Are you interested in growing fish right in your own pond? While you don’t need to have any fish for a pond that you may own, fish come with some great benefits, in addition to lifening it up. The question that you may be asking is “What do I need to keep my fish healthy?”

The answer to that question depends on the types of fish that you are looking to buy. It’s true that all fish need water, oxygen and food, the behaviors and needs of two different species of fish are different. So to start with how to manage and maintain healthy fish in your pond, here are some examples of common pond fish and what they need specifically to stay alive.
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Goldfish

Goldfish are more commonly known for being placed inside a bowl in the owner’s house. However, goldfish can actually grow a lot bigger that they are known for. The larger they get, the more water they need. While small goldfish will not survive in a backyard pond, a much bigger goldfish will. If you buy goldfish that is three inches longer or more, they can be put inside of a pond. The perk to owning goldfish is that they can live in cloudy, murky water, so long as it isn’t poisoned. If you are also looking to raise other types of fish and plants in your pond, however, we still recommend an aeration system.

Koi

Koi are great backyard fish to own. These fish have that exotic, Asian look to them with dragon-like whiskers and unique looking colors and patterns. Koi can be bought in all kinds of different colors, making them not only unique, but collectable. Koi are also fish that can like in icy winter water, so do not worry about them surviving frigid temperatures.

Koi fish start out rather small, but they have large growth spurts. With that said, do not but that many koi unless you have a large enough pond. Koi can grow as big as three feet long.

Catfish

Catfish are another great fish to have. They can be kept as pets or they can be farmed so that they are big and delicious enough to eat or sell as food.

Catfish are best known for their whiskers that make them resemble a cat, and they grow up to five feet in length. With that said, they should only be raised in large ponds. Because they can grow so big, they eat smaller fish. You can use smaller fish as food for a larger catfish, but they certainly won’t resist eating small fish if you expect them to coexist as pets. Two kinds of pond fish that catfish will not be able to eat are adult kois and orfes, which we will discuss next.

Orfe

Orfes are great fish to own, with the added benefit of having an appetite for mosquitoes and other pests. If you do not want any pests around your pond, consider buying orfes. This kind of fish is either gold or blue in color; both versions of which look very beautiful.

Orfes, however, need the ability to move quickly throughout the pond, and for this reason, they are better for ponds and water tanks that are fairly large in size, with plenty of oxygen so that they can swim with control and speed.

Food

All fish need food, but fish with have to eat more in the summer months, because they get more active during that time of year. With more food, the fish creates more waste, which is something that attracts algar to the pond.

To prevent this problem from occurring, you will need to get your fish on a diet that is just for the warm months. Your fish will need high-quality foods that are high in protein so that they get energy that they need. High quality foods will turn into energy, while low quality foods will turn into waste inside the pond.

It is also important not to feed the fish too much, no matter what time of year it is. There are food dosing systems that you can buy to give each of your fish the correct amount for each feeding. Fish can be fed either once, twice or three times in a day, or as suggested on the specifice species that you own.

Oxygen

As you know already, fish need water and food, but they also need oxygen in order to survive, and this oxygen comes from the air that us humans breathe. While fish don’t need to breathe the air, they still depend on collecting nutrients that come from air, as they need them to stay as healthy as can be.

If you are looking to manage fish inside of a pond, water tank or aquarium, the tank needs to provide the fish with the proper nutrients, including oxygen. The way to do this is by aerating the fish’s living area. Aeration is simply the addition of oxygen to the pond, and the purpose of aeration is not just to keep the fish inside this pond alive, but to promote a healthy ecosystem inside the pond, as well. Allow us to explain why this is in further detail.

Aerobic Bacteria

Aeration simply adds oxygen to your pond in order to sustain fish, plants, and other helpful organisms. There is also some beneficial bacteria that the pond needs, which are called aerobic bacteria. Without aeration, the pond will get to an anaerobic state, which will cause anaerobic bacteria to appear. You will want aerobic bacteria more than anaerobic, as anaerobic bacteria does not break materials down as efficiently, and they produce hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide: two chemicals when combined creates a nasty rotten egg smell. Anaerobic bacteria may as well be poisoning your water for your fish.

Aerobic bacteria, on the other hand, produces a harmless and odorless gas while breaking down debris, and you need this bacteria in order to promote a healthy pond ecosystem. You cannot attract this helpful bacteria without proper pond aeration.

