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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.


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 3 in 1 Interchangeable Pond Tool, 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?

101 Responses

  1. I get so upset….i have a few goldfish that are scared of everything….if i vhange their water they get scared….if i go into their tank to clean it up a bit with a net or if i reach i. to fix an ornament…they group together in a corner everytime tbey see me for about 4 days. My other tank of goldies dont act like this….what can i do not to get them soo scared lime that….and why are they always huddling at bottom of tank when they see me….i try to do my best to take such good care of them.

  2. i have brown trout and i had this problem until i added little caves i made with big rocks and put a log going across the container,just create loads of hiding places and they instantly snapped out of it even when i hang over them they are fine to come out and feed

  3. My fish used to swim all around the pond but since I added an aerator at the bottom I don’t see them anymore. It’s like they hide out along the bottom where it is. I need to aerate the water but I also want to see my fish again! I never see them eat either. I throw the food in and nothing comes up to get it. Been like this for weeks now.

  4. Fish are all hiding together under a milk crate I have in my pond covered by rocks. Dont see any evidence of a predator water is clean. Introduced 4 new fish a week ago but they were all fine swimming together instantly. Do I move the crate ? They are out at night but all bunched up under crate during the day any suggestions??

    • Hi Angelo – If the crate is the only source of shade and protection in the pond the fish probably just prefer to hang out there during the day. Lilies and other floating aquatic plants that provide shade and a place to hide may give them more confidence to move around the pond during the daytime as well.

  5. Hi, my carp fish is hiding while someone go near the pond… At the same time it stay in one place without moving in that circumstance the other small carp fish is bitting it’s fin…. Why this happens?? Thank y. …..

    • Hi, There may be a couple factors at work here. With temperatures cooling down fish will naturally slow down and “hideout” more. Do the fish normally hide when you go near the pond? If so, feeding them food near the pond’s edge on a regular basis would help them become more friendly. Another reason may just be a battle for territory and hiding places. What size is your pond, how many fish and how large are the fish?

  6. We just introduced two small 3″ koi to our pond yesterday. They have been at the bottom since then; have not come up for food pellets. From what I gather, reading the posts, we just have to be patient.

    However, we have a fountain on our pond that ripples the whole surface like a soft rain. Could this be keeping the fish from coming up, or should that not matter?

    Also, are plants IN the pond necessary? We have plants around the pond which shade part of it. Will they need aquatic plants to supplement their diet?

    • Plants in the pond do provide some food source for the fish but even more importantly they help shade and filter the water, so adding plants directly to your pond would be beneficial. The fountain if anything may help the fish become friendly quicker. You will probably notice them playing underneath it frequently. When you do feed them though, you may want to turn the fountain off. This way you can see the fish easier and they will also learn to associate the fountain stopping with feeding time.

  7. Hi I have just set a pond up filtted it for a week and oxygenated it for a week the water is clean etc…I got 10 small gold fish they were swimming all over but these last couple a days they are starting to hide in the corner under the rock they are eating well but just seem to be hiding and 1 as died 😞

    • Hi Paul – Congratulations on setting up a pond, they are a lot of fun. Keep in mind that even though you had filtered the pond for a week it may take several weeks for the natural bacteria to seed in your filter and the addition of fish will add waste to the pond. Here is an article outlining what is happening in your pond as it gets established. Feed lightly for these next few weeks while your pond is still in its infant stages. If you notice any other issues with the fish you may want to add some Stress Reducer PLUS to help condition the water and protect the fish slime coat.

      • Another goldfish as died but all my other ones are starting to come out and swim about I have noticed the 2 what have died are a lot smaller then the over ones and a skinny when I got them I got 10 at once the rest are looking fine and shooting up in size I’ll keep close eye out on them and get some water treatment

      • Glad to hear the rest are doing well Paul, keep us posted, we love to see pictures of your new addition!

      • [image1.JPG]
        Sent from my iPhone

      • Hi Paul – Thanks for the image, unfortunately it won’t show the posted image in the reply. You can email us at pondhelp@ thepondguy.com

  8. alot of my fish were eaten by heron. I’ve now netted the pond but the fish just hide. will they come out again soon? I haven’t got many left now so will new fish help the old come out again?

