Since 2014, Bath and North East Somerset Council has been working to improve the quality of the ponds in Royal Victoria Park. The ponds were cordoned off for safety reasons when a blue-green algal bloom became apparent. This is a health concern and the Council has been working to remove the algae and to fix leaks and improve the water supply, but this is not resolved fully as yet.
The ponds do not have good water flow and whilst this work is being undertaken, the fish which were formerly resident in the ponds, have been re-homed in a safe location elsewhere.
Once the issues with the pond are resolved, the council will look at whether introducing new fish is beneficial or not. There is clear evidence that stocking ponds with goldfish has a detrimental effect on wildlife. Fish in larger lakes and rivers are an important part of a natural ecosystem, but larger fish such as goldfish are not a natural feature of ponds the size of those that we have in RVP, and are not able to co-exist alongside other pond wildlife such as amphibians and invertebrates – because they seriously predate them.
50% of the UK’s ponds were lost in the last century and this has been linked to significant declines in native species such as frogs, toads and newts. The Council has a duty to protect and encourage wildlife in its open spaces. Conservation organisations such as the RSPB , The Freshwater Habitats Trust, Froglife and Natural England all advise against stocking ponds with goldfish if the aim is to encourage wildlife.
The council also needs to ensure that the problems with blue-green algae do not reoccur. It can be more difficult to manage water quality in ponds stocked with goldfish, over-stocking with fish increases nutrient levels in the water (from fish faeces) which encourages harmful algae to flourish. These conditions can also make it difficult to establish the flowering pond plants which we want to plant to make our ponds more attractive.
We have also been asked to consider using the bottom pond in RVP for pond-dipping activities for school children- an important educational resource and opportunity. Because of the reasons mentioned above, ponds stocked with goldfish will be unsuitable for this activity. We know that children do like to look for fish in ponds, but over time, they will also enjoy looking for tadpoles and water boatman and all the other species which would be absent from a pond stocked with fish.
Once the longer term management of the ponds has been determined we will update our website to outline progress.