Without aeration, nutrients will stick to the bottom of the pond. This creates a bed of sticky muck or tar. This muck is not beneficial to fish at all, but rather feels repulsive and gives off a foul odor. The only organisms that enjoy this muck are leeches, and they are by no means guests that should be welcome in your pond.

Clean Water

What aeration also does is prevent this muck from developing at the bottom of your pond, as it circulates the water and increases the amount of oxygen inside of it. When this mix of water and oxygen circulated throughout your pond, there is good bacteria that come to consume these nutrients, and in turn this dissolves the muck and prevent more from appearing.

Aeration also simply improves the quality of the pond’s water. Not only can muck stick to the bottom of your pond, but it can also linger about to give the water itself a murky, green appearance. All in all, you would like a pond that is clear in color, rather than green. A clear pond allows the fish to see better and helps them to get the nutrients they need from oxygen. With a pond that is clear and colorless, your fish will not have to deal with murky water, algae, muck or any other detriments. Even if pond owners don’t own any fish, aeration of their pond is still necessary for the pond to look as healthy as ever.

If a clear pond does not visually impress you, you can also purchase blue pont tint or dye, which will cause the pond to look blue. This tint will not harm the fish or plant life, and will not limit the nutrients or oxygen that they get access to.

Aeration is also what eliminates an invisible border known as thermocline. This border is responsible for keeping the water inside the pond at two or more temperatures. Water towards the surface tends to be warmer, while the deeper water is colder. So not only is the bed of an unaerated body of water full of murk, but it also feels very cold. The circulation from aeration mixes this water so that these established layers of water are no more. The cooler water is moved up toward the water surface so that this water can receive oxygen nutrients and also become warmer. After aeration, there will b no more colder water and all parts of the pond will just have a couple degrees difference.

With a cleaner, clearer, warmer and healthier pond or aquarium, it prolongs the life of the fish inside the pond. There’s no getting around the problem that most fish live short lives, but when the fish in the pond die all at once, the reason is most likely a lack of oxygen inside the water. And if you own a pond outdoors, fish can also be deprived of oxygen during the winter when the surface of the pond freezes over. When this happens, gases that are meant to be released when organic debris decomposes will be trapped inside the pond. Because fish will not be able to receive new oxygen, the fish will suffocate and die.

Aeration can help fish inside of a frozen pond in two ways. This aeration can help move fresh oxygen inside of the pond, even though the surface of the pond is frozen. Aeration can also create a hole in the ice that can allow for gases to enter and exit the pond, so there will actually be a place for gases to escape.

Fish can die during the spring and autumn season if the water is stratified, or have different “layers” to them which are less healthier than others. This water swiftly mixes and will take oxygen away from the surface of your pond or aquarium. So while aeration disperses healthy water all throughout the pond, stratification will disperse oxygen-deprived water that is typically found at the bed.

Types Of Aeration Systems

So with all this talk about aeration, what types of aeration systems are there? Believe it or not, but there are actually a handful of ways in which a pond or aquarium can be aerated. These ways include solar power, diffusion, windmills and fountains, believe it or not. So, you’d be pleased to find out there is not just one textbook way to aerate a pond, and you have the choice to pick the one that is best or most enjoyable for you and your fish.

The two most popular types of aerators are fountain and diffuser aerators. Solar powered and windmill aerators are options that have high efficiencies and run on renewable resources.

Fountain aerators are one of the most appealing and fascinating options, since customers get both an aerator and a fountain for their pond at once. Your pond will instantly look classier from having a fountain, but fountains will only function as normal if your pond in close to a symmetrical shape, such as an oval, square or triangle. Fountain aerators function by collecting water that is towards the surface and streaming it into the air. When this water is airborne, it collects oxygen this way.

When the water splashes back into the pond, it brings oxygen and other nutrients with it. This is one of the more create ways that a pond can get a circulation of oxygen. While you can aerate irregularly shaped ponds with a fountain aerator, for example if you own a banana shaped, pond, but in order to aerate the entire pond, you would need more than one fountain aerator. Sticking one fountain aerator in the middle of an irregularly shaped pond will create dead zones, in which certain parts of the pond will never get aeration.

