Archive for the ‘Pond Fish and Koi’ Category

The “OTHER” Butterfly in the Water Garden. . .

March 27, 2009
Butterfly Koi Feeding

Butterfly Koi Feeding

Butterfly Koi by Nancy G. deGarmeaux

     Some of the most beautiful fish you can add to your pond are butterfly koi.  Years ago, koi were crossed with Indonesian long finned carp, Kohaku and Showa, in Niigata, Japan. 

Metallic Butterfly Koi

Metallic Butterfly Koi

They were crossed to improve body shape.  Some of the offspring were unusual but not really desirable.  They stopped producing in 1993 due to unreliable results and poor reception in the marketplace.  Once the market was developed, they resumed production. 

     If you should purchase  butterfly koi for your pond, there are some key elements to remember.  The better the conditions in your pond, the better your fish will do.  Always feed your butterfly koi high quality food with little or no fillers.  You need a great filtration system for your pond. 

Red / Orange

Red / Orange

Bacteria and parasites are free-floating at some point in their life cycle and you will want a UV filter to kill these, as they are the culprits for fish kill in your pond.   

      Depending on the size of the butterfly koi you purchase and the size of your pond, your koi should reach  14″ to 15″ in length.  Under ideal conditions, 30″ to 36″ inches in length.  To reach jumbo size, all conditions must be ideal. 

The life span of your koi will depend on the conditions, ie feeding, filtration, pond size,  water quality,etc.  The oldest koi recorded were 70+ years.   A normal life span for your butterfly koi is 20+ years. 

     Butterfly koi are among the most beautiful fish you can add to your pond.   The colors are the same as regular koi but their tails and fins can really be unusual.  They gracefully swim in your pond and are beautiful to watch from any angle.  Blue Butterfly Koi

Your butterfly koi will look forward to being fed and they will watch for you and come  to the area of the pond you are feeding in giving you a front row seat to observe their coloration and “butterfly” fins and tails. 

     If you buy a $20.00 butterfly koi, it will be worth $200 a few years later! Enjoy!

Small Butterfly Fry


The SPRING Algae Bloom

March 26, 2009

feed3What causes algae blooms? Sometimes natural causes, runoff of nutrients from around the pond after a storm or rain. Most common culprit of Algae blooms is the pond owner him or her self.

Algae is the result of nutrients, sunlight, and water. As pond owners I never recommend algae products as it is a vicious cycle. A balanced ecosystem of plants and fish can lead to a simple pond to enjoy rather than fool with. The number 1 problem with water gardening is feeding the fish. Read on my friend…


Feeding fish before the water temperature is above 55 degrees is always a bad idea, in the winter fish go into a hibernation like stage. Their stomachs are inactive. Pellet or processed foods are dry and if fish eat them too early in the spring you can actually rupture a fish stomach as the food expands quickly inside the stomach and shortly after feeding your fish can go belly up.

Also before you plant plants in the spring you will foul the water by feeding the fish. Pond fish “NEVER” need to be fed. Yes every fish-food container will tell you to feed fish 2-3 times per day but take a second to figure out where they make there money. Fish can eat 10 times a day if you wish, they do this at fish farms. However this is normally too much waste for a pond and the extra waste produces a quick bloom of algae.

String Algae

String Algae

Fish including koi and goldfish naturally eat string algae and bug larvae and eggs keeping mosquitoes and nats to a minimum. Supplementing their natural diet not only stops that part of the natural ecosystem but adds to the nutrients for algae. Adding Submerged plants can highly reduce algae, hornwort, red star ludwigia, lemon bacopa, and anacharis all help starve algae and can even work in cooler water before floating plants like hyacinths and lettuce can takeover on the surface.

Nancy’s Pond. . .

February 28, 2009

by Nancy G. deGarmeaux:

     Hello Fellow Water Garden Fans,   Tomorrow is the 1st day of March and the pond season is upon us.  Days are getting longer, we “Spring Forward” next week, and we are all impatient for Spring to arrive.  Zac has asked me to fill in for him on his blog as he is busy on his website getting ready for the 2009 season!  The  pond plants and water lilies that PONDMEGASTORE has to offer this Spring are simply amazing. 

Mr. MARTIN E RANDIG          !!!NEW!!!


