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My fish are looking for food, can I feed them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

My fish are looking for food, can I feed them?

My fish are looking for food, can I feed them?
Arlette, Arlington, VA

Now that the rain and warmer weather has melted the ice away from your water garden you can see your decorative pond fish moving about the pond. After a long winters rest you would think they are hungry and ready to eat but it may still be too soon to feed your fish.

Temperature is a major determining factor in whether or not it is time to feed your fish and what type of food you should feed them. Install a floating pond thermometer within reach of the pond’s edge so you can readily check water temperatures throughout the day. Once the weather warms up enough to keep the pond water continually over 40°F you can start feeding your fish a wheat-germ based food like Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food. As your fish are still a bit chilly their digestive tracks are working at a decreased rate. Foods designed for cooler weather consist of easy-to-digest ingredients that can be broken down faster so they don’t sit inside your fish and cause problems.

Once water temperatures rise above 50°F you can switch over to your growth and color enhancing foods like Pond Logic® Growth & Color or Pond Logic® Professional fish foods. As your fish will be warm and fully active, they will have no trouble breaking down these denser high-protein foods.

Your decorative pond fish will naturally want to eat at any chance they get whether they are hungry or not. They commonly fool their owners into thinking they are starving as they splash around at the surface of the pond and fight for every last pellet you throw to them. Be sure to wait for the temperatures to rise before you give them food and rest assured that a small handful of food each day is all they need to maintain healthy diet.

Pond Talk: Is your pond free and clear of ice yet? Are you fish actively swimming around your pond?

Pond Logic Spring and Fall Fish Food

Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi?

Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi?
Chris – Cedar Rapids, IA

With all of our talk about koi and goldfish in our pond blogs you may feel that your fish are not being properly represented. That being said, we will speak less in generalities today and focus on some other, more specific, types of fish that need a little more wintertime TLC.

It has been mentioned in past blogs that your koi and goldfish fare surprisingly well over the winter. With a little help from wheat-germ based fish food like Pond Logic Spring and Fall and an aeration system or deicer, your fish will have a successful and trouble free winter rest and be ready for action come springtime. Common goldfish like Sarassa and Shubunkins are types of winter hardy fish that can be left outside with your koi.

Other types of fish like Plecostomus, Oranda, Telescope Goldfish and Black Moors do not fare as well and will most likely benefit from being over-wintered indoors. Refer to our past blog on how to bring your water garden inside for the winter, and for pointers on indoor ponding and relocating your pond hardware.

Depending on the layout of your pond and the average winter temperatures where you live, you may have to bring all of your fish in, or you may be spared from having to relocate them at all. Your pond should ideally be around 24” deep to protect your fish from exposure to the elements outside of their pond environment in cases of both extreme heat and cold. If you experience extremely cold winters in your area there is still a chance of the pond freezing through or the remaining water being too cold. Always keep a pond thermometer on hand and keep track of water temperatures when deciding to switch fish foods or to verify if it is time to bring your fish indoors. If you live in a warmer climate you may never experience ice on your pond or even frost and therefore have no need to worry about your fish becoming potential ice cubes.

Pond Talk: Do you keep fish in your pond that need special attention during the winter months?

Manage your pond's water temperature easlily

How do you spot a sick fish? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How do you spot a sick fish?

How do you spot a sick fish? Sharon – Romeo, MI

You treat your pets like children so it is easy to understand how upsetting it can be when one of them falls ill or does not feel well. While your children are able to tell you where it hurts, it is a bit more difficult to figure out what ales your fish. For this reason alone it is a great idea to focus on prevention instead of waiting to cure. What can you do to prevent fish illness and how can you tell if your fish may be coming down with something?

Keep your pond clean and healthy by providing adequate filtration, aeration, and regularly cleaning and adding beneficial bacteria to the pond. A DefensePAC is a great tool to help maintain water quality and a Pond Vac cleaning your pond easier and more enjoyable. When performing water changes use Pond and Fish Conditioner to detoxify any chemical or heavy metal contaminates in the water as well as reduce fish stress and improve their slime coat which makes them less susceptible to disease. Dosing your pond with Pond Salt will also help improve their slime coat and gill functions further ensuring healthy and happy fish.

If your fish still manage to fall under the weather the will almost always show some inconsistency in their behavior that will give you a clue as to what is going on. When fish are stressed or ill they will tend to be lethargic and less social, often just floating in one area away from your other fish. If they have anchor worm you will see them rubbing on rocks or the wall of the pond which is known as flashing. You can also visually inspect your fish for signs of illness. Deterioration of their fins, mouth or gills can indicate poor water quality or parasites. Look for loose or odd looking scale formations and sores on the body of the fish.

