|Synonyms||Idus idus, Cyprinus idus, Leuciscus idus idus|
|Distribution||Native to many parts of Europe and Asia, introduced to several other countries.|
|Sexual Dimorphism||Mature females likely to be fuller bodied.|
|Maximum Size||60cm+ (24"+)|
|Water Parameters||Neutral to alkaline conditions preferred. pH: 7.0-8.0, dH: up to 25 degrees.|
|Temperature||Coldwater: 04-22 deg C (39-72 deg F)|
|Compatibility||Large fish community|
|Special Requirements||High oxygen levels. Take care with medications.|
A domestic colour form of the European Ide, the wild ancestors of Orfe are fishes of rivers and large water bodies, with some populations undertaking significant seasonal migrations. This is linked to the extreme cold in parts of its native range and this tolerance is seen in their colourful descendants, as Orfe will feed and function in much colder water than Koi or Goldfish. This preference for oxygen-rich water means that these fish can struggle in small ponds with slow-moving water and are renowned for jumping from ponds during summer storms. The fact that these active fish don’t eat plants and are seldom affected by disease made them very popular with pond keepers for decades, until their place was usurped by the more friendly and colourful Koi carp. Orfe still make an excellent choice for large ponds that have good water movement but are too shallow for carp, or where lush planting is desired. If this includes a waterfall or stream then they’ll be very happy as this will help keep oxygen levels high overnight when submerged plants are busy producing CO2.
The active nature of these sociable fish makes them popular with keepers who enjoy watching them leaping for insects in summer and cruising in active shoals, but this activity can make other fishes such as koi a bit more nervous. Large specimens are also predatory enough to make an impact on small fish, although they will ignore anything too large to swallow. Insects are eagerly taken and young fishes have an insatiable appetite for mosquito larvae, driven by a rapid growth rate. Although hardy, orfe are susceptible to the heavy metals sometimes found in tap water and certain fish medications. For this reason, a water conditioner should always be used when adding new water and care should be taken in choosing a safe remedy should you need to treat your pond. Fishes exposed to these chemicals often survive but develop a permanently kinked spine.
The blue form is the most recently developed and is usually offered alongside the popular gold form, as well as the more rarely seen wild 'silver' type. All can be freely mixed.
Running water seems to be a vital factor in triggering orfe to spawn, this makes it a more unusual event in garden ponds. Given that mature orfe will eat fry and other species happily consume their eggs, it’s no wonder that accidental breeding successes are rare. In the wild, this species spawns in the Spring after moving into heavily vegetated shallower areas of the river. Spawning is a very active affair with the fish visibly thrashing about near the water's surface. The eggs, which number in the thousands, are adhesive and stick to clumps of plants and pebbles.