Typically, when we consider fish to populate ornamental ponds, its koi and goldfish that are the most well-known and sought after types chosen. If you’re on the market for a new and interesting fish, let me introduce you to the Golden Orfe if you aren’t already acquainted. Golden Orfes, also known as Ides, are popular and attractive pond fish. They are long and slender with peachy-orange bodies and often small black spots across the back of the fish. Orfes originated in Europe and are dark, silvery blue in their wild form. The golden form was developed by selective breeding for ornamental use. Around 1880 Orfes were first imported to the U.S. and propagated in ponds along with goldfish and carp.
Orfes are sought after for their color and behavior. These docile fish are active swimmers, often staying near the surface where they can easily feed. Though they can grow to about 18 inches or more, they are not aggressive and will not cause harm to other fish in the pond, though tiny fish and fry may be seen as a food item. They are schooling and will be most comfortable in groups of at least three. Small Orfes make great additions to ponds as their social nature may encourage other pond fish to the surface and they will dine on insects and insect larva, especially mosquitos. They are fast swimmers, and some caution should be used in shallow ponds or garden ponds with bare edges as they may become stranded if they jump out of the water.
Golden Orfes are terrifically suited for larger ponds, at least 500 gallons, and should be housed in ponds deep enough for winter survival and with plenty of area to accommodate their mature size. They thrive in cooler temperatures up to about 77 F. They also require lots of oxygen and will appreciate waterfalls, streams and fountains that agitate the surface of the water. High temperatures and still, stagnant waters are detrimental to their health.
Sexing Orfes is not an easy task, particularly when they are young. Mature breeding adult females tend to have a heavier or thicker body than males, but even if you can’t tell male from female if you have a small school of these fish odds are you will have both. Breeding comes naturally and will occur in the Spring if the fish are mature and if they are given ample space and well-maintained conditions. Orfes are similar to carp, so you may notice some chasing and courting behaviors when the fish are preparing to spawn. Huge numbers of eggs are usually expelled on submerged plants and roots in well oxygenated areas of the pond. You may or may not notice the presence of fry once the eggs hatch, and survivability will probably be very low, but these fish grow quickly, and any baby Orfes that make it will look a lot like Rosy-red Minnows.
Under the right conditions, Orfes can be interesting and beneficial additions to ornamental ponds. Look for them to be available where koi and other pond fish are sold in the Spring. They may have sporadic availability due to their popularity and may be hard to come by in areas that have very hot climates, as they do not tend to hold up well in such locations.