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Why Are My Fish Trying to Jump Out of My Water Garden? – Water Garden Q & A


Koi jumping out of the water.

Q: My fish are jumping out of my water garden. Is there any reason for this? How do I get them to stop? – Several Customers

A: Fish will jump out of the water for what seems to be no reason at all, but sometimes that isn’t the truth. One reason for this jumping is lethal ammonia levels. As fish excrete waste, ammonia levels begin to rise and if sufficient nitrifying bacteria are not present within your filter to breakdown this ammonia, it can become extremely deadly for fish. Constant high levels of ammonia will cause burns on the fish’s gills, thus causing them to want to jump out of the water to escape the pain. If your fish are jumping out of the pond, immediately test for high ammonia levels using an ammonia test kit. Doing a 20% to 25% water change as well as adding beneficial bacteria will help to bring ammonia levels down.

Another possible reason, is low oxygen levels. Usually the fish will seem to gasp for air on the water’s surface but they have been known to also jump out of the water as well. Use an oxygen test kit to test for proper oxygen levels and make sure during the warmer months of the year you have an aeration system running in your water garden. Another cause of low oxygen levels is after using an algaecide to kill off algae. When algae dies it takes oxygen from the water. If there is an abundance of algae and all of it is killed off in one treatment, there is a possibility for the oxygen levels to get extremely low. Doing a 20% to 25% water change is a quick short-term fix to get fresher, oxygenized water into the water garden.

As the above happens, the stress level of the fish can rise, it is always a good idea to add pond salt to your water garden. Pond salt will help the fish calm down as well as help to protect them against common fish diseases.

2 Responses

  1. Rick,

    Every water garden needs aeration. Now is your water garden getting enough is really the question. Usually a water garden will get some aeration from either a waterfall or a fountain spray. One of the biggest factors is determining whether you need additional aeration will come down to oxygen demand or how many fish you have in your water garden. If you have quite a few fish taking up the oxygen supply, I would definitely recommend adding an aeration system to ensure your fish will be safe during those very hot summer months.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Do I need areation? My water gardens holding volume is 6,000 gal. With all the rocks and stuff I metered in 1504 gals. of water. My pump with head pressure and all will pump 5700 gal. per hour. My waterfall has 5 drop offs. O2 tests at around 9, when tested early in the day. Day time temps the day before were 112.

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