More golden than a goldfish and at times too swift for the eye to follow, the orfe is a very popular and undemanding pondfish.
The orfe (or ide) is quite a distant relative of the carp and is more accustomed to the dynamic life of a flowing river. Its streamlined body makes its life an easy one in rivers but also makes it one of the fastest fish in the garden pond. Typically a surface dwelling fish, the orfe can often be seen splashing and taking flies from the surface.
Seen as a shoal of darting slices of peach, flitting in and out of the shelter of lilies and submerged plants, this shy and yet inquisitive fish can become quite tame. Often the first to feed, it is the orfe’s darting activity during feeding time that can alert other fish to the food. An orfe’s character seems to change with age, developing from quite a restless juvenile to a calmer, more sedate lifestyle, often to be seen lazing in the sun at the surface.
Golden orfe are also remarkably fast growing fish, shooting on rapidly to the size of the pond. There are different ‘grades’ of orfe available in the shops, with qualities ranging at the top end with clear blemish-free golden skin through to the less stunning orfe that can show a random arrangement of ‘black pepper spots’ on their dorsal surface. Sometimes this black pigmentation can be so intense that a significant part of the golden orfe is actually black.
A less common variety are the blue orfe. Although the same species as the golden orfe, they can be found in a variety of blue tones from a pale grey right through to black, where the darkest colouration is found on the fish’s top surface. A mixed shoal of contrasting blue and golden orfe can put on a stunning display in any pond.
A highly impressive feature of golden orfe when in top condition are the blood-red fins that are contrasted against the paler flanks of the fish. It is only when you get really close to larger orfe that you can appreciate the real depth and muscular nature of the body. The colouration of both fins and skin can be enhanced to become even more vivid by feeding a colour-enhancing diet.