Best Fish for Ponds

You’ve been working hard to get that beautiful backyard pond ready and it’s just about there! Now that your ponds work is almost complete, it’s time to think about getting some fish for the pond. But wait, before you do, you should think about getting the best top rated pond fishes so you know that they will thrive in the environment into which they are placed.

Some fish are not really meant to live their life in a pond and other fish live their best lives in backyard ponds. The key is to find fish like the koi fish that do really well in water garden and outdoor ponds. There are many other options from the fish population that can also survive in outdoor ponds as well.

In this guide, we will take you through a table of contents of the best water fish to find you the top rated fishes for ponds and give you plenty of pond fish review options to choose from. No matter what your pond looks like, these fish for ponds reviews are designed to give you options for the perfect pond fish!

Let’s take a look.

Top Rated Fish for Ponds Review

In this section, we will take you through some of top rated pond fish anomalies, complete with all of the details you need to know. These pond fish reviews provide a means for you to make an educated decision specifically related to your preferences and your pond.


koi fish

Koi fish come from the fish species of carps and they are great fish for a pond. These are perhaps some of the most popular fish for ponds. They will do quite well in an outdoor pond. As far as looks and color go, koi look a little bit like fancy goldfish. Koi also do well with a variety of pond plants.

Koi have unique shapes and colors, compared to their coy counterpart. Some can be small fish, while others grow to a pretty large size. For koi, your pond will need to have at least 1,000 gallons of water. These will slightly larger ponds.

Another thing you will need to keep in mind is to have a good filter system as well as optimal aeration. Your koi need room to swim and move around for their own health. The water quality is important, which is where filtration and aeration come into play.

Koi carp can handle the wintertime if you take the appropriate precautions for an air pump. You might also want a floating heater to help keep them warm. This is mostly to maintain water temperature so it doesn’t turn to ice and to bring oxygen into the water when it is cold.

Koi carp is a pond fish species that tend to forage the bottom of the pond for fish food. They do well in outdoor ponds that have aquatic pond plants. A garden pond with hyacinths and water lettuce might even be a great option.

Koi can even thrive in outdoor ponds that have earth bottoms. They stay safe from predators by hanging out at the bottom of the water pond and they love plants so they don’t spend a lot of time at the pond surface.

The koi carp has beautiful colors that tend to stand out in the wild. Predators may be drawn to their colors but this is where plants may be a means of protection. A large pond that gives them plenty of room to graze the bottom and swim around will be way more safe in the long run for a koi carp fish.

You should also plan to feed your koi fish food in addition to letting them thrive on their choice of plants to provide a means for their health to sustain.


Goldfish underwater

The goldfish is another really great pond fish. These fish live in pond water and require little maintenance. They can hang with pond plants or explore your water garden and they might even help with mosquito larvae issues from the pond.

You can choose from small fish or fancy goldfish but these swimmers can get pretty large, particularly the males. Koi and goldfish are the two most popular wildlife that is used for ponds. They survive in many different regions. The common goldfish is originally from North America but it has found its way to all parts of the world and lived to tell the tale.

The goldfish is another species of carp so they adjust well to pond water and have a lot of similar characteristics of both koi and goldfish. You might have heard of goldfish like the Sarasa fish and the Comet Tail. These are two popular selections of common goldfish that are sometimes considered fancy goldfish.

Related Review: Comet Goldfish Care Guide

Goldfish swim slowly but they do need areas to swim. Their bright colors might make them easy prey if you are not careful. Goldfish do come in many different shapes and colors. Fancy goldfish, in particular, have beautiful patterns that stand out against any pond fish species out there.

Many of us only really know the common but the fancy goldfish is just as great and they all can thrive in an outdoor pond or water garden. Goldfish do tend to be smaller, which means they don’t need as many gallons of water as koi and they can live in love ponds, garden ponds, and other smaller pond choices.

Goldfish are known for gliding through the pond. We don’t recommend keeping goldfish in a waterfall pond as the water movement isn’t great for some fancy goldfish. You also may want to be mindful not to mix different types of goldfish in the pond because creative commons tells us that some of the styles cannot compete against others for food.

The water temperatures do not have to be maintained but you also don’t want your pond to freeze over in the winter. Keeping knowledge like this in mind will help with spring care and all other environments for goldfish.

We think you’ll like: Low Maintenance Fish for Beginners

Farm Equipment Fish

Crappie being released back to the lake by a fisherman

Another popular type of pond is a standard farm pond. In these ponds, you’re going to see less worry about air stone or water temperature and simply want a suitable fish designed to provide weed control winter care and basic life inside the spread pond.

The purpose here is to avoid maintenance disease that eats up your costs for a pond but you might also be looking for mosquito fish to help keep the insect larvae and mosquito larvae at bay. Qualifying purchases for the farm are fish that are not really meant for looks.

Here are a few of the most popular farm fish varieties.

These pond fish are common fish that people catch when they head out to the water. Unlike goldfish varieties, they are meant to perform without a lot of requirements. You might even see catfish out there on the farm pond.

So what is the purpose of this breed and habitat? In some cases, the wildlife are used for gaming purposes. They might be used for fishing or for fun or even for bait when they go out to high depth waters. These cases are not for fountains and fancies but they can be good for a farm pond and you can fish a couple if you want to.

The thing to keep in mind if you decide to browse and fill a farm pond is that at times these fish can be aggressive and territorials. They are looking for foods to sustain themselves and their group and they may not be friendly to intruders in close proximity.

