Fish for your pond

In this article, we are going to talk a little about different types of fish that you can keep in your pond. We will start by talking about common alternatives such as Koi Carp and goldfish but we are also going to talk about some less common alternatives.

Please note that not all of these options might be suitable for your pond. The size of your pond, how it is designed and the climate where you live will affect which types of fish that are suitable for your pond. Please research any species further before choosing to keep it in your pond. This article is only a quick overview of species that are commonly (or less commonly) kept in ponds.

Please note that goldfish and koi never should be kept together. They have different temperaments and will often end up bullying each other. You will often end up with only one species in the end. Chose to keep either Koi or Goldfish. Never bought.


Goldfish with long fins are not suitable for ponds.

The goldfish is created in captivity. The same species do exist in the wild but the wild fish looks nothing like the fish we keep in ponds and aquariums. The fish we keep have been line bred in captivity for a very long time. Not all goldfish are the color gold. There are despite the name white, red and black goldfish. There are also fish that feature a combination of these colors. Wild goldfish is brown.

There are many different types of goldfish. Some of them look similar to their native brethren while other looks nothing like the wild species. The fish that looks nothing like the wild fish are often called fancy goldfish. Example of fancy goldfish includes veil tails, oranda, black moor, golf ball goldfish and many other types. Fancy goldfish are not suitable to be kept in garden ponds. They are more sensitive than other types of goldfish and they swim a lot slower the regular goldfish. This makes them easy prey for fish and other animals that eat fish when they slowly swim just below the surface shining in the sun. You will need to put a net over your pond if you want to keep your fancy goldfish from getting eaten. Putting a net over your garden pond makes it a lot less attractive.

A better option is to buy more robust fast swimming type of goldfish like the regular goldfish or comet goldfish. (or chose koi instead)These fish are a lot more able to avoid predators. Regular goldfish will grow to 12-16 inches in length and can live for 75 years or more if you take good care of them.

Goldfish can accept colder waters as long as they have access to oxygen and as long as the pond doesn’t freeze to the bottom.

Koi fish

koiKoi fish are very beautiful and come in a wide variety of different patterns. They can grow very large. More than 2 ft. They can grow very old. The oldest recorded koi was 226 years old when it died but 50 years is a more common lifespan.

You can buy cheap pet store koi and get really nice fish that looks very good. You can also choose to buy high-quality koi. These fish are a lot better looking than the pet store koi but most people will be happy with their pet store koi. High-quality koi can cost anything from a few hundred to several hundred thousand USD. It all depends on the traits the fish displays and whether it has the potential to become a champion or not. (Or if it already won titles). Most high-quality koi are bred in Japan and many collectors chose to keep their fish in Japan to grow out for several years after they bought them. It is believed that the crystal clear water in the mountains of Japan produces the highest quality of koi. Only one koi in a million will be of show quality. This is true even if the parents are champions. Champion parents will produce a higher percentage quality koi.

I recommend that you buy cheap pet store koi and then if you like them you can start to learn more about them and slowly start buying more expensive high-quality fish.

Koi do good in cold well-oxygenated water. They are cold hardy but need to be brought in if you live in a very cold area.


Tilapia is a common food fish that more and more people chose to keep in their garden ponds. It easy to grow your own tilapia fish and to be able to harvest your own food from the pond. Tilapia can be produced in rather small ponds. You can reach more about keeping tilapia in ponds in my article here.

Other cichlids

There are many types of cichlids that can look good in a pond. The cichlids can be in your pond all year round if you live in a tropical or subtropical climate. If you live in a colder area then you might have to keep them in an aquarium for most of the year. Cichlids with a metallic blue back will lock fantastic in a pond. So will cichlids with a solid yellow body such as Midas cichlids or Cintronellum cichlids.

Most people are best off keeping koi or goldfish in their ponds but cichlids is a good option if you are a cichlid lover.

Examples of blue backed cichlids in pond.  Video from Fairchild Gardens in Miami.

Predatory ponds

A growing trend, especially in areas with warm winters is to keep large predatory fish in  the garden ponds. This can include species such as channel catfish, red tailed catfish, Arowana, different types of gars etc. These ponds can be absolutely fascinating and is a lot of fun if you like this type of fish. Most people are however likely to find these fish to be dull as they often have rather drabb colors and have evolved to stay undetected in the water. You will often need to look for them to see them. Something you never have to do with goldfish or koi.

golden garThese large fish often have large personalities and some species can come to greet you like a dog expecting a treat. Red-tailed catfish is an example of a fish that often will greet you at the surface to play or to get food,

There are stunning morphs of many of these species like the golden or platinum gar. These morphs are very visible in the water and can compete with goldfish and koi in regards to their appearance. These morphs are however very expensive and can often set you back several thousand. Only buy them if you know how to care for them and if you have a secure garden. Theft of these expensive fish is a growing problem.

Blue crayfish

electric blue caryfishThe blue crayfish is a crustacean, not a fish, but they can still be stunning to keep in a pond. Their electric blue color makes them very easy to see. They are cheap to buy and easy to care for (and breed) If you chose to keep crayfish then you will not be able to keep any plants in the pond as everything will get eaten. Make sure that they do not escape. They can do a lot of damage in the wild.


It is possible to keep and cultivate crawfish in a garden pond. This will allow you to harvest crayfish to eat several times a year. They spawn very willingly and will keep growing and multiplying as long as you keep the water clean and keep giving them food. This can be a great way to benefit from your pond as you are growing food in it. Crayfish will eat any plats you but in the pond and you can not keep any plants if you want to keep crawfish.

Make sure that the pond has a lot of stones and caves if you want to grow crawfish.