NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Inherited fish  (Read 248 times)


  • Joined Aug 2018
Inherited fish
« on: December 04, 2018, 04:19:37 pm »
I have recently completed and moved into my smallholding. I know nothing about nothing about animals (except my dog!) at the moment, and am feeling very overwhelmed and worried (especially as there is a large amount of land that seemed a good idea at the time!) So please excuse what is probably a stupid question.

I have inherited three goldfish in a small raised patio pond. The previous owner left notes regarding the place and for the fish said give them a small pinch of flakes once a day but not to worry too much if missed.

I have looked on the tub of flakes and it says feed 2-3 times a day, as much as your fish can eat in a few minutes. It appears to be normal fish food like you would use for cold water fish in an aquarium indoors.

Do outdoor fish eat the same as indoor fish? Or do they eat algae etc in the pond and that's why the previous owner said only a small pinch a day?

They also left a "weekend" tablet. I used that this weekend just gone - chucked a few flakes and the tablet in on Friday, and was back Monday, and the fish were still alive. So I guess that was okay, even though the box on the weekend food again seemed more related to an aquarium as it referenced tank size.

Can someone just confirm whether that food is right, and the amount you'd expect to feed?


Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Inherited fish
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2018, 04:47:21 pm »
You don't say how big the pond is.  As we're getting towards winter, fish eat less with dropping temperatures.  The advice we go by is not to feed at all if your pond water is below 6C as the fish can't digest food even if they take it.  We have mixed koi carp and goldfish (although I can't tell the difference!) and in summer we feed the Koi pond pellets, and in the winter they get wheatgerm mini pellets (easier to digest).  In the summer with long days we feed them up to 5 times a day if they come asking, but as the days get shorter it goes down to once then not at all. Your fish are used to flakes so carry on with those then perhaps introduce something a bit bigger in the summer.
I would worry about your pond freezing solid, depending on where you are and the size of the pond.  Our pond is about 2 1/2 feet deep with a surface area of about 150 sq ft and it has only once frozen solid, when loads of toads were frozen to death.  Last winter half our fish died, but it was cold and the winter was longer than usual almost everywhere. Also we were unable to keep a hole open for oxygen exchange and we felt a pump would just bring warmer water to the top so freeze faster.
I wouldn't agonise over exactly how much to feed your fish, rather work out how you are going to protect them in winter.  There is plenty of info online and in books.  You could even get a large indoor cold water tank for them over winter - that may be safest.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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  • Joined Oct 2012
  • Fettercairn, Aberdeenshire
Re: Inherited fish
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2018, 08:43:21 pm »
Over feeding fish usually causes more problems than under feeding as it can lead to constipation or water quality problems if the filters in place (this includes the natural filter provided by the good bacteria that accumulate at the bottom of a tank/ pond as well as any man-made filters) aren't able to cope with the excess material.
I always fed my tank fish no more than once a day and fairly frequently only every other day.
Hope that helps


  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Inherited fish
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2018, 10:02:58 pm »
I agree with Fleecewife regarding the pond being above ground.  I wonder if the previous owner had more fish and these three are the only surviving ones.  You don't say what size the pond is but three isn't many. 

I had an above ground pond at my last house and I checked it every day  if it was very cold.  I had quite a bit of mud and vegetation at the bottom of it that the goldfish could snuggle down into in winter, but I still lost some when the temperature dropped down to minus 10 C (north of Aberdeen it gets really cold  :gloomy: and was sometimes lower than that!) 

Once a day is fine for feeding just now as FSM says overfeeding causes problems, and less if the temperature drops.

Good luck - I love my indoor tank with tropicals and i'm thinking of sorting out my outside one if I can get someone to dig it further into the ground  :innocent:
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: Inherited fish
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2018, 11:24:07 pm »
Not tried it but I've read that putting a soft plastic ball or tennis ball  in the pond in winter helps with keeping oxygen levels up. Just remove it each morning to leave an opening.


  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: Inherited fish
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2018, 07:30:06 am »
Location regarding likely temperatures and volume of the pond are the basic starting points... then size of the fish. Options include bringing indoors (as suggested), letting them take their chances, rehoming or perhaps simply adding a small heater - where running costs depend on size and position.
My small farm has three large ponds.. the original farm duckpond and then 2 newer ones created as part of the reedbed sewage system predecessors put in. Those were also stocked with fish but the reality of trying to control and maintain the assorted invasive water plants meant that netting the pond wasn't practical and slowly fish numbers have dwindled mostly down to heron fishing. The aerating pump and cascade keep the area below the cascade free of ice in the worst winters and there was enough pond life that fish never needed feeding but frankly the whole system is a PITA and V and I cannot keep on top of it pulling out rafts of vegetation every few weeks.


  • Joined Feb 2012
  • Somerset
Re: Inherited fish
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2018, 10:12:05 am »
I also inherited three goldfish when we moved into our smallholding. The pond was a small water tank that was probably taken out of someone's loft. Just over 3 ft long and 18 in wide and sunk into the ground. What amazed me was that the house had been uninhabited for 18 months and so no-one had been feeding the fish for all that time. I spoke to the lady who had been keeping an eye on the house and she hadn't know that there were fish in the pond.

There was a lot of mud and vegetation in the pond which might have provided food for the fish. But if they survived for that long without any additional  feeding you probably don't need to worry if you miss a few days.

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