A total beginner; various questions

Discussion in 'Newbies to Garden Ponds' started by bttsstewart, May 9, 2010.

  1. bttsstewart

    bttsstewart

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    Hi!

    I am looking for a fish expert's advice or advice and instructions from a person who's had lots of experience (because I'd like to learn from the best, lol)

    At the moment I own two common goldfish in an aquarium, which I am very attached too. I also have two "sucker" fish, which are the ones that latch to the glass and suck gunk/algae away for food.

    It was recently decided that we're moving and I thought this is a perfect oppurtunity to get a water garden/koi pond which I've always wanted to have as we're moving to acreage so there's plenty of room. My current aquarium goldfish are about 12-15 cms (2-3 inches) long from head to tail. The sucker fish are only around 4-5 cms.
    I know goldfish are pretty hardy so I know they'll survive the 6 hour drive from here to our new property, no problem.

    Question 1
    Will the sucker fish survive in a pond? Are they suited for pond life? I was told by the pet shop owner that they'd need a heater in a larger aquarium but they have survived more than a year in my small one. If they're not okay for a pond, I could just find someone else with an aquarium to give them to.

    Question 2
    Constructing the pond...
    I live in Australia, where kookaburras are commonplace, and they are excellent fishers, so some chicken wire/mesh will have to go over the pond's surface.
    I'd like the pond to be around 2 metres wide by 3 metres long, (depth, I don't know, see question 3). Guide/tips for building?
    I'm thinking that after the plastic lining and plantlife and that have been put in, the chicken wire would go over the top and be stapled to the grass with a small section unstapled and just held down with rocks, so we can put new fish in if I ever wanted some.
    My dad says I could just buy a pre-made fibre-glass pond shell.

    Question 3
    I am planning on getting 2/3 koi fish for the pond too. According to Wikipedia (not the best research tool, I know) koi fish and goldfish can interbreed to produce a sterile hybrid. Obviously pure goldfish and pure koi fish could possibly spawn too. I would LOVE to see some new little young fish emerge to the surface one day! :)
    Will the pond have to be a certain depth for koi fish/goldfish to breed? I am thinking at least 60-80 cms (maybe even a metre) at it's deepest point because normal goldfish won't breed if there's not enough room from what I've been told. My dad says 20-40 cms (4-8 inches) deep will do for a garden pond...but I don't trust him since he's not the most experienced.
    Additionally, will overpopulation be a problem? I mean, I don't want 50 fish to come rushing to the surface one day, much to my shock and horror. How many will make it past infancy at a time?
    Any other info on breeding goldfish and koi fish or spawning would be much appreciated.

    Question 4
    What plantlife should I get? Just regular, run of the mill, pond weed? I'd like something else that flowers. :) What can you get from the pet store?

    Question 5
    What filters will be needed and how often will water changes be needed, if at all? How much water would need to be changed at a time?

    Question 6
    Will a heater be needed, because apparently koi fish immune systems "shut down" at 10 degrees Celcius and it can get down to -2 on cold mornings where I'm moving.

    Any other tips, advice, warnings, recommendations you could provide would be great!

    Thanks alot.
     
    bttsstewart, May 9, 2010
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  2. bttsstewart

    koikeepr

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    First of all, welcome to GPF! Let's see if we can begin to answer some of your questions.

    1. you need to rehome the sucker fish, as they require year round constant warm temperatures.

    2. welcome to the challenge of predators! Lots of us try to use a variety of tactics to combat a host of predators, a few are netting above the pond, fishing line strung above pond, water spraying devices that will wet a predator if detected, electric fences and on and on. So, if you know that you have predators, do take precautions.

    In addition, it means that you should build your pond deep enough (at minimum 3 feet deep), so that it is difficult for a predator to gain access to the pond. Also, don't put in plant shelves or shallow areas that give a predator the oppty to step inside the pond and get to your fish.

    3) Koi and goldfish can interbreed, yes. With the size pond you are considering, I would probably stick with goldfish. Koi are river fish and require room to swim. They also grow to be 18-24 inches in length. Stick with goldfish. You can buy other types of goldfish, such as sarrassa and shubunkins that will add color to your pond and be hardy.

    Let your father know that a pond of 4-8 inches deep is not acceptable for the reason I mentioned above with the predators, but also because it will be impossible to maintain proper water temperatures. Australia, as we know, gets hot. So, when those temperatures spike, your shallow water will boil and you will lose those fish. You need depth to reach the cooler regions of soil to help maintain water temps.

