|How To Care For Garden Fish|
The most important factor in maintaining healthy garden fish is WATER QUALITY. Once you have built your pond, installed your filtration and introduced your fish and plants, it is important to monitor the quality of your water regularly. It is a good idea to maintain a record of fluctuations of water temperature and air temperature variances. This will help you to quickly and easily identify any severe fluctuations, therefore giving you the opportunity to take corrective measures before things get worse. Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH and temperature logs should be made at least once every 2 weeks. Pond water tests should be carried out when installing a new filtration system, changing the pond water or repairing damage to the pond. During these times it may be necessary to test the water daily. During mild summers, testing may be cut back to once every three weeks, and during periods of midwinter inactivity, testing can be stopped.
Using a test kit, for the “settling down” period of your pond’s life, will bring any potentially harmful water quality problems to light.
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It is during the settling of your new pond, which may vary from six weeks to three months, that the build up of beneficial bacteria takes place in the filter and the pond. These bacteria are responsible for the breakdown of harmful toxins that are produced from uneaten food, fish waste and any other decaying waste matter in the water. The level of beneficial bacteria needs to rise as more fish are added therefore it is important not to overstock or over feed fish in your new pond. Once this “Nitrogen Cycle” is balanced the majority of ponds require little maintenance although occasional testing of water for ammonia or nitrate is recommended.
Too many fish in a pond can cause enormous problems. The number of fish you have should be calculated by the surface area of your pond. As a general rule, for every 10 square feet, it is acceptable to keep one koi fish and one goldfish to every 3 to 4 square feet of pond water. However, this will vary depending on the size of the fish. Around 5% of food eaten by your fish is turned into ammonia. To enable your fish to remain healthy, it is vital to try and keep the ammonia levels to as near to zero that is possible, otherwise the fish are effectively poisoning themselves. An easy solution to this problem is to install a bio filter into the pond. This works by turning the unwanted ammonia into nitrates, which is a great plant fertiliser. This will in turn encourage algae to grow however, so a UV clarifier will also be needed. Other water quality issues include keeping the pond free of harmful chemicals such as weed killers and pesticides, maintaining the pH levels, and the temperature of the water relating to the personal needs of the species of fish you have. Any large fluctuations in water quality will stress your fish and make them susceptible to disease.
The second most important factor in maintaining healthy fish is regulating their feeding correctly. The amount of food fed to your fish should be governed by the temperature of the water, the more it rises, the more food you should feed your fish. The higher protein food should only be fed to your garden fish in the warmer months. Any uneaten food should also be removed from the pond as soon as possible; otherwise it will break down and make the nitrogen problem worse.
It is important that you look out for potential disease among your fish. There are many different illnesses which may affect your garden fish. Unfortunately disease spreads quickly among fish who share a pond, therefore it is essential diseases are spotted early on and treated as soon as possible. Tell tale signs of the onset of disease include refusal to eat, inability to swim properly, sinking or constantly sitting near the pond surface. Also be on the look out for any ulcers, sores, cuts, fungus, waxy lumps, split fins, missing scales or cloudy or infected eyes. Caught early on, the most common problems can be treated and cured easily and efficiently. Prevention is better than cure!
Pond medication is a minefield of information. There are hundreds of suppliers and so many pond treatment medications available on the market. This indicates how big a problem some strains of bacteria, fungi, virus and parasites can be to your koi, goldfish and other garden fish.
Pond medications actually treat the pond water and not the fish. The dosage applied to the pond water is determined by the volume of the pond rather than the size or number of fish. Therefore when using a long-term treatment it is essential to know the precise volume of the pond rather than the size or weight of the diseased garden fish.