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The colours of pond fish make up for the lack of variety

In nature there are over 20,000 species of fish, most of which are marine-based. A small number, only, are freshwater fish, with a tiny few suitable to keep in ponds. Of the few species available, however, there is an enormous range of colours, habits, hybrids, shapes and sizes. Every few years a new fish becomes available for the pond-keeper.

If your pool is large enough and conditions are right goldfish can reach lengths of 30cm (12in) head to tail. Usually considerably smaller are the fancier varieties. ‘Normal’ goldfish are short-finned and usually orange, although other colours are available. The natural colour of the ancestor to goldfish is olive green; however they are not available in this colour today. After centuries of selective breeding more than 100 ‘official’ varieties of goldfish are available.

Golden orfe, or ‘ide’ fish, are perfect for bigger ponds; a minimum surface area measuring 4 sq m (43 sq ft) is required. Silver in the wild, the golden form of the orfe has been specifically bred for garden pond use, as have the blue and marbled variants. The orfe is native to parts in Northern Europe, the River Danube in particular. The fish move quickly, mainly staying near the top of the water – good behaviour from a human point of view.

When bought orfe are normally 8-10cm (3-4in) long, however if the conditions are right they can grow to 45cm (18in) in time. The water should by oxygen-rich and because of this they enjoy the splashes from waterfalls and fountains which oxygenate the water. During dull, thundery weather when the oxygen levels are low, they can suffer.



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