There are three steps to follow to nurture your sick fish back to health. First, since most illness is due to stress or water quality in their environment you will want to provide some temporary relief from the source. Start by performing a 25% water change in the pond to get some fresh water into the system. If only a few fish seem to be affected you may also choose to set up an isolation tank and treat just the affected fish. Next add salt and be sure both the pond or isolation tank has adequate aeration.

Step two is to identify the fish sickness based on their symptoms. Take pictures, examine the fish for and cuts, redness or inflammation in the gills and record their habits. Once you’ve identified the symptoms you can choose the next course of action which may involve additional medications or treatments.

The final step is to reevaluate your normal pond routines. Go back to see if there is anything you should change to prevent illness in the future. When dealing with sick fish it is always important to focus on preventing issues before they have a chance to ruin your ponding season so you can spend the majority of your season playing with your pets instead of playing doctor.

Pond Talk: What have your experiences been playing doctor? Have you avoided sick pets? How?

Pond Logic Pond & Fish Conditioner

Why do Koi (and Goldfish) Change Color? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Why do Koi (and Goldfish) Change Color?

Why do Koi (and Goldfish) Change Color? Colin – Sunbury, OH

You’ve now created the perfect pond habitat and begun to add fish. Multiple trips to the pond store scanning the tank to find just the perfect one to bring home. Some have spots, some red, some orange with black streaks. At least you’ve found the perfect one, black and white pattern with orange freckles on the face. You make your purchase and carefully introduce your new friend to the pond. Everything is going great until one day a few months later you notice that those freckles disappeared and the perfect pattern is changing to white. What happened? Did the fear of the heron turn him white as a ghost? Is there something you did wrong? Luckily, most of the time it’s nothing too serious. Let investigate a few possible causes.

Sun exposure: If you are in a climate where you experience a cold winter and your koi have been hiding out in your pond waiting for spring you may notice your koi are a little lighter in color once the spring time thaw sets in. This is common because koi do not receive a lot of exposure to the sun over the winter months. Once they get back into the routine and the sun begins to shine this color will usually return.

Genetics: Most koi come from parents that were not identical so the same rules apply. Some coloration is dominant and some recessive. This could also change with time the same way your hair color changes. Someone born with red hair may turn blonde or brown as they grow older. This is just a natural part of growing up.

Stress: Stress factors such as predators, parasites, water chemistry or water quality may affect coloration. A quick change in pH due to overwhelming organics or over population would cause a stressful environment which may cause a color change. Be sure to test your water, address water quality issues if necessary or treat the pond with pond salt, pond and fish conditioner or fish disease control. Watch your fish for behavior clues to determine if they are stressed.

Food: What type of food do they eat? Inexpensive bulk food may not contain as many vitamins and nutrients which may affect coloration. This does not necessarily mean the fish are unhealthy but they may not be receiving enough vitamins to support their color. Try feeding them food such as Pond Logic Growth & Color fish food, which supports coloration or even include fruits and vegetables such as oranges. Koi will love the citrus and this could greatly enhance their color.

Once you’ve addressed all these possibilities sit back, relax and enjoy your koi. The color may have changed but their playful personality will still be the same!

POND TALK: Have you ever had your koi change color?

Aerate your pond

I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Pond Fish & Koi Acclimation
I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? Paul – Baytown, TX

Best In Show

So you’ve made the decision to invite a few new friends to your home, but are you getting more than you bargained for? As is true with any purchase, you want to make sure you are getting quality before you hand over your hard-earned dollars. Inspect the fish you intend to purchase for symptoms of illness or poor health. Look over their fins, mouth, and gills for blemishes, discoloration, or signs of fin rot and check their body for growths, loose or missing scales, or other blemishes as they may be an early indicator of disease or parasites. Take a few moments to observe your prospect’s behavior to make sure they are active and having no mobility hindrances.

Prep The Pond

Your newly purchased fish are typically handed over to you in an oxygenated plastic bag or container to allow adequate time to transport them to their new home. While it may be tempting to just dump them into your water garden upon your return home, you will want to make sure your pond is ready to accommodate its new inhabitants before you begin their acclimation process. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the water in your pond is free from potential fatal heavy metals and chlorine by adding Pond & Fish Conditioner during your water changes.
  • To help prevent disease and reduce fish stress in your new tenants, add Pond Salt to the water between your water changes. To ensure the well being of your Aquatic Plants, only add 1 1/4 cups per 100 gallons of pond water.
  • You can purchase a Master Test Kit to verify acceptable pH and Nitrate levels in the pond.
  • You can prevent many potential health issues throughout your fish population by simply maintaining a clean and healthy pond. You can read more about pond maintenance here.

