Garden Ponds and Fish

Once constructed, your garden pond is not complete without its finishing

touches. There are many varieties of aquatic plants and ornamental fish

available, which will transform your pond – bringing it to life and

blending it naturally into your garden. Getting the balance right will

allow your pond to become virtually self-sustaining, which means you

will only need to give it occasional attention to keep it in peak condition…

First of all you need to look at the different types of aquatic plants,

which are on offer and decide which ones would best suit the size and

style of your pond – Iris’ can grow very tall and are likely to topple

over and look out of place in a small pond.

Don’t buy too many plants, remember that they will grow and could

take over the pond very easily. It is best to start with a few and see

how they develop during the first year – you can always add more later

on.

There are several distinct groups of aquatic plants, which you can

use any combination of. They are as follows:

Oxygenating plants – These do exactly as they say

– oxygenate the water, by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen

as they grow. Most of these plants float in the water, but some are

rooted.

They provide a good shelter for spawning fish and their fry and take

up mineral salts from the water that would normally encourage the growth

of algae. Take care, as these plants grow profusely. Some examples of

oxygenating plants are: Curly Pondweed, Water cress, Milfoil and Willow

Moss.

Deep water and marginal plants – Deep water plants

are best kept in containers for ease of lifting – in the event of treating

diseases pruning or feeding. Most marginal plants have their roots just

under the water and their flowers and leaves held well above the surface.

Again, these are best planted in containers. Examples of these plants

are: Sweet Flag, Water Plantain, Water Hawthorn, Iris, Water Mint and

Mimulus.

Water Lilies – These come in a variety of species

and are available in a variety of sizes to suit all sizes and depths

of ponds. These are probably the most well known and popular of all

water plants. They come in a range of wonderful colored blooms and their

distinctive flat leaves sit on the surface of the water, providing valuable

shade and protection for both the pond and the fish. These are once

again best planted in containers. Examples of water lilies are: Darwin,

Pink Opal, Albatross, Attraction, Livingstone and Firecrest.

Bog plants – These plants have adapted themselves

so that their root systems can cope with high moisture levels. Many

of them have interesting leaf shapes with brightly colored flowers and

are perfect for planting near your pond. Some examples of these are:

False Goat’s Beard, Quamash, Dropwort, Lobelia, Iris, Day Lily.

Always remember to plant your aquatic plants in suitably prepared

soil in pots or baskets with gravel on the top- this prevents the fish

from disturbing the soil and clouding the water. Before introducing

your fish, you must wait a while until the pond has settle and is able

to support fish. You can buy Pond Testing Kits, which allow you to check

for PH, Nitrate, Nitrite and Ammonia levels.

Once your pond has settled down, it is time to think about introducing

some fish – taking care not to overstock. The addition of fish will

really bring your pond to life and is probably the most exciting part.

They play an important role in the environment of the pond, as they

take in oxygen from the water and expel carbon dioxide, which is required

by the plants. There are many ornamental fish available in a variety

of colors. Here are just a few ideas:

Common Goldfish – These are probably the cheapest

to buy and the most widely available. Although primarily gold, they

do vary form yellow-gold to bright orange-red.

Shubunkin – These very hardy fishes were developed

from the Common Goldfish and come in a variety of mottled colors.

Comet – This fish has a long tail and is the fastest

and most graceful member of the Goldfish family. This hardy fish is

usually red in color, but does come in a variety of other colors too.

Golden Orfe – This is an excellent scavenger fish,

removing insects and mosquito larvae from the plants and water surface.

It is a very lively fish and is, therefore, best kept in a spacious

pond.

Green Tench – This extremely hardy fish can live

a long time out of water. It prefers still water to running water. Its

dark green, slimy skin is reputed to cure various diseases on other

fishes in the pond.

Koi Carp – These fish are full of character and

can grow to a large size. They have a long lifespan and come in a variety

of wonderful colors, some of which are highly prized. Due to their large

size they are really only suited to large ponds.

In addition to your deliberate additions to the pond there will be

a number of other visitors too, such as, frogs, newts, toads, snails,

various beetles and other insects – some of which can be a nuisance,

but many just enhance its beauty and interest. As your pond gradually

establishes itself and your fish settle down and grow, you will probably

find yourself spending many spare hours sitting next to it and enjoying

all that it has to offer.

By Jane Grimshaw

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