Introducing Pond Fish to Your Water Garden

Before introducing pond fish to your water garden, take time to be certain your pond is ready. Your fish will make a smoother transition if you are patient and give your pond time to balance before introducing new fish.

Balance your pond

It is a good idea to wait two to four weeks before adding fish to your garden pond. This allows time for chlorine to evaporate and for oxygenating plants to help remove nutrients from the water.

Introducing pond fish before giving your submerged and floating plants time to establish can result in extreme algae growth. Algae thrive on nutrients found in the water and the waste that fish produce serves as nutrition for algae. Oxygenators compete with the algae for nutrients and help balance your pond.

Also, pond fish will frequently nibble on plants and roots. Giving your plants a bit of time to get established, will give them the resilience they need. Your fish will also benefit from the cover provided by these water garden plants.

Late Spring is Best

Late spring to late summer is the best time to introduce fish to your water garden. In early spring fish may not be fully recovered from the strain of winter, and in the fall they will not have enough time to settle before the winter arrives.

It is also important to avoid moving fish when water temperatures are very low. At temperatures below 50F, fish are sluggish and their immune systems are less able to cope with stress.

Bringing Your Fish Home

Keep in mind that bagged fish have a very limited oxygen supply, so it is essential they you make their journey as quickly as possible. If you have to travel a lone distance, let your pond supplier know so that extra air and even oxygenating tablets may be used. They may even place the bagged fish in insulated boxes to help minimize temperature changes.

Before releasing the fish to their new home, float the bag at least 20 minutes in a shady portion of the pond. Allow even longer float time for larger bags.

"sudden shifts in temperature can be stressfull"

This will give the fish time to acclimatize to the water temperature in your pond. Sudden shifts in temperature can be very stressful to water garden fish, and even cause death if the shock is too severe.

Once released, don't be surprised if your fish go straight into hiding and you don't see them for some time. It may take up to a month for them to settle into their new surrounding. It may also take them some time to feed, especially if you have a well established pond with a healthy natural food supply.

Watch Out For Jumpers
When introducing pond fish to a new location, larger fish, particularly koi, may jump. If you are releasing large fish, consider placing a net over the surface of the pond for the first few days.

Netting Your Fish

There may be occasions when you will need to net your fish, either for transport, for isolation or during pond maintenance. For the safety of your fish there are a few things to keep in mind.

"avoid actually lifting fish out of the water"

Be sure to use a net that is larger than your largest fish. Gently bring the fish to the surface of the water, but do not lift it out. Place a bag or flat container just under the water's surface and gently ease the fish into the water filled container.

Try to avoid actually lifting the fish out of the water, as this will encourage it to jump and increase the odds of it being harmed. Also, be sure to only touch fish with wet hands or you may remove the protective mucus from its skin.

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