9 Tips for Buying Healthy Pond Fish

Buying new pond fish for your water garden is a fun and rewarding experience that typically happens in spring and early summer. Although you’re excited to add finned friends to your pond, be sure to ask yourself the following questions when you’re at the pet shop or water gardening store.



1. Is the fish display area clean? Look at the cleanliness of the store. If the store is not clean and well cared for, more than likely, the retailer does not care about their fish either.

2. Are there any dead fish floating in the holding tanks? If you see any dead fish floating in the tanks – even just one – stay away. This can be an indication of a poorly maintained, diseased tank.

3. Does the retailer quarantine new pond fish? It is very important that all fish are quarantined for at least 14 to 21 days for salt treatments to ensure the fish are not carriers of disease or parasites. You don’t want to introduce parasites into your pond via the new fish.

4. Is the water tested or changed periodically? Find out how often the water is tested and changed. Testing the water monitors ammonia and pH levels, as well as nitrites and nitrates indicating when the water should be changed.

5. Do you see any sick fish? Look to see if any of the fish are hanging out alone, with clamped fins. This is a good sign that the fish is sick.

6. Do the fish have clear skin? Look for pond fish with no marks, missing scales, sores, or broken or missing fins. Any of these are signs of a bacterial infection or parasite.

7. Does each holding tank have its own net? Make sure the clerk uses a different net for each tank. Using the same net for all tanks can spread disease from one tank to another.

8. How big do the fish get? You need to take the size of the fish into consideration so you don’t overstock your pond. We recommend limiting your fish population to one inch of fish for every square foot of surface water, or five gallons. Consider the adult size of the fish so it doesn’t outgrow your pond.

9. Is there an employee who knows about pond fish? You want to purchase fish from a knowledgeable and honest merchant that can help educate you about your pond pets.

Whatever type fish you choose to add to your pond, first and foremost you want to make sure they’re healthy. Don’t be shy about asking a few questions. In the end, you’ll be glad you took the time to purchase the right pond fish for your water feature.