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Old 05-26-2011, 07:28 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
23,095 posts, read 23,626,895 times
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Very long story here. I'll do my best to make it short. A couple of years ago, we built a backyard pond. It's not huge... maybe five feet by seven feet or so, and kind of kidney shaped. The pond is not deep. It ranges from about 9 inches at the shallowest part to about 18 inches at the deepest. Since it's as shallow as it is, we really haven't made much of an effort to include any water plants in it. We wanted it to look as natural as possible and felt that visible pots would detract. Anyway, we bought about eight or so goldfish and put them in the pond. Almost immediately, they disappeared. I fed them every day for several weeks and then finally just decided that some "critter" must have eaten them. I know that a couple of people have spotted raccoons in our area.

Well, the summer ended and the pond almost froze over. The following June (roughly nine months after I'd stopped feeding the fish), we were out draining the water and cleaning the pond when I saw a fish! I was speechless! I couldn't imagine that a fish could have survived the winter, particularly since it had been such a cold one and I hadn't provided it with any food at all. It occurred to me that maybe someone in our neighborhood knew we had a pond and had dumped an unwanted goldfish in it. Either way, I was happy to have a fish. We bought three more fish -- koi, though, instead of goldfish. The four of them got along just fine and did well all summer. They managed to find a few hiding places behind rocks, though, and there were some days when we didn't see them much.

We brought them inside during the winter, since the pond is so shallow and we live in a cold climate. We put them in an aquarium where they spent the next six months. It got to where they would come to the surface of the water every morning when I came in the room to feed them, and after awhile they were so used to me that I was practically feeding them out of my hand. When I put my hand right in the water for any reason, they seemed completely at ease swimming right next to it.

Now, here's the problem. A couple of weeks ago, we cleaned our pond, prepared the water, acclimated the fish to it and put them back outside. This year, though, we made sure there was a place they could go to hide out and be relatively safe from predators. We added two more goldfish, so that there were three of each. They are all between 5 and 7 inches long. I saw them occasionally during the first week they were out there, but I haven't seen any of them for several days now. None of the rocks have been disturbed, and I think a raccoon would have had to move them around quite a bit to get at the fish. I really don't know what to do. Should I assume they're okay and just keep feeding them? Should I start pulling rocks out of place to see if I can find them? Should I try starving them out for a couple of days in hopes that they come out looking for food? It's frustrating to have fish and never see them. Why would they have gone from being so unafraid of my hand to totally hiding out? There are no little dead fish floating on the surface, so I figure they must either be hiding or have been eaten. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
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Old 05-26-2011, 09:34 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
32,335 posts, read 58,927,575 times
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Our pond is 12-24" deep and about 3' x 6'. We have had fish eaten by racoons but also by herons. Since I keep netting over it, along with some 3" PVC pipe elbows to hide in, no more problems.

The last dozen 22 cent feeder goldfish I bought are 8" long now, and have survived 3" of ice over the top of the pond when it stayed at 10-14F for several weeks. As long as it doesn't freeze hard at the bottom they will make it. In winter they sort of hibernate, do not feed them after about the first frost. I just started feeding mine again a week ago.

Plants help too, in summer. Get some water hyacinth or lettuce at a good nursery and 1-2 plants will cover the entire surface by fall, just in time to remove it before it freezes and makes a mess.
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Old 05-27-2011, 09:01 AM
 
Location: North Western NJ
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they could just be hiding...itll take a few weeks for them to become accustomed to their new home again and every little flash of movment can be kind of spooky (fish cant see UP past the waters surface very well so to them a human and a raccoon all look very alike and they pretty much rely on ripples on the surface of the water to distinguish good from bad, food from other thing ect.)

koi in particular also tend to be more active in the earlier morning hours then again in the early evening hours, (remember fish eat bugs like skeeters) so you might try going out earlier in the morning or later in the day to see if you can see them swimming about.

id also, if you dont already, feed them on a very strict schedual. fish are considered dumb animals but ill tell you this, if theres one thing all fish KNOW and recognize its FEEDING TIME, if you start feeding them on schedual they will recognize you and soon come out of hiding just to eat...

of course that is assuming they are al in hiding.

personally id continue to feed a LITTLE every day, and give them a couple of weeks, they very well could just be spooked, if after 2 weeks in the pond you dont see any of them id pull some of their hiding places rocks ect and see if there still in there.

racoons, heron, cats, we even had a hawk trying to fish our little pond one spring...ect are all very patient fish catchers and can empty even a big pond in no time.

