What Type of Fish Can Live in an Outdoor Pond?

Grilling while camping can be an amazing experience where you bond with your buddies over the thrill of the hunt. You may miss that feeling when you get home, so you’ve turned your backyard into your own little slice of wilderness.

Since you spend a lot of time in your backyard, then you may be considering some additional features to perk it up a bit. One thing you can do is put in an outdoor pond.

But no pond is complete without some beautiful fish. They’ll provide hours of entertainment, as well as a picturesque, moving background.

In this guide, we’ll give you some suggestions on which ones are ideal for an outdoor pond.

My Favourite Equipment For Small Outdoor Ponds

Outdoor Pond Requirements

So you’ve set up your backyard to look like the great outdoors. You’re cooking delicious foods with the best equipment over a campfire. You look over your shoulder, and there it is a breathtaking, natural-looking pond.

But just because it’s natural-looking doesn’t mean it can just be whatever dimensions you can shove in the corner of your yard. This pond needs to have the right capacity to ensure your fish don’t die in either the cold winter or the harsh summer.

When digging a hole in your yard for a pond, aim for a depth of at least 30 inches. The capacity should hold around 50 liters per 4-inch fish.

So if you don’t have an idea of which fish (and how many of each) you want, you’ll be restricted in choices if you dig your pond first. For this reason, you may want to weigh your options and then dig your pond based on that.

If you’re just starting out then consider reading this book about building your backyard pond.

Some Ideal Fish for Your Outdoor Pond

Now that you know the basics for your outdoor pond dimensions, let’s move onto some fish suggestions.


You may be familiar with goldfish, as you most likely kept one in a jar as a child. But did you know there’s a large variety of goldfish breeds? The most commonly kept one is the Comet breed, but there are so much more!

Here are some goldfish breeds you can consider for your outdoor pond:

  • Shubunkin: They look quite similar to comets, but have different coloring. They come with a body-color of dark blue, surrounded by splashes of red, brown, black, white, or dark blue.
  • Fantail: These are plumper than comets, but have a flashier tail, as their name suggests. You can find them in colors of black, orange, red, and white.
  • Oranda: This is actually a type of fantail. They have a noticeably bumpy head.
  • Lionhead: These are almost identical to the Oranda. However, they don’t have a back fin.
  • Ranchu: They’re easily mistaken for Lionheads. You can tell the difference by looking at their backs; Ranchus’ will drop sharply, while Lionheads’ will be straighter.
  • Bubble Eye: The Bubble Eye looks like a fantail but has large sacs near their eyes.
  • Pearlscale: This breed looks like the fantail but has pearly scales all over its body.
  • Black Moor: They look similar to fantails but are completely black. You’ll recognize them by their bulging eyes.
  • Ryukin: Another one that’s similar to the fantail. However, it has a sharp slope between its head and back fin.

If you choose to have goldfish in your outdoor pond, do not keep them with the generic Comets or koi, as they won’t get along. Do note that you can keep Comets and koi carp together though.

This is a great book to read if you want to keep Goldfish in your pond.


The minnow is a tiny hardy fish perfect for ponds both small and big. They fare well in ponds located in practically all climates, so you won’t have to worry about making adjustments for their survival.

These colorful little fish breed very easily, which means you can start off with a group of 20 (recommended) and soon end up with 100! Your pond will have glimmers of red and orange if you decide to choose minnows.


The sunfish is a medium-sized fish that can balance out a pond with minnows and koi. Their colors include blue, green, orange, and red. They grow to a maximum length of 17 inches, depending on the species.

On that note, there are 12 species of sunfish, which means you can select an interesting array of specimens for your outdoor pond. Since every breed has its own distinct markings and colorings, as does each individual fish, you’re sure to keep things interesting in your pond with a few sunfish.

Weather Loach

Weather loaches are also known as pond loaches. They’re a great addition to any outdoor pond since they’re very resilient to weather change.

These bottom-dwelling fish grow up to 12 inches long and eat practically anything. You can feed them vegetables and food pellets, or they can survive off the insects and algae in the pond.