    • Hi Paul – Your fish should eventually feel comfortable coming out again. Just be sure they have hiding places to feel safe. New fish that have been socialized or few extra pieces of food usually helps as well 🙂

  9. I have just started up a new pond got all ph and water levels right had pond running for 6 to 8 weeks put 4 5 to 7 inch koi carp in pond every time I go to feed them the hide or start going around pond really quick how long does it take for them to feed after 10 mins I’m taking pellets back out. Please give me some advice I even turn pump off and wait by pond for 5 to 10 mins look forward to your help thanks in advance.

    • Hi Gavin – Generally fish will feed pretty quickly, however with new fish they may still be skiddish in their new environment. Do you walk away from the pond? If so you may hear them begin to feed as soon as you leave. Have patience and keep trying. It only takes one brave fish to come up and eat and then the rest will join soon after. Once they are used to it they will be greeting you at the pond’s edge. Here is an article with a few tips for getting your fish to even eat right from your hand.

  10. Would all of this apply also to rainbow trout because that what I recently have in my pond

    • Hi Eric – For larger ponds it isn’t likely that you have any water changes or water issues. Predators are always a possibility. Keep in mind also that unless you are regularly feeding them pellet food you will be less likely to see them at the surface of the pond. Trout especially will stay in the cooler, deeper water.

  11. Hi, beginner here! Not quite sure if I should be asking here but…I have a comet goldfish which I’ve had for over 2 years. I recently got home after being in Taiwan for 5 months, and noticed he was hiding in his cave which he never did before I left. He’s also missing scales, his tail fin is torn and he is quite a bit skinnier. I left him in the care of my sister with detailed instructions on caring for him, so I’m not sure what could have caused this. From what I heard, he wouldn’t come out for food sometimes. I sat at his tank until he came out and then fed him, but he was really slow compared to usual. He was in a 10 gallon so I thought it had become too cramped and he started bumping into things, so I moved him to a 20 gallon. Also made sure to softly clean the filter (which was pretty dirty) and added some pH stabilizing stuff to the water. For the first day he was swimming around and doing great, but now he is back to hiding. I’m really worried…he’s my pretty little No Name, I’d hate to lose him. Could he be sick? How do u treat a sick fish?

    • Hi Rosie – I’m assuming you are referring the a 20 gallon indoor aquarium? Have you done any other water testing for water quality such as nitrates or ammonia? Unless there was a predator around water quality would be the next biggest stressor that could cause scale loss or fin damage. I wouldn’t jump to any treatment of the fish until you can identify what the actual cause is. Aside from being skinnier if he is eating that shows signs of progress.

  12. I am a beginner , I have a 630 gallons pond with 30 koi , each koi length is averaging about 7 to 8 inch .With biofilter in place , PH value at around 8 . Everything seems okay so far . But after reading an article on koi pond size , I am concerned about my pond depth . My pond size is 12 ft x 5 ft x 17 inch deep and holds around 650 gallons . The article said my koi will grow like a rugby ball. Is it true ? I am also confused , at night the koi seemed to hide in a corner , where there is no light. Usually we will leave the porch light on. Can you explain why the koi is hiding in one corner ?

    • Hi Gobi – Your pond depth is sufficient for the fish, however, you have a lot of fish in your pond. In order to keep the pond healthy you will need filtration rated for more than the size pond that you have in order to keep up with waste removal, or you may find overtime that the water quality will begin to decline. The koi may just be hiding at night in an area where they feel protected or mostly because that is just part of their normal cycle. Just like us koi use darkness as their cue to rest.

  13. ….also, what’s the behavior of happy, healthy fish? Thanks!

  14. Hi there- new pond “person” here 🙂 I was given five goldfish and some are part Koi, for my pond. I never thought I would worry about them as much as I do! I just did water tests for PH, ammonia, phosphates, and nitrates, and luckily all levels were great except slightly high ammonia (added treatment to water for that today). As far as I’ve seen since I got them a few days ago, they only come up to the surface to eat, otherwise they stay at the bottom. I figured it was a good sign that they are eating at least, but Should I be concerned about oxygen levels, since I don’t yet have aeration? I know it takes a while for them to acclimate and feel safe, but I just want to make sure I’m taking care of them. I will be getting the aeration supplies this weekend, so is it okay that they will have been in the pond for a week with no filtration, water movement, or aeration? THANK YOU for any advice you can give!

