The Complete Guide to Buying Pond Fish

Pond fish can be a great addition to a UK garden and can provide you with a fulfilling and environmentally friendly hobby. At Complete Koi & Aquatics, we have years of experience caring for pond fish and are always happy to share our thoughts and provide guidance on how to keep pond fish safe and healthy.

Before you decide to start your pond or buy pond fish, read our helpful guide to find out all you need to know about the different types of pond fish and which you should consider buying. Our guide will explain which fish are best to keep in outdoor ponds, what their characteristics are and how you can care for them.


Which fish are best for ponds?

There are a variety of fish species which will comfortably live in a British garden pond. In almost all circumstances, the various fish featured in the list below can coexist in a pond providing interesting differences in appearance, colour and behaviour:


Goldfish / Sarasa Comet (Carassius auratus)

Goldfish are without a doubt the most popular choice when it comes to pond fish. Goldfish are in the Cyprinidae family (along with other species of Carp such as Koi Carp) and are actually, ornamental versions of the Crucian Carp. Goldfish were selectively bred in ancient China over 1,000 years ago and since then, several sub-varieties have emerged. These variations have some remarkable features and can differ in overall size, body shape, fin configuration/length and colouration.

Goldfish are great value and are readily available, which is a major reason for their popularity. On top of this, their colours are generally striking and they look truly elegant swimming in a garden pond. Goldfish are hardy by nature and can adapt to most environments, making them a great choice for beginners.

Sarasa Comets are a premium variety of Goldfish demonstrating long flowing fins and a bright two-tone colouration of red and white. They are generally more expensive than the common goldfish however, they are incredibly beautiful and make a fantastic addition to a garden pond.

Goldfish of any variety will spend their time foraging for natural food in the pond but will also feed on any floating pond food given to them. In order to supplement their diet, we would recommend feeding pond goldfish our pond general fish food or our pond premium floating pellets.


Shubunkin (Carassius auratus)

Shubunkin are a variety of hybridised goldfish, created by crossing common goldfish with both Sarasa Comets and Telescope Eye fancy goldfish. The result is a beautiful pond fish with flowing fins and a calico colouration (i.e. red, black and white). Much like the common Goldfish, Shubunkins are a hardy species which will tolerate most environments and therefore make a great addition to a garden pond. 


Orfe (Leuciscus idus)

Orfe (also known as Ide) are an ornamental pond fish, closely related to the Wild Chub. Orfe come in two colour variants of gold (which is usually Carrot Orange) and blue. Orfe are very fast fish and use their speed to prey on insects, crustaceans and molluscs.

In the wild, they are generally found in river environments and as a result, have higher oxygen requirements than other pond fish. If you’re looking to add Orfe to your pond, we would recommend that you have a good waterfall or air pump, such as the Bermuda Breeze pond air pump, to ensure that dissolved O2 in the water is sufficient. 


Golden Tench (Tinca tinca)

Tench are fish most commonly seen in UK fishing ponds. They typically have green bodies and large rounded fins. There is however, an ornamental version of the Tench known as the Golden Tench, which can occasionally be found in garden fish ponds. Golden Tench, as the name suggests, are beautifully coloured; often somewhere between orange and yellow with bright red eyes.

They dwell almost exclusively at the bottom of the pond, foraging for food among the detritus, but on occasion may turn to surface feeding. If your pond does not have good clarity, you may see Golden Tench fleetingly due to their private lifestyle at the bottom of the pond. They are incredibly striking fish and make for a welcome addition to a pond. 


Koi Carp (Cyprinus rubrofuscus)

Koi Carp really are the kings of pond fish, bred specifically for ornamental fish keeping. They come in many varieties covering almost every colour going. Details on individual varieties can be found in our guide to Koi Carp.

Keeping Koi Carp is a hobby in itself and most enthusiasts with a pond containing Koi Carp will often keep them exclusively. This isn’t due to their aggressive nature, as Koi Carp are incredibly placid and will live comfortably with all other species of pond fish. Instead, Koi keepers are incredibly passionate about having the best collection and dedicate themselves to finding the nicest fish.

Koi Carp can grow fairly large, so it is important to ensure that you have a suitable amount of space in your pond to accommodate them. On top of this, they eat a lot and can be quite messy, so it is vital that you have an appropriate filtration system to handle fish waste, ensuring they live comfortably. 

