Populating Your Pond with Fish


Adding fish to your backyard pond can significantly enhance its beauty and help create a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere. However, a lot more goes into achieving the desired result than meets the eye. Let’s explore some helpful tips on how to prepare pond water for fish, transferring fish from one pond to another, and how to stock a pond with fish and maintain it.

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How to Prepare Your Pond Water for Fish

Adding fish to a pond adds color and interest to your garden. However, before doing so, you should know how to prepare pond water for fish to ensure they survive and thrive under your care. The following suggestions can help ensure that you will bring fish into a healthy aquatic environment:

  • Plant various types of plants that grow above and below the water. This shades the pond, cuts down on algae growth, increases water oxygen levels, decreases nitrogen buildup, and gives fish a place to hide and feel secure.
  • Eliminate the use of potentially harmful chemicals. If you used pond chemicals or plant fertilizers in the past, drain and clean the pond to remove all traces of toxins.
  • Fill the pond with clean water. While it seems obvious to use a garden hose, many hoses leach toxins into the water and could harm your fish. Water from the sink is a better choice.
  • Make sure that the temperature of the pond water is suitable for the fish species. When you fill the pond with water, let it sit for up to a week until it rises to normal temperatures. Doing this also allows the chlorine to evaporate.
  • If you have a large pond, consider having a pump and filter set up.
  • Aerating the pond is essential, as it adds oxygen to the water so that your fish can breathe. Aeration occurs naturally every time something disturbs the water, such as a waterfall or rain. You can also install a pond aerator system to initiate the process.
  • Ensure that the pond water has a proper pH balance.

Choosing Fish

When determining how to stock a pond with fish that will thrive in this particular aquatic environment, consider their traits and behaviors. For instance, factors such as the fish’s ideal climate, growth potential, and innate habits could affect their compatibility with your pond.


Goldfish in garden pond

Goldfish are the perfect place to start. They’re hardy and inexpensive, so you can experiment with the conditions you need to keep your fish alive.


Koi fish in a pond

Koi are another hardy choice for backyard ponds. They’re beautiful and often reach 6 inches or longer>

Related Article: What You Need to Know Before You Install a Koi Pond

Exotic Goldfish

Lionhead fish in pond

Exotic goldfish (including lionheads, black moors, telescopes, ranchus, orandas, and ryukins) aren’t as hardy as regular goldfish or koi and need a warm climate to survive.


Golden orfe fish in pond

Orfes have a bright orange colour and tend to swim near the surface, which adds to a pond’s beauty. However, they grow quickly and can reach 24 to 30 inches, which may be too large for your pond.


Catfish in a pond

Catfish are beautiful additions to backyard ponds, but they can also grow quite large. The bigger they get, the larger things they can eat, including smaller fish. Mixing catfish with bigger fish like, koi and large goldfish are okay, but be cautious about adding them with smaller species.

Populating the Pond

After filling a new pond, wait at least 72 hours for the water chemistry and temperature to stabilize. When calculating how many fish you can get, follow the rule for indoor aquariums, which is an inch of fish per each gallon of water.

It’s important to know how to stock your pond with fish in a gentle manner. When your fish arrive, try to avoid dumping them right into the water. If you’re transporting fish from a bag(s), float the transport bag(s) in the pond for 20 minutes to help the temperature equalize. Then scoop the fish out of their bags with a soft net and release them into the pond. Discard the water from the bags. If you’re transferring for a container or bucket, add water from the pond water to the container gradually over a 30 minute time period. This will help the fish acclimate to the temperature of the pond water. After about 30 minutes use a net to add fish to the pond. Fortunately, fish species like koi, goldfish and catfish are pretty hardy and acclimate fairly easily to various water conditions.

Transferring Fish from One Pond to Another

Water temperature plays a major role when you’re transferring fish from one pond to another. In order to keep your fish healthy, consider the following:

  • The water temperature difference between their current location and where they’re going should be 5 degrees or less.
  • Check the pH of the water they’re in and where they’re going and make any necessary adjustments.

When Adding Fish, Start Small and Be Patient

Sure, adding fish into a pond is exciting stuff. But adding too many fish at the same time creates an imbalance in the water. Don’t overstock your pond. Remember that one pond fish needs 10 gallons of water per inch of their length. And keep in mind that some pond fish, such as Koi and Catfish, can grow much larger over the years (meaning they will require more space). Be patient and ensure that your fish have ample room to grow so they can have a happy and healthy life.

Acclimate Fish to the Pond

Don’t rush into the acclimation process. Take your time. Once the floating bag with the fish inside has been in for 20 minutes, slowly introduce pond water.

Feeding and Maintenance

While some fish get nourishment from insects that land on the pond, keep a supply of fish food on hand to ensure they are getting enough food. Be careful not to overfeed your fish, as too much food can make them sick and create an unhealthy environment. Uneaten food will settle to the bottom of the pond and could become a problem over time. Remember, your pond must maintain a balanced ecosystem. If you don’t regularly maintain it, your fish will die.

Fish excrement and excess food increase nitrogen buildup in the water. To reduce levels, you can try store-bought nitrogen reducers or plant more plants. If your pond becomes overgrown with algae, don’t drain the pond. This could be fatal to your fish and plants. Instead, add a few lily pads to shade the water or buy a snail to eat the algae. These critters reproduce quickly, so only buy one.

In warm climates, you can keep your fish outside all year-round. If you live in a colder climate, your fish are most likely to survive the winter if you bring them inside. Transfer them to an aquarium or even a kiddy pool with a pump attached, which you can set up in your garage or basement.

Protecting Your Fish

Depending on where you live and the location of your pond, keep in mind that your fish may be an attractive target for some predators — on the ground and in the air. Be mindful that your fish don’t have much of a defense against an attack other than to swim deeper. Using a wire mesh screen can reduce the risk of aerial predators, while covering your pond at night will help protect them from other animals.

Enhancing Your Pond

A pond adds natural beauty and helps create a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere. It can help you connect with nature and evoke feelings of calmness and serenity. With unique lighting and other enhancements, the aesthetic beauty of your pond can ascend to an even higher level. Try the following additions to create a stunning effect:

  • LED lighting, such as white lights or color-changing LEDs
  • Illuminating the pathways to the pond
  • Waterfalls, fountains, and other water structures
  • Decorative and stylish pond spitters

Get Help From The Pros

Adding a fish pond to your property will certainly enhance the look and appeal of your home. However, there is some planning, preparation, and maintenance required to ensure your pond looks great and your fish thrive. If you would prefer to let the experts handle the job, contact The Grounds Guys®. Professional assistance can make all the difference when setting up and populating a pond. We offer both residential and commercial aquatic management services, and all our work is backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise, which guarantees your satisfaction. To learn more or to get started, find The Grounds Guys location near you.

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