A Permaculture Fish System

Kai: When I first started breeding goldfish, I knew I wanted to do it in the most permaculture fashion I possibly could. This led me to challenge myself – no filters, no chemicals, no prepackaged fish food. To overcome the commercial ways, I partition the ponds often, and use an ecosystem strategy to keep them clean. When I partition water, it is used to water the garden instead of just getting dumped. It might be odd to say, but I did treat some ill fish naturally, and as for food, I used a Japanese method used for koi – feed from the garden! Meaning fruits, veggies, eggs and garden pests! This all worked well, but there were two things that I could not wrap my head around in the beginning. The first, was when fish would leap out of the ponds and kill themselves. The other, is when I put fry in seemingly “safe” crystal clear water, which caused them to perish. These were conundrums that first year.

I later experimented by leaving fry in slightly green pond water, to which they thrived. In an old water garden book I inherited, the author states “Any tired, sluggish fish seem to revive immediately upon transfer to different water. This water, if green, is all the more beneficial.” He also went into Epsom salt/rock salt remedies for diseases. As for the fish leaping from the water? He mentioned it is apparently a comet goldfish-specific behavior. When I thought back, I realized this was true. None of my shubunkins, fantails or traditionals ever did this. I’m always trying to perfect my method and be as organic as I possibly can. If any one else knows any natural ways to keep fish, be it for decorative, or food purpose, please share!

Is anyone else familiar with this old book from 1965? Goldfish Pools, Water-Lilies And Tropical Fishes by Dr. G.L Thomas Jr? I really enjoyed the fish section.

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