The Best Patio Pond Kit, Mini-Pond Kit & Patio Fish Pond Containers 2020
There are lots of great reasons to have a pond. Ponds can be beautiful, relaxing oases right outside your home, making them perfect sources of tranquillity and personal satisfaction. They’re also very beneficial to the environment, as they serve as refuges for wildlife and help to cycle nutrients. Basically, a pond is as good for your yard as it is for you!
Of course, the larger and more intricate your pond is, the more time and money it’s going to need to build and maintain. If you’re not ready to invest all of those resources, a patio pond can be a great choice.
Patio ponds are also a smart option for people with limited space or who aren’t prepared to dig up their gardens. In this article, we’ll compare a few models of patio ponds and discuss important considerations to help you get the best pond experience possible.
Why Buy a Patio Pond Kit? (Benefits Explained)
Larger ponds can get very expensive; including landscaping and materials, an in-ground pond can cost thousands of dollars! Meanwhile, patio ponds rarely cost more than a few hundred dollars, making them much easier to budget for.
Even the smallest in-ground ponds take up a significant amount of space. However, many patio ponds take up only a few square feet, meaning you can move them about fairly easily — sometimes even indoors!
3) Easier Maintenance
Most patio ponds require very little physical effort to clean. Keeping water quality in check is relatively simple, and the small scale makes any problems much easier to fix than those in full-sized ponds. Ease of maintenance makes a patio pond a great choice for people who are short on time, as well as for children and older adults.
4) Beneficial for Wildlife
Ponds of every size can provide shelter and a drinking spot for animals like frogs, birds, dragonflies, and many more. Even small patio ponds can be natural oases for local wildlife, especially if you include plenty of native plants in your design.
- Ideal to use when potting aquatic plants
- Contains no algae promoting nutrients
- Pre-Colonized with Beneficial Bacteria
Considerations When Buying Patio Ponds Kits
1) Patio Size and Location
Your patio’s size and layout should play a big part in your decision. Try to measure the space on your patio and note the expected size of each kit you consider. You’ll need a lot of room if you’re planning to get an extra-large model with a big basin and a water feature.
On the other hand, if you’re tight on space, a smaller patio pond of only a square foot or two might work best. Before you purchase, make sure you’ll still be able to move around your patio comfortably after your pond is installed!
You’ll also want to note the amount of sunlight your patio gets throughout the day. Most aquatic plants thrive in full sunlight, but providing this on a patio isn’t always possible.
Additionally, if you want to have small fish in your pond, know that full sunlight on such a small pond may cause the water temperature to rise too high at times, creating uncomfortable conditions for fish. For these reasons, it’s important to decide whether your patio pond will need full or partial sunlight and plan how to make that happen.
2) Materials of the Container
Most high-quality patio ponds are made of insulating plastic or a plastic-containing composite like fiberglass. These materials are strong and lightweight. They are also poor conductors of heat, which means they help protect pondwater from drastic temperature changes. Some patio ponds even come with special finishes to evoke certain textures or designs. Beyond just adding to the aesthetics of the pond, a coating like this can make your unit less likely to chip or fracture.
3) Pond Volume
A patio pond’s volume can give you an idea of how much space it will take up. Maybe even more important, though, is that it determines how many and what kind of plants and animals you can stock. Some aquatic plants need a minimum depth of at least a few feet to grow well, while others spread quickly and so require more surface area. Always make sure you’ll have enough volume before trying to establish plants, and aim for a balance of submerged and floating varieties.
When in doubt, consult a local wildlife guide for information about aquatic plants native to your region. Or, consider plants that are ideal for small ponds in the first place.
You’ll also want to search for the largest volume possible if you want to keep fish in your pond. The smaller a pond is, the more vulnerable it is to dangerous changes in temperature, oxygen levels, and other conditions that affect water quality.
Additionally, waste builds up faster in smaller ponds, meaning more frequent water changes may be necessary. Limiting yourself to no more than 1″-2″ of length per fish for every square foot of pond surface is a good rule to follow. When in doubt, defer to common sense or manufacturer’s instructions.