  Many of these water lilies aren’t offered anywhere else.    I like to plan what plants I will be adding to my water garden this spring.  I usually start with the plants that I will submerge to oxygenate the water.  Then I like to add bog plants to give some definition to the pond.  Last but not least, I like to imagine  the exquisite water lilies that I will add to my pond.  I try to give my pond as much bloom time and interest as I can.  By bloom time, I mean I add water lilies that bloom day and night.  I add lilies that have longer bloom times throughout the day and that bloom from first bloom til frost.  I add interest by adding complimentary colors with my bog plants and ones with interesting shapes (sword-like leaves, fern-like foliage, spiky blooms,  etc. )  Nothing is quite as peaceful as water lily pads and blooms  “floating” magically on the calm water.  It’s also exciting to hear and see splashing water from the waterfalls and the flash of orange, red, yellow, or white koi or other fish in the water.  Once your plants are established and your snails, toads, frogs and other creatures are making their homes in your water garden surroundings bees and butterflies will be visiting for fly-by snacks or to add beauty just by their presence.     Two plants that I will be adding to my pond are Orange Sedge and Pluumbae Taro.  The Orange Sedge is an aquatic grass that grown 14-18″ tall.  Its’ bright orange color and  narrow blade-like leaves gives unusual color and texture and catches the slightest breeze.  The Taro “Plumbae” has large, shiny plum colored leaves that can grow to 4′ wide.    The Sensitive plant  is a tuber that can be potted or floated in your pond.  It has numerous yellow flowers and leaves that close instantly when touched.  All of these plants should compliment my yellow  Water Snowflake flowers in the calm, shallow end of my pond.  My Moon Dance water lily will add interest with its’ white flowers and mottled pads.  Try to remember not to overfeed your fish.  That’s one of the reasons you might have problems fouling the water.  Your pond is an eco system and the plants and fish create a “balance”.  We hope you enjoy  your water gardens and pond plants as much as I do.  Take care!  Think Spring!

Bird Lovers can’t be Koi Lovers…I explain

January 16, 2009

This post will definitely go under “off topic” though it dose pertain to water gardens.  

Last thing you want to see in your pond!

Last thing you want to see in your pond!

      I would assume many gardeners are bird lovers and outdoor lovers  as well.  And if you are a brand new water gardener,  then you may not know that the arch nemesis of a water garden with goldfish or koi, throughout most of the USA, is the Heron. This is one birdyou never want to catch in your  fishpond, they have only come for one reason, your backyard buffet.

Small & very pretty green heron, Still gonna eat your fish!

Small & very pretty green heron, Still gonna eat your fish!

In much of the country people don’t even know herons are in their area, they seem like large birds you may only find in th southern swamps. They are usually a protected species, some a foot tall, some four feet tall with a six foot wingspan. Found commonly hanging out next to water gardens in the early morning around sunrise or wading in the shallow end of a pond, a heron can swallow a 24″ fish and take off quickly. They love backyard ponds, as they are small, shallow, and the fish are usually bright colors, could we make it any easier for these birds? I don’t think so. . .  .

The Scarecrow I talk about, cost about $65-$79 as of 2008

The Scarecrow I talk about, cost about $65-$79 as of 2008

Now winter is a very common time to find these birds in your yard. For fish to live, we generally keep a hole in the ice here in the north, with a pump or trough deicer.  These birds have less and less open water to hunt  and they easily see our water gardens open water reflect like a mirror in the sky. Lakes and streams with fish are iced over but we provide a tiny open space of open water, on top of that, the fish are bright orange and red or white or yellow. These birds will come back until the pond is empty, however we can keep them away pretty easy. A scarecrow, battery operated device is sold almost everywhere & works on all animals, it one in has a motion detector and shoots a stream of chilly water at animals that come by the pond. You can set one in the area in which it protects so that you can come up behind it without getting sprayed. Most people, myself included, forget about the device and normally walk right by it, and you  may get a little spray of water at your butt.   It protects the pond and after a few squirts the bird will stop coming around for good. 

Another option is a decoy heron, these birds are territorial, move the plastic decoy from one side of the pond to the other every 7 days as birds are smart and flyover birds will notice the decoy never moves, after a while. Make sure you have plenty of submerged plants, as fish can hide from the birds in submerged grasses like anacharis or hornwort.

