Goldfish dying in pond


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Hello, I am a first time pond owner and new to this site, I appreciate any replies and help that can be offered.

I recently bought a house that had an empty 150 or so gallon pond in the backyard, its about 4 feet long, 3 feet wide, and a foot and a half deep in the middle area. About a month ago I decided to add water and fish to the pond, so I went to the pet store to get all the stuff. The guy told me I needed a pump, bottom filter to put the pump in, and a foutain kit. He also had me get algae fix, eco fix to break down the dead algae and fish waste, as well as stress coat stuff to condition the tap water i was putting in the pond.

I covered the bottom of the pond, and the side areas that are raised with aquarium rock, and then put a bunch of other rocks, the size of golf balls to soft balls, some round and smooth, some lava type. I have the rocks arranged around the pond so there are spaces for the goldfish and smaller koi to hide between and under them.

After setting up the pond with the pump, filter, fountain, chemicals, I added 1 algae sucker fish, about 5-6 inches long, 5 koi, 3 are about 4-5 inches, and 2 are 6-7 inches, and 40 goldfish that were out of the "large" feeder bin, .25 cents each and various sizes.

I have been cleaning the pond out every week with an aquarium vacuum, and every two weeks pulling out 30 gallons or so and replacing it with fresh water I treat with the conditioner stuff. I also add the algae and clean up chemicals once a week as the labels recommend. My pond is always clean and clear, I change the filters on the filter box once a week, and it is very nice to look at. My koi and algae sucker fish for the last month have been doing fine, took them about 3 weeks or so to kinda calm down and quite hiding all the time, but don't seem to have any problems.

What I can't figure out though is why so many of the goldfish are dying. For the last month, I lose about 1 goldfish a day. Some times I go 1 - 3 days without losing one, and some days I will have 2 die, but after a month, I had about 10 - 12 goldfish left I could see. The guy at the pet store said the goldfish are not bred so well as they are feeder fish, but I don't think I should have so many dying.

I used the test strips the guy told me to try, and all the color codes were in the normal area, with only the water hardness being near the top of the normal scale. I also took a water sample to the pet store after to be tested, and they said the same thing, normal, close to the limit on hardness, but still ok.

Because I have lost so many goldfish, and everything seems normal with the water, 2 days ago while I was at the pet store for something else, I got 30 "large" feeder goldfish and put them in the pond. When I put the fish out of the bag in the pond, 2 came out dead right to begin with. Yesterday morning, I found 2 floaters, and today I found 1. Koi and algae sucker still doing all good.

If anyone has any thoughts on this, I would appreciate it. Maybe they are just cheap feeders that don't live long, but I really have no idea.
 
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addy1

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That is a ton of fish for a small pond, koi need around 300 gallons per koi, they create a ton of waste.

Your strips, do they test for ammonia? Do you have an aerator going? Quite often the feeder fish are not that healthy to begin with, that is a possibility.

Welcome to our group too!

 
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Thank you so much for your reply. My strips test for general hardness (GH), carbonate hardness (KH), pH, NO2 and NO3, but not ammonia, so I will look into something that tests for that.

Also, I don't have an aerator, I just have two pumps in filter boxes with fountain kits attached. I am going to go take a couple pictures of my pond and set up to post. If I have to many fish in my pond, I want to thin them out so it is a healthy amount.
 

addy1

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sounds like you might have a ammonia problem, it can and will kill the fish. That many fish will make the ammonia go high fast.
 
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Thanks, I'm going to get a test for ammonia tomorrow and check that out. I just figured if there was something killing the goldfish, then it would kill the koi and the algae sucker fish as well, they don't seem to have any problems.

The reason I put the 40 feeder goldfish in the pond was I thought it would be nice to see a bunch of fish swimming around, not just the 5 koi that are hard to find with the the fountains on. When I was at the pet store, the guy who helped me said 40 goldfish in the pond with 5 koi was no issue, so I went with it.

I will be back with my pictures, thanks again.
 

addy1

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A 150 gallon pond, you should have no koi, just goldfish. You should not have more than 5 or so fish. The goldfish will grow and have kids. That pond is way to small for koi.

The guy at the store just wanted to sell you fish.
 
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sad, but Addy is probably right about the clerk and i wouldn't put it past him that he had no clue how big fish can grow...
 
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Hi KB, Welcome to the forum. A good rule of thumb for beginners is 1" of fish for every 10 or 20 gallons of water, or 1" of fish for every square foot of surface area of water. I have a 600 gallon pond and consider it way too small for Koi. Also you need to read up on how to cycle a pond. It normally takes 4-6 weeks to get the beneficial bacteria growing that will convert the fish waste to inert matter. Before your pond cycles maybe one or two fish is the most you can safely keep. I would not go to that fish store any more. The guy working there is giving you bad advice.
 