  15. How can I tell what is getting my fish? There is no sign of an anything getting into the pond and not finding any remains of fish. Had 5 two week ago now have 1.

    • Hi Jolene – The problem with good predators is they can be hard to catch. If you can not find any tracks or signs that indicate what has been visiting your pond you may need to start with taking some extra precautions like making sure there are places for your fish to retreat and hide. Here are some other tips you can use to help provide predator control for your pond.

      • Thank you. The pond does not have much cover. We did put some bigger rocks in the bottom so they would have more places to hide. Plan to find some water plants this week end as well. Any suggestions as to what to get?

      • Lilies and other floating plants work great if you have a heron because they would be more difficult to spot as the heron flies above. Bog/marginal plants like iris, corkscrew and other rushes are great for the edge of the pond to make it more difficult to fish from the pond’s edge. Good Luck!

  16. Hi,

    I have a pond of about 375 gallons with about 20 kois. I’ve set up a homemade filter which takes in water from the pond at the bottom and moves up through ceramic, brushes and coarse, medium and fine media before falling back in the pond. The pump also passes the pond water through a 36W UV sterilizer which outputs in a second gravity filter again containing coarse, medium and fine media. The pond was set up in April. Two months back, i noticed that my kois had stopped eating and were just hiding and that once i drained my filter and added a little bit of water, they were back to normal. Then again after 4 – 5 days, they started hiding again. When i have a look at the filter media, its not that dirty or clogged. Where could the problem be?

    • Hi there – Your water quality is likely poor. 20 koi is way too many for that size pond. We recommend 1 koi per 200 gallons. Without relocating fish to a larger pond, you will need to continue battling water quality problems.

      • HI,

        Thanks for the reply. I’m definitely planning a new pond. The only thing is that this will be by August 2015. Does it matter if the Kois are mostly between 3 to 7 inches?

      • The size doesn’t really matter. Koi can grow several inches per year. Adding another filter or more aeration will help the pond until you are able to get your new pond up and running.

      • Thanks. I’ll work in that direction for the time being.

  17. So i have 5 goldfish and they have all been hiding together by the wall next to the filter, or under the biggest plant. its a 10 gallon and they are each 1 inch, they’ve been fed, and i checked the current from the filter and i don’t think its that. its not bullies either because they are all together, and they’ve never had problems with that. I don’t know whats up, any help?

    • Hi Madison – How long has this been going on? Are they new fish if they are so small? I see 2 possible reasons for their hiding: 1. They are new and still getting used to their new home. It take a few weeks before they are comfortable. 2. They might have been a predator that visited that scared them. Again, it might take a few weeks before they come out of hiding.

      • They are about a year old and it had just started that day. There were no visitors. They’ve stopped since then, so maybe I’ll never know.

  18. Hi. I just started my new pond 2-3 weeks ago. It’s about 350 gallons and we have 7 small (about 4″) koi. We have been feeding them every other day in the morning, same time. The fish NEVER come out. I’m trying to be patient but how long does it usually take for them to get comfortable?

    • Hi Sarah – It take a few weeks to a few months for fish to become comfortable to be out all the time. With your pond size, you actually have too many fish. For koi, we recommend 200 gallons per koi.

  19. hi- I have a very large koi pond— very healthy and happy with about 50-60 kois— where we live it gets extremely hot- our pond is about 5 feet deep in the middle so they have a place to winterize– we recently did a deep cleaning of our pond– removed all fish and refilled and the pond looks beautiful– my fish always come up to feed and when they see us– but now I notice that they frantically swim around on the surface and are all on the edge of pond with heads stuck in the rocks— you can even go over to them and touch them and nudge them back into the pond— kinda stumped as they have never done this in over 8 years— nothing in pond and not being stalked by birds during day— whats up?????

    • Have you tested your water paramaters recently (pH, Ammonia, Nitrate)? If the entire pond was cleaned, one of these might be off until your biological filters have amped up to where they were. You can increase your beneficial bacteria usage for the next few weeks to help seed the filters. Are they gasping at the surface or just hanging out at the surface? It could also indicate low oxygen levels. If you are running an aerator, make sure none of the cords got kinked during the cleanout.

