How to Buy Koi & Goldfish Online
Fish type. Whether you are buying fish online or in a store, one of the first steps when planning to buy fish is to determine the type of fish you want. We will talk about this in terms of goldfish versus koi.
Koi - If you are considering koi, please make sure that your pond is suitable. A koi pond should be a minimum of 1000 gallons and have an area at least 3 feet deep. Also, koi eat many plants, so if plants are a focus of the pond, koi should generally be avoided. Koi ponds also need a greater level of filtration to accommodate these large fish. If you decide on koi, then you need to select the specifics. First is Standard Fin Koi or Butterfly Koi. Standard fins have short fins that have been the traditional fish kept by koi hobbyists for centuries. Butterfly Koi have longer flowing fins. These are newer having only been produced within the last 3-4 decades. Next you want to determine the grade of koi. There is not an industry standard in the way koi are graded, so you cannot necessarily compare this from vendor to vendor. The koi we sell are in 3 grades; Standard, Select, and Premium. Standard are nice fish that most people would find very attractive. Select are a higher quality in terms of typical koi standards and fit better into predefined koi patterns. Premium are an even higher quality koi getting closer to the ideals in each pattern.
Goldfish - Goldfish are suitable for almost any pond typically only needing water depth of 1.5 - 2 feet deep. They will limit their growth to their environment so as to not outgrow the pond. But the goldfish selection goes beyond the standard orange goldfish. There are many varieties and color options. This is typically just selecting the fish you like. The 2 basic distinctions are standard fins or fantails. The standard fins include the common orange comets, sarassa comets that are red and white, and shubunkins which are primarily blue but also have reds, blacks, and whites in the color formation. Fantails have shorter body with a more rounded shape and the split caudal (rear) fin. The color options are similar including orange, red/white, and calico which are similar to the shubunkins. There are many other varieties of fancy goldfish. These are generally aquarium fish but are sometimes kept in ponds.
Stocking level and selecting fish - Now that you have selected the type(s) of fish you want to add to your pond, you need to decide on the size and quantity. The size is really just personal preference. Many people prefer to watch the fish grow from as small as possible and others shoot more for instant gratification with larger koi or goldfish. It is easy to overload your pond with too many fish. It is always better to keep fewer fish in terms of maintaining a clean and healthy water feature. A high quality pump and filter system allows you to keep more fish than a bare-bones economy filter. A general rule of thumb is to keep no more than 1 goldfish for every 3-4 square feet of surface area and no more than 1 koi for every 10 square feet of surface area. Again, the fewer fish the better and the assumption with these guides are that adequate filtration and circulation exist. (Surface Area Calculator.)
Where to buy - Of course we hope that WaterGarden.com is your first choice for your new fish. But, if not, just make sure that you trust your vendor. You want to be confident that you are buying healthy and well-cared for fish. If in doubt, ask questions. If the vendor is able to ship the fish order within a couple of days of receiving the order, this is not a good sign. Typically when a fish order is placed, the fish are caught and put in a separate holding system to await shipping. During this time their systems are purged and they are not fed. This is to reduce waste production in the bag while in transit which thereby means less stress they have to endure.
Preparing for the arrival of the fish - You want to be sure you are clear on what day your fish are arriving. Someone capable of receiving and releasing the fish should be home and ready. The last thing you want is your box of fish to sit on your front porch all afternoon. If you are adding fish to a new pond, you should have used a dechlorinator to remove chlorine and chloramines prior to the arrival of the fish. Also, with a new pond your biological filter will not yet be functioning. Having a packaged nitrifying bacterial like Microbe Lift Nite Out on hand will help get this going much more quickly. If an established pond with existing fish, check your water chemistry (pH, ammonia, nitrite, etc). You want to make sure you are putting new fish into a healthy environment. (Water Testing Supplies.)
As soon as your fish arrive, remove the plastic bag(s) from the box and follow the proper acclimation process into the new water. Your fish should come with acclimation instructions, this process can also be found here "Introducing New Goldfish & Koi to a Pond."
Quarantine - Regardless of how much you trust the source your fish are coming from, anything is possible. Isolating the fish into a separate quarantine tank is advised. This is usually done for around 2 weeks and will allow any sign of disease to show itself before exposing to existing fish. A quarantine tank can be a separate small pond or a large aquarium. If these are the first fish in your pond, quarantining may not be needed as you don't have other fish to isolate them from. However the smaller volume of water in a quarantine tank can still be advantageous if any treatments are used.
What to expect - When your fish arrive they will likely be stressed from the trip. It is even possible for some to be laying over and appear dead. Put them in the pond anyway as these are likely not dead and will perk up soon. If you purchased your koi or goldfish from us, you will find a chill pack placed in the box to keep the fish cool during shipping. This can be disposed of or re-used depending on the type of chill pack.
When first introduced your new fish will likely go to the pond bottom and seek a place to hide. Some may dart to the surface to gulp air in order to fill their swim bladder. This is not uncommon. If these are the first fish in the pond, it could be several days or longer before they are accustomed enough to their surroundings to come up for feeding time. This is normal. You still want to toss a few food pellets in so they can get used to it. If other fish were already in the pond, the new fish may learn quicker about feeding time.
Enjoy your new fish - That's what it's all about. Get out there, relax by the pond, and watch your goldfish or koi.
Visit our Online Library to find more articles about goldfish and koi as well articles about how to build a pond, pond care, aquatic plants and much more.