Moving Old Goldfish Into Our Pond.

by Richard
(Brighton UK)

Hi Grant,

Apologies in advance, you have answered similar questions on here, but I'm still nervous about moving my goldfish into our pond.

We've had The Fish for 13 years, originally had 3 but one died about 7 years ago.

Anyway last year I put a small pond in the garden 3m X 1.5 X 1m, there are no fish, but lots of frogs, tadpoles, boatmen, larvae and other fauna, so it seems healthy and well airated.

I'd like to put The Fish in there and hope it would enjoy it, but I'm worried that moving from a tank to a pond might be a shock for such an old fish, as it's only known it's tank for so long. Am I being silly, I can always bring it back in (prob will in winter), what are the signs that it is happy or unhappy in its new home. Should I still fed it a bit in the pond

We live in South UK, water temp is 20 in tank and 17 in pond at midday.

Thank you.

Grant's Reply

Hi Richard

13 years old is a very good age for a Goldfish kept in an aquarium.

Goldfish kept in ponds regularly live longer than this because of the natural sunlight and foods they receive.

I don't know the size of your fish or variety, but predators would find an older fish an easy target.

I would have the pond covered as it will be being treated as a natural water source by the neighbourhood cats and birds.

Once he is in the pond he will quickly clean out anything edible, so yes he will need to be regularly fed. I suggest after about a week or two, or when you see a decline in other water life.

During this time he will likely disappear from sight as there will be plenty of food available and his environment will be completely new.

Once you commence feeding, I would train him to come to a feeding spot. This e-Zine I wrote explains how.

The most important consideration when moving a fish to a new environment is water parameters.

Using a water test kit, I would check the pH reading and nitrate and ammonia levels in both the pond and his aquarium.

I would suspect the pH will be lower in the aquarium. Ammonia levels in both should be zero, and nitrate levels below 30ppm (parts per million).

If the aquarium water has a lower pH, and nitrates are above 30ppm, I would make daily partial water changes until the water quality is the same as the pond.

Ensure water temperatures are the same when you move him. Don't just tip him into the pond; place him in a container and slowly over a 15-30 minute period introduce pond water into the container.

If he is a single tailed variety make sure he can't jump out of the container, and he is protected from passing predators.

Once the fish is in the pond, he will eat anything he can get into his mouth, including aquatic plant life. This will disrupt the existing eco-system and increase the bio-load on the pond.

You will need to test the water regularly to ensure there isn't a sudden drop in water quality. I suggest weekly after he has been in the pond for two weeks, or when you commence feeding.

I would bring him back inside for the winter, despite living in the south. You probably won't recognise him as the same fish as he will have grown, and his colour deepened.

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Jul 19, 2021
Thanks for the info.
by: Richard Naef


Thanks for your speedy response and you've set my mind at rest.

The Fish is a single tailed common 'goldfish' - it was bought from a local pet shop. I'll go through the water prep steps and see how I get on. I'm a bit unhappy that's it going to clear out the other wildlife, but hopefully as it's well established and the fish won't be in there all the time it can recover and find an equilibrium.

Thanks again.

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