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Which should you

choose? Goldfish or

KOI for Fish Ponds

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How to select between Goldfish and KOI
Brett Fogle

Many people have asked us over the years Should I add goldfish
or KOI (or both) to my pond? The answer is it depends.

Goldfish are better suited to smaller water gardens and ponds, in
the 50 - 500 gallon range. Goldfish are extremely hardy and easy
to care for, which makes them the perfect choice for the new pond
owner or water gardener.

KOI Feeding

KOI, on the other hand, require a little more knowledge and
better water quality in most cases, than goldfish and are better
suited to the more experienced pond keeper. KOI generally thrive
best in ponds over 500 gallons (the bigger - the better.)

This is because KOI can grow quite large and therefore require
more water in the pond for proper biological breakdown of waste.
KOI are also more expensive (and harder to replace) than
goldfish, so this should also be taken into account before
filling your new pond full of KOI fish. More considerations...

Goldfish are an excellent choice for the average water garden
that is usually also full of a variety of potted plants. Lilies,
Lotus, Iris, and submerged annuals - these all do well in a water
garden pond with goldfish. Goldfish will not disturb the plants,
and will enjoy playing around under the lily pads without
disturbing the plants.

Pond Goldfish

Japanese KOI on the other hand, and especially the larger ones,
will often create a huge mess out of submerged potted plants.
They seem to enjoy 'digging' in the soil of the plants and
sometimes even knocking them over. This all leads to added mess
in the pond, and can create a real problem for the pond owner.

Generally, it's best to not have submerged plants in large pots,
when also keeping KOI. The ideal KOI pond is much deeper than the
average water garden, so the necessity for plants to help with
water quality and shade is reduced.

However, if you still do want to keep potted plants in your KOI
pond, we recommend wrapping netting over the tops of the pots, to
keep the fish from digging in the pots. Another thing you can do
is to top the pots with 1" of pea gravel, and then larger river
stones or similar over that. The KOI will not be able to get past
the larger rocks.

As far as mixing Goldfish with KOI, this is fine and very common,
we've just tried to highlight the most important differences
between the two and between the average water garden and KOI
pond. Feel free to experiment with both, and then decide which
fish is more to your liking.

Brett Fogle is the owner of MacArthur Water Gardens and several
other pond-related websites including
and He also publishes a free monthly
newsletter called PondStuff! with a reader circulation of over
9,000. To sign up for the free newsletter and receive our FREE
'New Pond Owners Guide' visit MacArthur Water Gardens today!

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