Excerpted from Mike Gannon at Full Service Aquatics
A guy walks into a room…
No this is not a joke…
A guy walks into a room filled with people.
What you just read a fraction of a second ago has already filled your head with potential stories as to what could be happening from that very simple statement.
A guy walks into a room, and a whole new world of possibilities opens.
A guy walks into a room filled with people, giving no indication whatsoever that he is a carrier of a deadly contagious disease. The people in that room would die within a week. The man would continue to live.
So what does that mean to pond keepers?
Let’s change the story.
A fish is introduced into a pond
A fish is introduced into a pond filled with other fish.
Those fish have not had contact with other fish for several years.
All the fish die within a week, the new fish continues to live.
Any foreign body introduced into a new environment brings with it the risk of contamination.
Introducing new fish to an existing population of fish is an inherently risky thing to do; there is no way around that fact. Especially when you are introducing new fish into an established population of other fish; a population of fish who have not been in contact with fish outside of their pond for a long time. Those fish have essentially been living in a quarantine condition. As healthy as that existing population of fish in that pond may be, their defenses against foreign bodies are down. This is why introducing new fish to an existing population of fish is an inherently risky thing to do.
There are things you can do to lower the risk when introducing new fish into your pond.
Probably one of the more effective ways to lower your risk when purchasing koi or goldfish for your pond, would be to purchase directly from a breeder. In this case we believe in Jim Thirkettle at Ketl Koi Farm. Buying directly from a breeder reduces the amount of “hands” your new fish has to pass through before getting to your pond. Each “hand” that fish goes through increases risk, stress, and exposure to other fish.
Another option is to find a reputable and specialized fish dealer in your area. A specialized fish dealer will not typically have you walking past rows of hamsters, lizards, parakeets, and other assorted livestock; they sell fish. Although the risk is slightly elevated as compared to purchasing direct from a breeder, a reputable fish dealer gains his reputation through selling healthy livestock, and maintaining a quality facility. A local fish specialists will also offer some follow up support services, and be able to offer advice.
Paying a premium price for your livestock is a worthwhile investment. A premium price level is usually reflective of a higher quality fish. A higher quality of care and handling, a quarantine period for the fish, would be expected as well along with the price tag.
The least desirable choice for selecting fish for your pond would likely be the large super market style pet chain stores. This high volume warehouse style retail is riddled with problems inherent to how they sell livestock. Livestock in these type of operations, especially aquatic livestock, are often sold as a loss leader. In other words they do not make money on the fish, they make money on the food and various supplies you will need to take care of your fish. Because they do not make money on livestock they typically purchase a very low quality in very high quantities to keep the expense of the loss at a minimum. The people who work in the fish department may not have any experience with fish, and often times are really not much more than a stock person; with little to no knowledge on fish keeping. This results in a quality of livestock that is highly stressed out, of poor quality, and most of the time will be carrying some sort of parasitic or bacterial problem along with it. These vendors also offer little support beyond replacing your fish after it has died; which only increases your risk.
That $12 “Japanese” koi may feel like a great buy, especially when the breeder was asking $60 for a similar looking koi. It may feel like you saved 80% on that purchase, however; it will cost you considerably more in the long run. There is also a very high probability that the $12 koi has been recently exposed to some sort of disease that it will now bring into your pond. That $12 koi could potentially wipe out your entire fish population. In other words it only cost you $12 to get every fish in your pond sick, or worse it costs $12 to wipe out your pond. Wouldn’t you rather pay $60 to keep your pond healthy?
So when a guy walks into a room a whole world of possibilities can happen That holds same for the fish being placed in a pond, there is a whole world of possibilities as to what could happen next. We all, of course, hope for the fish to acclimate in good health to his new home, and become a long term resident and pet in your pond. That would be pretty much everybody’s hope and expectation when adding a new fish into the population of your pond. Now with the knowledge that anything can happen, and often will, the objective is knowing how to buy your livestock. Happy healthy fish buying and consider your sources well!