Moving a large quantity (150-200) of goldfish to a new pond

by linda
(newmarket Suffolk)

Are there any firms that will do this for me ?

if i have to do it myself i need instructions on how to do this safely.

Grant's Reply

Hi Linda
I don’t know of any companies in the UK that do this sort of task as it would come up very infrequently.
You haven’t given me a lot of information to go on so I will assume three things:
1. The fish are of various sizes
2. They are a single tailed variety
3. You know little about goldfish care
The good news is the new location is close by.
These assumptions will mean my instructions will need to be quite comprehensive.

Moving a large number of goldfish from one location to another is a daunting task. It requires careful planning and execution to ensure the safety and well-being of the goldfish.

Before you begin the process of moving goldfish, you need to ensure that the new pond is ready to receive them. I assume this is an established pond and not a newly constructed one made of cement, as the lime in the cement makes the water far too alkaline.

The pond should also have a suitable filtration system in place. This is essential to maintain good water quality and to handle the increased bio-load that will result from adding a large number of fish. A good filter will help to remove waste and toxins from the water, keeping it clean and healthy for the fish.

Understanding the nitrogen cycle is crucial when setting up a new pond. When fish excrete waste and breathe, it produces ammonia, which is toxic. Beneficial bacteria in the filter convert this ammonia into nitrite (also toxic), and then into nitrate, which is less harmful. This process is known as the nitrogen cycle. It can take several weeks for a new filter to establish these bacteria, so it's important to set up the pond well in advance of the move.

The first thing to consider is the weather conditions. The best weather for transporting large numbers of goldfish is mild and overcast, with temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius. Your weather currently is ideal.

The best time of day to move goldfish is early morning or late evening when the temperature is cooler and the sun is not at its peak. This helps to minimize the risk of temperature fluctuations that can stress the fish.

To move the fish, you will need some essential equipment. This includes nets for catching the fish, buckets with lids for transporting them, and a thermometer to monitor water temperatures. You will also need a water test kit to check the water parameters in both the old and new locations.

When catching the fish, use a net that is large enough to comfortably hold the fish without causing stress or injury. Be gentle and try to minimize the time the fish spend out of water.
You need to lower the water level down so you can easily catch the fish. Don’t thrash around with the net as you will injure them.

Once caught, place the fish in the buckets filled with water from their original location. The lids will prevent the fish from jumping out during transport. It's important not to overcrowd the buckets - a good rule of thumb is 5 inches of fish (body length) per gallon of water. Make a test run to see how the fish travel. If they aren’t gasping after the trip, then that is the safe density per bucket. Don’t put large and small fish (say 6 inch and 1 inch) together. Half fill the buckets.

Use the thermometer to regularly check the water temperature in the buckets. If the water gets too hot or too cold, it could stress the fish. Try to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the journey.

API Stress Coat or Prime water conditioner can be used to make the transition easier for the fish. These products remove chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals from the water, and also provide a protective coating on the fish's scales to reduce stress and promote healing.

Once you arrive at the new location, don't just dump the fish into the pond. First, float the buckets in the pond and check the water temperatures. If they are close, within 2 degrees C, gradually mix some of the pond water into the buckets. This will allow the fish to acclimatize to the new water parameters.

If the pH is higher in the pond, and the temperatures are close, slowly release the fish into the pond.

Monitor the fish closely for the first few days after the move. Look out for any signs of stress or illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or unusual swimming behavior. Ideally, if the pond is a new setup, I would put a few fish into the pond a few days earlier to see if they are happy. If they disappear from sight that is a good sign, bodies floating on the surface is not.

Feed the fish sparingly for the first few days if at all, as overfeeding can pollute the water and cause health problems. Gradually increase the amount of food as the fish settle in and the filter bacteria adjust to the increased bio-load.

Regularly test the water parameters in the new pond, including pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, especially ammonia. This will help you to identify and address any potential issues before they become serious problems.

The pond should be covered as at the previous location there may have been animals such as cats that kept birds away from the pond. In the new location there may be predatory birds such as kingfishers and herons that frequent the area that can clean out a pond in days.

If you can I would contact an aquarist club to see if someone with goldfish knowledge in the area is willing to help.
Try The Association of Midland Goldfish Keepers at

Remember, the key to successfully moving goldfish is patience, preparation, and a careful attention to detail. Good luck with your move, and here's to a smooth transition for your finned friends!

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