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I didn’t have fish in my pond before but they are there now. How did they get there? – Pond & Lake Q & A

I didn’t have fish in my pond before but they are there now. How did they get there?

I didn’t have fish in my pond before but they are there now. How did they get there? Brenda – Golddust, TN

Where Did YOU Come From?

In states everywhere people are being shocked and amazed by the random appearance of fish in their ponds. These fish were not added by the owners of the pond but there they swim none-the-less, almost mockingly. What is this strange magic?! Is this some form of prank?! Perhaps it is the work of alien beings?! What is going on?

Unfortunately, I can not weave a tail of some sort of intricate conspiracy against pond owners across the nation. The far less captivating reason is that, by some sort of mistake, either you or Mother Nature, have unwittingly moved these fish into their new home. Fish can be introduced into new ponds in quite a few ways. Eggs or fry can be carried in on the feet or mouths of water foul and other animals, or can be clinging onto some aquatic plants you decided to add to your pond. Sometimes flooding can wash fish from nearby ponds, lakes, and streams into your pond. While you can try to prevent any fish from making it into your pond, it is pretty much inevitable that over time, they will find a way to make your pond a place of their own. It is not all bad news though, having a balanced fish population actually contributes to a healthy ecosystem and can actually provide you with a form of entertainment whether it be fishing, feeding, or just watching them from the shore.

Not sure if you have fish? Try baiting a hook and doing a little bit of fishing. Odds are if there are some fish in the pond at least one or two of them will bite. If you are not into the fishing scene you can try to place a Fish Trap in the pond with some bait and see what you pull up. You may get lucky and coax them up to the shore just by throwing some bread or Fish Food into the water. Keeping track of the size, number and types of fish you pull out of the pond will give you an idea of what type of fish population you will be dealing with later on down the road. If you notice you are only pulling out prey fish like Bluegill, you will eventually have an over abundance of little fish swimming around the pond in the seasons to come. To keep things balanced you would want to introduce a few predator fish like Bass to the pond. On the other hand, if you notice that you have a lot of small Bass in the pond, they may need a little more help with finding food. Stocking some Minnows, Bluegill, or feeding them fish food will help them grow to a more appealing size. You can read more tips on adding fish by reading our Pond Stocking Blog.

You can also find some helpful information on the pros and cons of feeding your fish with fish food or properly stocking the pond to let them feed themselves here.

POND TALK: What types of fish naturally found their way into your pond? Did you ever find out how they got there?

Grow your fish fast!

26 Responses

  1. Ducks will land in different lakes and ponds and there
    Feathers will pick up eggs. So when they land in another lake or pond the eggs fall off.

  2. A large Herron ate my 4 large goldfish moths ago . Yesterday we saw 6 half in Babies in our small homemade pond. We are thrilled but don’t know where they came from

  3. Hi, I have a koi pond with 4 Koi. A couple of days ago I noticed a bunch of one inch transparent fish swimming around. What could these be?

    • Hi Nancy – It is hard to say for sure until they get a little bigger. If the environment was ideal for spawning it is possible you have some new baby koi or if you had any visiting waterfowl they may have also brought some new visitors to your pond.

  4. Hi I have a small pond 10 ft by 5 ft and 6 ft deep have 4 fan tail comets orange/white 6-8 inches over 5 years old this spring I noticed babies for the first time about a dozen they are now 1-2 inches 8 of them look like their parents however 4 or so are black/brown with light under bellies all the others are white/ orange it is hard to see them as they dart up for food so I can’t tell if the dark ones have fan tails The others do. It’s driving me crazy as to how these dark ones got here. I have not added any plants nor other fish unless the 4 frogs who appeared out of nowhere brought eggs. Any thoughts??? Thanks

    • Hi James – Just like puppies or other animals sometimes there are newborns that don’t take on the normal traits you would expect. It is not uncommon to see goldfish that have darker upper bodies and white or yellow/orange underneath. You may also notice their colors change slightly overtime.

  5. Small fish and catfish have seemingly magically spawned in a pond which was completely dry over the winter and in which we’ve never seen fish before. Its only about 5 acres long by 1-2 acres wide and has no streams in or out! I was seriously starting to think these things were “imagined into existence” by a few of us that were checking for fish a year ago. But fish spawn magically in video games, not real life, right?! I’m glad there’s a less magical explanation… I often see pelicans, and what I believe to be ospreys. They could have dropped a fish from a nearby larger lake!

  6. My friends pond used to have a lot of fish a few years ago, but now there isn’t anymore. He tells me that he was using some sort of pesticide to remove a bunch of water weeds that covered most of the ponds surface, but when that happened it caused a reaction of the oxygen in the water that killed most of the fish. Most of the pesticide (and the weeds) are gone So can I be able to repopulate the pond?