  20. Okay, so I am concerned about my 7 goldfish in our very large pond. Just about two weeks ago, we had a goldfish who had not been doing well, we thought that she was pregnant, and she appeared to have a nasty ulcer right on one of her gills. We got medicine for her, but then a little later, we came home and saw her floating dead on the water, thinking that she was attacked by a crane we had just saw the night before. Anyways, we had not seen any of our goldfish since before Winter, other than when one of them was following the fish that is now deceased. There has been no site of the other fish, and we are concerned if they might have gotten carried off by the crane. None of them have ate since about November, and we don’t know if there are any left. Also, for years on end, we have tried to keep up with our pond, spending thousands on replacement filters, bacteria, and water. We have a few plants this year, and we might get more. I just want to know if our fish are even still down there? Any suggestions?

    • Hi Dailee – If you have not seen your fish since before Winter, it’s unlikely they are still in the pond. You may have had another predator, like a raccoon, visit your pond. Have you done any major water changes or clean-outs? If they are still in the pond, you can try moving rocks or plant baskets to see if they are still around.

  21. Hi
    I have a big pond which contain goldfish and 4 koi.when I would go to the pond all would come to me and I would feed them.
    Yesterday I put in the pond 2 barley straw flake bags and I did a vacuum clean for the first time. What I noticed after that was my koi picking on the bags of flakes.
    This morning I went o feed them as always but none of the fish surfesed.I through in some food but still no fish appeared.
    I’m so worried as to what has gone on since yesterday
    Have the flakes done something to them
    Did they get stressed out from the vacuum which was by the way only a water hose one
    Or is it that the weather changed a bit yesterday an the water is colder
    I don’t have preditors as I live in Crete Greece

    • I just did a water check up and all levels ( NO3,NO2,GH,KH,pH,CI2)are very good

      • Also I want to add that I everyday I use a big net to fish out leaves and to pick up algae since the plants haven’t grown yet to overgrow algae and they didn’t seem to have a problem with me scooping around for 5 min so I find it a bit odd if they have been freighted by the vacuum

      • Hi Maria –
        I would guess its not the barley. Barley straw is typically safe for fish, plants and wildlife. The vacuum may have made them a little skittish. Even though you get a lot of debris out of the pond when you vacuum, you also stir the debris up. This change could stress the fish out. Just be patient, they will come around again.







  22. We’ve had our 3 new koi since September and they still hide all day under the pump. Since winter came early, I didn’t feed them since September and now feeding them Omega One medium pellets. They are still so shy and quickly swim back under the pump as soon as they notice I’m learning in (we have an above-ground pond). Would floating pellets help them come up to the surface? I’m afraid they’ll be too shy to come up. Help! Thanks!

    • Hi Audrey – Patience is key with new fish. If you haven’t already, make sure you have plant coverage or other hiding places for your fish. This could be caves, Koi Kastles or milk crates. If you give them additional hiding places, it will let them explore more. The floating varieties of fish food do make the fish come to the top to eat. Feed them in the same area at roughly the same time each day. Eventually, they will show you that they are ready for food by rushing to greet you at the edge of the pond with their mouths open.

  23. This is my first season with Koi, We had gold fish in our 11X14 pond a few years ago that would swim up to us. The fish would even swim upto the dog when she got a drink out of the pond. Our koi just rest at the bottom of the pond whenever we come around…I am trying to be patient with them.

    • Hi Kevin – It does take quite a bit of patience to train koi to come to the surface. Feed them in the same area at roughly the same time each day. Eventually, they will show you that they are ready for food by rushing to greet you at the edge of the pond with their mouths open.

