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How to Acclimate Your Koi & Other Fish – Water Feature Q & A


Picture of a koi in a container.

Water Feature Q & A

Q: When is the water warm enough to add fish in the spring? I have some in a tank in the basement and can’t wait to add them. – Lorrie of Michigan

A: Spring is a great time to add fish to your water feature, but you have to be careful when adding fish not to simply toss them into their new environment. You must acclimate them first. I’ll explain:

Since Lorrie has a tank in the basement and a water feature outside, it’s good to note that these are two different ecosystems altogether. The makeup of the water is different, the temperatures are different, everything about them is different. Thus, moving fish from one environment to another without allowing the fish to become accustom to the new environment (aka acclimate) can put a heavy load of stress or shock on a fish. Here are my recommendations when moving fish:

1.) Fill a water tight container using water from the environment’s they are already used to. Make sure this container is small enough for you to carry if you’re doing this by yourself. I suggest adding some Pond Salt to the container to help keep the stress levels of the fish at bay.

2.) Carefully place the fish into the container filled with water and cover with Netting or Cloth to prevent them from jumping out.

3.) Slowly began to add the new environment’s water to the container. (Take note that if the new environment was just filled with fresh water, you want to add Water Conditioner to remove any chlorine or heavy metals from the water before acclimating.) This process should be done slowly to ensure the fish adjust gradually. It should take between 15 & 20 minutes. After this time has past, release the fish into their new home. At first the fish may be skittish and hide, but in a few days they should adjust just fine.

When adding fish to a water feature I always suggest not to add too many at any one time. You must allow time for your pond and filter to balance the new fish load. Adding too many at one time can cause ammonia to reach lethal levels. Add only a couple at a time and use a Master Test Kit to make sure the water is fine before adding any more. It may take up to 3 to 4 weeks before you can add more.

3 Responses

  1. Also adjust the PH of both waters so they are as close as possible.

  2. I’M GLAD THIS QUESTION WAS ASKED. WE HAVE THE SAME SITUATION. I WAS UNSURE AS TO HOW LONG I SHOULD LEAVE THEM IN THE CONTAINER BEFORE I RELEASED THEM IN THERE NEW HOME.

    THANKS….GUY & DEE NY

  3. Be sure to check the temperture in the pond and the tank in the basement. they should be with five degrees of each other.

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