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Thanks again for all the input. Here are the pictures of my pond and set up. Hopefully they are helpful enough to give an estimate of how many fish I should have in it. Also, not sure if it matters or not, but some of the goldfish are bigger than some of my koi.

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Fish load...
You do have a lot of fish for the size pond using a "normal" standard. Meaning, your pond is not exactly like other peoples so you'll get a lot of opinions you should change to be more like everyone else. However, a pond can contain a lot of fish. Guidelines about the number of fish per gal type things are just random guesses. Testing the water tells you whether you have too many fish or need to take additional measures. Water testing is the only way to tell. Given your fish load I would get a better test kit, because testing is important. The strips are less accurate. If you scaled back to say 3-5 goldfish testing wouldn't be as important.

You're doing a fair amount of water changing and really increases the fish load a pond can carry...but testing is still the answer. You may have to increase the number of water changes or do other things in the future as your fish load grows.

Cause of deaths...
To the original question...first off "feeder fish" are not lesser breeds or anything like that. These fish all come from the same place, same basic parents. Fish are just sorted by the farmer and also at the pet store. A store will generally have some "higher grade" fish. As they sell those they generally just go to the feeder tank and pull out a few of the prettier fish which are moved to the "higher grade" tanks and the price goes from $0.25 to $4-5. Purely a marketing thing.

However, the conditions the fish are kept in at the pet store are generally pretty poor. Feeder fish I've bought I generally lose 50% in the first few days. Once I went back to buy more because the feeder fish were Shubunkins which I like and are normally more expensive, but the next day the entire tank at the store had died. I lost 50%.

Since you are treating the new water every couple of weeks I don't see ammonia being a problem as those products convert toxic ammonia into safe ammonia. When you test you're likely to see some ammonia, maybe even high, but the treatment changes the ammonia into safe ammonia. Most test kits can't tell the difference and it seems like about 99% of pond keepers and store employees don't know there is a difference. Hardly ever see it mentioned anyways. There are tests to tell the difference between the two ammonias, such as Seachem MultiTest and Ammonia Alert. Pretty cheap too.

You did say the pet store tested the water...they would have (should have) tested ammonia and hopefully both kinds. It bothers me that you don't post the actual numbers. Many people like to say water tests are "normal", but they don't actually do the test or they don't really know what "normal" is or if "normal" is OK for your pond.

Normally ammonia and lack of O2 affect large fish first because they have a larger need. There was no mention of fish jumping out of the pond which they can do when adding new fish to poor water. No mention of fish gulping air at the surface. It's still early in the year so cooler water, good pump movement of water. Nothing tells me there is an ammonia or O2 problem. Testing ammonia will tell you for sure.

So my guess is the fish you're buying are in poor condition and already dying from basic stress. With a sickness you normally see a larger, sharper die off, and spread to fish that had already been in the pond. And you saw that with fish dying by the time you get them home. Differences in water parameters from the store and pond can also add stress. Kind of normal, so I'll go with the higher percentage guess.
 
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Hi Waterbug, thank you so much for your reply, it really helped me out alot. I plan on going out tomorrow to look for a better test kit, and doing a search for the seachem multi test and the amonia alert to see where I can get either those.

I just went out and used the testing strips I got at the pet store, and the GH was 180, top of the scale, the KH was 240, top of the scale, the PH was 7.5, test strips say high, but not out of range, and the NO2 and NO3 both showed 0.

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I guess once I get the better test kit, I will know for sure if there is any problem with the water. The two pumps I have each move 140 gallons an hour, so the water is circulating at least once every 45 minutes or so, and the filters are never overly dirty when I change them out.

I do not see fish trying to jump out of the water, or gulping for air at the top, when the sun is out, they mostly stay at the bottom or hide under the rocks and lilies and the shade from the wall next to the pond. At night, they are all over the pond, and when I walk up, they all head for the bottom.

I was told that two fountain kits would be ok and I did not need add an air pump or anything, but any opinion on that is appreciated.

Once I do a better test, if all is normal, I will go with your thought of just higher percentage, and not to sound anti goldfish, I'm just really happy my koi and algae sucker have been ok.
 

j.w

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Gosh that does sound like a lot of fish but right now they are pretty tiny. Believe me they will all grow outta that little pond pretty fast especially the koi and If you are going to keep them all ya better get to digging a bigger pond soon. We'll help ya!
 
