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Determining how to stock a pond is a critical step in enjoying a well balanced and easy to care for pond.


The easiest way to avoid problems with a pond is to take into consideration the number and types of fish and plants.
This cannot be overemphasized. Follow this advice and you can save yourself from costly and time consuming cleanup, prevent fish disease, and make pond keeping an overall fun and enjoyable experience.


The most common mistake is to overestimate the volume of a pond and overload it with fish. The best way to estimate the volume of a pond is to multiply the average length by the average width by the average depth. For example, if your pond is two and a half feet deep, chances are that the average depth is about a foot or so. A good rule of thumb for goldfish is one inch or less of fish for each ten gallons of water. If your pond is less than two feet deep or less that eight hundred (800) gallons, do not add koi. They will not thrive and be healthy. Even in larger ponds, you need to be prudent about adding koi. It is strongly recommended that you research koi if you are interested in this type of pond.


Plants are the natural cleaning system of a pond. It is very difficult to overstock a pond with plants. Try to maintain a cover of sixty to seventy percent (60% - 70%) plant material on the surface of the pond. If you find that many plants distracting, substitute with large amounts of submerged or oxygenating plants, such as anacharis and hornwort. The recommended stocking level for these is one per square foot of surface area.


Snails are nice to have in a pond because they keep the walls cleaner and eat the finer debris in the bottom. They are not the miracle cure for green water. They produce waste as well as consume it. The rule of thumb for stocking snails is one per square foot of surface area.

Tadpoles, Clams

Introduce at your discretion, remembering the old adage, 'everything in moderation'.

Not for Ponds

Crayfish eat fish, turtles eat fish, dogs wreck things, seashells alter water quality and native fish like bluegills, catfish and sunfish eat goldfish.

A Word About Quality

Buy your fish and plants from a reputable local source. Always check the fish over thoroughly before buying them. If possible, quarantine all new fish in an aquarium of some kind for a few weeks. Imported fish, even from a good supplier, often have parasites that you can't see. A healthy fish has bright, clear eyes, upright, damage-free fins, good weight, a clean body with no missing scales, redness or things hanging off, a quick and straight swimming habit and a smooth spine with no curves.


Swimming fish

Backyard Ponds is a full service water garden and pond company.

If you are close to Washington, D.C., we may be able to provide Plants and fish. Check out PondMart™ or contact us for assistance.

PondMart - Your online source for Pond Suplies

Helpful items for stocking a pond can be purchased at our online store, PondMart™:

Start-Up Kit


Hardy Lilies
Tropical Lilies
Water Iris

Fertilizer & Planters



Please be advised that we provide this advice as a reference only. Every pond is different, and may present different problems and solutions, so take care to research and thoroughly think out any situations before you take any actions.

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