Fish Types

10 Best Pond Fishes You Should Know (Koi, Goldfish & More)

Best Pond Fish

Ponds add a lot of serenity into the landscape. With the addition of colorful fish in these waters, the pond’s serenity will be topped up with beauty and character.

The good thing is that there is plenty of fish that you can keep, especially if you have a big pond. Not only are they ideal for beauty, but fish can also help you control mosquitos because they feed on them as they breed and lay eggs.

However, not all fish are suitable for these ponds. There are particular types that stand out from the rest and this article looks at the best pond fish that you should consider to keep in your water garden.

10 Best Pond Fishes

1. Koi

Koi fish

Koi fish are descendants of carp fish. They were bred by Japanese farmers after noticing the odd, bright color patches on carp fish, and this led to the colorful pond fish that are the koi of today.

Most people associate this species with being small but actually, fully grown Koi can reach up to 3 feet in length. Young koi can be grown in large indoor fish tanks but once they start getting big, they should be transferred to bigger ponds.

Again, their weight also increases with size to have an average of about 35 pounds for a fully grown adult. With this, it is recommended to have at least a ratio of 500 to 1000 gallons per adult koi so that they can live comfortably.

In terms of food, koi are omnivorous and can eat almost anything that people eat, but they especially love cereals, lettuce, watermelon, shrimp and lettuce.

For maintenance purposes, koi fish require very clean water in their ponds, which means that an outdoor filtration system is necessary. If properly cared for, these fish can live for 20 – 25 years before dying of old age.

2. Goldfish


Goldfish are the most popular pet fish because they are small in size. Generally, the largest species can reach up to 18 inches in length and weigh up to 10 pounds, while the smallest species can only reach a maximum of 7 inches.

This makes them much easier to manage because, for one, they can be left to live in aquariums for longer, then transferred to smaller ponds if they are few in number.

With their small size, an adult is recommended to be kept in at least 20 gallons of water, and this ratio should be used as per the number that you have.

On feeding, goldfish are omnivorous, with a liking for aquatic plants, newts, frogs and insect larvae in the wild. Pet goldfish can be fed with pellet fish food, vegetables, and some live food every once in a while.

Their ideal habitat is in calm, clean waters, although they do not mind some cloudiness. An important thing to note about them is that they prefer cooler waters and thus, you don’t need a heater so as to attain a tropical water temperature.

3. Mosquito Fish

Mosquito Fish


Mosquito fish are named that way because their main diet consists of mosquito larvae. However, they also feed on algae in their natural habitat and flake food when it comes to feeding.

Although native to eastern and southern US, this silvery fish has been spread all over the world because it is very helpful in mosquito control. Therefore, it is also very important to have a couple of them in your pond because the stagnant waters will definitely attract these insects.

In terms of size, these fish are some of the smallest there is. Females can reach an overall length of 3 inches or less while males are much smaller, reaching up to 2 inches max lengthwise.

This means that they need a smaller volume of water per fish and thus, they are the best fish for small ponds.

The fish thrive in freshwater environments and can survive freezing temperatures as well as high temperatures of up to 100°F. This shows that they are easy to take care of because they can handle quite a lot.

4. Golden Orfe

Golden Orfe

Golden Orfe’s natural habitat is in fast flowing rivers, which means that they require clean and highly oxygenated waters at all times.

To achieve this in a pond, a powerful filtration system, as well as an air pump, might be necessary, especially during the hot weather, so as to run fountains and waterfalls for maximum levels of aeration.

With such requirements, Orfes are the best outdoor pond fish because they will force you to create a spectacular pond with fountains, waterfalls and the like, leaving you with a one of a kind water display.

However, this makes them very hard and expensive to take care of and thus, are not ideal when you are on a budget.

In terms of size, these fish can grow to about 18 inches or more and should be kept in groups of 5 or more because of their social nature. Because of this, they require plenty of space, typically at least a 500-gallon pond.

For food, you can give Orfe live insects, pond flakes and sticks as well as pellets.

5. Minnow


Minnows are very peaceful fish that can live in the same pond as other community fish such as tetras, mollies, and plecos among many others.

Having their origins in mountain stream environments, these fish require cool waters to thrive in, ideally in the range of 64 - 72°F. The water also needs to be very soft and have a neutral pH while the pond should be decorated with rocks, driftwood, and live plants.

For feeding, minnows can eat a variety of flakes and pellets as well as fresh and frozen foods, making them grow to about 4 inches in length and live for an average of 4 years.  

With their small size, minnows can practically live in aquariums their whole lives. Ponds can hold a big number of them, which can be very beneficial for controlling mosquitoes since the fish also feed on insect larvae.

6. Calico

Calico fish

Calicos are a breed of goldfish that have very fancy colors, ranging from red to yellow, orange, grey, white and black.

