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Cold Water Fish Series - Wild Trout

It is now becoming more popular for people to produce food from their garden pond in addition to its use as a luxury, aesthetic addition to a garden, so it is no surprise that trout as pet fish are rising in popularity for a seemingly unusual addition to a garden pond.

Whilst being able to produce food out of your own garden pond is practical and perhaps money saving, there are lots of potential problems to consider when considering keeping trout, due to their many requirements and their temperament in general. Therefore, if you are wondering whether these cold water fish will make a great addition to your koi pond or garden pond in general, here is some essential information on trout and keeping them in a garden pond.

Trout in your Garden Pond

Trout require a large, deep pond due to their low upper lethal temperature limit (this means that they do not tolerate high heat very well). A pond with these qualities will provide areas of refuge for the fish to seek out in order to stay cool enough. In addition, trout have a high oxygen requirement and a low tolerance for ammonia. However, the good news is, aeration and a standard koi filtration system should get around this. Ensuring that you are careful not to overstock your pond is also important for the wellbeing of the trout to make sure that they retain their preferable lower body temperature at all times.

In terms of temperament, trout are wild and predatory cold water fish. This can pose problems in a pond, as trout of any size will fin-nip, which could lead to fish deformities and even deaths over time as the recipient fish will become stressed. Koi, however, are not predatory fish and will therefore live peacefully amongst themselves in a pond.

On the other hand, given an adequate setup, trout could make a fantastic addition to your garden pond. Trout would thrive in a large, deep, low density pond with good aeration and filtration, with the added bonus that when grown on, they would make a lovely fresh meal as well as a pretty fish to admire in the pond during the process. Trout flesh is considered to be tasty generally, despite being fairly bony, but the diet of the trout influences its taste. For example, a trout brought up on a crustacean based diet is considered tastier than a trout raised on an insect-based diet. This may be something to consider if you are planning to eat your trout.

Trout in the wild:

For the most part, wild trout live exclusively in freshwater lakes and rivers, meaning that a pond habitat meeting the trout’s specific requirements would be a fairly natural environment for them in captivity. There is an abundance of varying patterns and colourations within the species, depending on sub-species and environment. The trout’s colourations primarily act as a camouflage, adapting to each new environment, which could be a disadvantage in captivity purely from an aesthetic point of view when compared to the colourations of the koi carp for example. Koi are known for their vivid, prominent colourations and markings, whereas trout are not generally regarded as particularly colourful cold water fish. The good news is that trout in lakes or smaller streams tend to have more vivid colourations in general, meaning that in a pond environment they may show more pronounced colour and markings, but not necessarily to the standard of a koi carp.

Trout or Koi Carp?

To answer this question, it is best to look at what you intend to use your pond for. Do you want your pond’s purpose to be fully observational and aesthetic? Or would you like the added practicality of being able to produce food out of your pond whilst compromising on the visual quality of the fish?

Firstly, keeping trout and koi carp in the same pond could be problematic in many ways. As briefly mentioned earlier in the article, whilst both species of fish require a very similar filtration setup, the trout’s wild and predatory nature will mean that your koi will not be particularly safe. The koi will likely be subject to fin nipping and predatory behaviour which will stress them out and possibly lead to deformations, affecting their visual quality (a large issue to consider for a fish which is primarily in a pond for aesthetics).

Therefore, the easiest and safest solution to this problem would be to pick one species of fish to keep in your garden pond. If you would prefer to be able to eat the fish in your pond, perhaps trout would be superior, provided that you do not mind compromising on the quality of colourations and markings, and given the correct pond requirements. However, if you simply desire pet fish to be observed and add an abundance of aesthetic quality to your garden, koi would be the obvious choice, due to their popularity for being beautiful and relatively easy to look after fish with little to no prey drive.

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