Water Quality is the most important aspect of fishkeeping there is. Poor Quality water introduces stress in the fish and creates the right environment toxins which can ultimately cause death.
So, here are some Dos and Don’ts
Do not overfeed. Overfeeding is one of the most common mistakes made by fishkeepers and is one of the biggest causes of death. Only feed with enough food that the fish will happily consume within 5-10 minutes. Only feed twice a day. Do not feed your fish when the temperature falls below 50oF. Uneaten food will sink to the bottom of the pond and will rot. Rotting food stuff is eventually broken down into ammonia which is poisonous to fish. Uneaten food should be removed from the pond by netting off/vacuuming the bottom of the tank. Overfeeding also causes excess excreta from the fish which in turn when broken down will cause harmful ammonia.
Treating newly introduced tap water (at pond set up stage and at water changing stage) with a proprietary de-chlorinator and conditioner. Tap water that is made fit for human consumption is rich in chlorine. Chlorine agitates fish causing them to scratch or flick against hard/sharp surfaces. Flicking may cause damage to the fishes mucus membrane and scales, leaving the fish open to infection.
Plants will help to reduce the onset of ammonia by utilizing some of the fish excreta and uneaten foods as fertilizer.
Regular pond and filter maintenance will help to maintain safe water. It is recommended that you clean the filters every 4 weeks. Clean filter media with pond water (not tap water) and remove sludge from the bottom of the filter. Filter media should only be cleaned to a level where some of the filtered material remains on the filter media. Heavy cleaning will kill any helpful bacteria from the filter media rendering your filter biologically ineffective for a number of weeks. In effect it’s like returning the filter back to its new state where it will take a number of weeks to mature.
Increased oxygenation and filtration helps to maintain good water quality. Oxygen is required by the fish to breathe and a lack of Oxygen within the water will lead to stress and the onset of illness. Good mechanical and biological filtration is also required to help remove impurities from the water.
Remove dead plant leaves or those that have been eaten away from the main stem of the plant to prevent them from rotting and polluting the water. Rotting plant material also increases harmful ammonia levels in the water.
Remove dead fish or other aquatic life such as freshwater mussels as soon as they are noticed. Dead, rotting fish will also cause dangerous ammonia levels in the water as well as breeding infection.
Regularly monitor ph levels, levels of hardness and ammonia and nitrate levels. Proprietary kits are available to test each element as appropriate.