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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 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?

5 Responses

  1. When I introduce new fish I go even further and float the bag to equalize the tempurature then I remove water from the bags and dump it, (not into the pond) you don’t want to introduce bacteria. I add water from the pond to the bags. I repeat this every 20 minutes removing water from bag and adding pond water. After about 1 1/2 hours of this the bag contains mostly water from thier new home. They are now ready to be released. I net them out of the bags and use the water from the bags to water plants. This process takes awhile but I have never lost any fish and want to give them the best chance and the least amount to shock.

    • Thanks for the information Sandy. It sounds like your fish are well taken care of, keep up the good work!

  2. As a fish person for many years, and also as a fish retailer I would just like to make a few suggestions to make it easier on your fish. When at all possible test your water before you head out to buy fish. It is much easier to fix things before, then to deal with sick fish after if water quality isn’t quite up to par. If you don’t have your own testing supplies, most places that sell fish will test your water for you. Most definitly acclimate your fish, don’t just cut the bag open and dump them in! Just the shock of temperature difference and ph difference can be enough to kill a fish. My last bit of advice is to have patience! If you live in the north east any how, the first warm sunny day in the end of March or first week in April is still too cold to put fish in your pond! If where ever you are getting your fish from keeps them inside, the shock of going into a cold pond is too much for them! Just because it is sunny and warmer doesn’t mean that your pond water has warmed up, and even if the surface of the pond doesn’t feel that cold, just a couple inches down can still be very cold! Better to wait until warmer weather really gets here and have a successful fish introduction, then to jump the gun at the first tease of nice weather.

    • Excellant advice!

    • S, Excellent advice about waiting for warmer weather! Very true-we all get antsy at the first hint of warm weather. I am in the north east and still have 2 of my goldfish in a tub inside due to our really cold long winter. I found them lying on their sides this spring when the ice melted. I nursed them back believe it or not on “peas”. Nice and healthy but I’m waiting for warmer water! I’m sure their buddies are wondering what happened to them, but the reunion will wait. I know a few others who lost fish this winter. Enjoy your pond!

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