Swimming with the Fishes

In Winter..

Yeah, right! If you use the idiom meaning, ‘to be killed and have your body disposed of, often in a body of water’. Yuck…. to be fish food.

But swimming in a body of water having a partial covering of ice and at barely above 32 degrees would make short work of the swimmer. Fish, on the other hand have a metabolism controlled by the water temperature, and if their pool is deep enough can stay below at temperatures above freezing. You can spot just one peeking out from under the bridge above.

It was funny because I had my friend look at my post of his fish pond and the photo above. I said, “Look, there is a fish in my picture.” His remark was, “Is it floating.” I guess he was thinking the worse.

They may be moving slow, but hearing me approach, the fish didn’t want to miss a meal.

During winter, fish do not require much protein and any excess is excreted in the form of ammonia. Since the beneficial bacteria are inactive at this time, they can not control the ammonia like they can in the summer. Ammonia can build up in the pond to dangerous levels. So knowledgeable fish owners, like my friend, reduce feeding and then stop when temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the fish remain in the pond for the winter, the pond has to be deep enough to keep them from becoming frozen fish fillets. This pond above is 36 inches deep. There are recommendations for deeper ponds in colder climates.

Another factor to consider is keeping the pond free of an ice covering as this leads to the toxic waste getting trapped. Plus, the oxygen supply is cut off too.

The pond above has the pump going all year, causing water movement and oxygenation. It also has a small portable heater keeping the ice at bay.

The waterfall is a pleasant sound in the warmer months. Below, by the impatiens, is where I saw a Great Blue Heron fishing for Koi. He was scared off without his fish dinner.

The rocks cover the liner and make the edge both attractive and natural. My friend built the pond in 1995 and it was first stocked with Comets. But they over-bred and eventually all died out.

The Koi have been in the pond for maybe a hair over ten years. So these are youngsters in Koi years. They have been recorded living over a hundred years. I myself have a pet like that. My cockatoo is over thirty years that I know of, and can also live to one hundred. He was wild caught, so I am sure he is much older.  These are pets you make a lifetime commitment to.

White pine gracefully hangs over the pond bank. The fish like to hide under the vegetation draping their pond.

They stay in groups. I think they have cliques too. They swim in separate groups.

The fish are big and healthy in a pond so clean, you can see the bottom.

And they share their pond with a few bugs too.

A water bug here. I remember catching these as a kid.

The flagstone bridge is for feeding, pedestrian travel, and a safe place to hide from herons and raccoons for the fish. This is the opposite side view of the first image above with the snow-covered bridge.

Here are some of the colorful inhabitants.

This is Big Daddy (not his real name); a monster sized yellow Koi.

Hope you enjoyed ‘swimming with the fishes’.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
This entry was posted in Farm Life, garden, Koi, Landscape Design, Ponds, Theme Gardens, Water and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Swimming with the Fishes

  1. What an amazing pond! I would hang out here all day if that was in my backyard! I learned something about Koi and surviving the winters. I am not a big fish person but these are beautiful. I enjoyed the swim!

  2. Bom says:

    Wow! What beautiful spot. If I had a pond like this, I would probably spend most of my time leaning against/over the bridge railing and enjoying the plants and fishes to the sound of the water.

  3. lifeshighway says:

    I have a koi pond. It is going on its third year of operation and all it well. The koi made it through the winter as I did a head count. Your friend has a lovely pond with foliage that is well established. Mine still needs to grow in a bit.

    I also keep the fountain running year round. I stop feeding at 50 degrees and the koi don’t eat that well when the water is cool anyway.

  4. One says:

    Lovely photos! The entire water feature complete with greens is just lovely! The water looks very clean too. I’m sure many will find those tips useful.

  5. Carolyn♥ says:

    I did enjoy. Love water features in gardens. We just took one down last Fall that wasn’t making us happy. Planning a new one this Spring.

  6. Julia says:

    Love the fishies! I really enjoyed reading all about them and to feel like I was escaping to your paradise for a brief moment…love!!

  7. A beautiful pond indeed. I was never much of a Koi person but they are actually pretty, and all so ‘individual’. We are contemplating having one installed this spring, with a waterfall as well. Of course, there will be Koi, as they help keep the pond clean and increase the biodiversity of the habitat. (We have to wait and see if we can afford this but we’ll know soon…). We installed one ourselves years ago but removed it a couple of years ago as it wasn’t doing real well, and there was a leak in the liner that we couldn’t find and it was a pain to keep having to refill it all the time. A professionally installed one will be so much better and the waterfall will help keep the water moving.

  8. Holley says:

    Beautiful post. I love fish ponds, and this one is quite charming. A lot of good info. It is a commitment, but I think everyone should have a pond!

  9. Donna says:

    our pond has no fish due to predators…while I want to keep it open with a heater my husband does not feel it is safe or economical due to our cold, harsh winters…so we turn off the pump in Nov and back on in April…very lush lovely pond in these pictures…mine is more for birds and frogs and toads….

  10. Marguerite says:

    Beautiful pond, your friend has obviously put a lot of work and effort into taking care of this special spot.

  11. Dear Donna – came over to look at your Picea post and already you’ve moved on to Pisces! You have some lovely images here too of a healthy vibrant fishpond aside from the stack of info but especially liked swimming with the golden koi and autumn leaf shots.

    And as for the tree id post – keep them coming! Just wondered what wildlife rely on them as for example we have a moth that is almost entirely dependent on Scot’s Pine

  12. Cat says:

    The koi are so lively and entertaining…this is a beautiful spot…you’re blessed.

  13. Christine says:

    Hi Donna – What an amazing presentation, your friend who owns the pond must be thrilled about these photographs. It is always a pleasure to visit your blog, but you outdid yourself this time 🙂

    Simply Stunning!

  14. Thank you everyone for taking the time to get to GWGT today. WordPress was having issues today preventing the blogs from being accessed or leaving comments. Also, I could not leave comments on your blogs either as my open ID was not recognized. I have heard back twice from WordPress and they are on this system wide issue. Thanks again for taking the time to visit.

  15. Masha says:

    A very interesting post. I don’t keep fish and know nothing about how they live, but I have just learned something.

  16. Dear Donna, We installed a fish pond last year and my koi were very tiny compared to the ones in your friend’s pond. I do hope they survive the winter – there is no sign of them yet. Reading your informative post reassures me that we did the right things to ensure their survival, so I am keeping my fingers crossed. After all, they were chosen by my grandsons who named each one. (It is always worse when named creatures die.) Your photos are stunning. P x

  17. Garden Sense says:

    What a beautiful spot! It was fun to see its transformation through the seasons!

  18. TufaGirl says:

    I have learned so much here in your posting. I would actually try a water garden now. Nice that I have no messy trees now, also.

  19. Beautiful pond Donna, though it brought home to me that if I think my pond needs more care than I think, to keep something like that looking so wonderful must be a lot more!

  20. Edith Hope says:

    Dear Donna, I know very little about ponds and fish as I have always steered clear of both in the garden and only get to see them in gardens belonging to others. I have been fascinated to read about your Koi and enjoyed looking at their activities in your most impressive pond. But, it is all such a commitment and I admire your careful attention to it all.

  21. Vesna says:

    Lovely! I enjoyed swimming with fish very much!

  22. Les says:

    Fantastic photos! We seemed to have attracted regular racoon visitors to our garden because of the pond. So far they have only gotten one fish.

  23. Sybil says:

    Love your pond and your photos. So relaxing to be near one and the wonderful sound of the spashing water.

    Your koi are beautiful.

    Best wishes from Sybil in Eastern Passage, NS

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