Are Golden Orfe Good Pond Fish?

Published on September 23, 2007

juvenile golden orfes

Are you a little bored with goldfish and fed up with the sometimes-destructive behavior of koi? If you are looking for a change, then you need to try the Golden Orfe. But even if you aren’t any of the above, Golden Orfe are worth a try in your pond. They are so good that I’ve considered getting rid of my goldfish and koi and just having Orfe.

Orfe are attractive torpedo shaped fish, yellow orange in color, often with black spots on the head and silvery flanks that are fairly deep. When mature, they grow a noticeable hump just behind the head. They’re very fast and feed primarily on the surface. They eat insects, small worms and possibly fish fry. They like to swim in groups or shoals. As far as I know, they don’t eat algae or other vegetable matter. They grow to about 1.5’ maybe 2’ depending on the pond. I’ve never seen them harass other fish or each other.

What I like most about the Orfe is their unusual behavior. My wife and I call them the dolphins of the pond. Besides being great jumpers, they exhibit group behavior that I’ve never witnessed in other fish. In mid summer, when the water is warm, they will gather in a group usually under the shade of an overhanging bush. They will shimmy and shake as if using a secret sign language to communicate with each other. Then, taking turns, they’ll dart a few feet out into the open and then dart back into the group. What causes this behavior? Is it the hot sun and the warm water? I don’t know the answer, but it is great fun to watch.

 They prefer cool water to warm and need lots of oxygen. An air stone or tumbling water- fall is not a bad idea. Afternoon shade during really hot weather may be a necessity. It’s rumored that they’re more sensitive to chemicals than other fish. I’ve never seen this, but it is probably something to be cautious about. I use a variety of fish treatments and none have ever affected the Orfe unfavorably. Several of my customers have witnessed the Orfe swimming down a waterfall to a lower pond. I’ve never seen koi and goldfish do anything like this.

These unusual fish are native to Europe and are considered game fish. In their wild state they have a silver color and some even exhibit blue and marbled coloring. Over there they are known as Ide.

They are my favorite pond fish, and they don’t seem to get goldfish and koi diseases. This is a great characteristic for sure. Try them; I know that you will like them.

6 thoughts on “Are Golden Orfe Good Pond Fish?”

  1. I got four from a fish rescue. It took a while to figure out what these interesting shaped fish were as the owner told me they were pencil fish. You are so correct in their behavior. They just dart to and from and are really aggressive in how they take their food but not to the other fish. They are truly a fun addition to goldfish and shubunkins.

  2. Yes, they are a wonderful pond fish and for many years were readily available from local dealers. Unfortunately now in the Province of Ontario, Canada they are on the banned list as an invasive species. Why the Government in its wisdom would ban this particular fish and not others such as goldfish, koi or various types of catfish is not understood by the general public. Another banned animal is the trapdoor live bearing snail a popular pond inhabitant. Why?

    Alan Noon

  3. I was fortunate to be able to purchase two orfe. I live in Ireland, and yes they were called Orfe. I believe they are wild here as well. These two fish were a absolute joy. Kind to other fish, and to all size fish, even little ones. They were active and entertaining. But thing that I loved most was their sheer BEAUTY!! They weren’t hold or yellow and had no spots. But looks like they were made of silver pink mother of pearl. Their scales were perfect, tight together and very small compared to other fish. They were such shiney scales, that it made the fish sparkle. The white silver with very slight pink shade. I just loved watching9 fast. I miss them very much. I’ve not been able to find them for sale anywhere. I plan to ask my fish dealer I have, whom I originally obtain them from, if they would make a search for me and order some for me, if some are found. I believed I was very fortunate to have two in their natural colouring. To tell you the truth, I must prefer this gorgeous silver colour they were, they looked magical. I believe it is much more beautiful colour. We can have all shades of gold, but how often do you get sparkly “mother of pearl silver pink”?

  4. Orfe are wonderful pond fish. It’s claimed by some that they are one of the 10 fastest fish in the world. They school at the surface and interact peacefully with other fish. I know of no faults and rank them as a 10. I’ve sold them for many years at my nursery and have always had them in my pond.

    1. I am looking for some golden orfe for my pond- I gather that you sell them, what is the best time of year to put them in and do you live far away from Chester? Uk.

  5. We have 2 Orfe which we have had for about 8yrs now. They’ve always seemed very happy fish and have great charm. The past couple of weeks we’ve noticed them chasing round and jumping a bit more aggressively then usual and the one is jumping more than usual.
    Now it’s got to the point where the one is constantly up the corner of the pond and occasionally has a swim round but then goes back to the corner which by the way is right next to the Lilly plant. The other Orfe is following everywhere and I’ve noticed it keeps putting its head down towards the tail end of the fish. The one who stays in the corner does look to have a swollen abdomen and I’ve noticed that both off the Orfe are not eating! Any ideas of what could be happening? I did think maybe the one is pregnant but I don’t know how long they carry eggs for. Could anyone offer advice please. I’m basically at a loss.

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