Inherited pond with Koi at new house

ponder630April 9, 2012

As my title suggests I recently moved into my house that has a 12'x6' pond with an average depth of ~1.8 feet. Some parts are about 3' deep. Using a pond calculator it is approximately 960 gallons.

There are 4 koi (10", 6" , 2 that are about 4" and 1 comet goldfish and one small silver with black spot goldfish...maybe a shubunkin?? Cant really tell on that guy.

I think the pond is overstocked with fish from what I've read but I think the kois have been in the pond for several years...maybe that small goldfish was released in the pond since its so tiny.

I moved in November and threw a deicer in the pond so it didn't freeze over and now that it is spring I have some questions about the pond.

The fish seem to stay on the bottom of the pond most of the times except early morning and late evening. Is that normal? When I see videos of other ponds I see the fish actively swimming, enjoying the pond. Do they act like this because the water is cold? It is around 55 degrees. I feed them every other day, using small quantity using a "spring feed (more carbs, less protein I am told)". They get spooked quite easily when I walk out to the pond to feed them. I am using a feeding ring so I can get them to associate it with food, but when I feed them they tend to stay on the bottom. Only when I leave and observe them from the windows that the comet take food from thereone in a blue moon. I leave the food and ring overnight and the food is gone by the morning, but I do not know if the fish ate it or if the food sank.

I am wondering if the fish will act like this all the time or will my pond fish become more active and "enjoy the pond" and be friendly when I feed them. I am hoping this is because the water is cold and their appetites are not as voracious as they are when the water temp is warmer.

I am reading more about keeping koi and realize water quality is important so I've bought some test strips to measure nitrate, nitrite, ph, hardness, etc.

Nitrite 0

Nitrate 0

Hardness 250

Alkalinity 80

Ph 7.6

Filtration is just a small fountain pump with two filter media (one that is course and one finer foam) and some bio balls. It looks like it is doing a good job, unless I am reading the info wrong....

How often do you change the water? I have a shopvac that looks like I can use to suck up all the muck at the bottom.

sorry for the long winded post, but I guess you all need all that info to help give advice.

Thank you in advance!

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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

At 55oF the fish may still be in winter phase. They may take a while to get used to you. Be patient. There may have been predators that made them wary. Fish do recognize individuals so at this point you are still a stranger.

If you have an aerator they may get more active and the additional oxygen is good for their health. The pump sounds a bit small especially with that many fish.

Test strips are not very reliable. A pond water test kit is a much better investment.

Welcome to ponding.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 4:54PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

If there is no plant cover, all open clear water, they may be staying low to avoid predators. Having no cover can make them nervous and stressed. The former owner may not have fed them much nor interacted with them and they may not associate people with good things yet.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 8:59PM
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There were no plants in the pond at all. I have added one water hyacinth and one water lettuce about a week ago. I was told that they will multiply pretty rapidly once the weather gets warmer. I may buy a few more bunches of each so they have more cover.

I have an aquarium pump and have added a 5" round airstone to the pond last night.

Would adding some type of hiding spot help ease the fish? Perhaps a large PVC pipe of some sort around 8-10inches in diameter or a flower pot?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 7:34AM
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Get a hardy water lily in put it in a pot. This will provide lots of cover once the leaves come out. For your size of pond, 2 pots are probably the maximum you can have before they start to compete with each other for surface area.

The fish have to get used to you. It won't take long before they associate your presence with feeding and they will eagerly come up to the surface expecting to be fed.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 8:21AM
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jan2(z5 Illinois)

Ponder630, so where do you live? I am guess in the 630 area code of the Chicago area. Temps here are no where near ready for the fish to be really active. I agree about the lily but koi and plants do not usually mix well. Goldfish will be no problem with potted plants.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 12:25PM
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Just wanted to say Welcome to the Forum, I have been helped so much by everyone here! I have about the same temp here and am waiting for the weather to warm up just a bit more before feeding the fish. My fish are mostly hiding/staying near the bottom right now too, it's what they do in the winter.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 8:19PM
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Jan, I live in the western suburbs of Chicago. I've read that kois like to eat the roots and will destroy a potted plants. Are there any suitable options for pond covering that is "koi friendly"

Thanks for the warm welcome. I am learning a lot by reading past postings as well!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 3:23PM
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Make a couple of floating islands with lots f annuals or perenials that wil provde filtration, cover, and enjoyment.
I tak e lighting grids from the box sotre, cut to fit the area, cut holes for the plant pots. cover the bottom with great stuff for floatation, when dry do the top, but add dirts, pea gravel, sand,push into the grat stuff as it sets, tip if necessary, a little time in the sum andvthe great stuff will be orange/brown Rhe flowers, especially inpatiens will cover the great stuff

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 7:27PM
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Hi I raise koi fish, I'm a member of a Alcatel koi club I'm also currently studying to be a koi health advisor. One thing to look for in koi is if their fins are clamped to their body, as opposed straight out like wings. If they are clamped this indicates distress. If your koi are in a cold area, and their fins are not clamped they could just be slowed down for the winter.when the water temp reaches about 55 to 60 resume feeding and see if they become more active. I will be happy to answer any questions you have.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 8:24PM
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jan2(z5 Illinois)


I've been told that after you plant your lilies in tubs to cover the tubs with a wire so the koi can't get into the soil to uproot the plants. I would guess working with a larger, already established lily, would be the way to go.
If you want, send me your email and I will see if I have any to spare this spring.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 10:32AM
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Hi, I have also gained fish and ponds with a house purchase. I have 3 small ponds with one fish in each, I'm concerned about them all. We're in New Zealand, I live in a small town with no specialist shops and I've never owned a fish before. All ponds have quickly turned brown, are over grown and have both types of algae. The smallest pond I decided to empty, scrub and refill (yes, now I know I've caused my problems) The lillies had created a matt so I broke them down, repotted added a spike and put back in my clear pond, I added water ager and have a conditioner tablet dissolving at the bottom and yes I put the fish back in. The lillies leaves are dying but I can see new shoots. The fish hides doesn't eat the fish food left by the previous owners and I'm so afraid I've removed all it's food by trying to deal with the algae growth quickly. Plus I have the other ponds to solve and obviously don't want to make the same mistake again. Any advice for a novice?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 2:48PM
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