Most farmers are well aware of this propensity and won’t just whatever fish they find in there. A little bit of research tells us that mixing fish could lead to fish against fish. However, all of these fish do well to help maintain the character of the pond, from reducing vegetables to even providing essential minerals for the rocks and logs in the area.

In a farm pond, warmth and water temperatures are not a point of heavy importance for the numbers. They are made for all weather environments. You will find that these animals can survive life outside of an aquarium just fine. Reproduction typically takes care of itself so you don’t have to refill the pond too frequently.

Often times, these fish are used to maintain the overall appearance of a farm pond in the field so that the farmers don’t have to spend their time dealing with the growth in the pond and can just leave it anywhere with the fish in charge for minimum maintenance purposes.

Most of these fish will take care of themselves. They will be feeding on local plant life and their scales and tails will be just fine without any problem, even in different climate options.

Algae Eaters

Siamese algae eater in planted aquarium

Algae eaters are another of the best fish that you can put into ponds. These algae eating machines are designed to provide clean pond environments with less cleaning and maintenance on your behalf. Their work is to keep algae at bay much like red shiners are mosquito fish that keep mosquitos at bay.

While we’re on the topic, red shiners are a great mosquito fish so if you are in a climate where this could be an issue, we recommend looking into adding a few of these to your pond.

The algae eater is also commonly referred to as a Gobi. These fish are neutral colors that blend with rocks and pond water so they are not openly visible to the predator’s eye. They help you with pond maintenance and you have to do very little to keep them healthy and alive.

Some of these fish can grow up to 6 inches in length. Their growth primarily depends on their environment so if they are in a small pond, they will not grow quite as large. These do help with algae but their primary diet is to eat things like worms, insects, and snails. This fish heralds from South America but thrives in any temperature and climate as well. Their size can vary based on the conditions.

You will find that these categories have a broad diet and can live in part on insects. They blend in so their navigation is simple in addition to their range of food needs. Their home coloration is really like camouflage for them.

Insects, mosquitoes, and other pests can’t bring these fish down! You will need to keep in mind that while the algae eater helps with maintenance, you still need a good filter. They work best in a school of 6 or more. You will also need to plan to have more gallons of water as they like to stay fairly deep.

Related Review: Siamese Algae Eater

Choosing The Best Types of Fish for Your Pond

As you set out to choose some fish, you might want to have your email address handy for the pond informer sites. You can get some great information and resources with comment name details. Our pond informer style is to make sure you have all of the relevant information to choose the best variety of species of fish to coordinate with your plants, temperature, pond size, and more.

Fish Species to Exercise Caution With

There are two specific species in the variety of fish choices that you may want to take care of when using. While one or two different types might be ok there are some varieties that you won’t want to have more than 1 type in there with. You can have 10 or 15 of the same kind but must be careful about others.


Phractocephalus hemioliopterus fish commonly known as redtail catfish

The first one to be aware of is catfish. These fish can handle any water and just about any temperature. They forage for their own food and they can hang out with 50 other catfish and grow to some pretty hefty size measurements. Predators are not likely to be a participant in eating your catfish.

The catfish can get pretty wild, which is important to know in the navigation of choice. The catfish is a willing participant and might makes friends with the other 15 fish you have but they also have a short temper. They certainly don’t make good pets.

Catfish can be wild bullies that like to start fights and if you have a range of other 2, 5, or 10 fish they might not be able to defend themselves against the size range and sheer force of a catfish. We recommend that you be selective about what you place in a pond in addition to catfish to avoid one issue such as this in 2021.

Catfish are very strong and can go from 1 to 100 on that scale in no time. They have the strength to eat smaller ones or even bite bodies in half of some kinds of categories out there.


sturgeon fish

The sturgeon is another fish that you should use caution within aquariums and ponds. These fish prefer not to be in groups and like to do their own thing. They can thrive in many areas and really display beauty but they can get very large.

It can be hard to work with sturgeon because they are picky about their temperatures. These fish need cold water and a good amount of it. They aren’t a fan of the sun making their water hot. They do like shade and cold water and the sturgeon may not even try to thrive in any other setting.

Fish Groups to Avoid for Outdoors

Next, there are some fish to discuss in this article that you may want to avoid using in posts. While their beauty might draw you in, you must be careful.

Some of these do amazing on the inside or in regulated spaces but don’t do as well outdoors.


Hypostomus Plecostomus

These little things feast on parasites and algae and you would think you can just toss them in like minnows but you can’t. They need heat. If you do place them outdoors, be sure you have heat in the pond.

You might be better off using minnows if your goal is to regulate insects and such.

Tropical Fish

collection of tropical fish

You shouldn’t ever place the tropical variety in an outdoor pond unless you are in a tropical environment. While they look nice to us, they also look nice to predators. At the same time, they also need a lot of warmth which can be challenging to keep up with.



Filling up the pond with plants and fish is a given. Your goal may be to have a range of one or two that just look really great or it may be to help maintain the plants in the area. Whatever your reasoning, be sure you choose an option suitable to your needs and nature or landscape region into which they are being placed.

Expert Tip

The best type of fish for a small pond in 2021 is the goldfish, particularly a fancy goldfish. You can also try algae eater, shubunkins, and even a minnow or 2.

Did You Know?

Shubunkins are spotted and colorful goldfish that are strong and sturdy. Shubunkins have a pretty calico print on their bodies and fins that sets them apart in name and visibility.

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