Seeing as they’re social fish, you’ll want to keep them in small groups.

Koi Carp

Don’t want small fish in your pond? Or do you want some diversity in size? Then koi carp can be a fish to consider.

Koi are one of the most popular fish you’ll find in outdoor ponds. Each fish has its own unique coloring and patterns, which can create a stunning waterscape.

Since koi carp can grow up to a length of 36 inches and can live up to 30 years old, you need to ensure you have the proper space and dedication if you pick this fish.


If you’d like to naturally keep algae to a minimum in your outdoor pond, think about getting a pleco. The size of plecos depends on the breed; some grow up to only 4 inches long, while others grow to 24 inches.

Since they’re from a warm region (South America), you’ll need to keep them in a warm pond. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees for over 24 hours, you may have to relocate them indoors.

Pond Sturgeon

You should not purchase a pond sturgeon unless you have a humongous outdoor pond. These whoppers can grow over 23 feet long and weigh in at a few thousand pounds!

Not only do these king-sized fish need plenty of room, but they’re picky eaters as well. They need high-quality feed specifically made for them, which means it needs over 40% crude protein.

For most people, the pond sturgeon is but a pipe dream. But hey, you never know! Maybe someday, you’ll hit the jackpot and can create a pond sturgeon’s dream habitat.

Consider Some Native Fish

Depending on where you live, there will be native fish that are unique to your region. One simple way of filling up your outdoor pond with easy to care for fish is to go native.

Since they’re accustomed to living in that region and its environment, the fish won’t have a hard time adjusting to your pond at all. But since everybody of water has its own levels of pH, chemicals, and temperature, you still need to float them in their plastic bag before releasing them into your pond. That way, they can acclimate and not go through shock when they’re introduced to your pond.

Keep in mind that typically, native fish won’t get along with flashier fish, such as koi and goldfish. So you’ll have to choose between one or the other.

Fill Your Outdoor Pond With Plants

Aquatic plants are a vital part of your outdoor pond. Not only do they add to the aesthetics, but they also provide, shade, hiding spots, and nutrients for your fish.

The two best ones to choose are water lettuce and water lilies. You’ll also want to pick up some native species of aquatic plants, especially if you’re planning on filling your pond with native fish.

When you’re purchasing your fish, it’s best to ask the sellers for their opinions on what plants you should buy. They’ll have the expert knowledge to make good suggestions.

If you want to learn more about pond plants in your spare time in either your backyard or campground, a good book to pick up would be “The Hobbyist’s Guide to Pond Plants.” Not only does it give you great recommendations, but the book also teaches you how to plant and care for these plants.

Fill Your Outdoor Pond With Beautiful Fish

With all these wonderful suggestions of fish for an outdoor pond, now you have a few choices to consider. Whether it’s the small minnow or the gigantic koi carp, you’re sure to pick some fish that’ll add vibrancy and life to your outdoor pond.

The next time your friends and family come over for a barbecue, they’ll be fascinated with your new additions!

Want more features in your backyard? How about a fire pit? Read this article to find out how to build a DIY fire pit in your backyard!

What fish can survive winter in a pond?

A few fish that can survive a winter would be Koi and Goldfish. Just be sure to feed your pond fish a high-fat diet before winter arrives so they have enough energy to last a few months.

That said, you will still require some form of heat source within the pond and a de-icer to ensure that there is a breathing hole where the pond and fish can access oxygen.

Do all types of fish live in Pond Why?

For the most part, almost any type of fish can live in a pond as long as you provide the right requirements the fish would require, such as heat, food, and shelter.

However, keep in mind that not all fish can live through winter if you live in a climate where your pond might freeze or experience below 0 temperatures.

Can aquarium fish survive in a pond?

Aquarium fish can survive in a pond provided you can meet the requirements they need to live.

However, you’ll do best with hardy species of fish.

As mentioned before, be cautious if there is a chance your pond can freeze, as most aquarium fish will not survive a winter.

Related: Always use a good quality liner when starting a pond. Check out our Top 5 Best Pond Liners to be sure your pond won’t leak.

Further Reading

Jack Dempsey