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Fish for Backyard Pond

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
What kind of fish do well in backyard ponds? We have a pond with a fountain in our backyard, and I want to get some fish, or something similar to put in it. I would like a few medium-large colorful fish that stand out against black. They need to be able to stand cold weather. We live in the south, but we do get the occasional freeze. The pond never freezes over, but it does get cold. It stays cool in the summer. I'm not sure how many gallons it is, but it's at least 100. If not fish, then maybe algae eaters or ghost shrimp? We've only had small goldfish in it before and they never made it more than a couple of months so I wanted to try something new. Anyone have success with keeping fish in their outside ponds?
Edited by Serenity06 - 9/22/15 at 9:56pm
post #2 of 26
If you can't keep goldfish alive in there for more than a few months something is wrong... Do you have a proper filtration system installed? Also what are the summer water temp highs?

Generally the biggest problem with small ponds (100 gallons is small) is that they get too warm during the summer months for fish to realistically survive... If the water gets over about 85°F it will likely kill of most fish you see in ponds, you generally want the water to stay bellow 75°F... Koi and Goldfish can survive freezing temps as long as the water is kept liquid and the surface doesn't ice over trapping toxic gasses... They simply fall into a deep hibernation until the water warms up again, they can easily last an entire winter even up north with no food...
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
The water doesn't get over 80 on the hottest days. My heated fish tank (around 76) is warmer than the water outside. The only filtration system is the fountain that came with it. Could that be the problem? I'll find out how many gallons it is. We kept a bass in it this summer until recently when we put him back in our large pond. He did fine, but he wasn't much to look at when you could spot him because he was so dark. What kind of filtration system would you recommend for it?
post #4 of 26
Yes, the filtration is likely the problem... Filtration amount will depend on bio load and other factors, you want to aim to have about a 4 time per hour water filtration rate, more is better... For a 100 gallon tank you could get away with a DIY 5 gallon bucket canister filter and appropriate sized pump or buy an already done commercial pond filtration unit...

The small fountain based pond filters might work as long as the bio load is low...

The only way to know if you truly have enough filtration for your bio load is to test the water for nitrates, nitrites and ammonia... Ammonia and nitrites should be 0 PPM and nitrates should be under 40 PPM...

Also check the PH and make sure it's in an acceptable range...
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your help. I'll get a test kit when I can, and look into the pond filtration units you mentioned. Maybe when I get everything figured out I'll get some Koi. Would Sarasa Comets do well? Could I keep them together, or would just one kind of fish work better?
post #6 of 26
Comets and Koi do fine together but at 100 gallons you don't have much space, a single Koi will need that much room as they mature... You can of course more densely populate when hey are smaller...
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Do you know how I can determine how many gallons it is? I definitely don't want them in a pond too small for them.
post #8 of 26

Just adding a yeah, at 100 gallons you'll want to stay away from the long bodied goldies and any koi. Could always consider fancy goldfish, 3 would do nicely in a pond once it is being filtered properly and would school together. They're very cute! Most anything else has to be moved inside when the weather gets cold, so you'd want to consider natives. I personally like "rosy reds," very pretty fat head minnows that add lots of movement to the pond and don't produce nearly the waste of goldfish. As long as the pond doesn't freeze they'd be fine all year! Also great mosquito larvae eaters, but can be eaten by dragonfly larvae.


If you went fishless, you could consider crawfish. Only mentioning this since you mention ghost shrimp. They need lots of hiding spaces, you can't put too many or else they'll kill each other all off for most species, and you won't see too much of them, but there are lots of color varieties through multiple species. My personal favorites are the dwarf crayfish, they get along better with one another than most and come in beautiful orange so you'd be able to see them. Just check to make sure the ones you're interested in can handle all the temps you think they would be put through first.


If you're down to bring fish indoors and can give them sufficient space during the winter, lots of tropical fish do excellently and breed lots if left in an outdoor pond. Favorites are mollies and guppies, they tend to breed profusely and don't make a habit of cannibalizing their own brood to the bone on numbers, so when fall comes around and you're catching them all you can select your favorite fish from the nets and sell the rest. Not a "get rich quick" kind of thing, but maybe enough to make back their food for winter.


If all else fails... it could make a lovely plant collection. I grow lots of fast growing stuff in our pond, hornwort and parrot's feather, java moss and duckweed. Great snacks for my poultry when I remove the excess!

Edited by Skink - 9/22/15 at 11:26pm
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
That's a good idea with the crawfish. I'll keep that in mind if I decide goldfish won't work. I might just end up growing plants. I never thought about it before. Thanks for the suggestions. smile.png
post #10 of 26
If it never works with fish.. A couple frogs are a great addition (at least for me tongue.png) or a pet turtle!
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