Diffused or submersed aerators act like reverse fountains, or fountains that take place underwater, opposed to over water. These aerators release oxygen exactly into a column of water at a fixed location inside the pond. This type of aerator consists of an air compressor, tube and an air bubbler that is placed at the bed of the pond. Air is inhaled with the air compressor that sits on a shore nearby, and is transferred through the hose. The air comes out in the form of air bubbles when they exit the air diffuser and enter the pond from the bed. These bubbles then float upwards towards the surface, giving the pond exposure to oxygen from the bottom to the top. From outside the pump, you can notice the pond “gurgle” in the spot where the aerator is working.

Irregular shaped ponds or narrow ponds would benefit the best from these aeration systems. Diffused aerators are more affordable compared to fountain aerators, and many pond owners argue that they do a better job aerating a pond. Opposed to diffused aerators, fountain aerators do not cover the bottom of the pond, so while the surface of the pond may look crystal clear, your fish will still be limited in terms of where they can swim inside your pond.

Diffused aerators can also be windmill or solar powered. If you own a pond with fish that is a long ways away from a source of electricity, you can rely on a windmill or a solar panel to have the aerator running 24/7, and even amidst power outages. Solar panels are great and reliable, and work for as long as the sun is out, whereas windmills are more affordable and also serve as a decoration.

If you are going with a diffused aerator, we advise against using L-shaped and elbow pipes for tubing. These pipes case water to turn at 90 degrees, but they can really slow down the flow of water solely due to the sharp turn that the water must make. If you need to direct your water in a different direction, purchase pipes or tubes that would cause the water to turn in a wider fashion so that speed isn’t compromised.

Tubing

To know how much oxygen your fish need from your aeration system, you need to determine what pipework or tubing is the right size. To determine what size of pipe you need depends on how large your pond is. The size of your pond can be measured in GPH, or gallons per hour. The amount of GPH your pond needs depends on how many gallons of water the pond needs in order to be filled completely. As a point of reference, 500-GPH fountain pumps work ideally for 1000-gallon ponds.

Tubing is available in diameters as small as half of an inch and as large as six inches. To get a good idea of how big you need your tubing for your aeration system, assuming that you are choosing a diffused system, follow this chart according to the size of your pond:

Pond Size Recommended Tube Diameter
500 GPH 0.5 inches
900 GPH 0.75 inches
1500 GPH 1 inch
2700 GPH 1.25 inches
3600 GPH 1.5 inches
5400 GPH 2 inches
13500 GPH 3 inches
21000 GPH 4 inches
42000 GPH 6 inches

It is important that you get the size of tube that best matches the size of your pond. A pond with tubing that is too small will not provide enough oxygen to aerate the whole pond. Tubing that is too big for your pond will provide more oxygen than necessary, thus resulting in sickness for fish and plant life in your pond.

Temperature

Another thing to keep in mind, however, is your weather. If your areas is known to get very hot during the summer, the water in your pond will also heat up. If the waters exceeds 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat will remove much of the oxygen from the pond. The fish will respond by swimming closer to the water’s surface for the oxygen they need. For that matter, fish need more oxygen in warmer temperatures compared to normal temperatures, so it is not a good sign when they need oxygen and very little of it is available.

To know how how or cold your pond is, you can purchase a pond thermometer for cheap. Use the pond thermometer, and if your pond’s temperature is in between 68 and 74 degrees, it’s in the right area for healthy living for fish and plants. If the temperature is 75 degrees or above, you will need to find a way to cool it, so that more oxygen is available to your fish.

Firstly, you would like to be sure that your pond gets shade. Plants and trees are ways that your pond can receive shade throughout the day, and your pond will be ready for the heat when 33 to 50 percent of it can be covered by shade.

Water lilies and lily pads can also provide shade to ponds. While they may not be beautiful to see on the surface of your pond, they can help bring down water temperatures by a few degrees.

Other means of providing shade to a pond include buying, building or placing arbors or pergolas near or over the pond.

You can simply add cold water to the pond to make the pond water cold, but there are certain rules that you must follow. Spraying cold water from a garden hose might actually be detrimental to fish to the point where it could even kill them. Tap water has minerals and nutrients in it that actually would attract algae, so it is not the best option to go in, either. The best water to add to the pond to make it cooler is to harvest it from a rainfall.

Conclusion

Owning fish inside of a pond seems like a big commitment, but it is also one that many pond owners enjoy, when all is said and done. It may seem like a lot of resources are required to make a fish healthy and comfortable, but taking care of fish is pretty much synonymous with taking care of a pond. So long as it is healthy, mildly temperate and clear with the right care, then the only thing left to do is feed your fish.