By: Mike Gannon | Posted On: January 30th, 2012 | 15 Comments on THE GOLDEN ORFE, AN AMAZING JOURNEY TO YOUR POND | In: KOI PONDS, POND FISH, WATER GARDENS

golden orfe pond fish New Jersey

The Golden Orfe, or Ide, is a somewhat overlooked choice as a fish to stock your pond and water garden with these days; yet the Orfe is an easy to find and affordable pond and water garden fish. Most pond fish dealers stock the Golden Orfe because they know about its hardiness, interesting behavior, and easy upkeep when it comes to our backyard pond installations. The Golden Orfe, Leuciscus idus, has been in the United States for over 100 years now, originally introduced to stock estate and farm ponds. Their beauty was surely a consideration back then when stocking those early ponds; but their impact on insect control (water quality) was equally or more important. Now, they have found their way into today’s backyard designer ponds and water gardens, but this line of fish is a really old one. Leuciscus idus was described by Linnaeus himself, the “Father of Taxonomy” back in 1758! Keeping the Golden Orfe is like keeping a bit of pondy history. The native territory of the Orfe is in European and Asian rivers and large lakes, Russia to Mongolia.
The territory of the wild Orfe has spread worldwide and today the “domestic” Golden Orfe can be easily be found at most local pond and water garden retailers, and online sellers, but buying them in person is always more fun. The golden Orfe are a long and slender fish, but they are deep bodied. The Orfe can get pretty big too, at 20” or so and weighing in at 4 pounds. They are a very solid looking fish when mature. Their color is a golden orange mix, but I’ve seen them look yellowish, and even pale pink. They like to be in schools/shoals and are best displayed that way since they like to constantly swim just under the surface of the water. They move grouped together and rarely will break away solitary. Their natural diet is crustaceans, worms, snails, and even small fish; so they are considered predatory. However, the Golden Orfe that we keep in our ponds are well acclimated to taking prepared foods. This is not to say that instinct does not kick in if they are hungry, and just the right size little fish happens in front of them, and any insect landing in the pond does not have a chance. Give them treats of krill, or earthworms from time to time and they will love it.
Before koi hit the market, the Orfe and goldfish were battling for first place in the hearts of yesteryear’s pond keepers. Then koi came along and messed up their whole day; so the Orfe has been a little forgotten about by today’s pond keepers. Good news is that koi, goldfish, and Orfe can all stay in the same pond together. The Orfe is not an aggressive fish. They do like a lot of oxygen so a pond or water garden with a waterfall would be well suited for keeping them. Orfe will successfully spawn in our ponds and water gardens. Their courtship involves aggressive behavior which is normal; so if you see a lot of sudden chasing and splashing, that’s probably what’s going on. Aaah, romance in the pond (romance occurs intermittently, March thru June). Usually not that many baby Orfe actually make it, but year after year you’ll see more Orfe in your pond. Golden Orfe can live 20+ years in captivity. The Orfe is definitely better kept in larger ponds, 800 gallons+.
Everybody loves to tell a fish story and here is a fish that has a story built into it. Leuciscus idus, the Golden Orfe shares a long history with people who keep fish in ponds and water gardens…like you. Think about it, Carl Linnaeus himself, in a frenzy of scientifically describing everything within his reach; shoved his hand into the water, pulled out a Golden Orfe, and found it worthy of some of the earliest scientific descriptions of the animal kingdom. If you haven’t kept Orfe and you have the room in your pond, head out to your local pond and water garden fish retailer to find yourself a few. Tell them the LOVEYOURPOND BLOG sent you.

All copyrights to this material is solely owned by Mike Gannon.

Written by Mike Gannon

Mike Gannon

The LOVEYOURPOND Blog is written by Mike Gannon of Full Service Aquatics located in Summit, NJ. Mike is an award winning pond, water garden, and water feature builder. Always “In The Pursuit Of All Things Aquatic” Mike has been a lifelong hobbyist and providing professional services since 1995. Mike is the creator of The Pond Hunter video series seen on Youtube and has made several television appearances on Networks such as HGTV and the DIY Network. He also hosts the Pond Hunter Radio Broadcast, a show on everything aquatic, every other Wednesday at 8pm EST. You can see what else Mike is up to at the following sites:

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    Comments Feed
  1. Jesse Says:

    on February 21, 2012 at 1:04 am

    great lookin site Mike!