id suggest adding some teracotta pots (ones that have been broken in half on their long side) to make some caves or large pvc pipe for more hiding spots and mabe adding a couple of shallow water lillies or put a fine net over the top of the pond to keep prying critter paws out.

good luck, ponds are beutiful but can be sooo frustrating
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Old 05-27-2011, 09:32 AM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
23,095 posts, read 23,626,895 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxywench View Post
they could just be hiding...itll take a few weeks for them to become accustomed to their new home again and every little flash of movment can be kind of spooky (fish cant see UP past the waters surface very well so to them a human and a raccoon all look very alike and they pretty much rely on ripples on the surface of the water to distinguish good from bad, food from other thing ect.)

koi in particular also tend to be more active in the earlier morning hours then again in the early evening hours, (remember fish eat bugs like skeeters) so you might try going out earlier in the morning or later in the day to see if you can see them swimming about.

id also, if you dont already, feed them on a very strict schedual. fish are considered dumb animals but ill tell you this, if theres one thing all fish KNOW and recognize its FEEDING TIME, if you start feeding them on schedual they will recognize you and soon come out of hiding just to eat...

of course that is assuming they are al in hiding.

personally id continue to feed a LITTLE every day, and give them a couple of weeks, they very well could just be spooked, if after 2 weeks in the pond you dont see any of them id pull some of their hiding places rocks ect and see if there still in there.

racoons, heron, cats, we even had a hawk trying to fish our little pond one spring...ect are all very patient fish catchers and can empty even a big pond in no time.

id suggest adding some teracotta pots (ones that have been broken in half on their long side) to make some caves or large pvc pipe for more hiding spots and mabe adding a couple of shallow water lillies or put a fine net over the top of the pond to keep prying critter paws out.

good luck, ponds are beutiful but can be sooo frustrating
Thanks for all the info! I'll take your advice and keep feeding them for a couple of weeks before I panic too much. Last year, they didn't have anywhere really good to hide, so that's probably why I saw them more often. This year, we made sure they had a good place to hide. I just didn't realize they'd be hiding from me all the time.

We have two very old dogs and a very old cat, none of whom are the slightest bit interested in what's going on in the pond. Other cats seldom venture into our yard at all because of the dogs. I've never seen either a heron or a racoon in my yard in the 29 years we've lived here. No one else has ever mentioned seeing a heron either, although I know a couple of people have seen a racoon. If anything is going for the fish, it would almost have to be a racoon, but none of the rocks appear to have been moved at all. I'm just hoping the fish are hiding.

I do try to feed them every morning at around 9:00. I know they used to all just gather at the top of the aquarium to feed. That's what's got me worried, so I'm glad for the reassurance that they may still just be spooked. Stupid fish! Stupid me! How did I manage to get attached to get attached to fish? I even named them!
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Old 05-28-2011, 11:52 AM
 
5,065 posts, read 14,270,829 times
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Another predator is bull frogs, I've had to re-home a few over the years. I once had a bull frog grab one of my biggest goldfish while I was feeding them! I even jumped into the pond and tried to catch him, so I could pry out the poor fish. No such luck, so the next day I caught him and took him to a huge pond a few miles away.

I've lost two fish to either herons or a hawk, or maybe both. I did see a hawk next to the pond looking in one day. A few days later a fish disappeared, and a round, blue feather was left behind on a rock. The next day another fish disappeared, and another feather was left behind. Kind of like a calling card. LOL. Now I have a net over the pond, and haven't had any troubles since then. My cats/dog/raccoons etc. haven't bothered the fish. I also have a lot of plants, and overturned pots for the fish to hide in. Mine never hide though, since I've had the net over the pond, they seem to feel secure and I see them swimming around all the time, and yes, they do know when it's feeding time! But as mentioned above, don't feed them when temps drop into the 40's, they can't properly digest the food.

In the winter I keep a floating de-icer over my pond, so that gases can escape. Sometimes the trapped gases in a pond that has frozen over can accumulate to the point that it kills the fish. We had a weird winter this past winter though, the surface wasn't often frozen, and with all the snow we kept getting the pond turned into a slushy mess. The snow kept falling, and sinking into the pond. I kept going out and scooping snow off the top, but the slush in the water was terrible, I'm surprised most of my fish survived that thick, slushy water.

