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Goldfish in West Park?

Question Corner: November 2017

by Tim Athan

From the November, 2017 issue

Q. There's a shallow pond in the corner of West Park with a boardwalk across it--my wife and I love walking by the pond and watching the ducks and goldfish (and occasional heron!). But after seeing how thoroughly frozen the pond gets in the winter, we've been wondering: do the fish survive the winter in the pond? Or does it get restocked every spring?

A. The goldfish aren't stocked--at least, not by the city. As described in the August 2014 Observer, they are descended from pet fish abandoned in the pond soon after it was created. Our writer saw "what seemed like at least 1,000 goldfish in the shallow pool" and reported that city parks planner Amy Kuras hoped the herons would eradicate them.

That has not happened. Today the muddy pond shimmers with flashes of orange-gold.

Though herons have been spotted grabbing a goldfish lunch there, Larry McKenna of Aquatic PONDS on Jackson Rd. explains that "goldfish breed like rats. Worse than rats! They breed three or four times a season, producing as many as 500-1,000 per spawn at a time."

Fish metabolism slows in the winter, but they still need oxygen. Freezing over reduces the oxygen supply from the air, but this pond is spring fed, and the fresh water conveys oxygen. There also have been occasional thaws during recent winters, providing reprieves.

One hard winter would likely eliminate the fish. McKenna predicts that food limitations will in the meantime reduce their number and size.

The fish have outlasted Kuras, who retired this year. Asked for a comment, she was adamant that it was no longer her problem, happily declaring, "I am done with that!"

Got a question? Email    (end of article)

[Originally published in November, 2017.]


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