How to Build a Pond

Tips to Maintain a Healthy Pond

The simplest way to keep your pond clean and healthy is to avoid overfeeding your fish. Give them only what they'll eat immediately and don't feed them while they're hibernating in the winter. Otherwise, routine maintenance chores include:

  • Skimming leaves and debris from the surface and bottom with a net as needed
  • Cleaning the basket of an installed skimmer
  • Changing or cleaning filters as recommended
  • Adding water to compensate for evaporation
  • Changing 10 to 20 percent of the water weekly
  • Checking and adjusting the pH of the water
  • Noting changes in your plants and fish

[source: Barber]


Your fish will tell you if they aren't getting enough oxygen. They'll come to the surface and ­suck air or congregate under waterfalls where the oxygen level of the water is higher. Reduce the number of plant leaves covering the pond surface, adjust the flow rate of your pump or introduce an aerator to correct this problem.

Don't worry about mosquitoes and other insects that lay their eggs in ponds. Your fish will eat the larvae when they hatch.

When the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), fish hibernate. Stop feeding them and turn off the pump. If you live where the pond is likely to freeze, drain your pipes and disconnect and store the pump and underwater lights. Bring indoors any plants that can't survive the winter. Trim dead leaves and blooms from hardy water lilies and lotuses and place their pots in the deepest water until spring reawakens your pond.

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More Great Links


  • Barber, Terry Anne. Setup and Care of Garden Ponds. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications, 2007.
  • Better Homes and Gardens. Water Gardens: Pools, Streams & Fountains. Des Moines, Iowa: Meredith Books, 2006.
  • Burtle, Gary J. "Managing Fish Ponds During a Drought." The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. (Accessed 12/4/2008)
  • Lowe's How-To Library. "Planning and Building a Water Garden." (Accessed 11/24/2008)
  • Moramarco, Donna. "Building a Water Garden or Fish Pond." Learn2Grow. (Accessed 11/ 24/2008)
  • Nash, Helen and Marilyn M. Cook. Water Gardening Basics. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 1999.
  • The Water Garden. "Steps for Constructing a New Pond." Building Your Own Watergarden. 2003. (Accessed 11/24/2008)
  • Thomas, Charles M. and Richard M. Koogle. Ortho's All About Building Waterfalls, Pools, and Streams. Des Moines, Iowa: Meredith Books, 2002.