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Become a water keeper first, and a fish keeper second

Heron fishing

Small pond with netting
See the pond design page

A client showing how to grow lilies

Heron to blame for fish 'thefts'

A Suffolk police investigation into the disappearance of fish worth thousands of pounds has been called off after a heron was found to be the culprit. Suffolk Police were called in after 27 koi carp and seven large goldfish vanished from a Carlton Colville home. Officers suspected a raid by thieves and issued a witness appeal which asked if locals saw "anything suspicious" or if they had been offered similar fish. But the appeal was recalled soon after when they found the heron was to blame. A further statement issued by police explained: "This incident is now being attributed to a large heron." A police spokesman said: "We take all incidents very seriously and we were worried that someone might have made off with fish worth thousands of pounds. "Thankfully, on this occasion an arrest wasn't necessary." (Source BBC)

Heron Electric Fence
We have now found a supplier who has an excellent and well made fence that will go right around your pond. The poles do a 42o bend that takes the wire over the edge of the pond.

No more charging of batteries either, as it come complete with a mains transformer.

The system is rather unobtrusive and whatever you do see is better that heron damaged fish on your lawn.

Pond Lights
Don't put lights in your pond. They are the cause of many a fish injury, as they attract the pond poly-culture (insects etc.) which your fish will feed on in the evening until they are disturbed - then they bolt away, coming into contact with the lights. Mouth wounds are the commonest. I have not seen a pond yet with under water lights where fish have not had trauma in the head region. Also when the fish turn the next main era damaged is the caudal tail muscle, which is very hard to treat. 50% of mechanical injuries are in this area. If you must light your pond (for YOUR benefit) use a high up and over pond spot light, with bluish light to simulate moon light. It looks more natural also gives water a fantastic look - as if from your hotel balcony while on holiday and the moon shines on the sea. That has to be better than to artificially light water from below - where in nature have you ever seen that! An you will have fewer problems.


Waterfalls look great, but do not allow birds to bath in a waterfall. Birds drinking from them is fine, but always provide a bird bath when waterfalls are in use.

A bird that bathed in a infected pond will come for a clean in your waterfall, thus infecting your fish.

Barley Straw
All that needs to be said is "it's rubbish" - an old wife tale. It only works when it's rotten and you need 3 BALES per 1000 gallon in moving water.

Most gardening programs seen on TV, apart from watering plants, know as much about water and its problems as I do about nuclear fission. Enough said!

pond preparation

Pond Care
A 4000 gallon pond 2/3 completed. Note how far the water is from the coping stones to prevent fish catching themselves (see health mechanical damage).

silted pond
A pond being cleaned out. If you do this without saving 4/5th of the pond water, and then just put the fish back into mains water (de chlorinated or not), the fish will suffer pH shock - i.e. toxic shock ( see ponds pH crash), and 2/3 of them will die, as happened here.
pond cleaning
When cleaning your pond out, this is far enough - DO not jet wash, as the spray will damage the liner - just rinse it down. You should not sterilize the pond liner.

pond cleaning - a support pond
A 1000gal support pond. I always use these ponds when having a system cleaned or enlarged, so fish and water are stored on the client's property. Safe for guarding the fish and for water storage. No pH problems can arise and with the fish being kept in good condition. This removes any problems that are found when the pond has been emptied, as there is no need to panic or rush to put the fish back, and the pond revamp can be done properly, at our pace, without the worry of the fishs' health> With many ponds we do need more than one of these ponds.

suffocated fish
So called nature ponds.
This is the result of dirty ponds in warm weather - mostly happens at night when the oxygen level is at its lowest. Small dirty filters and small pumps, or even worse - pond and stream or just a water fall without filtration. It's a waste of time - you will end up with a sewer and that's cruel to put fish in. Having a sponge on the end of your pump is NOT filtration.