  2. Veronica Andersson Says:

    on July 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Very interesting site. Have five of them in our pond, they are the clowns in water. Always something going on. We live i Sweden and have pretty strong winter here, -20 celcius. And the Golden Orfe has no problems with that. They make it together with the Koi and Golden fish. Sorry about my English.

  3. Mgannon Says:

    on July 15, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Thank you for sharing your information. It is interesting to hear how well they do in such extreme conditions! (your english is fine!!) Cheers.

  4. Jennifer Zuri Says:

    on July 12, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Great article, Mike! Sharing this on the Aquascape Inc Facebook page today. 🙂

  5. Mgannon Says:

    on July 15, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Awesome! Many thanks!! Enjoy

  6. Fredrik Says:

    on August 17, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    i would love to keep golden orfe in my pond but i’m keeping a lot of small fish like rosy reds and bitterlings. Would they be safe?

  7. Mike Gannon Says:

    on August 19, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Hello Fredrik, thanks for commenting and checking out the blog. I think you’d be ok with Orfe if you start them small. Orfe can get very large so starting with large koi would not be my recommendation. -Mike

  8. Alison Dunnington Says:

    on September 6, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    My one and only golden orfe is now 35 years old!! Has been in pond with 4 koi carp since a baby , but now is not moving much and I fear I’m gong to lose him soon. The koi carp are the same age!!!

  9. Mike Gannon Says:

    on September 9, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    Hi Alison, I hope your orfe pulls through and gives you may more years of enjoyment! I’m rooting for you!! -Mike

  10. Steven Says:

    on March 13, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    I went from 40 to almost 200 in the past 3 years. Almost all the fry seem to make it to maturity in my pond (6000 gallons). Wonderful fish, just a pity they are too fast to catch and are rapidly maxing out the pond.

  11. Mike Gannon Says:

    on March 15, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Thanks for that info Steven! Great to hear how they are successful fish and reproducing for you. Great job! -Mike

  12. vicki gulley Says:

    on April 20, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    I put four 4-inch orfe in my 3500 gal pond in Aug. 2016. I live in Michigan, USA and we get brutal winters. All 4 appeared this Spring and were in great shape. Even grew amazingly well and are between 5 and 5 1/2 inches each now. I am getting 2 more today to help ensure the egg and baby population stays low in my pond. I have 30 large goldfish of which 10 are female and they produce hundreds of babies of which too many survive.

  13. Elaine Blaney Says:

    on May 28, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Have possibly 300 ish in large pond. Hungry monkeys but only like flakes and some of the pellets are to big for them. Also like mealworms. Needs to reduce numbers as there are now too many in the pond. In the north of Scotland.

  14. Simon Sparkes Says:

    on June 1, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    I have 7 blue Orfe. All are around 12 years old. They are between 12-18 inches long now. Unfortunately, one has a kinked spine which I believe is relatively common in these fish although the rest are fine at the moment. He is also now swimming upside down at times although on occasion is able to be upright. Not sure what to do with him. I feel stressed watching him so doing a partial water change as I write. Tried to feed him shelled peas as I heard this was good for digestion. He took some yesterday but no improvement. Tried a salt bath too.

    Not sure whether to put him our of his misery or try and help him through it. Any thoughts Mike?

  15. Mike Gannon Says:

    on June 4, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Hello Simon. It sounds like you have kept these fish doing great for 12 years. Sometimes hard decisions have to be made with fish. I’m not sure there is alot you can do to correct these type of issues the fish is experiencing, especially in an older fish. I don’t think it is a matter of nutrition or water quality at this point. I think it may just be time taking its toll. I would probably try to treat it as you always have been since you’ve been successful keeping orfes, and make that tough decision when you feel the fish is not having any real quality of life. Good luck. -Mike

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