Creating an outdoor pond is one of the best ways to build a thriving ecosystem in your backyard, and luckily, there are plenty of species to choose from while establishing your backyard pond.
Not only that, but you’re not only limited to fish, as there are other species that can also flourish in your pond.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the most common pond animals to consider along with a brief overview of each one of them. Let’s dive right in!
Kicking off the list with one of the most popular fish species to be kept in ponds. Koi fish are extremely hardy and tolerant to relatively cold weather.
Additionally, the fish is naturally comfortable around humans and has a docile nature that goes well with a variety of other aquatic and semiaquatic species.
Some studies even found that Koi is one of the oldest domesticated fish, which dates back to thousands of years ago in China.
Koi is known scientifically as “Cyprinus rubrofuscus” and they eat anything from plants and algae to worms and insects.
There are tons of goldfish species out there, and while not all of them are suitable for pond living, some of them are very well-suited for it.
This one is capable of withstanding winter conditions as long as the temperature doesn’t fall below 50 °F (10 °C).
Common goldfish typically prefer larger ponds, and they do best when you keep many of them together.
Besides fish, you can also keep turtles and other semi-aquatic species in ponds, such as the Painted Turtle, scientifically known as “Chrysemys picta”
This small turtle species likes to spend most of its time in the water and is native to North America, so outdoor weather conditions are perfect for them.
Additionally, they get along well with docile and other non-violent pond fish species, such as Koi and large goldfish.
If you have a large backyard pond and you want to keep a relatively large fish in it, you should consider Pond Sturgeons.
These ancient fish belong to the Acipenseridae genus and they’re extremely tolerant to changes in conditions, so they can handle the harsh outdoors pretty easily.
Sturgeon also play well with other large fish species, such as Goldfish and Koi, but they might prey on anything smaller than 1.5 inches, so you have to keep that in mind.
Axolotl is an incredibly unique and lovely creature that spends almost its whole life underwater, thanks to its external gills.
This one is officially known as “Ambystoma mexicanum” and it belongs to the Salamander family, and it’s originally native to Mexico.
These amphibians are ideal if you live in an area where temperatures are relatively warm, and it’s beneficial for ponds because their offspring tadpoles are avid algae eaters so they help in sustaining the ecosystem of the pond.
While many Rudd species are suitable for pond living, they’re dark-colored and hard to see, and that’s where the Golden Rudd stands out.
This one is also known as “Scardinius erythrophthalmus”, and can grow to a relatively large size.
The omnivore fish species is quite resilient and managed to thrive in many American states since their introduction to the continent, so they’re perfect for outdoor ponds. They’re also peaceful and can get along with other fish species that like medium-sized ponds.
As you might’ve expected from the name, this one is an expert predator of mosquito larvae, which makes it an excellent addition to your pond if it attracts mosquitoes.
This one is a relatively small species that measures about 1.25 to 1.5 inches long and it features a shiny silver body.
Despite being hard on mosquitos, this fish is quite nice around many other fish species. When temperatures outside drop, these fish will move to the bottom of the water where temperatures are warm, which allows them to survive for the season.
There are a plethora of reasons why Shubunkins are excellent species for pond living. First, these fish are incredibly beautiful, so they’ll make your pond unique and aesthetically pleasing.
Additionally, they’re fairly calm and easygoing towards other large fish species. They also tolerate relatively low temperatures and environmental fluctuations.
Moreover, they have an ample appetite and will accept whatever food you give them. However, since they’re always on the move, they’ll need a relatively large pond with little to no obstacles to avoid tearing their delicate fins.
Adding Crayfish to your pond is an excellent way to mix things up and add some variety to your outdoor ecosystem.
Crayfish are bottom feeders and will consume algae and dead plant matter, so they also help in keeping the pond clean.
They’re also easily adapted to established eco systems and can handle relatively low temperatures pretty easily.
The only downside here is that many fish species may target them as food, such as Bass and Bluegills.
Sunfish is a ground of round and attractive fish species that will add some variety to your pond. While there are several sunfish species that can survive in a pond, the most popular one is Pumpkinseed fish.
This one has some unique markings that make them an attractive addition to the pond. It also likes to stay in small groups, so they’re a good option as a shoaling pond fish.
As long as your pond’s pH is between 7 to 7.5 and doesn’t freeze in winter, Pumpkinseed fish will be happy to zip around there. However, keep in mind that some sunfish species are banned in some parts of the world.
Another excellent addition to ponds that will massively diversify your pond without disrupting the ecosystem is bullfrogs.
They’re a good choice if you want to keep the population of small fish and invertebrates in the pond under control. However, they’re also targeted by other species, such as herons.
If you want to add bullfrogs to your pond, make sure that it’s far from your household because their call is pretty loud and can be annoying at times.
The weather loach, also known as the “Pond Loach” or “Misgurnus anguillicaudatus”, is a solid choice if you want a low-maintenance pond.
This fish species is incredibly hardy and can tolerate sudden shifts in weather and remarkably low temperatures. They also have a decent appetite and will be happy with whatever food they can get.
Keep in mind that this fish likes to live in small groups, but they can be pretty invasive and cause problems to native species, so you shouldn’t keep them in open ponds.
There’s a wide variety of fish shrimp out there, and luckily, pond shrimps are a great addition to your pond if you want to provide variety as well as live feed for other fish species.
Freshwater shrimp, also known as “Paratya australiensis” is a bottom feeder that will consume algae, plants, and decaying matter, which keeps the entire ecosystem of the pond balanced and clean.
The best thing about pond shrimp is that these species can adapt to both extremely high and low temperatures, so you won’t have to worry about temperature adjustment.
Many people are hesitant to have a backyard pond with a thriving ecosystem because it can be a bit smelly. This happens due to the accumulation of decaying algae in the pond.
In that case, having the Siamese Algae Eater could be the solution you’re looking for. These bottom dwellers consume algae and other decaying matter at a remarkable rate, keeping the pond clean.
The fish is also incredibly tolerant to changes in weather and can survive in relatively low temperatures.
Moreover, the Siamese Algae Eater is friendly and doesn’t mind sharing the pond with other similar sized species as long as they’re non-aggressive as well.
Similar to the Siamese Algae eater, Plecos will consume the plant matter at the bottom of the pond and keep it clean.
The Hypostomus plecostomus, also known as the “suckermouth catfish”, is originally a tropical species.
However, it is one of the few exceptions that can actually thrive in outdoor conditions if temperatures don’t dip too low where you live.
Many pond dwelling animals and fish adapt themselves to their original habitat and its conditions, including temperature, pH level, water hardness, etc.
For that reason, they will prefer staying in their original habitat to avoid sudden changes and shocks.
In fact, even in the case of nearby ponds, the majority of pond animals will simply stick to their pond and avoid traveling to a new one.
While there is a huge variety of fish species that can thrive in a pond, some species are known for being a bad choice for a pond.
For example, trout, perch, and chubs are typically bad choices for ponds because they’re predatory and can be hostile toward other fish species.
Ideally, you should avoid all kinds of aggressive and invasive fish species in the pond unless you don’t mind having only one species there.
Additionally, you should avoid almost all kinds of tropical fish species because they won’t tolerate the outdoor conditions of a pond.
Moreover, you should consider pairing fish that are extremely active with those that are sensitive to excessive water turbulence as it creates an unfavorable environment.
This marks the end of today’s guide that walks you through some of the most common pond animals and fish species to keep outdoors.
As you can see, there’s a great variety of options to consider if you want to create a rich ecosystem in your backyard pond.
With that being said, remember that not all pond-friendly species are compatible with each other, so you have to do your own research for the best combinations to make it work.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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