    Your fish will likely breed. If you do nothing to protect the eggs/fry, the other fish will simply eat them and that will keep the population in check.

    4. There are many options here. Water lily is very popular, hardy and will flower. There's also water lettuce and hyacinth, too. Iris, etc. Lots of options.

    5. You absolutely need filtration. Think of your pond as a toilet that needs to be flushed. Your fish will poop and pee in it and it is your job to replace at least 20% of the water weekly to do this task. Leaves will get into the pond, uneaten food will go to the bottom, etc. You need to clean up.

    6. Most of us allow our fish to overwinter in the pond. You do not need a heater in the winter. You simply shut down and let them "hibernate" through the winter. They usually emerge perfectly fine.

    I'm sure the others on our informative site will chime in with more.
     
    koikeepr, May 9, 2010
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  3. bttsstewart

    bttsstewart

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    Thank you so much! I've seen some of your other posts and you seem the most informed. I think I will stick with goldfish, unless I decide to make it bigger, which won't be that much of a problem.
    How big will the pond need to be if I want koi fish?
     
    bttsstewart, May 9, 2010
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  4. bttsstewart

    bttsstewart

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    Yeah, I think it's just kingfishers that would cause a worry, so I'm not sure anything would "step inside" the pond, as it'll be a considerable depth. Dad says some stainless steal stuff over the top will do fine.

    Aw, all of them will get eaten or just some? I'd like a couple to reach adulthood. What can I do to protect any younglings?
     
    bttsstewart, May 9, 2010
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  5. bttsstewart

    koikeepr

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    you can build a small hatchery. Do a search in the DIY section, and I have just posted how to create one very cheaply with some PVC fittings and some netting.

    I don't particularly like to see koi in anything smaller than 1500g (US), but there are folks that do it all the time as they buy their koi as fingerlings and they forget these creatures can get very large. Sort of like putting a horse in a dog house. And even at 1500g's and assuming for their full-grown size, you really shouldn't have more than 3 in a pond that size.
     
    koikeepr, May 9, 2010
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  6. bttsstewart

    DrDave Innovator Moderator

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    You will find a lot of opinions on population, I use 1 Koi per 100 gallons and that has worked for decades. If you maintain the pond and keep the water quality up, you can get away with this formula.

    If anything goes wrong, you do not have much time to fix it. So if you choose to use this formula, then make sure you understand the consequences.

    I have never lost a Koi to overpopulation.
     
    DrDave, May 10, 2010
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  7. bttsstewart

    bttsstewart

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    I've been looking at some pictures of sarasa comet goldfish and they do seem like a cheap and easy alternative to koi (nobody has to know they're not REALLY koi so I could still say "koi pond", LOL)
    I guess it all depends on what the pet store has in stock, but I would love a mixed black, orage and white one as they seem the most "koi-y" to me.

    Based on Koikeepr's info, koi fish seem very fussy about how much water they need. Would 800 gallons do if I only have 1 koi and 3 or so goldfish?
     
    bttsstewart, May 10, 2010
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  8. bttsstewart

    koikeepr

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    Sarassa's are known as "poor man's koi" because they look quite similar to kohaku (red and white) koi. If you like the black/orange/white, then shubunkin goldfish are right up your alley, as this is the colors they sport!

    Koi are more fussy than goldfish about water, yes. If you are not willing to maintain perfect water parameters and a very clean pond, then koi are not for you. In 800 gallons, you can easily have a dozen goldfish, maybe even 2 dozen. But the more you have, the cleaner your pond needs to be, as goldfish are hearty eaters and fairly good poopers. So clean water is important.
     
    koikeepr, May 10, 2010
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  9. bttsstewart

    bttsstewart

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    Sarasa and shubunkin it is!!
     
    bttsstewart, May 10, 2010
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  10. bttsstewart

    koiguy1969 GIGGETY-GIGGETY!!

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    i dont know who comes up with these "numbers" but it seems i break every rule that i see on the net and here.. my basement pond is 800 gals i have kept 14 koi in it that are all over a foot long, 10 at 15' and over, and a dozen 6" - !0" goldfish of varying varieties, a 17" peicos and 40+ 2" fry in it and i have never done a 20% water change. i do a 55 gallon flush and replace every 5 days or about 160 gallons every 2 weeks...this isnt even 10% weekly...i never lost a fish to ulcer, disease, or anything but a heron, and one jumped...i have yet to see an ammonia reading, nitrite or nitrate...i do vaccuum the pond evey few days..takes 2 or 3 minutes. who sets these limits? and how do they come up with them? seems to me they pull em out the air. i have no expensive equipment, i run one pump, one DIY 55 gal filter. my fish are happy and healthy. and would just about jump out of the pond with excitement when they see me
     
    koiguy1969, May 10, 2010
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  11. bttsstewart

    koikeepr

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    The limits are set for a fish at its full grown size.

