What you need to know

9 Fish for an Outdoor Pond

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: October 21, 2020
9 Fish for an Outdoor Pond

Do you have an outdoor pond? Adding fish is a great way to liven up your outdoor pond. In this AnimalWised article we're going to tell you the top 9 outdoor pond fish.

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  1. Minimum dimensions for an outdoor pond
  2. What are the hardiest fish for ponds?
  3. Other hardy fish
  4. Other interesting fish for outdoor ponds
  5. Small fish to form shoals

Minimum dimensions for an outdoor pond

In order to be efficient, outdoor ponds should have minimum dimensions and cubic capacities. Depth is the most important measure because, with it being outside, it should be able to endure cold winters and midsummer heat without the fish dying as a result.

The ideal depth is at least 80 cm (30 inches). This will allow the fish to withstand frost and extreme heat. The ideal cubic capacity is one 10 cm (4-inch) fish for every 50 litres of water. Therefore, as the fish grow you will need to take some out of the pond or add more water.

It will also be very important for you to incorporate aquatic plants to provide shade and micro-nutrients. The best ones are water lilies and water lettuce.

What are the hardiest fish for ponds?

If you want to successfully carry out an outdoor pond, you'll need to choose its inhabitants well. Two species are guaranteed to be successful, and they can also live for over 25 years. They are from the Cyprinidae family.

  • Koi are highly hybridized carps. They come in an extraordinary range of colors. The prices can also vary a lot.
  • Crucian carps - from the Carassius genus - are also very hybridized and come in a wide range of shapes and colors. They include the classic goldfish (Carassius auratus).

In the picture you can see different colored Koi fish:

9 Fish for an Outdoor Pond - What are the hardiest fish for ponds?

Other hardy fish

There are two more cyprinid species; while not as long-lasting as koi or Carassius, they are also fairly sturdy and a great choice for an outdoor pond.

  • The gold or Chinese barb, also known as Barbus semifasciolatus, is a small cyprinid (5-7 cm or 2-3 inches long) that is fairly resistant and can live for around 7 years. They can't withstand low temperatures as well as the koi or Carassius.
  • The ide, or orfe, also known as Leuciscus idus, is a large cyprinid fish that can exceed 70 cm (27 inches) in length. This fish comes from Finnish freshwater and the Baltic.

In the image you can see the gold barb:

9 Fish for an Outdoor Pond - Other hardy fish

Other interesting fish for outdoor ponds

There are some species of freshwater fish which, for various reasons, are convenient to have in outdoor ponds. One great example is:

  • Peppered corydoras (Corydoras paleatus), is a very necessary catfish due to the fact that it eats pond debris. This cleaning function is essential in any aquarium or pond.
9 Fish for an Outdoor Pond - Other interesting fish for outdoor ponds

Small fish to form shoals

Instead of filling an outside pond with fish that are bound to grow considerably, it's advisable to fill it with small fish that form colorful shoals.

  • The red shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis) is a species that comes from the United States. Owing to its small size (9 cm - 3.5 inches), outdoor ponds can be populated with small and colorful shoals.
  • Onesided livebearers (Jenynsia) are perfect to form shoals. There are several varieties of these; female onesided livebearers (12 cm - 4.7 inches) are three times the length of the males (4 cm - 1.5 inches). They are also viviparous, hence their name.
  • The flagfish (Jordanella floridae) is a beautiful species that comes from Florida. Males can measure 6 cm (2.3 inches) in length.
  • Japanese rice fish, also known as Oryzias latipes, are very small fish (3 cm or 1.2 inches long) that easily reproduce in ponds. Fluorescent species have been achieved through genetic engineering.

In the picture you can see the Japanese rice fish:

9 Fish for an Outdoor Pond - Small fish to form shoals

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What did you think of this article?
Have a natural pond that is 1/3 acre. It has strained water flowing in & out. What is the type of fish you recommend. I live in western Washington State.
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Kathryn,

Do any in the article take your fancy? Koi can be expensive, but also very rewarding and we imagine they are fairly easy to find in Washington State.
Will Koi fish survive pond Las Vegas, it get very hot here?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Peggy,

Yes, you can have koi in a pond in a hot region, you just need to be very careful when maintaining the water quality. Also, don't overcrowd the pond. More heat can cause less oxygen in the water, so too many fish can be dangerous (although this is also the case in colder climates).
Kieron Mackrill
Can you put snails or shrimps in an outdoor pond? Also plecs?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Kieron,

It will depend on the species of shrimp or snail. You will have to see if they are compatible with the wildlife and vegetation you have created in your pond. It is also important to ensure you don't introduce any which might be seen as invasive. However, in theory, there should be no problem having snails or shrimp in your outdoor pond.
Mark Yang
How much 9 koi Fish for an Outdoor Pond
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Mark,

It really depends on different factors, but the main one is the size of your pond. Koi are large fish which need a lot of space. The most conservative estimates are that you should have 1 koi to 250 gallons of water. However, also important is the sex and age of the fish. As koi grow, their weight increases drastically and not as you may expect. While a fish may double its length, its weight can multiply by 10! Also, female koi grow to be much larger than males, so this is something you need to factor in.

What koi need is a lot of space, but also quality clean water with a proper filtration system.
Melina Nelson
All the fish are beautiful. Be careful to choose a product for pond and prefer eco-friendly like Pondpro2000 it will keep your fish and pond safe and live. more about pondpro2000: https://pondsealer.wordpress.com/
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9 Fish for an Outdoor Pond