Moving fish

It’s pond season, and in our house that means time to move fish.

I get to keep a few koi, usually ones chosen especially for me. There were five of those – a couple of kohaku, a sanke, an asagi and a doitsu ochiba. I also have a goromo coming from the store, because very few people want a dark fish in their pond. I like the dark fish.

I also got to keep the fantails, but the shubunkins and the rest of the koi went into the store this morning.

Being caught is a very stressful experience for the fish. Stress creates in fish, as it does in humans, all kinds of problems. In order to minimize the stress to your pond fish, here are a few tips.

Be calm and quiet about catching. Yes, we’ve all seen fish chased around a tank in a pet store, but that’s really not the best experience to draw on. An experienced fish-catcher keeps even that to a minimum. In a pond, use a large net, preferably one with a telescoping handle. This allows you to reach without having to move your feet (if you’re standing int he pond) or lean over (if you’re standing outside the pond). The less you move, or lean, the less you’ll panic the fish.

Move the net slowly. Try to keep it low in the pond. When the fish you want swims over the net, you should be able to raise it gently and lift the fish out of the pond with a minimum of fuss. Don’t dart with the net, or snatch it up, if you can possibly help it. Even if you catch this fish, the others will be disturbed and harder to catch.

Once you have the fish, get it quickly and gently into either the new pond, or a holding bin.  I put the net into the pond and turn it to let the fish swim out. Don’t dump a fish into the water if you can possibly help it.

If you must handle a fish, wet your hands first, and use your palms and the pads of your fingers. Cup the fish, rather than grasping it, if you can. If the fish is too large to cup, be careful not to let your nails score the sides. At the very least you’ll damage the slime coat, and you may even scratch or cut the skin.

Give the fish time to calm down before you feed them.

I hate moving house, and I’m pretty sure it’s no picnic for the fish, either. Give yourself time and be patient, and your fish will be happier and have fewer problems with the move.

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