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Can fish get sunburned? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Can fish get sunburned?

Q: Can fish get sunburned?
Dustin – Jacksonville, FL

At some point in everyone’s childhood, a kindhearted teacher, seeking to encourage unrestrained curiosity, makes this simple pronouncement: “there’s no such thing as a silly question.” As adults, we know that silly questions do, in fact, exist. As a result, we tend to stop asking questions like “can fish get sunburned?” It’s just too silly to even consider. Sunburned fish? Ha! Hilarious! Except for one small detail: fish can get sunburned. The moral of the story? Your teacher was right. Keep on asking – and we’ll keep right on answering.

As it turns out, Koi fish in backyard ponds and water gardens are particularly susceptible to sunburn. Combine a shallow body of water, limited shade, and long hours of hot, summer sun, and Koi fish suffer from the aquatic equivalent of sunburn.

Like all other fish, Koi fish rely on a natural protective layer – otherwise known as a “slime coat” – that fends off everything from disease to injury. When Koi fish are exposed to too much direct sunlight, their slime coats are compromised, and sickness and lethargy follow quickly. Left unresolved, long-term exposure to sunlight will actually cause a Koi’s untimely demise. Fortunately, it’s a simple problem to fix – and we have the right supplies to do it.

To prevent aquatic “sunburn,” we strongly recommend the use of our Koi Shelter, which allows fish to take refuge from the sun before it causes damage. Like the Koi Shelter, our Aquatic Plants also provide excellent natural protection – along with the added benefit of aesthetic beauty. In addition to those solutions, creative pondkeepers also use rocks to create protective underwater caves, where fish can take a break from the sun’s rays.

Once you’ve taken care to provide adequate shelter for your Koi, the next critical step is to help your fish to restore its slime coat. For a simple solution, we recommend adding an appropriate quantity of salt to the pond. In cases where fish seem particularly lethargic, we strongly encourage the use of Fish Stress Reducer PLUS to resolve the problem quickly – and bring your Koi back to health in short order.

Keep up the questions. We take them all very seriously.

Pond Talk: Have you ever seen a fish get sunburn?

Koi Shelter

When is the best time to stock fish in my pond? | Pond & Lake Q&A

When is the best time to stock fish in my pond?

When is the best time to stock fish in my pond?
Jan – Raleigh, NC

Pond owners looking to replenish their fish populations this season should grab their buckets and nets; spring is here and it is the perfect time to stock your pond with new game fish.

Spring and fall are the best times to add new fish to your pond as the temperatures are not as harsh making it easier for you to transport your newcomers and acclimate them to their new home. You can still introduce fish into your pond during the summer months but you will want to take extra precautions to make sure you can quickly transport the fish to your pond and take a little extra time during the acclimation process.

Deciding how many fish to add to your pond will predominately depend on the surface area of the water body. You can take a look at a few examples of stocking rates on our website. You will want to stick to a ratio of 3 prey fish (sunfish, bluegill, or perch) to 1 predator fish (bass) when choosing species to promote a healthy and balance fish population. Click over to our Fish Stocking Blog for some more information.

You can purchase fish from your local fish hatchery or catch and transport fish from a friend’s pond. Wherever the source, inspect the fish for signs of illness or disease before adding them to your pond. Our local customers can take advantage of The Pond Guy semi-annual Fish Day which takes place on the 7th of May. Fish day is a great opportunity to meet with other pond owners, speak with the friendly and knowledgeable The Pond Guy staff, and browse our wide selection of pond products from Pond Dye to 24’ Windmills. Customers can place orders online or over the phone until May 7th which will be available for payment and pick-up on the 8th between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There will be a wide selection of both predator and prey fish available for purchase including Hybrid Bluegill, Perch, Catfish and Bass. Walk-ins are welcome but selection will be limited by availability.

Make sure there is adequate habitat for your smaller fish to hide, grow and reproduce. Weeds, grasses and other debris already in your pond will provide some cover but you can introduce man made habitats to protect your fish without dealing with weeds and plants. Check out our Fish Habitat blog for some more insight into creating comfortable living spaces for your fish.

Pond Talk: What fish have you found in your pond?

Fish Trap

I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Pond Fish & Koi Acclimation
I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? Paul – Baytown, TX

Best In Show

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.

Prep The Pond

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 by adding a Water Conditioner 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 Pond 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.

Well, You Better Get Used To It

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: Are there any tricks that you’ve done to acclimate your fish?

Building Fish Habitat for Ponds – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Porcupine Fish Attractor Fish Habitat.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: What types of things can you put in your pond to create more fish habitats for a better population of fish? – Jacob of Texas

A: Fish habitats offer more than just a cozy home for schools of bass in your pond or lake. They also create an ideal spawning habitat, a spot of refuge and shade for young fry, a safe haven from swooping predators, and a breeding ground for algae and plankton to attract bait fish and lure larger fish to favorite fishing spots.

Though fish habitats range from inexpensive (or free!) items laying around the yard to high-tech store-bought devices, here are just a few artificial and natural underwater structures you can use:

Artificial Reefs: Artificial habitats have been shown to attract just as much plankton and provide just as much protection from prey as evergreen alternatives. Some come manufactured and ready to install, like the Porcupine® Fish Attractor. Others, like bundled pipes, can be put together yourself by bundling lengths of 10- to 12-inch pipe (PVC, clay or concrete) with or without one end plugged, anchoring with cinder block and submerging. You could also drop a barrel and turn it on its side. Regardless of your artificial reef type, simply place them in lines extending out from the shore in depths of 6 to 25 feet; the steeper the slope, the less structure is needed.

Boulder Clusters and Rock Piles: Piles of boulders or concrete blocks placed individually or in clusters can attract a variety of fish, not to mention providing a healthy medium for beneficial bacteria and tasty string algae to flourish. Use large boulders (more than 2 feet in diameter) and place them away from the shoreline. Boulders can be useful if you have small streams or rivers leading to your lake or pond, too, as they can break fast-moving currents and provide a resting place for fish.

Root Wads, Brush Bundles and Submerged Logs: Stumps, lengthwise-sawed logs, root wads, brush bundles — and even last year’s Christmas tree — can provide important habitat. Simply gather the materials, attach a weight (like a cinder block), and sink them in the shallow waters of streams or in the near-shore areas of lakes and ponds. Create three or four groups of these bundles per acre, and place them in 6 to 10 feet of water, no farther than 30 feet from shore. Keep in mind that these “natural” habitats will introduce nutrients to the lake and cause unsightly algae blooms, which can be controlled using Algae Defense®.

POND TALK: What do you use to create fish habitats in your pond or lake?

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.