Last of all, a small line of fishing line around the pond ,about 14 inches high, is invisible to the heron and they only way they can get to the pond is to walk in, when they reach your fishing line fence, they cannot move any closer to the pond and don’t know what is in the way, they will then fly off. The fishing line is not unattractive, is inexpensive and easy to put up .Once the heron is gone, you can take it down.

 E-mail me if you need help finding anything.

Please don’t break the ice!

December 16, 2008

That is, if your water garden contains fish.

Have you ever seen someone tap their finger on the  glass of an aquarium? The fish jump, the sound waves scare the crap out of them. This is not healthy for fish, for some reason making loud noises affects fish negatively, causing them to become susceptible to bacterial infections and viruses. Were am I going with this? It is winter and if you have fish in your pond you probably know that a frozen over pond or water garden often has fish-kill, (fish that die during the winter). Some people think they see the fish under the ice which don’t appear to be moving are actually dead, frozen in the pond.

goldfish chilling out under a thin layer of ice

goldfish chilling out under a thin layer of ice

Unlikely– unless the pond is frozen to the bottom which may happen in North Dakota, Montana, or Upper Minnesota. Here in Ohio we only get the ice 3-6″ deep on the coldest winters. Though your fish can die with a quarter inch of ice, but they will not die from the cold. They die from both the lack of oxygen as they use up available oxygen in the water and no new oxygen can penetrate the ice. If your pond freezes over in Alabama one night and thaws the next day, it’s nothing to worry about– the fish are probably never going to notice, if you live in zone 6 and lower (maybe even zone 7) you should have a thermostatically controlled deicer in the pond over the winter. If it’s 40 degrees outside the heater won’t kick on so your electric bill isn’t going up. If it goes below 32 the heater turns on and off as necessary.

These pond heaters or deicer really started from farmers trough deicers, in fact if you want a good deal, head down to TSC  tractor supply company and get one cheaper than in most garden centers. They are also less expensive on line at some stores ($38-48). Simply plug it in and keep a small amount of the pond unfrozen all winter.

Other alternatives? Keep a pump running that will provide a hole in the ice. Often a pump upwelling from the ledge will provide a strong current upwards. It will however cool the water to a much lower level at the bottom of the pond. Also make sure your leaves & debris are out of the pond before winter, you don’t want your pump getting clogged when its 10 degrees outside and you having to go unclog it. A bubbler or aerator that blows air under the water will keep a hole in the ice as the water is always moving where bubble are coming up. These are sometimes more expensive or need attached to an existing pump.

Deicer keeps a small hole in the ice letting fish breathe

Deicer keeps a small hole in the ice letting fish breathe

Finally, the best trick, if your deicer dies or it freezes over in a pond where you don’t expect it to simply boil a tea kettle, or any pot of water and one or two times per day pour it on the ice slowly creating a small hole. All the bad gases will escape and oxygen will get in. NEVER break the ice, your fish will get stressed and die quickly, every year I hear someone tell me I don’t use a deicer I grab my spud bar and break the ice. I have seen fish jump when an index finger hits the glass of an aquarium I can really imagine a spud bar. I have seen movies where they threw dynamite in the water and fish instantly surfaced dead as a doorknob. I imagine that’s probably close tho the same stress for fish as a spud bar or shovel.  

Last of all, I would like to disprove the myth of fish freezing in ice during the winter. Every year I hear this from people, “I can see them in the ice, they aren’t moving, they are frozen and come back to life when it thaws”. This is by no way true or scientists would be studying the first fish that did this. The truth is that as the water gets cold the fishes metabolism slows down to the point where the fish just basically sits in the pond with his gills moving. They are winter couch potatoes, go out every few days they will have changed position a bit and every thaw they will swim around a little.  The metabolism is so slow you cannot ever feed fish Nov-April. When I was young ,on the first nice day of  spring, I killed my favorite koi by feeding him.  I gave him a big old lunch of pellets and he gobbled them up as fast as possible, he was about 16″ long so he was a great size. His stomach hadn’t digested anything in 6 months, he ate a lot. It was quick, I had no idea what I had done. When he floated to the surface a few moments later he looked so stretched out It was easy to see what had happened. He basically burst from the inside. It was tragic. That’s a little about fish in cold water.