Do you already have a backyard pond? If so, it may be time to add some ornamental fish to the mix to give it life and color on those dog days of summer. If you don’t have a backyard pond, what’s stopping you?
One of the easiest ways to bring the country into your suburban or urban backyard is to add a garden pond. The sound of a fountain trickling in the background or a slow moving stream is melodic. All that’s left is to stretch out in that hammock, close your eyes and pretend you’re at the cottage or your Granpa’s farm.
Backyard ponds, streams, or a mixture of both, are inexpensive and easy to install. You can buy kits that contain everything you need in one box, or you can purchase all the parts individually at a specialty store. Whichever you choose, please consider adding some fish to your backyard pond.
Backyard Pond Size Ideas
Finally, should you install a backyard pond from your own design and equipment purchased individually, you should make it as large as you can accommodate. A large pond is easier to maintain than a small backyard pond.
Large ponds also provide your fish with a more stable climate. Pollutants that enter the pond from outside will be diluted by the larger water mass, and the same is true for plant and fish waste. A large backyard pond is also more resilient to rapid temperature changes and there will typically be easier for the fish to hide if a predator, such as raccoons, rodents or cats, venture into your backyard to snack on your fish.
Pond Fish Varieties
The two most common pond fish are the goldfish and the Koi species. Both of these pond fish are relatively easy to keep, cheap to purchase, and come in a variety of colors, patterns and fin styles.
Goldfish are a great place to start as they are cheap and can be kept with most aquatic plant species. These fish can be kept in a backyard pond that is only two feet deep. Please note however that they should never be left out in the winter months in such a shallow pond. If water freezes in your area during the colder months of the year, goldfish will need at least 12-16 inches of water below frost level to survive the winter.
Japanese Koi like to eat many plant varieties and grow much larger than goldfish. Koi require ponds 1000 gallons or more that are three feet deep or more. Koi and Hi-goi carp are perhaps the most colorful fish, however, they grow far too big for the average garden pool. Koi are really lake fish. Never add them to a pool less than a hundred square feet of surface area.
Both of these backyard pond fish species have great color varieties. They control insects and are interesting to watch. Pond fish are not mandatory to a great garden pond, but they sure do add a lot of interest!
Although not always true – region, temperatures and other factors need to be considered – the general rule of thumb for stocking a backyard pond with fish is two to three inches of fish for every square foot of water surface area.
Some other varieties of backyard pond fish that you might like to consider are: shubunkins, orfe, rudd and tench.
Backyard Pond Fish You Don’t Want
Common and Mirror carp root in the bottom of the pond much like barnyard pigs. This is not good for plants. Native pond or river fish also don’t belong in your backyard pond. Some of these, such as pike and perch, will eat all of your other fish. They can also introduce various fish parasites and diseases to your healthy pond.
Feeding Backyard Pond Fish
Next you’ll need to know what to feed your backyard pond fish, how much to feed and how often?
Again, there is no fast answer to the question. Many factors determine what to feed fish such as their appetite, digestive ability, size of fish, water temperature, and current climatic conditions.
Here are some general guidelines to get you started off right:
- From spring to autumn pond fish are the most active and can be fed daily. Less will be required on during cold snaps right up until their state of torpor (suspension in ice water), when they do not eat at all.
- Feed them the best you can afford and they’ll be happier, healthier and live a longer life. Foods such as ants’ eggs, bread and biscuit meal are less nutritional and may result in digestive troubles.
- A good floating pellet of high-protein is the most hygienic way to feed backyard pond fish. Pellets are packed full of nutrition, and will bring fish to the surface where you can watch them. Plus you can net off any uneaten food which will keep your water cleaner, longer.
- Once your backyard garden pond is well established and has a variety of plant growth (which is very closely related to insect and larvae population), you may not need to feed your fish at all. However, continue reinforcing that natural food supply with pellets in the autumn, which helps your pond fish to get into top physical condition for the hard winter ahead.