Putting goldfish fry in the pond -- size or age parameters?

by Maggie

I am raising some of my Goldfish fry inside.
At what point is it best (safest for the continued survival of the babies) to add them back into the pond? The biggest now are around an inch long.

Grant's Reply

Hi Maggie

Size is the most important parameter.

The way goldfish fry are raised has a huge impact on their size at any given age, but the dangers fry face change as their size increases.

When you describe your fish as around an inch long, I am assuming that is body length, not total length.

If their body length is less than one inch, there are still too many insect enemies that can kill them.

I have made a list of the more common fry enemies here.

At an inch long, all the natural water borne insect enemies of fry are too small to bother them, however, they are now an ideal size for birds, frogs, newts and salamanders.

For this reason I always recommend a pond cover as it greatly increases the odds of survival for small fish.

Goldfish are fairly social, and don't tend to chew on each other, but any large fish in the pond say over 5 inches in body length could try and fit a small fish in its mouth.

Provide some hiding spots for the fry if large fish are present.

One last consideration if there are adult fish in the pond is parasites.
Goldfish less than two inches in body length are susceptible to flukes, especially if the pond is heavily stocked.

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Jul 10, 2020
Baby fish and frogs?
by: Nat

While rehabbing some plants, I discovered pond goldfish fry, who I am now raising inside. I have two questions about them:

1. My pond fish aren’t huge—the biggest is about 5-6" body length, but we also have a bunch of big tadpoles, and at least one has become a frog. He’s about 3" body length and I don’t think he’ll get too much bigger. The ones we had last year never did. So how soon can I safely put the babies into the pond? What size should they be?

2. We started out with about 20 fry but are down to 10 after some early deaths. They all hatched with a week of each other, but we now have four who are big—almost 2"—four who are small—about 3/4"—and two who still look freshly hatched! I thought if they didn’t develop, they’d probably just die but they seem to be hanging on and going strong. Is this normal? Will the smaller ones grow once the larger ones move to the pond?


Jun 06, 2014
Follow-up report on GF fry
by: Maggie

Yes, the 1 inch is body length, not counting caudal fin. But THAT was when I first submitted this, LOL!

I want to do what's best by these babies, but at the same time we're in a bind so trying to weigh the situation. The pond is down for repairs and all adult fish are in a small holding tank -- which is the main reason I "rescued" the babies in the first place. I have the babies in 2 separate holding/nursery tanks, broken up by their sizes.

I never knew that raising fry was so much work, and I'm close to my tolerance level -- your reply lets me know there is an end in sight! The smallest babies are now getting close to an inch, and the way they're growing, most should be ready to go in the pond once it's back up.


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