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What about barley straw?

Barely straw is a great way to add healthy bacteria, naturally, to a pond.

It can take from 4 to 6 weeks to see results from barley straw, but patience pays off!  Barely straw can last the whole season!  As it begins to decompose, it creates and enzyme that helps to reduce algae. Follow the instructions to add the right amount.

When using barely straw, it is imperative that it is organic.  Straw that may have been treated with pesticides could kill the plant life and even the fish in the pond.


Raccoon can become a pest if they realize you have fish!  They are brave and clever, deterring them can be difficult.  Try these things to get ride of a raccoon at your pond:

♦  Put in a fish cave for your fish to hide in

♦  Provide plants like lilies and floating lettuce to help hide the fish

♦  Leave your dog in the backyard - raccoons don't want to deal with dogs

♦  Use mountain lion urine.  Yep.  Mountain lion urine can be obtained from many garden centers or on line.  Follow the instructions on the container.  It should deter those pesky raccoons!


How Many Gallons of Water is My Pond?

How do you calculate the amount of water in your pond?  We use the simple calculation of length x width x 80% since ponds are usually not square, but about 80% of a square.

There are 7.48 gallons of water in a cubic square foot.

(L x W x 80%) x average depth x 7.48 = gallons in a pond.

So if you have a 10 x 8 pond with an average depth of 2 ½ feet it would look like this:

10 x 8 x .80 = 64.  64 x 2.5 x 7.48= 1,196.8 gallons.

Fish Food Storage

Proper storage of fish food is essential to keeping it from going bad or getting mice, cats, mold or weevils in it.  As long as you have a fairly small container, a shelf in the garage might be fine.  If you buy it in larger quantities, don’t put the food in the freezer.  That can degrade the nutrients in it.  Put it in the fridge for best preservation.

If the food is old, it may smell funny or have a fuzz on it.  It my change color or consistency.  If these things happen you’ll have to throw it out.  Feeding fish spoiled food can cause them illness!  Better for them to wait a few days to be fed while you get some fresh food than to eat something that may hurt them.  In the meantime you could give them a bit of green lettuce or some fruit.

Do I Need Plants in My Pond?


Cordata Chameleon

Plants bring a new level of beauty to any pond, but they are much more than just good looks!  Plants are the natural workers of a pond ecosystem. They use nutrients that fish are adding to the water and therefore become living filters!  Too many nutrients in the water can cause algae blooms.  Too much sun on the water can contribute to algae growth as well. While your plants are sitting there looking beautiful, they’re actively providing filtration. When plants cover 30 to 40% of the surface area of the pond, it will reduce the temperature of the pond, helping reduce algae blooms.

In addition to filtration, your plants are good for the fish.   They create a shady place for fish to relax.  Some fish will nibble on the roots of floating plants like water hyacinth or water lettuce. Both of these will spread and can be quite lovely.  Here in Colorado these are annual plants, so they will die off when the winter weather comes.  If your fish have babies, plants offer a great place for them to hide.  

To have a balanced ecosystem a pond needs the following 5 components and plants are #5!

  1. Filtration (skimmer)
  2. Rocks and gravel (surface area for good bacteria to colonize)
  3. Recirculation (oxygenation - pump, aerators and good water flow)
  4. Fish (keeps algae in check)
  5. PLANTS (cleans pond by adding living filtration)

Do I Need to Do Anything Special For My Fish to Have Babies?

No!  Fish will spawn and have babies all on their own as long as you have a healthy pond.   Goldfish and koi are egg layers. Gold fish spawn readily while koi take a bit longer. Usually in the late spring or early summer they produce thousands of eggs.  Most don’t survive to grow up to be baby fish.  Did you know baby fish are called “Fry”?

The fry will hide in the gravel on the bottom of the pond for a few days and then they will go hide out in the plants.  If you don’t have plants, chances are the fry will become tasty snacks for the adult fish in the pond. If the gravel is too clean, less fry will make it. They grow about an inch per month for the first year.

Can Koi and Goldfish be Kept in the Same Pond?


Yes they can.  But remember if you have koi, they will breed with the goldfish and the young will not be pure koi and often these interbred fish are sterile. When koi and goldfish are in the same pond, the goldfish almost always eat the koi eggs and fry (baby fish). Very few will make it and those that do will be goldfish.

What is the Difference Between Goldfish and Koi?

Goldfish may often look like koi to the untrained eye, making them perfect for a backyard pond!  Goldfish can live for over 25 years and come in a variety of colors and shapes. In general, Koi have longer, leaner bodies while gold fish have larger fins. Koi have whiskers, called barbels and goldfish don’t. Koi also have a flat belly while goldfish are a bit rounder. Both koi and goldfish have a variety of colors, adding beauty to any pond!

How many Fish Can I Have?

Over stocking fish creates an imbalance in the pond’s ecosystem and can be detrimental to the health of your fish. A 7 inch koi needs 74.8 gallons of water - or 10 cubic ft.  Generally, goldfish can be kept in closer proximity.


This table is a general guide for fish about 7 inches long. - Remeber that the small fish will grow! This also assumes good conditions regarding circulation, aeration, filtration, bacteria colonization and good plant life.


Pond size (assuming a rounded shape at 2 ft deep) # gold fish # Koi
5 x 5 7 4
5 x 8 12 7
8 x 10 21 13
10 x 10 25 16
12 x 10 30 19


Want to understand the numbers?  Using the equation to figure out the gallons of your pond you can figure out how many fish you can have. - (L x W x 80%) x average depth x 7.48 = gallons in a pond. We use 80%  here, because ponds are not square, they are about 80% of a square. So if you have a 10 x 8 pond with an average depth of 2 feet it would look like this: 10 x 8 x .80 = 64.  64 x 2 x 7.48= 957.44 gallons.  957.44 divided by 74.8 (assuming a 7 inch koi) = 12.8   I would round up to 13 (no one wants to see 80% of a fish!)