    • Hi Aiden – If a large amount of weeds are killed off at one time the decaying material cause have caused a drop in the oxygen levels resulting in a fish kill. If this was the case and it has been awhile since this occurred then you should be able to repopulate the pond. I would suggest though to keep some vegetation in the pond for fish spawning areas and to help filter the water, the goal really is just to keep the overgrowth down. When treatments are performed in the future also treat the pond in small sections at a time, waiting at least 7-10 days between treatments so the entire pond is not stripped of oxygen all at once.

  7. I didn’t have fish in my pond, but now I see perch and catfish. How do I maintain them, any advice?

    • Hi Maria – Fish in a large pond are often brought by birds and other water fowl. Generally they will be able to locate their own food and just weed beds as habitat. If you want to give them some help our learning center contains articles on fish stocking, fish feeding and habitat. Hope this helps!

    • Throw worms, bread, or any type of small food in the water and find what they like to eat.

  8. Turtles will travel from pond to pond and feed off of fish eggs, so it is highly likely they have the eggs clinging to their shells when they visit a neighboring pond.

  9. if I do not see any minnows or small fish, is it likely there are no fish at all in my pond? I have never seen a fish of any kind in the pond but I would like there to be. I do not know if bass or crappy are ever likely to be spotted hitting the surface of the water like trout do, but I have never spotted what looked like a fish hitting the surface. I did try fishing there today but as I am uncertain as to what might be there , I did not know how to rig my pole. Bass, crappy and cat fish are what is most common in the area. I do have crawfish, turtles and frogs! But I would think some kind of small minnow type fish would be required to accommodate any bass or crappy!

  10. what is this fish: long, about 3 to 4 feet, big around the body, has scales like a gator and moves slow when swimming. It also has a big back on it, is this a carp or what or what?

  11. i just dug a pond about a year ago and its only 3 foot deep by 25 foot long and 9 foot wide and there so happens to be baby fish in it im wondering what type of fish there are they are to fast for me to get a good look but i know they have 2 stripes on each side of there body

    • Hi Cory,

      What other types of fish do you have in your pond? That may be a good indication of what type of fish these may be.

  12. We performed a fish kill on our 9.5 acre lake last summer after having a fish survey performed which revealed that Gizzard Shad had taken over. We we plagued with planktonic algae. The company performed the kill in July when the water was warm, and the kill was only partially successful. Shortly after I noticed fish fry in the lake. We identified the fish as European Brown Carp. The fish kill did not kill the large carp. Fish Kill II was performed this past March when the water temp. was about 59. The Rotenone stayed active for a very long time with the water at the correct temp, and we had tens of thousand of baby carp, and about 50 larger ones die in the kill. They survived the first kill and without predation spawned in those large numbers. We placed minnows in a cage weekly to know when the chemical would no longer be active. Our HO Board restocked with 300 Largemouth Bass and some Fathead Minnows. Well, we haven’t seen a single minnow (they have all been eaten) and just a few months later we have Bluegill and RockBass in our lake, no sign of any G. Shad or Carp yet. No other lake or stream flows into our lake, so it is amazing how these fish arrived so soon. It makes me happy as I believed a balanced fishery is much better than a fishery with LM Bass only as our Board wanted. 9-10″ skinny LM Bass would not please those who fish the lake, and likely people would put fish in on their own, so it appears to be a good thing.

  13. About 6 years ago I happened to look into one of our garden ponds and saw movement out of the ordinary. Upon closer examination, we saw many tiny fish swimming around. They were not even an inch long. They grew into beautiful 5″ or 6″ long black fish, some with yellow markings, some solid. At feeding time they looked like pirrhanas(sp) at the surface. The water took on a boiling appearance as they fed. The only thing we had done differently was to add some water hyacinth plants. The eggs must have been in the roots of the plants. We already had ‘gold’ fish in the pond so we knew these were newcomers.

    This spring was the first spring that we didn’t drain the front garden pond and scrub it down. Now we have 7 or 8 tiny fish in there with the large ones. We did NOT add any plants so they must be babies from the larger fish. Some are orange, some are black and some are mixed. All are about 2″ long and eat the regular flake food as it sinks to their level in the water. It’s been fun watching them grow! I would recommend not scrubbing a pond out at the beginning of the season. If it must be scrubbed, wait until any possible fish have hatched. We may have missed out all these other years.


  14. Sometimes it looks like my koi are kissing putting their mouths together. What are they actually doing?

    • Wanda,

      Koi are playful by nature and are just interacting with each other, they can use their mouths to give each other a nudge. The male Koi will bump into the female Koi in during mating season to help the female release her eggs.

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