All 22 fish died in this pond. If you're not turning your pond total gallonage over every hour - that's a minimum - and no more than 5% water bound sediments, then don't put fish in it. These gardening programs tell you to dig hole, line it, then half fill with soil then chuck some plants in thay will oxygenate the water. I have never heard such rubbish. If you don't believe me try it. Minimum for static water, to support fish long term, in GOOD health, based onCO2 exchange, is 50,000 gallons and NO koi. A wild life pond of 500 gallons done this way, then don't add fish for one year then goldfish only. Stock level 12 FISH only.

supported lily
Lilies grow better in a pond when fish cannot get at them.This one is supported in a hanging basket and protected by pond liner on outside of the basket.
woodland pond

woodland pond

A koi pond can be turned into a woodland pond with careful planting. All the plants are growing outside the pond BUT you would not know to look at this pond.

Also the pond lights to light up waterfall are under glass domes so there is nothing for the fish to catch themself's on.

waterfall light

Planted 1000 gallon pond
1000 gal garden pond with waterfall and planted. Stocked with goldfish, tench, rudd and orfe.

Japanese native conditions.
Water condition. I fully understand that every koi keeper tries to replicate water conditions found in Japan. The problem is, we do not have their climate at the moment. Maybe in 10-20 years, the way the climate is changing.

Maybe we have one big problem. Most koi you buy now are not from normal Japanese native conditions, they are raised to produce good fish, and have spent very little time in their native waters. Their parents may have, but you are not buying those.

Most fish for sale in this part of the world have never seen or been in cold water like a English winter, and our winter temperatures now resemble yo-yos - never too cold for long periods, with warm mild days. Warm days and cold nights - a Japanese's fish's nightmare.

This why a lot of koi ponds are heated - to support Japanese fish.

If they where not heated, most fish would not make it through the winter. This is for one reason - fish in Japan no longer reside in native waters So why keepers try to bring their ponds to Japanese specification bemuses me, as there is no such thing.

All koi, well 90%, are raised for colour, body shape and are for sale in under 2 years. So where is this native water thing.

If raised in native waters for the fish's welfare, and not their colour or shape. Most never see cold water, they spend their winters in green houses, not outside in their so-called native waters.

The Japanese winters are far colder than ours, but for a much sorter period. We would not need heated systems. Heated systems are because of the way they are raised, not because they are Japanese fish.

Remember these animals started out as food. 500 years on, that's out the window now. So all the talk you hear about having the right conditions for Japanese fish - what conditions there are, are all man made. If you must replicate the native condition - remember, the fish have not been in their native condition. They're a million miles away from native conditions.

So, if you want to keep FARMED Japanese fish, you need heated systems. I know you will say 'what rubbish', but you tell me where, in their 2 years of life in Japan in mud ponds and greenhouses, is their native condition? Japanese so called native waters run at a pH of around 4. This for stock levels, so no ammonia problems and most fish see many a syringe (and more than once) for so called preventative measures. In fact I'm surprised they don't have their own darts team.

Getting the picture?

It's not because this fish are the worlds best the Japanese have cracked the system, its got nothing to do with native conditions. A whole world of products have arisen to keep Japanese fish healthy. Why, because there not Japanese fish - they're farmed fish, and if you don't support their raising condition, they will die.

Low sock levels and perfect water is a sign you are dealing with a hybrid inbred animal which, over time, will lead to the extinction of the animal. That's the chaos theory. Remember Jeff Goldbloom's Jurassic Park? Well Japanese fish are going down the same path.

You need for ever better filters etc. etc. Eventually, it will end up with a blank gene pool, and you will need a total sterile pond to keep these fish. In years to come you will have an intensive care unit not a koi pond.

Have a look at our other ponds pages for information about aeration and oxygen, nitrification and our own demonstration pond with it's exposed filters, an of course the filtration page.

The Fish Helpline runs a full comprehensive maintenance scheme for Koi ponds, which can include water changes and supply of food. We can also source your Koi.

Here at the Fish Helpline, we have a fully working demonstration pond and quarantine tank.