First of all, you should wait at least two weeks after the aquatic plants have been installed before introducing Koi or decorative goldfish to your backyard pond. The longer you wait for your plants to mature and become well-rooted, the better off you’ll be. But we understand that a new backyard pond is exciting, and that you’re anxious to put all the pieces together.
Remember that a Koi’s mission in life is to forage and uproot the lovely aquatic plants that you’ve grown fond of. It’s how they entertain themselves – fish humor, if you will. This is especially true if you’re not feeding them other types of food regularly, which you don’t need to do in a well-built and well-balanced backyard pond. They can certainly live off foraging, and this makes them about the lowest-maintenance pet possible!
Secondly, we recommend purchasing small fish (3-5” in length). This is a much less expensive option than buying larger fish, and it’s less stressful on the smaller fish to change environments – typically from a glass bowl/tank to a backyard pond. The smaller fish do less damage to aquatic plants, as well. The drawback, however, is that you may not be able to see exactly what the fish will look like when it “grows up.” Be sure to follow the Fish Introduction Guidelines when adding fish to your pond.
Stocking density is an important part of keeping your backyard pond healthy and low maintenance. Having fish in your backyard pond is an essential part of the ecosystem, but if your fish are crowded, they are more likely to have problems with parasites and disease. If one fish is sick in a crowded pond situation, the illness will spread more quickly than in a less crowded pond.
There are different guidelines for stocking density, depending on how low maintenance you want your backyard pond to be, and how many fish it was designed to support (filtration, predator protection, etc.):
These are general rules of thumb to follow for a living ecosystem backyard pond. Make sure you ask your contractor their recommendations based on how they designed and built your pond.
If you're ready to have a gorgeous living backyard pond installed, let us know!
Barbi Holdeman, co-owner of The Pond Gnome, enjoys sharing their 17+ years of education & experience with you! She writes about Phoenix Ecosystem Pond Installation, Pond Maintenance, Wildlife around the Pond, Koi and Goldfish in the Pond, and the Pond Lifestyle. If you enjoy what she writes, please share it!