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TFP’s Annual Pond Festival – May 15-16, 2010

Japanese KoiDave here again, and I am thinking Spring!  Join us this weekend, May 15th and 16th, at our Lancaster, Pa retail store for our annual Spring Pond Sale Event.  Great deals, and a really nice selection of pond plants and fish will be on hand for the event.

When it comes to bargains on supplies, there are some really nice deals being offered: 40% off all OSI pond food; 20% off Seachem pond products; 20% off Tetra filters, pumps and lights. These and lots of other great products from some of our best manufacturers are on sale. And during your visit, don’t forget to check out the newest line – Pure Aquatic Pond Foods.

What I am really excited about for this pond season, is the great selection of Pond Fish and Koi that we have to offer this year.  For the first time, we are offering a new color of comet, the Apricot Comet.  These guys are not your typical red comet, they are creamy orange like an apricot, and their unique scale size makes them look smooth like one, too! Some really neat new fish to add to your mix.  Some of them even have translucent gill covers – the bright red of the gills underneath makes them look like they are blushing.

Apricot CometWe also have a great selection of Koi here in the store.  We have nice Domestic Koi, in both standard and butterfly fin forms, in a range of colors and sizes.  For the more discerning pond keeper, we once again have a selection of Koi imported from Japan.  This year’s fish are primarily from Sakai of Hiroshima and Yoshida Fish Farms.  We have both standard fin and longfin Japanes Koi, color varieties include; Sanke, Showa, Utsuri, Ogon, Kujaku, Asagi/Shusui. Kumonryu, and many more.

All of our pond fish and plants will be 25% off all weekend, it is a great time to stock a new pond, or look for that special fish to add to your collection.

Until next blog,


Feeding your Koi and Pond Fish – Simplifying Seasonal Dietary Requirements

There are so many food formulas and brands of pond fish foods on the market today that it can be daunting for a pond hobbyist to make any sense out of the mix. What and when should I feed my Koi? Why can’t I feed the same staple food year round?  What are the differences in the formulas?  These are all common questions, and just a sampling of those we answer each day at That Fish Place. 

Anyone with koi and other pond fish knows that they aren’t generally picky eaters.  As soon as the ice melts they flock to the surface, looking ravenous after the long winter. But just because they will eat doesn’t mean that it should be fed or be fed what you are feeding. Unless you live in a temperate area or you keep your pond heated during cold months (above 50F) it is vital to their health and appearance that they be provided with appropriate nutrition for each season. Commercial food formulas are developed with seasonal changes in growth, metabolism and other biological activities in mind.  Lots of things go on in the body of a pond fish as the seasons change – all of which have to be considered when you purchase food. Read More »

Assassin Snails – Killer Snails for Your Aquarium

In my first blog, I talked about why the Zebra Loach (Botia striata) is well suited for smaller aquariums, and why it was certainly a more sensible choice for snail control than its larger cousin, the Clown Loach. The Zebra Loach is one of the most under rated of the snail eating Botia, in my opinion. But what if you have a planted aquarium and you’re keeping small shrimp? Zebra Loaches may very well eat them! Or what if you have a small tank, but don’t have room to house 4 or 5 of these fish? Well, I think there may be something that is just as effective, does not appear to want to eat the little shrimp, and won’t take up a lot of room. A somewhat new introduction into the hobby called the Assassin Snail.

The Assassin Snail (Clea helena or Clea Anentome helena) comes from lakes and ponds in Southeast Asia, where it feeds on decaying protein, worms, and other snails. That’s right, a snail that eats other snails. Voracious little predators, the Assassin Snail has an attractive yellow shell with a spiraling brown stripe wrapped around it. While they do have an appetite for snails, predation does not occur within their own species. This allows several individuals can be kept in a single small aquarium. At an adult length of just under an inch, a 10 gallon aquarium could easily house a dozen of these snails. They are pretty durable and can take a wide range of water chemistry, as long as it does not fluctuate greatly. While preferring a pH of 7.0 or 7.2, they can tolerate a range from slightly above 6 to about 8.2. Water hardness, can also be somewhat flexible. Reports of keeping them in water with GH values of 5 and a dKH of 1 seem to be pretty standard. Fine gravel or sand is always preferred, but not a necessity. If you do have fine substrate, these little guys will burrow and crawl through the substrate in search of food.

