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In the water garden, the focus is on the pond plants and ecosystem. Plants consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Fish consume oxygen, give off carbon dioxide and ammonia, giving them an important role in the balanced pond. They also consume algae as a routine part of their diet and control pests in the water. There are some exciting fish choices for the water garden - Goldfish, Comets, and Shubunkins are the most common. A more difficult-to-find fish is the Golden Orfe. Orfes are larger than the others mentioned, and they school as they flash through the water. Smaller fish might include Rosey Red Minnows, Rainbow Dace (a.k.a. Shiners), and Gambusia (a.k.a. Mosquito Fish). These are all practical choices for the water garden, as these fish do not tend to interfere with plant growth.

Follow our guidelines:

- Keep no more than 1" fish per sq. ft. surface area. Unless you plan to increase pond size and/or filtration, plan for the eventual growth of the fish and keep fish population down!

In the Koi pond, the focus is on the Koi. Known to be the “flowers” of the pond, these fish come in varied colors and designs, and they can get to be as large as 3’ long and can live for more than 50 years! It is important to provide a protective environment for Koi, as there are predators who would love to have them for dinner. Shelter and shade are strong planning and design considerations for the Koi Pond, as their most common predators, big birds, like open spaces. Since fewer plants can live harmoniously with the Koi, shading the pond will provide an environment that is less friendly toward algae.

Here are some guidelines for your Koi pond:

- Koi require a LOT more water than smaller fish. Stocking density is affected by many variables: The number of plants in your pond, the type of filtration system, and the dissolved oxygen levels in your pond. The waste handling capacity of your filter system and how much of what quality food you feed your fish also play a big role. Allow 100-300 gallons + for each adult Koi!

- Provide your Koi with adequate swim space- a minimum of a 10’ x 10’ surface. A depth of 4’ provides both vertical space for exercise and water pressure for good fish body confirmation, and more gallonage to dilute their waste.

- Include a marginal shelf (at least 2’ deep) to facilitate servicing the pond, but deep enough to discourage predators.

- Adequate filtration is a MUST! Koi ponds require a much higher degree of filtration and circulation than water gardens. Koi grow quickly, and a pond that does well in its first 1 - 3 years could be challenged later if the filtration is not able to handle the increased fish waste. Spec. filtration for the intended number and size of Koi.

Feeding and Monitoring Guidelines

In the water garden, feeding fish is a choice, not a necessity. There is plenty of natural food available for a light fish stocking load. In a Koi pond with no plants, this is not true. Be aware: Know that fish feeding and green water are linked! Also, fish in your pond grow and multiply, thus you can count on the need to cull fish in your pond at some point. Late fall/early winter is the best time to cull unwanted fish - the water is cooler, fish metabolism slows down and they are easier to catch. In the spring, after a long winter, their immune system is weak and they are susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections.

- Regular fish feeding provides the pondkeeper the opportunity to monitor fish health on a regular basis. Look for changes, laziness, or anti-social behavior. If you notice any abnormalities, first check your
water quality, then get help to determine the problem and course of treatment.


Be aware when purchasing new Koi and goldfish. While they are hardy creatures, travel can be a very stressful experience for them. Their immune systems are often suppressed, and they can already have parasites, bacteria, or fungus problems.

- CHECK fish for visible wounds, and look for “ick” and torn fins and tails BEFORE you bring them home.

- DO NOT put new fish directly into your pond! DO quarantine your new fish! Even fish which look good can be a problem to your pond.

Follow these quarantine procedures to prevent trauma to your fish and YOU !!

Basic Equipment:
- Quarantine Tank to hold at least 100 gallons
- Pump w/ Filter- 200-300 GPH or Air Pump with Airstone
- Dechlorinator. One which binds ammonia can help keep levels safe.
- Short-Handled Net labeled for quarantine use ONLY.
- Grating or netting laid over the top of the tank to prevent fish from jumping out.
- Test Kits- KH, pH, ammonia, nitrite, salt
- Non-Iodized salt
- Pond Thermometer

Basic Set-Up:
- Clean out the quarantine tank, using bleach solution(10% bleach to 90% water) to disinfect...
- Fill up the tank, pumping water from your pond.
- Start up the pump and check for possible leaks.

The Regime:
1. Place fish in quarantine tank. If fish is in a bag, make sure the water temp. in the tank is similar to that of the bag. This can be accomplished by setting the bag in the tank for 10-20 minutes. If fish look stressed, place the fish immediately in the water by hand or net. DO NOT add the water from the bag as it could be contaminated. Wait 6-8 hours to feed the fish a small amount of food.

2. After 12 hours, add salt to the tank. 1 pound of salt for every 100 gal. of water. Wait for salt to dissolve and test. Salt levels should read 0.1% - 0.3%. The water should remain within this range during the entire duration of quarantine. Test KH, pH, ammonia, & nitrite. Adjust accordingly. Ammonia & nitrite are TOXIC to fish. Your levels should read 0.00. This means NONE present. If ammonia/nitrire is detected, do a 10% water change and consider using an ammonia binding dechlorinator/product. Remember to re-salt for the amount changed if a water change occurs.

During this 3 week period (at a minimum), examine fish daily. Test for KH, pH, salt, ammonia & nitrite every 2-3 days. Adjust accordingly. Watch for odd behavior and any signs of sores or bacterial/fungal infections. Feed sparingly (every other day) and remove any un-eaten food after 5-10 minutes.

If the water becomes cloudy, perform a 30-50% water change.
Bucket out the quarantine tank- do NOT put this water in other ponds!
Refill the tank with water from your pond.
Note: This will dilute the salt level, so you will need to add more salt.

Moving Fish into Your Pond:
- Fill a clean bucket or tub with your pond water.
- Dip out a few fish at a time using the Q.Tank Net to the bucket. Minimize the amount of Q. Tank water in the bucket.
- Take the bucket over to your pond and remove them gently.
- Repeat until all fish are transported.

DO NOT move any questionable fish into your pond!
DO NOT pour your quarantine water into your pond!

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