4) Extra Features
Many patio pond kits come with special features that look great and can help you express your own personal style. However, fun bonuses have practical advantages, too. For example, even small waterfalls and fountains circulate water and disturb pond surfaces, which can help reduce algae growth, prevent pests like mosquitos from laying eggs, and improve dissolved oxygen absorption and distribution.
The waterflow and aeration provided by waterfalls and fountains can boost the health of your pond ecosystem, especially if you have fish. Some larger ponds may have filters, or at least places to add one. Filters help keep the water clean and fish healthy, though these devices may cost extra.
When are Patio Containers Not Suitable?
As wonderful as patio ponds are, they don’t work for every situation, unfortunately. Patio pond kits are great for housing even densely planted water gardens, and some larger models can hold small fish. However, they are absolutely not suitable for holding medium to large fish such as koi and sturgeon. Fortunately, there are plenty of smaller fish that can thrive in patio ponds. Examples include Japanese rice fish, guppies, mosquitofish, and, yes, even fancy goldfish!
A patio pond may also be unsuitable if you’re hoping for something that’s completely maintenance-free. If your patio pond has a lot of plants and animals, you may need to do at least a little tending to it on a weekly or monthly basis.
For example, more delicate fish like goldfish can’t live off of insects and detritus alone, so you’ll likely need to feed them every now and then. These kinds of fish also benefit from occasional water changes, which reduce waste and help to replace evaporated water and dissolved minerals. Even ponds with just plants may require some pruning, especially if the plants are invasive and you don’t want them to spread.
Additional Patio Pond Item Checklist:
- Aquatic compost (for nutrients and growth)
- Gravel/rocks (to keep plants down)
- Planting baskets (for floating plants)
- Water test kit (for monitoring water quality)
- Electrical grounding kits (for extra safety near water — examples)
- De-chlorinators (for safe water changes)
- Fish food (for your fish!)
- Aerator (if needed for water circulation)
- Small net (for removing debris)
- Thermometer (for monitoring water temperature)
- Ideal to use when potting aquatic plants
- Contains no algae promoting nutrients
- Pre-Colonized with Beneficial Bacteria
The Best Patio Pond Kits & Patio Container Ponds 2020
Of the three patio pond kits we’ll compare, Aquascape’s 78197 model is possibly the most natural-looking. A square basin and a slate-gray finish reminiscent of cut stone make this pond a great choice for adding some Zen-like ambiance to your patio. This is especially true if you choose to use the imitation bamboo fountain, which user reviews report as quiet, calming, and as easy to install (an electric pump and plumbing accoutrements are included).
The basin itself is actually made of a strong yet lightweight fiberglass, making it resilient to outdoor conditions and easy to fit wherever on your patio you need it to be. If aesthetics is a priority, the Aquascape 78197 should definitely be on your list!
Even for a patio pond, the Aquascape 78197 is quite small. Depending on your goals, this may be either a positive or a negative for you. The pond weighs only 9 pounds when empty and is about 16 inches at its widest, making it easy to move around and fit in limited space. Unfortunately, despite the picture of the 78197 featuring a goldfish on the company website, this model would probably only be able to house one or two very small fish at the most. And as with all small ponds (this one only holds 8.8 gallons), you’ll need to be careful that the temperature doesn’t change too quickly.
Although the 78197 may not be the best kit for keeping fish, it should make a fine home for certain plants. Because the basin is only 8 inches deep, your best options are either floating plants or plants that don’t have extensive root systems. Common species like duckweed and elodea should work fine!
Overall, the Aquascape 78197 is a great choice for anyone who wants a small, visually pleasing pond. Its size limits the types of plants and animals it can hold, but the slate finish is well-done and the faux-bamboo fountain is unique. The price tag (per the company’s website) is average for this type of kit, making it a solid option at a decent value.
