Buy your fish from a breeder or seller that raises them in good, clean conditions. You want your fish to be healthy from the start. The scales and fins should look unblemished and free of scars, holes or sores. White spots or cottony growths are a bad sign. Healthy fish will have clear, uncloudy eyes.
Take a few minutes to observe the fish before you buy them. They should be active, swimming and feeding normally. Even though you may only be buying a couple of fish, all of the fish in the seller’s tank should be healthy. Any sick looking specimens is a warning sign.
Introducing Fish to Your Pond
If you have experience with aquarium fish, you know the basic steps for bringing new fish into a pond. Float the plastic bag holding your fish in the pond for about 20 minutes. This will match the water temperatures. Make sure the bag is not in the sun! Let a little pond water into the bag to help transition differences between water types. Try not handle the fish as you gently let them into their new home.
Feeding Your New Fish
Though there will be natural food sources in the pond, a high quality supplemental fish food is important. This will help with disease resistance and overall good health. Don’t overfeed the fish; you will end up with water quality problems. Fish also need seasonal adjustments to the amount of food they get. Talk to your pond supplies and fish store about their recommendations for the type of fish you have.
Fish are fascinating creatures and always changing. Watching goldfish or koi swim around in your own backyard garden pond is a mesmerizing way to spend an hour or an afternoon. Build your pond carefully, select the right number of healthy fish and treat them well; you will get to experience the wonders of nature in your own backyard.