  24. Hello all, I have added 2 new gold fish to my pond. They are much bigger then the others. 1 seems to move about easily with all the others while the second stays hidden. I have noticed that the one that moves about freely has taken to trying to push out the second from its hiding spot and move it about the pond. I am new to all of this and was curios if skittish one could be pregnant ? these two fish like i have stated are much bigger then all the others

  25. Our koi pond is very long, 175 feet and is fed by spring water pumped from a nearby creek and it flows back into the creek. A heron has visited it regularly and it is entirely too big to cover with a net so I had feared he had eaten every fish we had, a few koi and comets. It is under birch and poplar trees and so yesterday,, i went down to scoop out yet more leaves from the bottom. Lo and behold, I scooped out some comets and unearthed a koi. I am wondering if since our’s is an ‘open’ system instead of a smaller enclosed pond, if the gases that would normally become harmful from decaying leaves are being washed out in the fresh water system and the leaves are actually providing cover and warmth for the survivors? We will have to address the heron situation somehow in the spring when i re-populate the pond. How I am not sure.

    • The water exchange will carry stale water from the pond, at what rate though really depends on how fast the water is flowing. There are a few ways you can keep herons at bay. Decoys are effective when moved frequently and removed during mating season.

  26. This is a very interesting read. My fish have been hiding for 2 days now. The fish fed really well on Monday morning but then disappeared. I have a 11’X8′ pond with plenty of aquatic plants and rock structures designed for fish to hid in when the Blue Heron makes a call. I am betting that the pond had a visit from a Blue Heron and the fish are still skittish.

    Thank you for all the thoughtful and informative posts.

  27. I have a friend with a pond aprox.20′ in dia. and 6′ deep there were 7 or 8 large koi and this spring about 50 to 100 new fish were born. a couple of weeks ago they all disapeared over night. No sign of them since. What could have happened to them? do they go to the bottom and not come up even to be fed if the water is too warm? we’re stumped!

    • Hi Mark,

      If it happened in a very short period of time its possible the pond was visited by a predator or perhaps the larger koi. Large koi will eat babies as well. I would still keep an eye out though as there may be one or two still hiding out…if so you may not even catch a glimpse until the spring when they have grown and are safer to venture around the pond.

  28. i just got my 2 baby koi and 2 gold fish today. I aclimated them for a while in the bags but in the pond water. then after a while i let them out, they swam around and checked out the place then they dissapeared and they wont eat, i havent seen them since this morning. Anything to worry about?

    • Hi Ana,

      I wouldn’t worry to much yet, just be patient and slowly begin to feed them and eventually they will become more comfortable around you and their new home.

  29. We have 16 hiding koi in our pond. Normally as soon as I walk up to the pond they come to the surface for their food. We had bad weather (thunder & lighting) on Sunday – today is Tuesday they are still hiding. No impending storms coming. They have never hidden before during or after storms. At first I thought a predator got them, partially drained the water and they were all hiding at the bottom.

  30. PS… We have fishing line stung back and forth across the pond to keep preditors out.

  31. I purchased 7 small Japanese Koi 8 days ago for my outdoor waterfall/pond. 2 of them have been missing for 7 days. We have a lot of rocks for hiding as well as a large stone bridge that our fish love to go under. Coincedentally, the 2 that are missing are almost exactly the same. They’re completely sparkley silver. I’ve been throwing in pellets and all the rest of the fish (had some prior – got more yesterday) are schooling out to eat. Is it possible that they’ve been hiding all this time? Don’t they have to eat?

    • Its possible that they have been hiding and show up when no one is around. Some fish are just more shy then others and as you mentioned in your other post one brave fish may encourage others to join in. Koi can go upto a week without eating though and keep in mind that even if they aren’t feeding on the food you provide they will still eat bugs, algae and plants in the pond.

      • My 2 Koi are still missing. It’s been over 2 months. Could they have died behind some rocks and never floated up? It’s odd that the 2 that went missing are almost identical and the rest are all there. We have wiring across the pond to keep preditors out and pinwheels to help scare off that mean old blue heron that lives near by.

      • Hi Suzanne,

        If you have cave areas in the rocks or spots for them to hide it is possible they have just stayed under the radar, especially if they are smaller fish. I remember one season we had some baby koi in the pond that almost never came out into the open until they could run with the big fish in the pond.

  32. Please help… My goldfish just swim away from me when i try to feed them. I want to hand feed them so could you tell me how to? I have gone to the pond on a regular basis. Please could i have some tips?