If you are interested in Koi Carp and would like to add these beautiful fish to your pond, you can browse through our range of Koi Carp online and have your chosen fish delivered to any UK address.


Sterlet / Sturgeon (Acipenser ruthenus)

Sterlets are a group of smaller sized Sturgeon suitable for domestic ponds. There are a number of species which vary in colour, appearance and overall size. Sturgeon are incredibly active and will spend their time swimming along the bottom and sides of the pond hunting for food. It is therefore important that Sturgeon are fed sufficient amounts of food to fuel their high energy lifestyle.

Sturgeon are an incredibly old lineage of fish and look prehistoric. Typically, they have long slender bodies and pointed noses with a mouth on the underside of the body, adapted to their feeding behaviours. We would recommend feeding sturgeon a rich oily sinking pellet, ensuring the pellet size is appropriate for the size of your Sturgeons mouth.

Sturgeon are found in rivers in the wild and much like Orfe, have higher dissolved oxygen requirements than other pond fish. In order to keep Sturgeon, it is essential that you aerate the pond with either a good waterfall or more ideally, an air pump kit, such as the Bermuda Breeze Pond Air Pump.


Weather Loach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus)

Weather Loach are a more unusual sight in UK garden ponds. Weather Loach are from Europe and Asia and are more commonly seen in aquariums however, they can live comfortably in garden ponds. They have a long eel like appearance, with yellow/brown mottled colouration extending along the body.

Weather Loaches are characters by nature and have endearing personalities. In a garden pond, they will often swim with the other fish as though they are part of the same species. Weather Loaches typically grow to around 25cm and will consume a variety of pond feeds. 


FAQs about pond fish:

Which are the easiest pond fish to care for?

Goldfish Comets and Shubunkins (Carassius auratus) are without a doubt, the easiest pond fish to care for. They can adapt to most environments, surviving in most situations. On top of this, they are much less destructive than their Koi carp counterparts, making it suitable to pair goldfish with aquatic plants such as water lilies.

While goldfish are tough little fish, it is still important to enrich their environment, ensuring water quality is carefully monitored. As with any fish, poor water quality resulting in elevated levels of ammonia and/or nitrite can be fatal. We highly recommend educating yourself on the nitrogen cycle before purchasing goldfish. 

If you follow the basics of fish keeping, then there is every chance you will have great levels of success with goldfish. 


Which pond fish can survive winter?

All of the pond fish in this guide can comfortably survive winters as they naturally exist in similar temperate environments. This includes:

  • Common Goldfish
  • Sarasa Comet
  • Shubunkin
  • Orfe
  • Golden Tench
  • Koi Carp
  • Sterlet
  • Weather Loach

When caring for pond fish over particularly cold winters, it is important to ensure that the pond surface doesn’t completely freeze over as this will impede gas exchange, suffocating the fish. In particularly cold weather, you can stop the water surface from freezing over by doing the following:

  • Install a pond heater.
  • Pour hot water over an area of ice to remove it.
  • Place inflatable balls (such as footballs) on the water surface to disturb the water.


Which pond fish eat algae?

As a rule of thumb, pond fish such as Goldfish, Shubunkins, Tench and Koi Carp will graze on algae during the summer months however, it is more likely they will consume algae as a by-product of finding and eating micro pond life hiding within the algae.

Do not expect any British pond fish to rid you of stringy algae (blanket weed). If you are suffering with blanket weed, then you should look to use an enzyme treatment to eradicate it. At Complete Koi & Aquatics, we particularly like Blanket Answer by Cloverleaf as it is a very effective solution to blanket weed algae issues in a pond, and is safe for ALL aquatic life.


Which pond fish can live together?

All of the pond fish listed in this blog are placid and can live peacefully together.

Having a pond in your garden is a phenomenal way of attracting local wildlife. On top of enjoying your pond fish, it is highly likely that you will see birds, frogs, toads, newts and insects all taking advantage of the water. The sound of water is incredibly calming and will turn your garden into an area of tranquillity.  

If you are interested in starting a pond, or want to add fish to your existing pond, get in touch with us today to learn more about what you might need and how we can assist you.

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