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Why Are My Fish Hiding? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Why Are My Fish Hiding?

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: Why are my fish hiding now when they didn’t before? Is something wrong with them? – Rob in California

A: There’s nothing more frustrating than hiding or skittish fish. Part of the joy of having a water garden is to sit by the pond’s edge, feed your fish and relax while you watch them enjoy their underwater world. When they dash off and hide at the site of anything coming near them, or they hole up and never come out, it almost defeats the purpose of having koi or goldfish in your pond! Here are a few reasons why your fish may be hiding.

New Digs

It’s tough to move into a new pond. If you’ve recently added new koi or goldfish to your water garden, you can expect them to be a bit shy or skittish. They need to check out their new home, get used to having new roommates and adjust to a new way of life. The fish already living in the pond could turn tail and hide, too. The new fish could spook the old fish, causing them to retreat to their favorite hole.

If this is the case in your pond, give the fish time to adjust. As soon as they’re used to their new home and used to one another, they’ll eventually come out of hiding. Encourage them to be social by tossing some floating food, like Pond Logic Floating Ponstix Fish Food, into the pond. That’ll bring them to the surface!

A word of advice: Before adding new fish to your pond, remember to quarantine them for a week or two in a separate tub to be sure they don’t have any parasites or fungal infections that could infect the rest of your population.

Water Changes

Fish can also become skittish and hide after water changes. Any change to their environment – like the water quality, pH level, or oxygen level – can cause them to stress, and when they stress, they may retreat to their favorite hiding spots.

To keep the water quality as even as possible, test your water’s pH, ammonia, nitrite and phosphate levels regularly using a commercial water testing kit. You’ll also want to keep your water well-aerated using a diffuser, like the Water Garden Professional Aeration Kit, to be sure the fish get an ample supply of oxygen. Also, be sure to check your filtration system regularly, cleaning or replacing filter media as needed.

Predators

Imagine looking up and seeing a clawed paw grab for you or a sharp beak slice through the water. Predators, like raccoons and herons, love a good sushi dinner – and that’s how they see your fish! If your pond and its inhabitants have been visited by hungry predators, your fish are hiding for their lives.

To chase off unwanted visitors, you can try a range of deterrents, including motion-activated sprinklers, like the Motion Activated Scarecrow; decoys, like the Great Blue Heron Decoy or 3-D Coyote Decoy; pond netting, like the Atlantic Pond Protector Net Kit; or reflective tape hanging from trees. Having 40-60% surface coverage of aquatic plants such as water lilies, water hyacinth or water lettuce will give your fish a place to shelter themselves from predators.

Under the Weather

Stressed or sick fish will also hide. If they’re not feeling well, it’s normal for them to segregate themselves away from the crowds. If you think your fish may be sick, try taking a closer look at it. Using a net, like the 4 in 1 Interchangeable Pond Net, fish it out and put it in your quarantine tank. After you determine what the problem is, treat the fish and the pond accordingly.

POND TALK: How have you coaxed shy fish out of their hiding places?

Is It Possible to Have a Weed-Free Pond & Still Have a Good Fish Population? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Porcupine Fish Attractor

Q: I would like to kill off the weeds in my pond but I am nervous that the smaller fish will not have any place to hide from the bigger fish. Is it possible to have a weed free pond and still have a good fish population?
- Scott of Texas

A: Absolutely. In most cases, artificial habitat is more productive than the real thing. For example the porcupine fish attractor (pictured left) is a simple way to create a working ecosystem within your pond or lake. Due to their unique design they create a natural habitat allowing multiple places for small fish to hide. The porcupine fish attractor is made of a custom green thin wall PVC. The green color allows the habitat to blend into the pond and the diameter of the PVC provides a safe place for minnows to spawn. Another important advantages are the sustainability of the PVC material. PVC will not decompose, cause any water quality issues, and will not snag a fisherman’s hook.

Note: For those of us northerners that enjoy ice fishing, now is the time to make your own fishing hole. Simply place the porcupine fish attractor where only you can find it and you’ll be sure to be filling your buckets come this winter!You can also build your own structure out of PVC or create a structure with rocks and boulders or other materials. If possible stay away from materials that can rot and put unnecessary debris and nutrients into your pond. Read more about creating fish habitat here.

How Many Fish Can I Have? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of a School of Fish

Q: How many fish can I have in my water garden? -Several Customers

A: There are many rules of thumbs out there regarding how many fish you can have in your water garden. Just remember, the old saying goes, “The more animals in the barn, the more doo doo to clean up.” With that said, if you have the number of fish that the picture to the left has…my guess is that you have algae! Below I am going to explain the 4-Key Factors in Maintaining a Clean, Clear & Healthy Pond Ecosystem. The way these factors work is this: If you plan to increase your fish load, then you must improve the other 3 to help compensate. Hopefully this helps!

1. The DefensePAC®:
The products included in the DefensePAC provides beneficial bacteria, trace minerals, and a fish and plant safe pond cleaner. The DefensePAC works to breakdown fish waste, leaves or other organics that accumulate in the pond. These are essential to maintain a clean, clear and healthy ecosystem.

2. Fish Load:
When calculating your fish load think of it in pounds of fish or total inches. For example, one 6” fish can weigh as much as four 4” fish. The number of fish will affect the overall fish load, although 10 small fish may only produce the waste of one large fish. With this said, remember that your fish are growing and in many cases multiplying. Always plan for the future and be careful not to overstock your pond.

3. Proper Filtration:
The size and type of your filtration system will depend on your total fish load. If your filter is not properly sized for max potential, your fish will outgrow the filter. In most cases filters on the market are rated for ponds containing no fish or a minimal fish load. It is always best to get a filter that is rated for at least 2x the water volume of your pond.

4. Aquatic Plants:
A simple rule of thumb is to have 60% plant coverage. This should consist of submerged, floating and marginal plants. Floating plants, such as Water Hyacinths, pull their nutrients directly from the water. Rooted plants, such as water lilies and marginal plants, create a great place for your fish to hide from predators. Please note when aquatic plants are not present, algae will take their place.

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