Well, You Better Get Used To It

Now that the pond is ready for the addition of fish, it is time to get your finned friends ready for the big show. You will want to gradually equalize the temperature of the water your fish are currently occupying with that of the water in your pond. If the container carrying your fish floats, go ahead and place it in your pond. As the bag bobbles around in your pond, the water inside will start balancing with the outside water temperature. This process should take no longer than 30 minutes. During this time frame, slowly add small amounts of water from the pond into the container which will allow your new fish time to acclimate to the chemistry of your pond water. Most of us have, at one time or another, jumped into a pool too early in the summer only to find that the water is unimaginably cold. Those of you who’ve been in that situation understand why you will want to take your time with the acclimation process. Now that the water on both sides of the container is the same and the fish have had time to try out the make up of the water in the pond, you are clear to release them into their new environment! Take a few moments throughout the day to check in on the pond and monitor the behavior of the newly introduced fish. Active and curious fish are happy and healthy fish.

POND TALK: Are there any tricks that you’ve done to acclimate your fish?

Remove Heavy Metals and Chlorine with Pond Logic® Pond & Fish Conditioner

Why are my koi chasing each other? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Why are my koi chasing each other?

Why are my koi chasing each other? Christie – Moline, IL

The Thrill of the Chase

Just like any other pet, Koi provide pond guys and gals everywhere with entertainment and companionship. So now your new found finned friends are chasing each other around and being rather aggressive towards each other. This violent activity may seem disturbing to us but for your Koi it is actually a natural process. No your fish have not transformed your water garden in their very own fight club; this is their way of courting each other.

With Friends Like You…

So nothing says love like bashing your partner into a few plants and rocks right? What you are seeing is the male Koi(s) chasing the female around the pond trying to push the eggs out of her by pinching her between rocks or other males. It is during this process that the eggs are released into the water and fertilized. While we may have been a little slow to realize love is in the air … or in your pond rather, there are still a few things you can do to help your Koi have a successful spawning season.

Bring On The Plants: Adding Aquatic Plants like Hornwort and Water Hyacinth in your pond will provide excellent surface area for freshly laid eggs to attach to and will also provide coverage for them.

Keep It Clean: It is important that you keep the water in your pond clean and free from disease while the fry are developing. Perform regular water changes and use Pond & Fish Conditioner when adding new water to remove any chlorine and toxic heavy metals from your tap or well water. Make sure you are adding Pond Salt to the water to keep fish stress down and also help prevent diseases.

Survival of the fittest…

After the fry hatch, you may not see the new additions until they become big enough to fend for themselves. Once they hatch they hide and fight for survival. Koi are not loving parents, they tend to eat their own eggs and fry. Out of thousands of eggs koi lay, only a select few will survive.

As your new additions began to grow, there will be added ammonia and nitrates in the pond. If you plan to keep these new Koi make sure you are providing adequate Filtration in your pond and you are not deviating from a practical fish load for your size pond. Having more fish in your pond than your filtration can handle will lead to additional more severe algae blooms and muck accumulation. It is important that you keep adding beneficial bacteria such as Nature’s Defense or Muck Defense to break this waste down.

Pond Talk: Have you seen baby koi in your water garden?

Pond Logic® Pond Salt

Why are my goldfish changing colors? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Why are my goldfish changing color?

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: Why are my goldfish changing colors? – Emily in New York

A: Whether you have a traditional goldfish in your pond or one of the many fancy varieties, you may notice their colors change over time – don’t worry. It doesn’t necessarily mean your fish have some sort of disease! In most cases, it’s normal for goldfish to change color. So before you start dumping antibiotics in your pond, first consider these possibilities:

Genetics

Goldfish naturally change color as they age. Though most do so during their first year or two of life, others change throughout their lifetime. Fish experts have identified two different types of color changes in fish: physiological and morphological.

Physiological changes occur when the pigments in the cells either spread out, which makes the colors more pronounced, or when the pigment clusters in the center, which makes the colors more muted. Morphological changes occur when the actual number of pigments in the cells increase or decrease. An example of a morphological change is when a black goldfish starts to turn orange or a young goldfish loses its black markings as it ages. In this case, as the fish matures, it’s losing its black pigment cells.

How and when their colors change really depends upon their individual genetic makeup. Inexpensive goldfish whose parents are unknown can change in unpredictable ways, while expensive show-quality fish will be a bit more predictable.

