If you are planning to build a fish pond in your garden or backyard, then one of the most important things that you need to consider is the fish pond design. This includes the size, shape, type of plant, type of fish, accessories, and other things that you will put in the pond.

How you design your pond is entirely up to you. You can customize it based on your personal style and preference, which makes fish pond design a truly exciting activity! Before you get around to designing your very own pond, however, you need to know about the different types of ponds out there.

Types of Ponds

These days, there are three major types of ponds: plant ponds, water gardens, and koi ponds.

As the term suggests, plant ponds are designed solely for growing plants. These are usually built by gardeners who are keen on cultivating different kinds of plants. Typically, a plant pond can survive with just a little or no circulation. Likewise, a plant pond has little or no filtration at all.

Meanwhile, a water garden is designed for growing fish as well as plants. There is a variety of fish and plants that you can grow in them. A water garden is usually moderate in terms of its depth and size.

Koi ponds, on the other hand, are bigger and deeper than water gardens. They are specifically designed for growing koi; hence, they need a larger filtration system. Usually, koi ponds have little or no plants in them.

Even though there are three major types of ponds, some categories actually fall “in-between” or naturally develop into a different kind of pond. Those who have plant ponds, for instance, eventually become interested in turning these into water gardens. Similarly, a person with a water garden might eventually decide to enlarge his pond and grow koi in it.

Essential Tips for Fish Pond Design

Regardless of the kind of pond you plan to have, you need to consider the following essential matters first: size, depth, filtration system, ledges, types of plant and fish.

Size of the pond

This is perhaps the first and the most important question you need to ask when designing a pond: How big will it be? The bigger the pond, the better. If you ask pond owners about their biggest mistake in fish pond design, many will tell you that they wish they could have made their ponds bigger. The general rule is that for each small fish that you plan to grow, there should be a water surface area of 3 square feet per fish. There should also be a water depth of at least 30 inches, so that when winter comes there will still be an ice-free space that they can move in.

Depth of the pond

The depth of your pond will depend mainly on the type of fish that you plan to grow. Goldfish, for example, will need at least a 36-inch deep pond. In contrast, the larger koi will need a depth of at least 48 inches. In any case, your pond should be deep enough such that it will not freeze entirely during the winter or become too hot during the summer. Think about the depth of your pond carefully; the life of your fish will depend on it!

Filtration system

Similar to the depth, your pond’s filtration system will also depend on the size and number of fish that you plan to grow. The last thing that you want is a filtration system that is either too small for the pond or for the number of fish in it. If you want to maintain the quality of water and produce healthy, growing fish — be sure that the size of your filter is big enough for your pond. The bigger the filter, the better the water quality will be. What’s more, your fish will be happy and healthy!

Ledges or shelves

Although ledges or shelves are not the most important parts of a pond, they are still a big help in the arrangement of plants. The depth of each shelf should be based on the type of plant that you plan to place there. For plants that will be planted at the margin, for instance, set aside a shelf about 12 inches deep. Meanwhile, for submersible plants, make the shelf at least 24 inches deep. Furthermore, for large plant varieties, set aside a shelf about 36 inches deep.

Pond plants

For best results, be sure to include different kinds of plants in your pond. Oxygenating plants are useful for keeping the water clean and clear. Meanwhile, water lilies are great for protecting the water surface from the direct heat of the sun. In addition, submersible plants are also good for maintaining the quality and temperature of the pond. Together, all of these create a balanced ecosystem that is essential for the fish as well as the plants. What’s more, be sure to plant them carefully, as the fish might just dig them up while looking for food. Consider using aquatic baskets and putting tiny pebbles on the soil to prevent the fish from uprooting the plants.

Type of fish

As mentioned earlier, different types of fish require different pond sizes. If your pond is small or moderate in size, then you should consider growing goldfish or shubunkins. On the other hand, if you have a large-sized pond, then you could grow koi. Keep in mind to release the fish slowly and gently into the pond, as it will take time for them to get used to the water temperature. Instead of releasing them at once, let the bag in which they came in float atop the water for about 20 minutes. Then, release them gently into the pond. Do not be surprised if the fish hide in the water for the first few days; they are still getting used to their new home.

The Bottom Line

Whether you plan to have a small or large pond, to grow goldfish or koi — remember that the bottom line is to create a healthy and thriving ecosystem. Through careful planning of the size, depth, filtration, and other fish pond design requirements, you can create an amazing pond that anyone would be proud to have!