    • I’ve had goldfish, Shabunkins and Orfs for a few years. They’ve been skittish since day one. They’ve scattered whenever I walk up. When I feed them, I sit near the pond’s edge and they’ll come to eat but as soon as I stand up… off they go like lightening. I recently added some 2″-4″ Japanese Koi to the pond and have noticed a difference in the other fishes behavior. Koi are far more friendly and seemed to have rubbed off a bit on the other fish but they’re still skittish. I’ve never heard of being able to feed anything other than a Koi from hand and not all of them do it either. Some types are more friendly than others. Maybe you should look into getting a few Koi. I was never a fan but recently a Japanese Koi farm opened up near me and WOW what beauties. I’d never seen Japanese ones. They’re more expensive than the other fish though. Good luck.

  33. I got 8 new goldfish to put in my pond. My pond has a dip in it which is about a meter deep and all except one went down. The other one swims away whenever I try to approach it. I don’t know whether they are nervous or shy as I have coaxed them with pellets and they come up. I don’t have a man-made filter( I have a biological one) and the temperature seems to be fine. Also, there are no predators near the pond!
    P.S. They are quite small, about 2 inches!

  34. We are having the same problem. When we moved into the house, the pond was in horrible shape, overrun with algae, stagnant, etc. But we did see the fish regularly and they came up to feed. A month ago we spent a fortune on draining the pond, refilling, and putting in a new filter so the waterfall works and the water circulates. It is now finally clear. We never see the fish anymore. They hide under the rock structure. Once in awhile they come out for food. We are bummed. We do top of the water every other day as evaporation (and a possible leak) is an issue. I’ve added dechlorinator/slime coat. Hope this changes. I miss seeing them.

    • It is good to hear that you whipped your pond back into shape. From the sounds of it you have a small leak somewhere (check your waterfall/stream for “splash out” as well). Keep reading the posts in this article for helpful suggestions. Hopefully, together with our pond blogging community, we can get you some face-time with your fish.

    • I’ve found a great resource in a local nursery. We actually have one close by that specializes in water features. They test the water for us and advise us as to which products to put in the pond that are safe for the fish. IDK where you live but maybe you can find a nursery that sells fish, pond supplies, etc. They’re all usually very helpful.

  35. Very good information. Thank you
    -New Pond Koi Parent

  36. My koi hide all the time. I really am thinking of getting rid of them. I get no enjoyment from them.

    • Vinny, if you visit your pond on a scheduled basis and bring some fish food along, you can pellet train your koi. If you do it gradually enough they will associate you with food and not think of you as a threat. After a while they will actually swim up to greet you and you can let them take food pellets right out of your hand. This is a great way to interact with your fish.

      • I thank you for your reply. I have tried feeding them at the same time every day as you suggested. They just stay hiding in the corner of the pond. Even when food is put in the pond they don’t come up at all. I have even tried food that sinks to the bottom and they still will not come out. Once I leave they come out. As soon as I go over to the pond they run and hide. The pond is protected inside a screened in patio. It is 1000 gallons big. No animals can get to them. I don’t know what the problem is.

      • Some fish can be more skittish than others. I was going to ask about other predators as a follow up so thanks for addressing that issue in advance. It will honestly come down to playing the waiting game. I’ve noticed that ponds that are in “high traffic” areas tend to have friendlier fish as they get used to people always passing by. If your pond is at your patio for example, it is easier to place some food while you are socializing, relaxing or eating and the fish will probably tire of waiting before you decide to go in. If your pond is out of the way however, chances are you will tire of waiting out by the edge of your pond with nothing to do. The more you are around they faster they get used to you being there. On the other hand, if they know you are going to toss some food in, wait 15 minutes and then walk away, they will hide for that 15 minutes and wait for you to leave. Purely a battle of will.

    • I notice that if I sit down near the pond’s edge the fish aren’t as afraid of me. IDK if that’ll help but you seem to be getting desperate so I thought any advise wouldn’t hurt.

  37. One of our large Koi hasn’t been seen since early winter. We assumed a large bird got to it, However, yesterday my husband noticed it in the pond. We have two large Koi, and this one was the larger of the two, now it is noticeably thinner and it appears to be missing some scales, and the orange spot coloring seem duller.
    Also our pond is not that big, that it wouldn’t be seen for that long. Any ideas??