    Koiguy, many of us break the rules and get more fish than we can normally sustain. We make up for it by over-filtering and keeping a meticulous pond. Not everyone does this, so we relay the max fish capacity.

    It is better to suggest to someone to have less fish than see that message posted about ammonia spikes and the fish dying, IMHO. Especially for a noob, it is best to start small and with less of a population so that things are easier to regulate. If they can succeed at maintaining a small pop for two years without a loss, then by all means add another or two.
     
    koikeepr, May 10, 2010
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  12. bttsstewart

    digginponds pondaholic

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    It's the people who want you to believe fish need more space,therefore making you believe you need a bigger area.........
    Suckerfish or any FISH should never be mixed in with goldfish or koi...WHY? Well goldfish and koi are NON aggressive fish,meaning they will not start any trouble ,nor defend themselves against other fish.......Also as mentioned they'll die when the water temps drop or get to high.
    Also the older your pond gets,the more it gets stable.......I never use chemicals PERIOD.
     
    digginponds, May 11, 2010
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  13. bttsstewart

    koikeepr

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    It's not about defense or escaping attackers. Koi are river fish, they like to swim--and quickly. They DO need space to be happy.

    It's sort of like this: You can keep a horse in a barn stall. You can feed it, water it, clean up after the mess and the horse will be fine. But, that horse will prefer to run around in a pasture and kick up it's heels where it will be happier. Have some space to run, etc.

    It's no different with koi. Folks keep thinking about koi when they are small and not at their full grown state. Sure they are fine when they are little in a small pond, but when (IF!) they hit the 13, 15, 17 inch mark, then you've got a fish that is not so happy.

    Many of us have seen the effects of keeping a koi in a pond that is too small. They are often stunted and have an odd shape--head too big, body too small, etc. It's usually around the 3rd year that these fish start to get affected, and then folks wonder why the fish mysteriously die or gets ill.

    I'm not sure why folks don't consider the happiness of fish as compared to a dog or cat, let's say. Would you keep a lab retriever in a studio apartment? You can, but you already know the dog will go nuts and probably rip the place apart unless you are taking him out for lengthy walks many times a day.to get the ya-ya's out.

    It can be done, you can keep a small space. The question is, is it the right thing to do?
     
    koikeepr, May 11, 2010
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  14. bttsstewart

    digginponds pondaholic

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    [ame]

    I don't see any rivers
     
    digginponds, May 15, 2010
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  15. bttsstewart

    linc2010

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    Your fish being healthy and happy is a good sign. Numbers are guidelines for us to use when things are not going right. But, KoiKeeper knows her Koi. I would listen to her. Sometimes everything is great and WHAMMY! you have trouble. It is always better to be safe than sorry in this hobby. But, in the end it is your hobby, so you get to make the decisions.Whatever you do, remember it is a hobby and have fun with your decisions.:lol::)
     
    linc2010, May 15, 2010
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  16. bttsstewart

    linc2010

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    Fantastic Video Diggin! Thank you for sharing it with us!
     
    linc2010, May 15, 2010
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  17. bttsstewart

    koikeepr

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    Diggin', that is a massive mud pond. And only proves my point that you will not get quality fish in a small setting. (And, yes, in nature, carp are river fish).

    And you are right, Linc. We can only make recommendations/suggestions, and each pond keeper then needs to make a decision for themselves. Hopefully, not at the cost of the life of the fish.
     
    koikeepr, May 15, 2010
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  18. bttsstewart

    linc2010

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    Yes, fish dying makes the hobby no fun.
     
    linc2010, May 16, 2010
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  19. bttsstewart

    bttsstewart

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    Thanks for the help everyone. I'm going to HAVE to stick with goldfish in the pond anyway for two reasons:

    1) The pond wouldn't be big enough for koi, but perfect for goldfish.

    2) I just found out koi are banned where I live. :cupidarr:
     
    bttsstewart, May 16, 2010
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  20. bttsstewart

    jason081180

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    Man that sucks
     
    jason081180, May 16, 2010
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