Building a pond in your garden or backyard is a wonderful idea, especially if you plan to put some beautiful aquatic plants in it. But do you know what will make your pond even better? Adding some fish, of course! Fish will make your little garden lake much more interesting, plus watching them grow will be a fun experience for you and your family. Some species, such as Koi can even be hand fed, which is great fun for kids (and grown-ups alike). So let’s discover which is the best pond fish for you.

You shouldn’t just put any fish into your pond, of course. You have to think about different factors, such as the climate, for instance. In tropical regions, you can choose from many different types of fish. But if you live in a temperate area, you need to choose fish that are hardy and can survive during the winter months.

Other important factors include

  • the size of your water feature,
  • the amount of time you are willing to spend taking care of your animals,
  • whether you prefer a more natural pond or rather some kind of water feature which showcases the fish, such as a koi pond,
  • whether you intend to keep other animals in your pond, such as another fish species, frogs, turtles or amphibians.

And so, this article presents the best pond fish types, regardless of whether you live in a tropical or temperate area.

The Five Best Fish for Ponds

As said earlier, the following fish can be used in either tropical or temperate areas. The main difference between them would be the size of the pond needed. Naturally, a small or medium-sized pond is good enough for small fish. But bigger fish will need more room, so they can move freely. Depending on whether they are shoal fish or not, they might also like some room for themselves. A bit of privacy so to speak. Also keep in mind that your fish might reproduce. So a water feature big enough for the number of fish you put in at the start could become over-crowded once the fish reproduce and the numbers go up.


We all know that goldfish are great for aquariums, but did you know that they can be grown in ponds, too? They are easy to take care of, plus they can grow to bigger sizes when not confined in a small fishbowl. In fact, when given the right conditions, goldfish can grow up to 12 inches or even 18 inches (30 – 45 cm) long!

If you are planning to grow goldfish, you will need to build a bigger pond where they can grow and swim in easily. The general rule is to set aside 50 gallons of water (190 liter) for every goldfish. Consequently, if you want to make sure that they have enough space for swimming, then your pond should be able to hold at least 250 gallons (950 liter) of water.

During the cold winter months, goldfish are able to survive even if the pond freezes over. This is possible if the pond is at least five feet (1.5 m) deep, which is just enough for oxygenation and aeration to take place.


Without a doubt, the koi is perhaps the most in-demand fish for large-sized ponds. They are known for their stunning colors and amazing patterns as well as their size. Adult koi can grow up to two feet in length, with some even reaching a length of three feet!

If you want to grow koi, you will need to prepare a pond that can hold at least 1000 gallons (4,500 liter) of water to accommodate their large size. Notably, the general rule is to provide 300 gallons (1,300 liter) of water for each koi. This way, your pond will not be too crowded once the koi reach their adult size.

Just like the other types of fish mentioned, the koi can survive during the winter, provided that the pond is at least four feet deep. With this depth, you can make sure that the pond doesn’t freeze over completely, and your fish will survive.

Rosy Red Minnows

If you have a small or medium-sized pond, the rosy red minnows are a good choice. They are bright, colorful, and will make an attractive addition to your pond. To grow them, you need to build a pond that can hold at least 20 gallons of water.

Another great thing about rosy red minnows is that they are not difficult to take care of and they can survive during the cold winter months. Furthermore, they can reproduce and multiply easily even in small ponds. Just make sure that you keep their population in check, though.

Mosquito Fish

As the name suggests, mosquito fish can be used in controlling mosquitoes in ponds. But aside from this purpose, they also make an attractive addition to your pond. The male mosquito fish, in particular, turns bright red during the mating season.

Moreover, like the rosy red minnows, mosquito fish can survive during the winter. They are also known for being able to thrive even during the hot summer months and when there is a low level of oxygen in the water.

What’s more, you do not need a big-sized pond to grow mosquito fish, as they need only around 20 gallons (75 liter) of water. Although they can multiply quickly, you do not have to worry about overpopulation. There is usually a demand for their ability to control mosquitoes, so you can easily give them away to other pond owners.


The sunfish would also make an attractive addition to your pond. They are bright, colorful, and can adapt during the cold winter months as well. Unlike other types of fish, the sunfish like to swim near the water surface and do not usually hide behind rocks or plants.

Since sunfish can multiply very quickly and can overpopulate a pond, you may need to include a predator fish to keep your sunfish population under control. The largemouth bass, in particular, can be used for this purpose (but you would need a large pond for bass). If you don’t manage their numbers, sunfish would only end up dominating your pond and fight over food, resulting in malnutrition or stunted growth.

The most popular types of sunfish are the redear, pumpkinseed, and bluegill sunfish. For best results, however, choose a species of sunfish that is native to your place. This species will be the most suitable and capable of adapting to your particular area. If you choose the wrong species, you might end up dealing with a lot of dead fish, and nobody wants that!

Which is the best Pond Fish for you?

While this article recommends the five best pond fish, choosing your fish is still up to you. Just remember to consider your local weather so that you can select a species that is best suitable to your area. Likewise, make sure that you choose a fish that can grow, multiply, and thrive within the size of your pond. After all, ponds are like mini-ecosystems; they need enough water, light, and oxygen for the plants and fish to survive.