They are good pond fish to have because they are very hardy and are easy to keep. Out of all the goldfish breeds, calicos are the hardiest and will eat almost anything that is offered to them.

Fresh, frozen and flake food should form a huge part of their diet and just like goldfish, some vegetables and fruits should be given every once in a while.

In terms of size, calicos can grow to reach a length of 13 – 18 inches and that size requires at least 15 gallons of water to grow in.

7. Oranda


Photo: Wikipedia

Oranda is also a breed of goldfish that has a conspicuous brain-like growth on its head. At times this growth can become too big that it affects the fish’s vision. However, it can be easily trimmed using a pair of scissors and this does not harm the fish because that part has no nerves.

Size wise, an adult can reach up to 10 inches in length on average and just like goldfish, a single oranda requires about 20 gallons of water to thrive, which is very manageable.

When it comes to diet, Orandas pretty much feed on the same things as goldfish and when fed well, the females can lay up to 1000 eggs at a time.

An important thing to note here is that these fish prefer the warmer 75 - 80°F water temperatures so as to live comfortably in the pond.

8. Black Moor

Black Moor


Black moors are some of the most popular breeds of goldfish because they are quite unique. For starters, they are all black, while all other goldfish have different color combinations.

The fish also have telescopic eyes that protrude outside their heads, making them noticeable from afar.

Although small, black moor, as well as other goldfish, are usually very messy and thus, require at least a 20-gallon tank per fish. This will help distribute the mess so as to create a more conducive environment as you run a powerful filtration to clear the murky waters.

In terms of food, moors eat a lot of pellet and flake foods but should be fed with live insects every once in a while to balance the diet. They also eat algae, aquatic plants, and insect larvae that are present inside the pond.

9. Common Pleco

Common Pleco

Plecos are black dotted fish that are native to streams and shallow ponds in South America.

This means that they can live on lowly oxygenated ponds and thus, are very easy to take care of since you won’t need air pumps, fountains or waterfalls in your water garden.

However, for each pleco, you will need a minimum of about 55 gallons of water because they can grow to up to 24 inches in length. This water needs to be maintained at a temperature of about 72-86°F, which is the room temperature in most tropical areas.

Read More: The Best Aquarium Thermometer

When it comes to food, plecos are omnivorous and feed on plants, algae, insects, and small crustaceans in the wild. In the pond, you can feed them with flakes or algae wafers as well as frozen foods such as bloodworms.

10. Guppies


Guppies are quite easy to take care of. They get on well with other types of fish and require fresh, tropical waters (78 - 82°F) in order to survive.

In terms of feeding, these fish are known to eat mosquito larvae, which is very beneficial. However, the adults can also eat their young ones and thus, you should fill the pond with plants so that the babies can find spots to hide.

Most guppies can live for up to 3 years and have a maximum length of 1.4 inches for males and 2.4 inches for females.

With a small size and being easy to maintain, these fish are one of the best backyard pond fish. They don’t need a big tank yet they can help reduce the mosquito population around your home.

Tips for Stocking Fish

1. Balance the fish

This basically means that you should balance between prey and predator fish. A good ratio should be about 3 prey fish to 1 predator fish. This will give the predator enough food while also giving the prey a chance to reproduce and grow.

Another important thing about this balancing act is that it will help keep the fish population in check. Minnows can be good prey fish while predators such as bass keep them in check.

2. Best time to stock and number to keep

The best time to stock fish into your pond is during spring or fall when the temperatures support high oxygenation in the water.

For the numbers, this depends entirely on the volume or surface area of the pond that you have. Using land size in acres, the following table gives you a rough guide that you can use.

2-4 in. Sunfish

3-4 in. Yellow Perch

5-7 in. Bass


1/4 acre




8 lbs.

1/2 acre




16 lbs.

1 acre




32 lbs.

3. Acclimatize the fish

This can be simply done by placing the transportation bag in a shaded area of the pond for about 20 minutes so that the temperature of the water inside the bag can gradually increase or decrease to match that of the pond water. After this, pour out the fish into the pond.

4. Create a habitat for them underwater

Plants that grow underwater create a good habitat for the small fish to hide from predators while also providing a good environment for them to lay their eggs.

However, these might die and thus, it is recommended to install some artificial objects such as fish attractor trees and logs. These will not decompose at all, giving the small fish a huge chance to grow in number.

5. Maintain the pond

Maintenance is very important for keeping the fish healthy. Ensure that your pond water is always filtered and oxygenated, and you can include some beneficial bacteria to help get rid of some of the toxicity.

Every season, you should catch a few fish to check their weight, color, and size so as to know if everything is okay down there.


In conclusion, the best pond fish are just like other regular fish that you find in rivers, streams or still waters. As such, it is important to recreate their natural environment inside the pond.

This means that feeding, the water condition, and quantity of the fish should be carefully considered as you set up your fish pond and continuously monitored as you run it.


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