At first glance, Algreen’s Manhattan pond may look a little plain. Don’t let that fool you, though — this is a sound kit with some nice features. One of the pond’s biggest benefits is its size. With a volume of 50 gallons and 40 x 20 x 18-inch dimensions, the Manhattan is small enough to fit comfortably on a patio but large enough for a few plants and animals.
For reference, that’s about the size of a modest aquarium; the pond could probably hold a handful of small fish or one or two average goldfish. The Manhattan is also deep enough for both floating and submergent plants. Water hyacinth, duckweed, and the classic elodea would be good choices!
This kit also comes with a few goodies. For many, the most attractive will be the 500-Gallon-Per-Hour (GPH) electric fountain pump. The pump attaches to the pond bottom with suction cups, and multiple fountain heads are included. The Manhattan kit also includes a submersible, low-voltage light and four colored lenses (blue, red, yellow and green). These aesthetically pleasing elements may be especially important for those who are a little disappointed in the pond’s outward appearance. While four color options are available, all are more understated than vibrant. Instead, the Manhattan’s visual appeal will come from the fountain and whatever life you decide to stock.
Unfortunately, the Manhattan kit does have one glaring week spot: the basin is made of plastic. According to product reviews, the plastic is somewhat thin and even somewhat translucent at spots. This helps to explain why the kit is so lightweight for its size (18.65 lbs.). As a result of the thin plastic, this pond might chip relatively easily. Additionally, if you wanted to use a heating element, you’d have to be extremely careful to choose one that is plastic-safe.
In a nutshell, Algreen’s Manhattan patio pond kit is a respectable mid-size option. It should blend in nicely to any décor, has enough volume to accommodate a variety of plants and animals, and comes with a few interesting features. If you don’t mind a potential relative lack of durability, the Manhattan kit should serve you well. Note that prices for this product were unavailable at the time of this writing, though the product does come with a 2-year limited warranty.
If you’re looking for options, Blagdon’s Affinity line probably has you covered. There are ten varieties, each with different shapes and sizes, so there’s a very good chance you’ll find something to suit your needs. Each Affinity pond also features plenty of extras to help you promote a healthy and vibrant aquatic ecosystem. These kits are truly top-of-the-line products —and they’re priced like it, too. Fortunately, their higher prices will get you an extremely high-quality pond along with a lot of outstanding extras.
The Affinity line gives you a lot of choices, and you can use size to narrow down them down. The smallest (and cheapest) hold around 100-200 liters (about 26-52 gallons); mid-size options hold approximately 201-400 liters (52-105 gallons); and the largest hold about 401-800 liters (105-211 gallons). Each volume range holds a corner, half-moon, and octagon model, and an oval is available in the largest size. There should be plenty of ways to fit one of these ponds on a patio!
Visually, Affinity ponds are quite eye-catching. Each features a sleek black exterior and several circular windows, giving you a fun way to watch what’s happening inside. Those exteriors are also quite durable, as they’re backed up by fiber-reinforced liners and anodized (a fancy way of saying “protected”) aluminum rails. Additionally, each pond comes equipped with a pump, an LED nightlight, and a fountain with three fountain heads. Some kits even include small waterfall attachments for maximum visual appeal.
These kits also make excellent homes for plants and fish. Each Affinity pond is big enough to hold at least a goldfish or two, and the larger ones may be able to fit several. They’re also deep enough for a variety of submergent and floating plants; water lilies, anacharis (in the larger models), and elodea would all be worth trying. To help your pondlife, Affinity kits include one or more planting basket, a filter with wool pads and/or ceramic bio media, and a 5-watt UV clarifier. There’s not much more you’d have to provide besides the plants and animals themselves!
The price may be a big obstacle, but Blagdon certainly gives you what you pay for with an Affinity kit (as well as a 3-year warranty). While the others on this list are primarily designed to create a calming, meditative atmosphere, an Affinity pond is meant to be the center of attention on your deck. Aside from the cost, the only downsides are that the ponds may be tough to move inside in the winter and that the black exteriors may retain excess heat in the summer. Otherwise, it’s hard not to think of these as the Rolls-Royces of patio pond kits.