Some Golden Rules of Koi or Goldfish Keeping

Page Summary: Like most things in life it is better to do something right the first time. Modifying or redoing projects is painful, expensive, and soul-destroying. This applies to building a koi or goldfish pond in a garden. On the other hand building a fish pond the right way can be an extremely satisfying DIY gadening job. My own chosen route is to get someone far more skilled at building and landscaping ponds than myself. I'm competent at caring for ponds and the fish in them but when it comes to digging holes, creating level ground, building waterfalls, creating edging I am hopeless. So dont be put off by your own limited skills. After all a fish pond no matter for koi, goldfish or indigenous fish is an investment for life. Rather do it right the first time... so you have a pond. What next?

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Selecting Goldfish, Koi or Other Pond Fish: Five Golden Rules

After all the time, energy, sweat and tears expended during the installation of a new garden fishpond, it’s not surprising that many excited new pond owners rush out to buy an array of koi or gold fish, only to neglect a few golden rules and then find themselves in a particularly fishy situation.

So before you give into the temptations that abound in a colourful, well-stocked aquatic store, take heed of the following five golden rules:

1. Set the Scene

If you’re stocking a new garden pond, you will have to wait for the pump and filter to run for at least a week, but ideally for two weeks, before stocking your pond with fish. This will give the beneficial bacteria in the filter a chance to multiply and the ‘ultra-hygienic’ water an opportunity to mature. If you have a friend or neighbour who has a koi or goldfish pond, you can ask them for an extract of their mature filter to help yours along.

On the other hand, if you’re considering purchasing new fish to replace the loss of others in an existing goldfish or koi pond, it’s vitally important that you determine the cause of death first – whether it be poor water quality, disease, old age or overstocking. It is recommended that you wait for a period of two weeks before replacing lost koi or gold fish, as this is an adequate amount of time to determine whether your remaining fish are experiencing continued health or whether their condition is deteriorating.

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2. When Stocking Your Pond - the Slower the Better

The toxic waste excreted by pond fish must be broken down if they are to continue living in their man-made aquatic environment. This means that the beneficial bacteria in your pond’s filter system must be populated to a level that is able cope with the amount of waste entering the garden pond. If too many fish are introduced to the pond environment too quickly, toxins will build up quicker than they can be broken down – putting your koi and goldfish at risk of disease and death. It is advised that you add new fish gradually over a few weeks, monitoring water quality every step of the way.

3. Find a Knowledgeable Aquatic Dealer

Koi keeping and fish keeping in general is an ongoing endeavour, so it’s best that you find an aquatic store that offers a good selection of dry goods and an array of fish. More importantly, however, you should form a relationship with an aquatic store that employs knowledgeable staff who aren’t merely concerned with making a quick buck.

4. Choose Your Fish Wisely

To avoid costly mistakes, consider stocking your new pond with a few relatively inexpensive fish as a way of first testing the waters. If there is a water quality problem and these fish develop negative side-effects, then you can correct the problem without incurring a great financial loss.

Obviously when you do finally choose koi or goldfish, only the healthiest ones will do, so what exactly should you look for? Healthy fish are active and will swim around the tank, whereas those which are less healthy will usually be more passive, tending to hang around the sides of the tank or lie on the bottom. You should look out for fish that respond to your shadow by swimming towards you, as opposed to those that remain motionless. Other obvious signs of good health include clear fins, skin and scales, as well as tank water that is clean, clear and odourless. Avoid purchasing fish that come out of water which appears milky or has a blue hue, as this is most likely a sign of medication.

5. Good Water Quality = Healthy Fish

While gradually stocking your goldfish or koi pond, it’s good to test the water quality with every new addition. Many aquatic stores provide a water testing service, but you might as well purchase pH and nitrite test kits if you are set on mastering the art of gold fish or koi keeping. Nitrite is a toxic by-product of fish, so you should only add more koi or goldfish when you are able to get a zero nitrite reading. The ideal pH falls between 7 and 8.5, with anything below 7 being too acidic.

On returning home from purchasing new fish, it’s best to help them acclimatise by letting them float in the bag for five minutes, then add some pond water to the bag and leave them for another five minutes, and only then introduce them to their new home.

Remember – even though you might feel the urge to feed your koi often, you are advised to feed them sparingly for the first two or three weeks while testing the pond water regularly to check for nitrite.

If you keep these five golden rules in mind when selecting koi or goldfish for your new garden pond, you are more likely to avoid making costly errors. Tread carefully and wait patiently for the results – they are worth waiting for.

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Dont stress over pond pH and Testing Koi Pond pH

Interpet Koi Pond Test Kit

I will make a few very important points here which should be taken very seriously by anyone contemplating measuring pH in a koi pond and then TAKING ACTION based upon the measured result from testing the koi ponds water. If you test do it reliably... Interpet lead this pond water testing field of the koi keeping hobby

  1. pH of koi pond water will vary depending on time of day measurement is taken and especially if plants are in the pond. This means if you take a pH at 9am it will not be the same as a pH taken at 6pm. This single piece of information therefore must never be the information relied upon to make fundamental decisions
  2. pH is notoriously difficult to measure even in a laboratory with sophisticated instruments let alone in a koipond or fish pond using a piece of litmus type paper or a vial with coloured scales on it.
  3. If you must measure pond pH and this is a great part of the hobby then take the pond pH at the same time every day and plot the result on a graph. So now what youre looking for is not a single pondwater result but rather a pH trend in the pond water that you can use to sensibly consider a pH strategy.
  4. Very high pH in a koi pond is a serious threat to the well being of koi when levels reach about 9.5 because at this pH level ammonia which is a natural metabolic product of the koi and its existence becomes extremely poisonous
  5. It would be extremely rare for a koi pond to reach dangerous pH levels but could well occur in koi ponds with serious algae problems

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