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Thanks j.w. I know someone with a much bigger pond who can take the koi when they get too big for my pond, I just want to try to keep them alive and healthy until they get larger. When I need to move the ones I have out, I plan on moving smaller ones back in again.
 

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That's good and then if you want you could keep a few goldfish in there for several yrs and they'd prolly do just fine w/ good aeration and filtering, throw in some nice plants and you're good to go. If you don't feed your goldfish very often they will stay smaller longer but if you feed all the time they will get fat and lazy. You would be surprised on how well they can feed themselves on what they find that falls or flies into the pond. I didn't feed my goldfish for the first several yrs at all and they did great and grew slower and had less babies!
 
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sissy

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yikes fish explosion .The chemicals alone can kill fish .Those fountain pump filter kits seem to never work .They need cleaned all the time to half work .I had them in my small preformed 1st pond and had to clean them at least twice a day and only had 4 small fish .Koi produce a lot of waste .
 
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I just went out and used the testing strips I got at the pet store, and the GH was 180, top of the scale, the KH was 240, top of the scale, the PH was 7.5, test strips say high, but not out of range, and the NO2 and NO3 both showed 0.
It just blows me away how bad it is for new pond owners, so many really horrible products that sound wonderful. No ammonia testing strips??? The single most important test. The main fish killer. :banghead3:

It's very rare for KH and GH to be too high, almost impossible. Only high end Koi keepers worry about high levels because it can/may effect Koi color. For most people high GH, KH means stable pH which means fish aren't killed by pH swings up and down.

NO2 is important, it's nitrite and is harmful to fish. It's what

I was told that two fountain kits would be ok and I did not need add an air pump or anything, but any opinion on that is appreciated.
The fountains aren't really needed, they don't add more O2. In theory they could lower O2 as opposed to running the pumps without the fountains because you'd get more movement. It's difficult concept, very people get it, but O2 only happens at the surface. Creating a current if more helpful for gas exchange.

Air pumps for example are popular for increasing O2. Most people think it's the bubbles but it's the bubbles pushing water. Creates a current and stirs the water. It just happens that creating the bubbles cost less electric than a water pump for moving the same amount of water.

Anyways, if you didn't like the fountains you could get rid of them. I mean if you only wanted them for O2.
 
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Hello again, I was finally able to make it out to buy a test kit that tests for amonia as well as a couple other things. Here is what I came up with:

Ammonia (NH3/NH4) measured high at 4.0
Nitrite (NO2) measured at 0
Phosphate (PO3-4) measured at 0.5
wide range ph was at 7.0

I bought the test kit at a different pet store and spoke with a new person. She said it seems like I have a lot of fish for my pond, but it can be done with extra work. She said I may need to up my filter changes to twice a week, and do a 20 - 25 % water change about every week and a half. I told her I what water conditioner, algae, and water clearing chemicals I was using, and she said the Eco fix stuff isn't the greatest, as I do have a little murkiness in the water, and told me to use something called Accu Clear, but the other stuff would be fine.

She then said when I test for Ammonia, if its high, which it was, the most common reason she finds for that is overfeeding. I told her I feed the fish 3 times a day, except the for Algae sucker I feed once a day, if he eats the food I give him at all. I put about three good size pinches of goldfish food, and about 40-50 koi pellets each time I feed them. I know I'm supposed to only let them eat for a few minutes then take any uneaten food out, but I have had a hard time doing that.

It seems to me the fish don't eat when I watch them, they hide at the bottom, and when I walk away, they all come up to eat. I feed them, come inside for a couple minutes and then go out to take the food out. Sometimes though I get distracted with other things, and end up going out 10 - 15 minutes later.

She said it really sounds like I'm over feeding them, but testing would confirm. She said I should put less food in, watch them, if they dont' eat in a few minutes take it out. If there hungry, they won't care if I'm watching them, they will come up to eat. She also said I might want to feed them only twice a day.

Anyway, that's were I am right now, and as always, me and my fish appreciate all the input and help.
 
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Hi:
Seems like you have a lot of fish in a very small pond, you're feeding them a lot, you don't have enough filtration, you're putting a lot of chemicals in there and you don't have any plants!

The quickest way to improve your water chemistry would be to cut your feeding by 1/2 or 1/3. Maybe instead of 40-50 koi pellets each time, about 12-15 pellets each time. If you want to see your fish eat, just stick around for 10-15 mins and the fish will eventually come out.

You can keep that many fish, and you can do it without buying more chemicals from the store. I like plants, so I'd probably add a few plants myself and add more filtration capacity.
 

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