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How do I know it is OK to put my fish back into the outdoor pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How do I know it is OK to put my fish back into the outdoor pond?

Q: How do I know it is OK to put my fish back into the outdoor pond?

Ronnie – Salt Lake City, UT

A: This time of year, most of us are suffering with some cabin fever—including your pond fish. After being cooped up all winter long in a temporary indoor aquarium or tub, they’re ready to swim back to their spacious outdoor home.

But before you relocate your fish, you have some work to do first. The best time to return them to the pond is several weeks after you’ve done all the necessary chores to prepare for their homecoming. To make things easy, check out our four-step checklist:

    1. Spring Cleaning: First, clean out your dormant pond. Remove any debris that has settled over the past few months, and perform a thorough spring cleanout to remove winter buildup. This will give your finned friends a nice place to come home to—and minimize algae growth in the spring.
    2. Jump Start Filtration: About a month before you plan to return your fish to the pond, start your filtration system and let it run without fish. Turn on your mechanical filter and seed your filter pads with beneficial bacteria, such as Microbe-Lift® PL Gel, to speed the colony’s growth (but first make sure the water temperature is above 55° Fahrenheit with your pond thermometer). Keep in mind that in the spring, a filter can take four to six weeks to become established, so adding fish without adequate filtration established can result in quick algae formation.
    3. Test Your Water: While your pond is cycling, periodically check your water chemistry with a PondCare® Master Test Kit to ensure the pond water is balanced and pH, ammonia and nitrate levels are safe for fish.
    4. Acclimate Fish: The final step before re-homing your fish is to help them get used to the pond’s water temperature, which will likely be colder than their winter housing. Carry your fish out in a bucket and slowly add water from the pond to the bucket at 10- to 15-minute intervals, using your pond thermometer to check the water temperature as you go. This shock-prevention technique will allow them to adjust slowly—and safely—to their outdoor digs.

Your fish may become stressed during the indoor-to-outdoor transition, but you can keep it to a minimum by preparing their home and making sure they’re as healthy as possible in advance of their relocation. Have fun moving!

Pond Talk: Do you notice a change in your fishes’ behavior when they transition from indoors to outdoors?

Protect Your Prized Fish - PondCare® Master Test Kit

What’s the best way to introduce new fish to my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

What's the best way to introduce new fish to my pond?

What’s the best way to introduce new fish to my pond?
Chelsea – Eagan, MN

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.

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 and replenish the protective slime coating of your fish by adding Pond Logic Stress Reducer Plus 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.

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: What rituals do you use to ensure safe transport of fish into your new pond environment?

Pond Logic Stress Reducer Plus

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 Pond & Fish 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.

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