Wild Goldfish in the Garden Pond

I am member in a community garden (Heimgarten, Schrebergarten) in Graz-Andritz. In my area I have created a pond. Some unknown person put 3 goldfish in it some year ago. They got offsprings.
Is it correct to name the 3 old ones as held in captivity, but the next generations count as WiLD, as I am nearly not feeding them, an they survive the winters without human help?


In this case, all Goldfish in the pond would be wild. Released animals still count as wild for iNat purposes.


I think you are right, but I also think it begs the question of what being ‘released’ means. Does it depend on the size of the vessel into which the animals have been placed? Or on the intent of the releaser to care for or keep possession of the animals? If the fish had been placed in a pond managed by the person who released them, instead of the pond that @petzenbeer manages, would that still have been releasing?

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I wouldn’t post them as wild, they can’t escape the pond, so they’re not much different from other fish ponds, not all of them are being fed by people.


If the pond is artificial or manmade, and there is no chance of them escaping or otherwise being able to leave the pond, then they would be no different than the other captive, ornamental fish already there.

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‘created a pond’ with the intention of providing habitat for local wildlife?

Adding pet goldfish wasn’t @petzenbeer 's choice or intention.
Released pets are feral / wild for iNat’s rules.


Who’s intent would it have to be? The specific land/property owners or humans in general? I see nowhere in the FAQ documents where this is differentiated. The below criteria would seem to suggest that humans are not “other wild organisms”, and this case fails to meet the criteria as a “wild” organism.

“Likewise, wild / naturalized organisms exist in particular times and places because they intended to do so (or because of intention of another wild organism).”

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To clarify the issue by framing it in terms of a land animal: if someone releases their pet rabbit on their own property, then photographs it two minutes later after it has hopped a few feet from the point of release, this would technically be a wild observation by iNaturalist’s definition.

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I think the original goldfish would certainly be captive. A human intentionally introduced the fish to the artificial pond (the identity of the human doesn’t matter). The human also can be surmised to have intended the fish to survive (if they wanted them to die, that would have been easy enough to accomplish…).

This is essentially the same as a human introducing a plant to a garden, where, as long as the plant lives, it is considered captive/not wild. The fish have no clear way to leave the point of their introduction.

As for the offspring, there’s potentially more room to consider them “wild”, but I would not, based on two lines of reasoning.

  1. The offspring of captive animals that reproduce in zoos aren’t considered wild. Humans still intend the organisms to be in that location, even if the population is self-sustaining.
  2. The iNat captive/cultivated definition also mentions that reproduction must also be accompanied by escaping the initial area of introduction to be considered wild: “* garden plant that is reproducing on its own and spreading outside of the garden (presuming this is not what the gardener intended)*” The situation with goldfish reproducing in a pond seems very similar. While the goldfish are reproducing, the offspring have not spread outside the “garden” where they were intentionally placed.

Would they survive if it wasn’t a garden pond*? If they wouldn’t, in my opinion they should not be considered wild.

*: in the sense not a natural or semi-natural pond

This isn’t how I read the wild definition really. By this definition wouldn’t an off leash dog on a hike be considered wild? I guess that’s an interesting one because most pet dogs do prefer to stay with their human, so if off leash they are there by the decision of the dog not just the human. And the technical definition of wild is ‘not there because a human wants it there’. But i still don’t consider pet dogs to be wild on iNat.

Some of these scenarios would seem to require a lawyer to clarify the matter. Was there intent? Is the location technically a wild place or not? Or is a backyard pond more like an aquarium?

Does the size and location of the water body matter? What about goldfish released into and established (breeding) in a public lake? I would call those wild.

In areas with heavy rains, species can escape man-made ponds easily. My friend had a water hyacinth flood into her pond. Sadly, many of her goldfish flooded out of it. I was trying to persuade her to destroy the water hyacinth, as it’s invasive here, but the raccoons took care of that and ate it.

Raccoons ate the water hyacinth? Or the goldfish?

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