    • Koi have the ability to hang out unseen if they want to be, there are many possibilities as to why your koi is not acting as usual, a predator may have caused some stress or possibly agressive spring time mating rituals has taken its toll. Watch your fish for changes and eating habits. You may also want to add some fish conditioner to aid the fish in recovery.

  38. My Koi suddenly began hiding under the rocks and I think some are missing. They used to come out and swim by my hand when feeding, but now they are afraid of me. I am very upset about this. I have never had this problem before. My dog died last month and he was outside. Does this have something to do with it?

    • John,

      I’m sorry to hear of the dogs passing, but I doubt that it had much to do with the fish not coming out when you feed them. It sounds more like there has been a predator bothering them and they are hiding in fear. Keep an eye out for Blue Herons; my guess is that one may be stopping by when you’re not looking. You can also try using a Heron Decoy, just make sure you move it every few days so the real herons don’t get used to it and move back in.

  39. Rebecca,

    I’d hate to think this, but its possible something got them. Whether it be a heron or another critter.

    • It is usually the goldfish that hide. I have had problems with herons but now have the scarecrow which tends to leak and occasionally I have to turn it off. I have tried to fix the leaks with duct tape. My pond contains koi, comets, shebunkins and goldfish.

  40. On numerous occasions, I have put new fish in the pond. Some adjust immediately but often times there are a few that hide and I never see them again. Do they die behind the rocks? Where do they go? It is rather costly to buy fish and have them just disappear. I can’t blame it on a heron since the fish never were visible from day one or two.

    • Rebecca,

      What kind of fish are you adding? Koi & Goldfish, or a different type of fish? Also, usually for a few days they can be skittish, but after that you are usually okay. Trying to feed them to bring them out helps over time. If it wasn’t a heron or anything else that may have gotten them, then you are probably right that they are hiding behind some rocks.

      • Actually, I never see them again. Not in the skimmer, not even a skeleton. I suspect they hide too much for a heron to find them.

    • I have that happen a lot too. I’ve actually gone outside at night with a flashlight to see if they come out after dark and I still don’t see them. I do notice that the flashlight makes them scatter though. hmmm! If you ever figure it out, let me know. I’m quite perplexed over this myself.

  41. I started putting fish pellets in my fist and slowly letting them trickel out underwater.Within a week , my Koi were eating out of my hand ,and now I can pet them all, a few of them even like to be cupped in my hand, but you have to be very careful not letting them feel trapped.Never chase after them.Its just so awesome to win there trust and be able to touch them.

  42. Why did our beautiful orange, black, & white 3y/o Koi suddenly bleach out to a light whitish-gold color? We haven’t made any changes, no new plants or fish. He seems to feel great, eats well, just changed colors.

    • Joyce,

      This is a great question. I have an upcoming Q & A on this subject matter, you are not the first one to ask me. There are certain fish that will change color. Basically their original color will flake off over time. It can take quite a few years before the process starts and can take quite a few months to finish. This is normal, so you have nothing to worry about.

  43. My fish expect us to talk to them before and during feeding. If we go out and talk, they generally swim up for feeding. If we go out and talk and that doesn’t happen, they don’t get fed! We’ve gone up to two weeks before (after our first heron episode) when the fish just weren’t interested in eating. THEY WON’T STARVE. There are plenty of nutrients in the water. Natural Consequences work. Animals are a lot like kids! 🙂

  44. What is the advantage of using clay for the bottom of my natural swimming pool(365,000 gal) versus a plastic liner?

    • Jim,

      Where a liner comes into play is really when the hole dug for the pond will not hold water. Usually you can’t line a pond that will hold water as the pressure under the liner from the water can force the liner to the surface, causing some major issues.

      Over time, both will create a natural bottom. The liner for instance, with time will have a nutrient layer on top that will allow aquatic vegetation to grow. So either way, I believe the results are the same in that aspect.

  45. Here’s another reason fish disappear and stay hidden – impending bad weather. My koi and goldfish head to the bottom of my four-foot deep pond when there is bad weather approaching. I believe the low pressure warns them and they seek cover on the bottom of the pond. Even food will not entice them to return to the top until the storm has passed. Instead of a Weatherman, I have Weatherfish.


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