Gardens: How best to stock your pond with fish

PUBLISHED: 11:43 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:00 19 March 2018

Make sure you have well-oxygenated water

Make sure you have well-oxygenated water

Picture: PA

From picking suitable species to ensuring your pond is safe, Hannah Stephenson runs through some key points to consider before you start.

Hopefully the ice on your pond should now have melted, so it may soon be time to think about stocking it with suitable fish.

The best time to buy them is when the water temperature is rising and has reached about 10C (50F) - but which are the best buys?

Here’s what you need to know...

Choose a suitable fish

Among the most popular, exotic and expensive are koi carp, which are classified by scale types, patterns and colours. But be warned, if you want to keep koi well, your pond must be large and deep, with crystal clear water. Koi and other carp can grow to 75cm or more and some are worth thousands of pounds, so you may want to consider how secure the pond is before splashing out.

A less adventurous option is the common goldfish, which is easily bred and generally no longer than 15cm, ideal for most ponds, and will tolerate water as warm as 35C (95F), although not for long periods.

There are also fancy types of goldfish with enlarged heads and big, bubble-eyes, but many don’t tolerate extremes in temperature, such as freezing weather or prolonged periods of heat.

Orfe, rudd and roach are also popular choices, although as many spend a lot of their time near the surface, you may need to protect your pond with netting to stop cats and herons from taking them.

Go to a reputable supplier who will allow you to examine and pick out your fish. The healthiest ones should have bright eyes and a sturdy body, with a stout dorsel fin. Fish with missing or damaged scales are best avoided, as the exposed tissue beneath the scales may be prone to fungal infection. But do remember not to mix exotic with native species, or you’ll have a fight on your hands. Sticklebacks, for instance, will eat every goldfish egg as it’s laid.

Keep your pond healthy

Whichever fish you choose, the general rule for keeping them healthy is to have well-oxygenated water, varying depths, and sufficient food, shade and shelter. Get plants established and make sure the water is clear before you introduce the fish. A well-planted pond should ensure goldfish can acquire most of the food they need, although some additional feeding will be necessary.

If you have a wildlife pond, be aware that this is likely to attract other creatures, including predators such as herons and kingfishers, so the fish you choose should match the environment.

In this instance, it may be wise to avoid highly coloured ornamental varieties and go for native species which are cheaper to replace, such as dace, roach and rudd.

Remember that fish can be fussy

Some fish don’t like clear water - carp will disturb mud at the bottom of a pond to make it murky and camouflage them. And when buying fish, remember that they feed at different water levels. Koi feed at a minimum depth of 3ft (1m), so avoid shallow pools, while orfe are active surface-feeders, which can grow to 45cm or larger and are unsuitable for small ponds.

Don’t overfill the pond

The number of fish you have in your pond depends on its size. Surface area determines how much oxygen is available to them, so work out how many fish you can accommodate by following this general rule: multiply the average length of the pond by its average width, to give you the surface area.

Apply a general rule of 1in of fish to each square foot - that’s 25cm of fish per square metre. If in doubt, take advice from reputable pond and aquatic centres. It’s better to have too few fish than too many.

Keep the water oxygenated

Deep water ponds also retain a more regular temperature and more dissolved oxygen during warm weather. If your fish dart about, it may be that they have become stressed because your pond is too shallow or there are not enough corners for them to hide.

You can keep fish in a pond without plants, but most gardeners prefer to add some aquatic greenery to make the area seem more natural. And don’t worry about algae, because this provides a vital breeding ground for insects on which fish can feed.

Fish should be fed around twice a day in summer, but don’t overfeed them. In winter the feeding can be cut down. And in hot weather, top up the pool with a hosepipe or turn on the pool pump to circulate the water more efficiently and create more oxygen.

Acclimatise the fish

To acclimatise fish to a pond, it’s best to buy them small. They are generally transported from aquatic centres in plastic bags. To help them adapt to the lower temperature of the pond, sink the unopened bag into the pond for an hour or so, adding a small amount of pond water, then you can gently open it to release the fish.

Property search

e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Other Hampstead and Highgate property news

Wasps: a total nuisance or horticultural hero?

They may be the biggest nuisance at summer barbecues, but wasps are also of great benefit to the garden - but how so? A top entomologist reveals all

Seven ways to make sure your dahlias dazzle this summer

As dahlia societies nationwide stage their annual shows this month, expert Katie Kingett offers seven tips to success with these late summer showstoppers

Rug designer Sonya Winner, opens showroom in Dartmouth Park

Emma Rice talks to rug designer Sonya Winner about her passion for colour and her new inspirational showroom in Dartmouth Park

Inside the St John’s Wood home of interior designer, Brian Woulfe

This elegant apartment in St John’s Wood has been carefully curated by interior designer and former concert pianist, Brian Woulfe

House price gap between London and regional cities set to narrow over next two years

The property price gap between London and other cities around the UK is predicted to narrow in the next two years according to figures published by Hometrack

Tom Dixon kicks off series of architecture and design events in Kings Cross

Architecture and design discussion group New London Architecture will be hosting a series of dinners at Spiritland in Kings Cross this summer, starting with an event featuring renowned furniture, lighting and home accessory designer Tom Dixon, on Thursday, July 26.

‘The means of production are changing’ - designer Tom Dixon looks to the future

Tom Dixon, designer of iconic modernist furniture and lighting, has moved his business to a new Kings Cross HQ. Here he talks about what he learned working in the music industry, moving to the epicentre of London’s future industries and finding new creative ‘obsessions’.

New Middle Eastern antiques department opens at Alfies in Lisson Grove

One of London’s last remaining indoor antique markets, Alfies, on Church Street, has launched a dedicated Middle Eastern art, antiques and design department, spanning two floors and more than 4,000 square feet.

Eight ways to get your kids into the garden this summer

As the school holidays beckon, designer Ann-Marie Powell

shares top tips with Hannah Stephen for getting youngsters outdoors

Looking after your lawn: three essential tools

Love your lawn? So, get the right tools to help you maintain it in summer. Hannah Stephenson selects three essentials to make the job easier.

David Walliams is selling Noel Gallagher’s former Belsize Park home

Britain’s Got Talent judge and author David Walliams is selling his Hampstead home for 5.35million with Marcus Parfitt.

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

2018 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant