Who doesn’t love Koi fish in their pond? They’re beautiful and friendly, providing glimmers of color as they weave their way beneath the lily pads, and in and out of the light rays at night. Certainly they deserve their rightful place in a tranquil water garden. But what about other options? An assortment of pond fish is just waiting to call your pond their home.
Goldfish in Your Backyard Pond
Goldfish are perfect for your pond: resilient and able to handle all different kinds of water. For the newbie pond owner, and smaller ponds in general, goldfish are a great choice for getting started with fish-keeping. Several varieties of goldfish are available, from comets (plain orange and white) to the exotics like ranchus and bubble-eyes.
Exotic varieties include lionheads, telescopes, black moors, orandas, ranchus, and ryukins. The single most distinguishing characteristic of this group as a whole are their round, bulbous abdomens. Note that these fish are not the great swimmers of the fish world. Ponds with great circulation, and strong skimmer currents are probably not the best environments for these fish as they will struggle to stay out of the skimmers and have difficulty thriving in environments with strong currents. Use these fish in ponds with minimal water movement, like reflecting ponds.
Shubunkins in Your Backyard Pond
Shubunkins are a type of single-tailed, long-bodied goldfish that originated in China. There are two different types of shubunkins. One has a long tail fin, with broad tail fin lobes that are rounded on the end. The other one looks more like a common goldfish, with a short tail fin. Bred mainly for their coloring, shubunkins often have a red, black, and sky blue coloring, sort of like a calico.
The most valuable of the shubunkins are mostly blue with strong accents of white and red, and the overall pattern sparingly flecked with black. In fact, when blessed with a white, black, and orange pattern, some may resemble baby koi but are far from it. They are different in size and markings. Most notably, they lack barbells (whiskers of sorts) that are found on koi. Shubunkins are hardy fish that can survive sweltering summers and severe winters, and can grow up to 14 inches in a minimum 180-gallon pond.
Sarassas in Your backyard Pond
Sarassas are very similar to shubunkins in that they both have a similar body shape; however, they do not quite reach the same size as their larger shubunkins counterparts. The sarassa features a white base color and brilliant red highlights. It is believed that they came from a cross between the red cap oranda and the comet goldfish, and are sometimes referred to as the “poor man’s Koi.”
Amazingly, the brilliant red of the true sarassa is a lifelong proposition and the fish are very enjoyable. Uncontrolled breeding of the sarassa will yield more and more brown fish until the pond population has returned to unselected comet and brown goldfish ancestry.
Catfish in Your Backyard Pond
Catfish are another popular fish seen in the water garden. They are commonly sold as scavengers to help clean up the pond, but they really don’t do that much of it. Caution should be taken with these fish because they can become quite large in a short period of time. When they become large, they can cause trouble because they may start eating whatever they can fit in their mouth -- including other fish!
Learning about Fish in Your Backyard Pond
Getting to know the background of the pond fish you plan to keep as pets is vital to their survival and your sanity. By knowing their defining characteristics, you will have a thorough understanding of how the fish will interact in your pond with other fish, plants, and aquatic life.
Other Fish to Consider for Your Backyard Pond:
Before building a pond, careful consideration should be given to the type of fish you’d like to collect. Different fish require different filtration and pond sizes. For example, we don’t recommend putting Koi in a pond that’s less than 10’ x15’ x 3’ deep in size. For ponds smaller than that, we recommend the homeowner stick to various types of goldfish. And then there is game fish, which is a whole different conversation!
So, which one is YOUR favorite?
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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!