Have you been hoping to add fish to your pond or home water feature? Popular “pond fish” like carp and goldfish help to add color and life to your backyard pond. There is no denying the attractiveness that flashy Koi hold, but there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before you introduce fish to your home pond.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the best pond fish species and dive into all that goes into maintaining and caring for these fish. Plus, we cover a couple fascinating wild pond fish species that would make a great addition to any property.
What kind of fish can you put in a pond?
If you are looking for a common lake fish to introduce to your home pond, you’ll have no shortage of options. Here are a few of the most common fish in ponds, lakes, and water features.
1. Koi Carp
One of the most frequently mentioned pond fish names is the common koi carp. This colorful and beautiful fish can be found in stunning combinations of red, orange, and white with black spots.
Koi can grow up to three feet in size and thrive in temperatures between 59-77°F. Given their large size and hefty nutritional requirements, Koi do best in large bodies of water with at least three feet of depth.
Goldfish make resilient indoor and outdoor pets. They are a tough fish that can survive disproportionally wild swings in temperature, making them a great option for outdoor ponds.
Because they are a cold water fish, goldfish will do best in water that is shaded, either by trees or some variety of aquatic pond plants. Goldfish, and every other species of pond fish will live longest in an environment outfitted with a water filter system.
Besides goldfish, minnows are perhaps the most common freshwater pond fish for smaller water features. They are a great spectacle in many patio or small backyard pond landscapes. Unsurprisingly, minnows also make for a great food source if you have larger fish like carp or bass in your pond.
A few things to keep in mind with minnows are oxygen and water temperature. A water filter, waterfall, or cascading feature and plenty of aquatic plants are all good things to include in your home minnow pond.
Similar to minnows and goldfish, guppies make an incredible addition to any outdoor pond or aquarium setup. Guppies are bright, lively fish that require a fair bit of maintenance to thrive. Since they are tropical fish, guppies will always do best in warm waters up to 68° with a filtration system.
Guppies are small fish with a life expectancy of less than 3 years. Considering their size, guppies make easy prey for larger predator fish, or a nice addition to a smaller garden pond.
Sturgeon is both a wild pond fish and common addition to any backyard water feature. They are a fun option if you are looking for a long term addition to a larger pond or lake. Many sturgeon species live over 100 years, even in smaller lakes.
While they are certainly a great addition to many pond types, sturgeon have a few requirements for their survival:
- Water filtration system
- Clean pond bottom
- Depth of at least five feet
- Regular feeding
- High quality fish feed (40% crude protein)
- Water temperatures below 70°
- Structure (logs, stumps, rocks, banks, etc.)
Best Wild Pond Fish
Maybe you are hoping to introduce pond fish not because of reason for appearance but rather sport or habitat diversity. It’s not uncommon to introduce fish to ranch or farm ponds as they help balance the pond’s ecosystem and make for some fun entertainment!
1. Large Mouth Bass
Perhaps the most popular sportfish alongside rainbow trout, bass make a fantastic addition to any larger pond or lake. Bass are predatory fish and live an average lifespan of 16 years. Bass eat a variety of different insects, fish, frogs, and crayfish. They do well alongside other sportfish such as bluegill and perch.
Bluegill are a pretty medium sized wild pond fish that are often on the menu for large and smallmouth bass. These fish can grow up to 12 inches in length and live up to eight years. Like bass, bluegill favor environments with lots of structure and vegetation. Stumps, logs, and aquatic plants provide plenty of hiding places and shade for blue gill to hunker down in.
Another popular wild pond fish is the common channel catfish. This species of fish is found in waters throughout the world. Catfish do well in bigger bodies of water with temperatures ranging from 70-75°. Catfish require at least a few feet of depth to make their nests in banks and under logs.
If given enough space and the right nutrients, catfish can thrive and reproduce seasonally. Keep in mind that catfish have a reputation for muddying up the water they live in. This species may not be the best option if you are hoping to keep a clear and maintenance-free pond.
Do pond fish eat fish?
Many pond fish species do eat other fish. A few predatory fish species include bass, bluegill, carp, and catfish. Even goldfish will eat smaller guppies and baitfish sometimes. For larger ponds and lakes, it often makes sense to introduce multiple species of fish to the pond, that way the larger predatory fish have a regular supply of prey fish to eat.
What is the easiest fish to raise in a pond?
Considering the requirements for water and habitat conditions, goldfish are often labeled the easiest fish to take care of. Goldfish can thrive in a variety of different environments including those of small garden ponds and large farm ponds. In some cases, goldfish can live multiple years without a filtration system. They will eat most standard pellet foods and can live up to twenty years in a well-kept environment.
Can fish live in a pond without a pump?
While it is possible for fish to live in a pond without a pump or water filter, all fish do best in a setup that is maintained and ecologically balanced. If you are unable to outfit your pond or water feature with a pump, there are other ways to maintain your water’s dissolved oxygen levels to keep the fish happy.
Aquatic plants are the best way to support the oxygen and nutrient content in the water for your fish. It’s also a good idea to avoid overstocking the pond and to outfit the pond with rocks, logs, stumps, and other structure where natural food for your fish can grow. Insects, frogs, bait-fish, crawfish, and other organisms will call these structure areas home. Having natural food sources is always a good idea if you are hoping to increase the lifespan of your pond fish without a pump or filter system.
Final Thoughts on Best Pond Fish
For the most part, your choice in pond fish will come down to a matter of personal preference. You’ll have a number of different colors, profiles, and types of fish to consider. Although your property’s location may also be limited by climate factors.
Some of the most popular pond fish, such as koi, goldfish, and bass can survive multiple winters in both small and large ponds. It can seem difficult to find the best pond fish species for you, but with the right tools and information, it’s more than possible to introduce some vivacious and colorful fish to your pond. Always remember to keep your pond fish’s environment clean with plenty of aquatic plants and a water pump.