What Fish Is Best for Water Gardens?

Water Garden Fish

Aside from the frogs and birds that will find your pond naturally, fish are an integral element of pond life as much as rocks and water lilies. But they won’t find their way there on their own – you have to add them. So, you probably want to know what fish is best for water gardens. In New Hampshire. There are two species that will survive our harsh winters:

Koi Fish: Originally domesticated in Asia, Koi fish are part of the carp family. They are renowned for their bright coloration, which can be white, red, black, gold, blue, or any combination of the above. Koi are surprisingly resilient—resistant to many different diseases that plague other members of the carp family—and are cold water fish. Koi are omnivores and eat a variety of different foods and will even eat smaller fish. They can be expensive to purchase, however Koi fish can live up to fifty years!

Goldfish: If Koi is outside of your budget, there is another colorful, exotic-looking fish that is commonly found in New Hampshire ponds…and it can be found at your local pet store! But don’t be fooled by its simplicity–the humble goldfish can be an excellent addition to your pond. Like Koi, Goldfish are also the carp family, and are characterized by the yellowish-orange scales that they are named after. They have a vegetarian diet, although fish food specifically created for goldfish is often your best bet. There are many different varieties of goldfish—shubunkin, telescope, and meteor goldfish are some striking examples. Goldfish can live for well over fifteen years.

Both Koi and Goldfish are cold-water fish, however, there are some construction considerations when building a Koi Pond in New Hampshire that will ensure that your fish survive over winter:

  1. Your pond should be at least 2 feet deep (3 feet deep is ideal.) The entire pond doesn’t have to be 3 feet deep – a 4’x4’ basin dug into the bottom of the pond is sufficient to overwinter your pond fish.
  2. Dig “pockets” in the bottom of the pond and plant lilies directly in them. That way your fish won’t have to share their winter home with plant pots.
  3. Hibernating fish still need oxygen. You should also keep a floating heater or small submersible pump to keep a hole open in the ice.
  4. Have your pond builder install some marginal shelves for early spring when they wake up and want to sunbathe!

If you have a large pond, feel free to get some koi. If you have a smaller pond, it is better to stick with goldfish as Koi will grow quite large. Regardless of which type of fish you pick, they are sure to add a dash of color and personality to any water feature!

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