I enjoyed this article very much.
Twenty five years ago, my mother bought 25 feeder fish to put in my "new" pond. We had been advised not to purchase expensive fish until we were sure the conditions, water quality, filtration, and algae growth were all balanced and would suport the fish population. I had read a great deal on the subject and wanted a natural pond where I would not feed the fish, and they would thrive. Those tiny appetizers grew and reproduced and became real beauties. I have been amazed at the variety and coloration that have evolved over the years. Some of the comets have tails as long as their bodies. Many of the babies are born black and change to gold as they grow. My favorites are the ones that look like pearl with the long flowing tails. Other than a bout with a hungry Heron, they have been worry free. I never replaced them with expensive fish. I have shared the little ones with anyone wanting to stock a pond but will not give them to anyone that would use them as feeders. They seem very happy sharing their space with the lilies and turtles.
mittsy, I'm like you. I started my very small pond last year & knew it couldn't support koi. So I just got 7 little inexpensive goldfish. These were my "Seven Dwarfs." They were an absolute joy to watch! Also like you, I had a hungry heron that took about 4 of them. These were replaced with some Sarassa - thanks to this article I know what kind they are. The little fishies are growing like crazy & give many hours of enjoyment.
I too have feeder fish in my little pond. They are beautiful, and each one different. I dont know how cold they can stand, but they stay out there when is below freezing. Of course, thats not an all winter thing. When we lived in Roanoke, the church we went to had a pond and the darned things would swim around under the ice on top.
Our delightful little goldfish, which we watched growing from feed size of about 1 1/2 inches to about 4-5 inches by now have been troubled with open ulcer type of sores for a long time now! I tested the water for nitrates and its fine. As the pond regularly receives fresh water , either in the form of run-off rain water or by garden hose from the well there should be no problem with 'dirty' water.
The silly fish seem to be nibbling each others ragged sores which obviously doesn't help the healing. We found some "Anti-Bacteria Medicated Fish Food", made by 'Jungle' in a pet store and fed this to the fish for about 2 weeks. There seemed to be a slight improvement in some of them but I wasn't totally convinced of its effectiveness.
We do enjoy our flock of colourful fishes and would like to continue keeping them. Perhaps we should try to find some koi rather? I'm wondering if the feeder goldfish were bred with the use of a lot of Antibiotics to maximise the yield, which might have lowered their immune system - just a thought.
Does anyone have any suggestions? For this year its probably too late to be trying any more medication as the fish are slowing down their feeding to prepare for winter dormancy under the ice.