Fish hiding in newly acquired pond; concerned for its health

Discussion in 'Newbies to Garden Ponds' started by drahcir, May 21, 2014.

  1. drahcir

    drahcir

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    Hi Folks,

    Total newbie to pond keeping and this forum!

    We've just moved into a rental property with a slightly neglected pond at the end of the garden. I think the place was empty for about a month before we moved in, and the filter had not been on and the fish not fed. So we're trying to get it back on its feet (fins?) but also don't know a lot about what we're doing!

    In the first few weeks since we moved in we turned the pump on and started feeding the fish and adding some all-purpose medication. Unfortunately we still lost two of the fish, both of whom were swimming funny for sometime before they went.

    Overall the water was really murky and dirty, so last weekend I did a massive clean-up and water change. I pumped all but the last inch or so of water out, dredged as much of the detritus and gunk from the bottom as I could, pressure washed all the algae off, and re-filled with tap water. I added water treatment, medication and green-water treatment (to deal with any algae still left at the bottom).

    Before we did this, though, we noticed one of our fish was "missing", and it wasn't until we had pumped a lot of the water out that we were able to find it hiding in the mulch at the bottom of the pond. I transferred it to a holding pen, and it seemed to liven up, but now we've put it back in to the pond it has disappeared again.

    I read on one forum that water changes can be stressful, and might cause hiding, but this particular fish was hiding before the water treatment too. The rest of the fish are totally fine - clearly mating season is in, and they are chasing each other all over the place!

    Any ideas what might be up, or what I should do about this fish? I'm concerned that it may be ill and/or dying and we won't see it again until the next water change.

    Thanks for any tips!

    Richard
     
    drahcir, May 21, 2014
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  2. drahcir

    Shdwdrgn

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    Some fish will always be more shy than others. It may be that this particular fish has been attacked by predators, or suffered some other trauma. The best thing to cut down on fish stress is to actually give them lots of hiding places within easy reach. If they know they can find protection quickly, they are more likely to venture out. You didn't mention anything about plants, and personally I think they are the best addition to any pond... They add hiding places for the fish, shade from too much sunlight, and will help filter the water. If your water temps are up around 60F or higher, the quickest addition is to get some water hyacinths to float in the pond, and the fish love nibbling at the roots. Check around this site, there are tons of ideas for other plants you can add that will really help give the pond a more 'natural' look.

    From what you described, the water change and scrubbing the liner was a good idea. If the fish is stressed from poor water, it will take a little time for it to recover. Let the pump run and don't be surprised when you get green water -- this is a normal part of cycling the new water and adding algae killer will only make it come back worse a week later.

    I have to say, its really sad to hear of a pond on a rental property, especially when it sounds like the owner doesn't care about the fish. A pond is a long-term commitment and shouldn't be left in the hands on unknown strangers. I'm glad you're there taking the time to get it back in shape again.
     
    Shdwdrgn, May 21, 2014
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  3. drahcir

    Tula

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    I know, it's sad to think the owner doesn't care. I have a friend who just bought a house with a pond and it was in bad shape too. What is wrong with people? If they lose interest in their ponds, they should re home the fish and close up the pond....it's the responsible thing to do!
     
    Tula, May 22, 2014
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  4. drahcir

    drahcir

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    Thanks for the responses! The great news is that our missing fish has reappeared in is bombing about the pond!

    I've attached a picture of the pond (a bit overexposed, sorry, terrible camera on my phone) which will give you an idea of the setting. It is well shaded, with lots of overhanging foliage, but in the water there is only one slightly straggly looking plant (though it looks much better now than it did when we moved in). Do you think we should get another one? One of the challenges, with all the overhanging plants, is that I have to sweep the surface every day to avoid build up of leaves and other plant matter.

    I think also a next step is to get some water testing kits - we are in the south of England and I'm not sure the water temperature will ever get very high, but I haven't actually checked it yet :)

    One other question, actually, now that you mention it is around predators: with the water change the water is much clearer which I guess makes the fish more exposed. Should we do anything specific to avoid attention from predators, and what should we look out for? Our garden is fairly well hemmed in, but we get regular visits from birds (though probably none big enough to take one of our fish) and the occasional cat passing through.

    Thanks again for your help - we're doing our best to climb the pond-owners learning curve :D
     

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    drahcir, May 24, 2014
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  5. drahcir

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    [​IMG] to our group..........

    The only predator I have here, that bothers my pond is the great blue heron. You may not have any predator issues, it all depends on where your pond is located and what lives around it.
     
    addy1, May 25, 2014
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  6. drahcir

    Tula

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    Welcome to our group and glad to hear your fish is bombing around the pond!
     
    Tula, May 25, 2014
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  7. drahcir

    CometKeith

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    Good luck with the pond. It's very cute. At this point your pond needs to cycle and you do not want to remove algae from the liner or do any large water changes again because it will make it harder for the pond to cycle. Cycling is the natural process whereby wastes from your fish are converted to non-harmful byproducts. Plant's are always good because they will compete with the algae for nutrients and help shade the pond from the sun to keep unwanted algae growth down. Also plants help convert nitrites to nitrates which are less harmful to your fish. I wouldn't feed too much until you think the pond has cycled other wise your may get a high concentration of ammonia or nitrite.
     
    CometKeith, May 26, 2014
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  8. drahcir

    Potato

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    It's crazy that it seems like so many newbies like me came to a property with a poorly maintained pond! I bought my house in late January and have been struggling to clean it up since it got warm enough to even consider it.

    Like you, I have a lot of trees etc. overhanging the pond and I get debris in there CONSTANTLY. I had to skim at least twice per day and still had trouble keeping up. The best thing I did to take care of that was to get a pond net. It keeps out all but the smallest debris and still lets in plenty of light for my plants etc. I just weighted it down with the rocks that already surround the pond and was good to go. It's also good for keeping out birds etc.
     
    Potato, Jun 5, 2014
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