How to Design a Fishpond

Fish bring a pond to life, complementing the planting with color and movement. Here's how to create the optimum environment for them.
Pond Fish

Pond Fish

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

When to Plant: Mid- to late spring
At Its Best: Early summer to early fall
Time to Complete: 1 day

Materials Needed:

  • aquatic soil
  • aquatic planting baskets
  • lobelia 'Hadspen Purple'
  • pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata)
  • golden club (Orontium aquaticum)
  • water lily (Nymphaea) 'Albida'
  • reed sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima) var. variegata
  • arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
  • variegated hosta

Size Matters

Make sure that your pond has a water surface area of 3 square feet for each small fish you plan to keep, and a depth of at least 30 inches, which will provide an ice-free place for them in winter.

Choose Plants

Include mixed plantings in your pond to create a beautiful and healthy environment for both fish and plants. Choose water lilies to partially cover the surface, and leafy marginals that sit just below the water at the pond edges. Also add some oxygenators, which help keep the water clear. Together, these regulate the water temperature on hot days and their roots take up fish waste matter, helping maintain the biological balance. In addition to those featured in this pond, try the tough plants opposite in your pool.

Plant Your Pond

Fish root around plants for food, and dig them up if they aren't planted carefully. Plant in aquatic baskets and cover the soil surface with small pebbles to keep the fish at bay. Water lilies and other floating foliage plants are essential, providing the fish with shade and hiding them from predators, such as herons.

Introduce Fish

Fish are sensitive to changes in temperature, so acclimatize them to their new pond. Float the bag in which you bought them on the water and open the top to allow more air inside. After about 20 minutes, gently release the fish into the pond. Don't worry if fish hide for a few days, they will soon appear when they have adjusted to their new home.

Acclimate Fish to Pond Temperature

Acclimate Fish to Pond Temperature

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Fish-Friendly Planting

The best fish for small ponds are common goldfish and shubunkins, while koi require larger pools and special filters. All fish feed on pond plants, so choose tough types that will regenerate easily when munched.

Spring-flowering marsh marigold (Image 1); sweet flag 'Argenteostriatus' (Image 2); flowering rush(Image 3); Japanese iris (Image 4)

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