Article on pond-suitable fish that aren't carp - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-22-2014, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Article on pond-suitable fish that aren't carp

Thought I might share this enlightening article. It discusses several alternatives to the typical koi and comets that populate the vast majority of ponds. The fish species mentioned in this article are endemic to North America, so they are more environmentally friendly, potentially more hardy, quite possibly very educational, and down right more patriotic! Here are some images of the fish mentioned in the article:



Orange-throat darter


Pygmy sunfish


Rainbow shiner


Megalotis sunfish


Bluenose minnow


If there are any native species of fish suitable for captivity that you wish to share, please post pictures below!
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-22-2014, 03:00 PM
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Leptolucania ommata! A tiny, 1 inch long killifish that has bright yellow males and olive females.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-22-2014, 03:33 PM
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Just curious, are these typical colorations or spawning condition? Do these fish adjust easily to non-live food? I would love to do native fish in my pond, but not sure if they can adjust to the environment well. Ponds only usually give a good top down view of the fish - that, along with the ease of feeding and "tameability" - I think those are some of the reasons so many people go with koi or comets.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-22-2014, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by jmhk View Post
Just curious, are these typical colorations or spawning condition? Do these fish adjust easily to non-live food? I would love to do native fish in my pond, but not sure if they can adjust to the environment well. Ponds only usually give a good top down view of the fish - that, along with the ease of feeding and "tameability" - I think those are some of the reasons so many people go with koi or comets.
Depends on the native fish...most minnows will take dry food off the bat, sunfish need a bit more coaxing but will generally take pellets with time, and darters and Pygmy sunfish will often need frozen or live food their whole lives (though this is not a huge problem in an outdoor pond).

As for color, natives tend to not be very colorful from above. On the upside, this means that they are not as likely to be taken by herons due to being harder to see. Sunfish are known for being very personable in tanks and to divers, but I am not sure about their behavior towards people standing over them.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-22-2014, 05:26 PM
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Heterandria Formosa are the smallest North American fish (I believe), and the worlds smallest livebearer. Big females are just over and inch, and drop one fry at a time every day, to every few days. Hardy as heck, and tons of personality.

They are pretty much invisible in a pond though, but great at keeping bugs down.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-22-2014, 07:18 PM
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Neat looking fish but for me the reason I keep Koi, comets, and shubunkin are because of their hardiness and size. Some of those species listed would be pretty tough to enjoy in a good sized pond.

I've stocked ruby red minnows in my ~2500g pond but only as a means to help cut down the mosquito population...I don't ever actually see them once the plants fill back in for the summer.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-26-2018, 05:49 AM
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Neat looking fish but for me the reason I keep Koi, comets, and shubunkin are because of their hardiness and size. Some of those species listed would be pretty tough to enjoy in a good sized pond.

I've stocked ruby red minnows in my ~2500g pond but only as a means to help cut down the mosquito population...I don't ever actually see them once the plants fill back in for the summer.
I keep pigmy sunfish and rainbow shinner and its amazing

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2018, 08:36 PM
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White Clouds and Rosey Barbs do well here in Oregon's banana belt. My Rosies increased their population 3 fold last summer, and they do well with sub 50 degree water temps.

The problem with a lot of those fish listed is that they're from regions with pretty hard GH and KH water, and wouldn't do great with our really soft well water. I also think there may be restrictions on keeping them or buying them here in Oregon.

I'm not too concerned about whether my fish make me appear more patriotic.

I've heard anecdotally that a few of the hardier Danions from the mountainous parts of Mayanmar are hardy down to 50 F.

I've been trying out Glowlight Danios in my pond and their colors are really intense, but they're not really breeding, unlike the White Clouds.

Starting small, keeping it simple..(?)
250 gallon stock tank, "pond"
20 gallon H CBS Shrimp tank

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2018, 09:18 PM
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Great article. I'm michigan so I have to stick with either the koi/comets or native fish. I'm will be redoing my pond in the spring to move my comets from the tank they are currently and had done extensive research on native fish to try indoors on my planted tank and was planning on adding darter to both the tank and the pond. Very attractive fish, is you have a fishing license the rainbow and Iowa darter can be found locally around my area but there are some really attractive verities. Other fish that i had looked at included the blue spotted sunfish which is really pretty related to pygmy sunfish but i have been told they have a personality similar to a comet or cichlid very interactive.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2018, 09:27 PM
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I actually have a pair of blue spotted sunfish in a tank. Great for planted tanks and I love them, but they are somewhat shy. Could be from a bully in the tank, but they are jumpy even at feeding time. I can still get them to feed from my tongs. By far the most intelligent fish I've ever owned, when they look at you, they're studying you. They don't get that processed foods are edible though, so I feed frozen only with cherry shrimp and earthworm treats.


