How To Add Fish To A Backyard Pond

If you’re planning to add fish to your backyard pond, there are a few things you need to do to get your pond ready.

I’ll show you how to prepare your pond for fish, how to safely introduce new fish to your pond and help them adjust to their new home.

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Fish pond

Preparing your backyard pond for fish

Before you purchase fish for your pond there are a few things you need to take into account.

Firstly, you need to ensure that your pond is large enough to comfortably house the type of fish you intend to buy.

Small fish like goldfish are suitable for a little garden pond, but larger fish like koi need a decent amount of space to swim around, especially when they start breeding.

The pond also needs to be deep enough for the fish to survive over winter.

Goldfish ponds should be at least 2 feet (60 cm) deep, while a koi pond should be at least 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm) deep.

In cold climates, goldfish and koi go dormant during the winter months and stay at the bottom of the pond. [1]

If you live in a very cold climate where the surface of the pond is likely to freeze over, it’s important to make sure that there is a hole in the ice to allow carbon dioxide and other gases to escape.

Using a pond pond de-icer over the winter months makes this easy.

RELATED: Winter Pond Maintenance

Frozen pond water

Preparing the pond water

If you’ve just installed a new backyard pond and filled it up with tap water, you’ll need to let the water sit for a few days to allow the chlorine in the water to dissipate.

You can also use a dechlorinating solution to remove the chlorine.

Before adding the fish to the pond, use a pond test kit to check for ammonia, chlorine, nitrites and phosphates and measure the pH level of the water.

A healthy pH level for the pond water is between 7.2 and 7.8.

Purchasing new fish

Always purchase fish from a quality pet store and look carefully at the fish to make sure that their eyes and skin look healthy before you purchase them.

Don’t buy too many fish at once. Add a couple of fish to the pond and if they’re doing well, you can add more in a week or two.

fish in a pond

Adding fish to your pond

The pond water should be at least 60° F (15° C) before introducing fish to avoid them getting a shock.

The best time to add new fish to a pond is late spring or early summer when the temperature is warm but not too hot.

Once you’ve purchased your fish, place the bag of fish on the surface of the pond and allow it to sit for around 30 minutes to allow the water in the the bag to adjust to the same temperature as the pond.

Choose a shaded area of the pond, so that the fish don’t overheat.

It’s a good idea to keep pets and small children indoors to keep the area quiet and calm for the fish.

Next, open up the bag and gently allow some of the pond water to mix with the water in the bag.

Then it’s time to let the fish explore their new home!

koi fish in a pond

Over the next few days, keep an eye on the fish to make sure they’re settling in well.

Feed them high quality fish food but be careful not to overfeed them because excess fish food will break down and contribute to algae overgrowth.

It’s a good idea to use floating fish food so you can see if the food is being left uneaten and you can scoop it out with a long handled net.

feeding fish

Protecting your fish from predators

Pond fish can be easy prey for predators including herons, raccoons and stray cats, so it’s important to provide a place for fish to hide.

Adding a variety of floating and marginal pond plants like water lilies, water lettuce and water hyacinths will provide shade and hiding spots for the fish.

Some other ways to keep your fish safe from predators include installing a pond cover, pond netting or a fish cave.

koi fish in clear pond water

So there are my tips for stocking a pond with fish.

With the right conditions and care, your fish can live happily in the pond for many years.


Are you planning to add fish to your backyard pond? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Koi Ponds and Backyard Ponds that you may find interesting.

Don’t forget to pin this post so you can come back to it when you’re ready to stock your pond.

adding koi to a garden pond
Adding fish to a backyard pond

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener with a special interest in ponds and water gardens. For over a decade, I've been designing and creating beautiful gardens that feature stunning water features, from small garden ponds to large water gardens. Read more

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