Assassin Snails are known to be extremely active. The idea that snails are slow and plodding is definitely challenged by this gastropod. Assassin snails will scale plants, glass, large stones, and wood with surprising speed when hunting for food. I have even seen them suspended upside down on the surface of very still water! Being able to move quickly gives this snail an advantage over slower moving prey items, such as the troublesome pond snail, Physa sp. In large numbers, Physa sp. pond snails can damage soft plant tissue and can present a real problem if you are trying to keep a well-groomed planted aquarium. A handful of Assassin Snails will eventually clear the aquarium of unwanted snails. After the problem snails are eaten, Assassin Snails will take up a somewhat more laid back role by eating left-over fish foods and decaying protein. While some reports of shrimp predation have occurred, it is a pretty rare occurrence.

Watching a group of these curious little snails cruising around your aquarium is really fascinating. I have never really gotten absorbed into the snail world, but seeing the Assassin Snail hunt and forage for food has definitely piqued my interest! From my personal observations, I have to say that these snails are definitely more than capable of ridding an aquarium of unwanted snails. They may be the predator you’ve been looking for.

Thanks, until next time,


Koi Ponds in Autumn – Maintenance and Dietary Changes

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. As fall arrives in the temperate zone, outdoor koi ponds will need some attention if all is to go well when the temperatures drop.

Basic Considerations

Japanese water gardenThe metabolisms of both koi and the various bacteria that occupy the pond and filter slow down as temperatures fall. Your fish will not be as hungry as usual, and leftover food will not decompose as quickly as in the summer. Dead plants and other organic material in the pond may also remain more or less “intact” through fall and winter.

However, don’t be fooled by the relative “quietness” of this time….as temperatures rise in the spring, decomposition will begin and the resultant ammonia spike may kill your fishes. Therefore, take care to be extra vigilant in removing organic detritus from your pond as fall approaches.


Be sure that your pond filter is in good shape and running well…rinse or replace filter media and continue with routine backwashes.

If necessary, install a leaf cover or net. This is not merely an aesthetic consideration…decomposing leaves will rob water of oxygen, lower the pH and increase the ammonia level.

To control the amount of dead plant material that enters the pond, remove any aquatic or emergent plants that will not survive the winter.

Health Checks

It is especially important that your koi be in good health as the weather changes. Immune systems will be stressed by the falling temperatures, leaving the fishes open to illness and parasitic infection. Bacteria and fungi that are ever present, and may be of little concern to healthy fishes, will prove dangerous to those not in the peak of condition during the fall and winter.


As fall progresses, switch your koi from high protein pellets to more easily digested foods or wheat germ based pellets designed for use in cool water. Do not feed your fishes when temperatures drop below 52 F.


Make sure that heaters or surface de-icers, if required, are in good working order. If you utilize a heater, set its thermostat for 62 F. Koi will feed lightly at this temperature, but keep an eye out for leftovers. In unheated ponds, cease feeding at 51 F.

Further Reading

For optimistic readers already thinking spring’s arrival, please see our article Koi, a Matter of Extremes in Spring.

Please check out our koi and outdoor pond books for further information.

For interesting forum comments and photos dealing with overwintering koi under extreme weather conditions, please see the forum at koi-bito.com.

Please write in with your questions and comments.

Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

Japanese water garden image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Solipsist

Overgrowing Pond Plants and Invasive Species

It’s starting to get warm. Really warm in the U.S. And, for many of you, you’re starting to notice your pond plants are starting to kick it into overdrive.

Pond Plants, more than most other plants in my opinion (probably because they always have access to water) can really kick into growth once the water temperature goes up. I’ve been one of the folks who literally starts throwing  away the water hyacinths I paid 4 bucks for a few months earlier because I have no where to go with them. I’ve seen the dwarf moneywort in my pond run out of room within and establish itself OUTSIDE the pond. Even hardy pond lillies, while beautiful, can go to town in a mud bottomed pond.   

It is these rapidly growing plants which form some of the most environmentally invasive species available. Imagine, what’s happening in your pond allowed to carry on unabated in a large lake? Unless you can properly dispose or trade them, do not introduce them back into the wild. The threat of serious ecological impact is particularly strong from these seemingly unstoppable plants.

Many local garden clubs or websites will be happy to share and swap out plants with you. You may even be able to pick up a new species or 2 for your water garden. As in all things, consider the impact before you act…..

For more information on invasive plant species within the US, check out invasivespeciesinfo.gov.