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Originally Posted by Gilly13 View Post
Great article. I'm michigan so I have to stick with either the koi/comets or native fish. I'm will be redoing my pond in the spring to move my comets from the tank they are currently and had done extensive research on native fish to try indoors on my planted tank and was planning on adding darter to both the tank and the pond. Very attractive fish, is you have a fishing license the rainbow and Iowa darter can be found locally around my area but there are some really attractive verities. Other fish that i had looked at included the blue spotted sunfish which is really pretty related to pygmy sunfish but i have been told they have a personality similar to a comet or cichlid very interactive.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2018, 09:41 PM
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I actually have a pair of blue spotted sunfish in a tank. Great for planted tanks and I love them, but they are somewhat shy. Could be from a bully in the tank, but they are jumpy even at feeding time. I can still get them to feed from my tongs. By far the most intelligent fish I've ever owned, when they look at you, they're studying you. They don't get that processed foods are edible though, so I feed frozen only with cherry shrimp and earthworm treats.
The person I talked to said similar things, very intelligent he told me that you get them young (when he sells them) they are friendly compared them to a beta to me. I had been going between the sun fish and some darters or a friend of mine had suggested a paradise fish and some darters but I was never able to really make up my mind. I'll have to do some more research once I get my over grown babies back out into their (raccoon safe hopefully) pond. But I'm happy to hear more positive about the blue spots.

Last edited by Gilly13; 03-06-2018 at 09:42 PM. Reason: errors
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2018, 09:49 PM
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Ironically I keep the two of them in a 20 with a paradise fish. The paradise fish is much more outgoing and showy and is the boss of the tank. I had her in a container pond last summer and she ended up being the sole fish in the pond. Tough little buggers, and about the same size as the sunfish. Willing to eat anything too

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I actually have a pair of blue spotted sunfish in a tank. Great for planted tanks and I love them, but they are somewhat shy. Could be from a bully in the tank, but they are jumpy even at feeding time. I can still get them to feed from my tongs. By far the most intelligent fish I've ever owned, when they look at you, they're studying you. They don't get that processed foods are edible though, so I feed frozen only with cherry shrimp and earthworm treats.
The person I talked to said similar things, very intelligent he told me that you get them young (when he sells them) they are friendly compared them to a beta to me. I had been going between the sun fish and some darters or a friend of mine had suggested a paradise fish and some darters but I was never able to really make up my mind. I'll have to do some more research once I get my over grown babies back out into their (raccoon safe hopefully) pond. But I'm happy to hear more positive about the blue spots.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2018, 10:18 PM
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Ironically I keep the two of them in a 20 with a paradise fish. The paradise fish is much more outgoing and showy and is the boss of the tank. I had her in a container pond last summer and she ended up being the sole fish in the pond. Tough little buggers, and about the same size as the sunfish. Willing to eat anything too
Oh that is ironic ok so i'm gonna pick your brain a bit since you have both of the fish I'm interested in. My tanks a 36 bow, currently plantless thank you bottomless pit goldfish (i'm excluding the onion plant its a damn weed). Which would be the better bet for an outgoing fish i also plan to have darters but had been told by some people that paradise fish can be aggressive (i'm talking about eyeball eating not dominance displays)
Is it more of just preference? I'm very used to comets so I like having fish that are interactive which I guess are my my only wants from a fish besides being hardy which I know both the paradise and sunfish are.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-06-2018, 11:04 PM
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If you have a big enough pond (and dedication) you can keep some types of gar, single species pond though, unless you keep sturgeons or really massive catfish. I want to try Northern Gar, and if your winters are above 30 degrees (maybe) alligator gar are suitable. They grow absolutely massive, though (10 feet)
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-07-2018, 03:14 AM
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Oh that is ironic ok so i'm gonna pick your brain a bit since you have both of the fish I'm interested in. My tanks a 36 bow, currently plantless thank you bottomless pit goldfish (i'm excluding the onion plant its a damn weed). Which would be the better bet for an outgoing fish i also plan to have darters but had been told by some people that paradise fish can be aggressive (i'm talking about eyeball eating not dominance displays)
Is it more of just preference? I'm very used to comets so I like having fish that are interactive which I guess are my my only wants from a fish besides being hardy which I know both the paradise and sunfish are.
How well decorated is the tank? Lots of hiding spots? Sunfish are ambush predators, and tend to stick in one place most of the time. I actually think Blue Spotteds could happily live in a 5 gallon, possibly even with other fish, with how inactive they are until their person or something of interest happens. Absolutely intelligent though, and could probably be trained to do tricks

Paradise fish are much more outgoing, mine is often roaming the tank, though she does prefer the territory with wood and anubias for hiding spots. Males are gorgeous, but the female I have isn't ugly either. Fat, yes, because she's a food hog and does get a little aggressive unless there's an excessive amount of food available and she's already had a few bites. If the goldfish are going to be much larger than the new addition/s, I'd say go paradise since they are more willing to stick up for themselves. Smart enough to know the hand that feeds them, and could probably be trained (then again, I once trained a Dwarf Gourami to spit water for food)
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