THE NEW FAMILY PET
OK, so they may never learn to fetch, sit, or roll over. They may not play with balls of yarn or cuddle in your lap. Anyone who has fish in their pond knows that they are family pets, none the less. Social creatures by nature, fish in schools chase each other and play the day away. They will often follow passers by and can even be trained to eat food right out of your hand. It doesn't take long to realize that each fish has their own personality and will often recieve a name worthy of their unique quirks.
ONE FISH, TWO FISH, RED FISH, BLUE FISH
There are several varieties of pond fish avilable to hobbyists here in the Northeast. We only recommend keeping fish that are hardy enough to survive the harsh conditions of the winter season. These varieties of fish will all go into a hibernation state on the bottom of the pond and will require a small amount of attention to ensure their well being from year to year.
COMET GOLDFISH - Not to be confused with common goldfish, comets have longer fins and faces with bright orange colors. Playful schooling fish like comets patrol the pond all day long and benefit from having a few friends around. These hardy fish are a staple for any pond owner. Reaching sizes up to 16" they may even breed once established in their new home.
FANCY TAIL GOLDFISH - The short stubby cousin of the comet goldfish, fancy tail goldfish are bred for extravagant fin displays. Unlike comets these compact beauties usually don't get longer than six inches. What they lack in size they make up for in showmanship. A change of pace when compared to the quick slick movements of comet goldfish, fancy tails will putter in and out of the pond vegetation in an endearing wiggling motion.
SHUBUNKIN - These lesser known stars of the pond world may not get as much press as they deserve. Just as hardy as goldfish and growing to an average max length of 12-14" these friendly fish will get along with any other pond dweller. Red and black spots on a background of white or blue characterize the Shubunkin. With never ending calico patterns no two Shubunkin are alike. Introduce these guys in a small group and add friends as the years go on. They'll make an interesting addition to your pond's color pallet.
GOLDEN ORFES - With light gold to bright peach bodies and fins that are often blood red these fish are tight synchronized schoolers. The Ferraris of the pond fish world, golden Orfes dart quickly about the pond making other fish look like they're moving in slow motion. Requiring larger ponds for swimming room these fish can be little finicky. Ample oxygen levels are needed in the pond to keep golden orfes and they must be kept in schools of 6 or more. Orfes reach 18" when mature.
KOI - Available in an endless array of colors and patterns koi have been bred for beauty. Essentially they're just carp, an overall hardy friendly fish. For hundreds of years Japanese breeders selected unique characteristics and were able to breed an impressive selection of koi styles. With their trademark mustache like barbels and downward facing mouths these fish are natural bottom cleaners but will readily pig out at the surface if you are willing to provide the grub. From blue to gold, from giant scales to scaleless and from jet black to metallic reflective skin there is a koi that's right for you. With proper care koi can live more than 75 years and reach lengths in excess of 3 feet!
BUTTERFLY KOI - Although these water garden beauties are the same species as regular koi they have been bred with a little something extra. By taking a koi and cross breeding it with fancy tail goldfish the butterfly koi was born. With the same body shape and size of koi they also have the long flowing fins that are common with fancy tail goldfish. Butterfly koi have extra long pectoral fins and tail fins that tend to trail along behind them as they swim, like a flag blowing in the wind. This extra flare gives the butterfly koi an elegant appearance as it makes it's way through the water.
KEEPING FISH HAPPY AND HEALTHY
All of these fish can be kept together in the same pond peacefully. As with any aquatic pet these fish need ample room to be healthy. Properly stocking a pond with fish to maintain a sustainable ecosystem should always be the goal. It is not uncommon to want to collect many different varieties of koi. Do your research ahead of time and if you think you might be the collecting type make sure your pond installer is able to accommodate the extra fish load within the design of your pond.
Proper filtration and good water quality are the keys to keeping happy healthy fish. Feeding pond fish is an exciting highlight of having a water garden. Although this is a rewarding way to get personal with your aquatic amigos owners often overfeed and put excess nutrients into the pond that promote algae growth. Feed sparingly once or twice a day and only a small amount at first. Wait about 5 minutes and only feed more if needed. That food is chock full o' nutrients protein and vitamins. They don't need much to be happy growing fish.
Try feeding every day at the same time and leaving your hand in the water while the fish feed. After they warm up to you try releasing the food slowly from your hand until they seem to understand that the source is you. Once they get the idea a little patience will have them eating right out of your hand!