A Beginner’s Guide to Pond Fish

Fish are the jewel of any pond. These low-maintenance pets come in all shapes, sizes and personalities and even help rid your water feature of mosquitoes and other nuisance bugs.

What Kinds of Fish Can I Add to My Pond?

The kinds of fish you can add to your pond will depend on the pond’s size and your preferences.

Here are just a few popular choices:

  • Koi: Koi come in all kinds of colors and patterns, and in standard and butterfly varieties. Some can grow up to 3 feet long or larger and live up to 20 years!
  • Goldfish: You’re probably familiar with goldfish – but did you know they come in all kinds of shapes and colors? Sarasa goldfish are white with orange spots, for example, while shubunkins are bluish with flecks of black and orange. Fantails have wide, multi-sectioned tails that fan out behind them like a train on a wedding gown.
  • Catfish: Catfish can make neat additions to larger ponds. Just make sure you have enough space; these guys grow fast!
  • Golden Orfes: These delightful additions look like long, slender goldfish and are usually pale orange or pinkish in color. They love to zip around your pond in schools, always sticking close to their buddies.
  • High-Fin Sharks: Although not actually related to sharks, these docile algae-eaters have unique triangular dorsal fins that stick out of the water on the rare occasions when they approach the surface.
  • Lake Fish: Depending on the size of your pond, you might be able to house all kinds of other varieties of fish. Some popular choices include bass and bluegills.

How Many Fish Can I Have in My Pond?

The rule of thumb for pond fish is to limit your finned population to one inch of fish per every 10 gallons of water in your pond. The actual number of fish your pond can house, though, ultimately depends on the quality of your filtration system. A huge, poorly filtered pond can sustain fewer fish than a tiny pond with excellent filtration.

How Often Should I Feed My Pond Fish?

Most people feed their fish about once a day during the warm months. Don’t fret if you go on vacation or miss a few feedings; your fish will stay happy for a few days or even longer by snacking on the bugs and plants in your pond.

Only feed your fish as much food as they’ll eat within about five minutes of you throwing it into the pond, and only feed them when the water temperature is above 55 degrees. Switch to a cold water food during the late fall and early spring.

Can Fish Survive the Winter Outside?

Koi, goldfish and most other types of pond fish can survive the winter outside. They weather the cold by entering a semi-dormant state called torpor, during which their eating and movement slow almost to a halt.

You can help your fish emerge happy and healthy in the spring by keeping a hole open in any ice that forms over the pond via an aerator, deicer and/or running waterfall.