I ask in all seriousness, especially anyone local to "Zone 7b" who keeps koi and/or goldfish in a small outdoor pond (Husband interjects here to say that people "don't exactly keep indoor ponds," but ha HA, Mr. Smart Guy, I have seen one, complete with stream and fountain, in a Sherwood home, so there). We inherited a koi pond with the recent purchase of our new home. The previous owner claims that he, too, inherited it from those who lived here before he and his family did, and never to have fed or otherwise cared for the fish, and only to have changed out the water one time in eight years, when a liner started leaking and had to be replaced, at which time they counted around 40 fish. We have never been able to convince the fish to line up for an official census, but there are a fair number of what seems to be a wide variety of fish in there, and we are clueless as to how to care for them, and we seek help.
I have poked around on numerous "koi pond" websites, but there are so many types of koi, I can't possibly identify what we've got, or whether they even ARE all koi. Some of them are goldfish. Some are white and orange, some are black and red, some are black and orange, some are plain and greyish, with a bit of red--and these appear to be reproducing--and we've spotted one new one that is a crazy amalgamation of colors represented nowhere else in the pond. This last character even has BLUE spots. Their size runs the gamut from the inch-long babies to eight-to-ten-inch Big Boys. Or Girls. We've also raised a healthy crop of tadpoles to hearty adult froghood over the summer.
Bella got a pair of goldfish back in April, and one of them, Gil, died within a couple of weeks. When the survivor, Carl, started looking a little "green around the gills," so to speak, we liberated him into the outdoor pond, thinking he could hardly do worse. He was a tiny thing, just over an inch long, and there was some concern that he might be eaten by the larger and more firmly established koi polloi of the pond environment, but he was definitely not thriving where he was, so we risked it. That fish is now at least 5 inches long. At least. So we must be doing something right. We had learned that you should feed your pond fish during the warm "growing" season, so we began buying "pond pellets," and feeding with the suggested frequency from the instructions on the package. That is, more often when it's hot, and less often when it's...less hot.
I found a chart online recently that indicates that pond fish should stop being fed altogether once the water temperature drops to 54 degrees and below, and that feeding should not be resumed until the water temp rises above 54 again in the spring. I've never owned, throughout my years of many many pets, any sort that did nto require being fed daily, regardless of the temperature, so this concept is causing me some mild anxiety. We definitely notice a decline in the fish's appetites on cooler days, but boy, do they love being fed. It took them about a week to learn what that was all about, and now they swarm the edge of the pond whenever people approach, hoping for a handout.
So...do we do ANYTHING for these guys over the winter? The pond is smallish, has a pump/filter, and a little fountain. It's filled with water-lilies and Japanese iris, is surrounded by bamboo and yucca and weeping holly (I removed the previous owner's family of plastic duck decoys), and I've grown to love it. I would like it to thrive, without having to delve neck-deep into complete koi-pond minutiae. Is there a pond-fish authority in the North Pulaski/Lonoke County area that we should consult? Or will any major outdoor fish-related advice and/or supply-gathering mean a trip to Little Rock?
You can read more from Belinda at NINJA POODLES!, her "home base" on the internet.