Color-Enhancing Foods

Certain types of food, like Pond Logic Growth & Color Fish Food, can accentuate subdued colors in goldfish, too. Sometimes, a dull orange goldfish can be made a deeper shade of red with these specially formulated diets, which contain natural color-enhancing supplements like spirulina, beta glucan, vitamin E and vitamin C.

Keep in mind, however, that some of these color-enhancers may affect other colors, too. White areas on calico orandas, for instance, may take on an orange hue – which may not be the look you’re going for.

Illness, Poor Water Quality

If your goldfish’s color becomes very dull or it starts to become inactive, that could be a sign of illness or poor water quality. Use a test kit, like the Pond Care Master Test Kit, to check your water quality, including your pH, ammonia and nitrite levels. Then, if necessary, add a broad-spectrum medication, like Pond Care’s MelaFix or PimaFix, to treat parasites or bacterial infections your fish may have.

POND TALK: Have your fish changed their “spots?”

Treating Common Fish Diseases: How to Treat Anchor Worms. – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of Koi with Anchor Word

Q: Treating Common Fish Diseases: Anchor Worm

A: What are Anchor Worms? Anchor worms are small crustaceans that start out their life as free swimming and find a fish to burrow their way into. The anchor worm will bury themselves into the fish’s muscles where they live for several months while developing. After developing, they make their way out of the fish, a process that often leaves bad wounds. Right before the anchor worm dies, it will release its eggs. The cycle is then repeated over and over again.

What are the Symptoms of Anchor Worms? First off, an obvious sign is a very visible parasite attached to the body of the fish. In early stages, it will look like a red sore or pimple. The fish will also “flash” or try and scratch the parasite off its body by running itself into rocks.

What Causes Anchor Worm and How can I Treat It? Anchor Worms are not caused by high levels of fish stress. Fish are usually infected by newly added fish already carrying the parasite or newly added aquatic plants that have anchor worm larvae on them. Since Anchor Worms’ larvae are free swimming in the water garden, the whole body of water must be treated to get rid of future cases. This can be accomplished with Dimilin. Dimilin is specifically designed to treat Anchor Worms. Although Anchor worms are a parasite in many cases a secondary bacterial infection will occur due to the open soars. To help fight against this secondary infection it is recommended that PimaFix be added along with the Dimilin.

How do I treat Fin Rot or Tail Rot? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of Tail Rot

Q: My mother-in-law has a water garden in her yard. One of her gold fish now has no rear fin. It looks like he had gotten stuck between some rocks or something had gotten a hold of it. The fish is now laying in the rocks, but having a hard time swimming. What do I do? -Faith of Granite Falls, NC

A: When a fish begins to lose their fins or tail, it is usually referred to as “fin rot” which is a bacterial infection. This can happen for many reasons such as stress, poor water quality and/or an over population of fish. Any one of these can all cause a fish’s immune system to become weak making it vulnerable to bacterial infections.

If your fish already shows signs of “fin rot”, the following is recommended: Melafix , Pond Salt and Anti-Bacterial Fish Food. This will treat both externally and internally. Depending on the size of your pond and your ability to isolate sick fish you can choose to treat your entire pond or set up a treatment tank.

Good Fish Keeping Tips to Prevent Diseases:

1.) Use Pond Salt to lower stress. Adding pond salt to your pond will lower stress as well as treat for almost 80% of the common fish diseases.

2.) Maintain good water quality! This can be accomplished by having an adequate filtration system, reducing fish population, less frequent feedings (and use high quality fish food) and by adding natural bacteria such as the DefensePAC to reduce excess nutrients.

3.) DO A SPRING CLEAN OUT!!! Empty the water out if possible, power wash and remove bottom sludge and algae. Oxy-Lift can be a great tool when doing a clean out or performing regular maintenance.

4.) Perform regular water changes. You should do a 10-25% water change every 1-2 weeks. When doing water changes it is always recommended to use Water Conditioner to remove and detoxify chloramines and heavy metals.

5.) Add floating plants such as Water Lettuce and Water Hyacinth to reduce excess nutrients.

Melafix Dosage rate:
You will need ¼ cupful (60 ml) for every 600 U.S. gallons (2,280 L) of pond water. Repeat dose daily for seven days. Results can be seen is as little as four days.

Dosage rate for Pond Salt when treating for disease:
Use 5 cups of salt per 100 gallons – Note at this rate you will have to remove pond plants from the treated pond. If removing plant is not possible, isolate the sick fish into another tank with vigorous aeration.

Dosage rate for Pond Salt to prevent diseases:
1-1/4 cups per 100 gallons (for ponds with plants) and 2-1/2 cups per 100 gallons for ponds without plants.

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