I do want to warn you though, if your koi survive you will have to re-home them in a few years. They will quickly grow too large for your pond, koi can reach 3' in length. Some people will say they will only grow as large as their environment will allow, but that simply isn't true. Good luck!
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Old 05-28-2011, 06:16 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andthentherewere3 View Post
In the winter I keep a floating de-icer over my pond, so that gases can escape. Sometimes the trapped gases in a pond that has frozen over can accumulate to the point that it kills the fish. We had a weird winter this past winter though, the surface wasn't often frozen, and with all the snow we kept getting the pond turned into a slushy mess. The snow kept falling, and sinking into the pond. I kept going out and scooping snow off the top, but the slush in the water was terrible, I'm surprised most of my fish survived that thick, slushy water.
We were actually going to try that, but decided last fall that it might be easier just bringing them in for the winter. It was kind of fun having them in an aquarium where we could see them up close for a few months.

Quote:
I do want to warn you though, if your koi survive you will have to re-home them in a few years. They will quickly grow too large for your pond, koi can reach 3' in length. Some people will say they will only grow as large as their environment will allow, but that simply isn't true. Good luck!
Hmmm. Well, I hope they're right and you're wrong! I guess time will tell, but thanks for the warning.

I talked to someone at work today who told me the fish might have kind of gone back into hibernation since it's been so cold here in Salt Lake City all of May. This person said that when the weather warms up, they'll probably start coming out again. It really has been unusually cold here for this time of year, and the water they're in now is a lot colder than what they were used to indoors. I made sure that when I put them outside, I gradually got them used to the cooler water, but at night especially, it's been really chilly. I'm hoping that maybe he was right.
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Old 05-28-2011, 07:34 PM
 
Location: North Western NJ
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and then there were 3 is absolutly 100% correct on the koi issue...
the good news is you can make a deacent profit on reselling koi, lol, get them at 3-5 inches form the petstore and sell them when they outgrow your pond for a pretty chunk of change, you wont get the big money for 'pet quality" koi, but ive still seen many pond grow outs being sold in the $100 plus range.
the normal goldfish can grow to over 12" too! (the feeder goldfish are a mass produced strain of Comet goldfish, which grow big and fast, we stocked our pond with feeders about 3 years ago, only about 1/4 of the feeders survived the first 3 months, but those that did are now as big as our 2 yr old Koi, all 9-12". the shubunkins, comets, sarassas, "red and whites" ect (anyhting "torpedo" shaped" will eaisly grow over a foot, the fantails, lionheads, ect (any with a rounded body) can also reach the 12" mark (but they need more depth wherreas the "torpedo" shaped need more length to a pond) and koi, well 2+ foot is "normal" for an adult koi with some show stoppers ive personally see right around the 36-38" mark.
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Old 05-29-2011, 08:22 AM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
23,095 posts, read 23,626,895 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foxywench View Post
and then there were 3 is absolutly 100% correct on the koi issue...
the good news is you can make a deacent profit on reselling koi, lol, get them at 3-5 inches form the petstore and sell them when they outgrow your pond for a pretty chunk of change, you wont get the big money for 'pet quality" koi, but ive still seen many pond grow outs being sold in the $100 plus range.
the normal goldfish can grow to over 12" too! (the feeder goldfish are a mass produced strain of Comet goldfish, which grow big and fast, we stocked our pond with feeders about 3 years ago, only about 1/4 of the feeders survived the first 3 months, but those that did are now as big as our 2 yr old Koi, all 9-12". the shubunkins, comets, sarassas, "red and whites" ect (anyhting "torpedo" shaped" will eaisly grow over a foot, the fantails, lionheads, ect (any with a rounded body) can also reach the 12" mark (but they need more depth wherreas the "torpedo" shaped need more length to a pond) and koi, well 2+ foot is "normal" for an adult koi with some show stoppers ive personally see right around the 36-38" mark.
If I have to sell them eventually, I'll be okay with that. Right now, my concern is that they're alive!
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Old 05-29-2011, 09:12 AM
 
Location: Up on the moon laughing down on you
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Raccoons are not as good fishers as Herons. Those stand in or near ponds and can wipe out a stocked small pond on an hour. They are plentiful in my area so if I build a pond it will have to be at least 3 feet deep. Too much work
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Old 05-29-2011, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Salt Lake City
23,095 posts, read 23,626,895 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HtownLove View Post
Raccoons are not as good fishers as Herons. Those stand in or near ponds and can wipe out a stocked small pond on an hour. They are plentiful in my area so if I build a pond it will have to be at least 3 feet deep. Too much work
You know, in nearly 30 years here, I've never even seen a heron. Something tells me that if anything got my fish, it wasn't a heron. I'd have to be seeing something suspicious occasionally. I'm still holding out hope that they're just hiding/hibernating because it's been so cold here. It's not even 50 degrees today.
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