30 Goldfish Pond Design Ideas for Small, Outdoor Goldfish Ponds [Updated]
Perhaps the most popular freshwater fish due to their general appeal and ease of care, goldfish have charmed a global audience for centuries. These quirky creatures can be raised in just about any type of freshwater system, be it an indoor fishbowl where it is the sole occupant or an incredibly diverse outdoor pond with other species. Given their peaceful nature, brilliant colors, moderate lifespans, and trainability, they have all the features that make a great ornamental fish.
The beauty of goldfish and their gentle movements through the water can be accentuated by a well-designed pond system. With a few considerations for pond size, shape, edge features, and quirky additions, you can create a pond unlike any other. Simply observing healthy and happy goldfish in a pond or aquarium, which some might say has therapeutic effects, will have you wanting to spend the rest of the day by the water.
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Miniature Goldfish Ponds
As many types of goldfish remain relatively small throughout their lives, they can be raised in miniature pond systems. Just about any type of container can be used for this purpose as long as it is durable, free of potential contaminants, and easy to clean. Here, a barrel-shaped, non-porous structure is used to house a handful of small goldfish. A couple of floating plants, which do not wholly obstruct sunlight, likely aid in keeping the water oxygenated and free of excess nutrients.
Note that, while this type of miniature pond can be used to house very small fish (including fingerlings), it is unsuitable for species that can grow to larger sizes. Moreover, tiny ponds are dangerous for the cultivation of high fish densities as oxygen deprivation and waste buildup are likely to occur.
To house a slightly greater density of fish that may grow the length of your hand, a miniature sunken pond with water features should do the trick. This design has all the elements of larger ponds, minus the need for heavy maintenance and considerable water use. Floating fronds are a vital addition that serves two purposes – they help keep the water cool and provide small fish with ample protection. A simple fountain placed in the center of the pond is enough to keep the water sufficiently oxygenated. Pondside plants, sculptural décor, and an irregular edge outline add an unmistakable identity to this goldfish refuge.
This miniature pond, which may look like a potted plant from afar, is actually a refashioned wooden barrel. The rubberized internal lining ensures that no water can seep out of the wooden structure. The upright herbaceous plant, which is situated in its own smaller container with soil, adds dimension and color to the setup.
This goes to show that plants in non-porous ponds need not have a fully aquatic habit to be placed in a pond. As long as their roots are protected from submersion, they can grow normally. The plant’s container also adds internal structure, around which the small fish can swim around. The leaves above provide some protection from the sun’s rays.
Like the first miniature pond above, this one is more suitable for just a handful of fish that remain small throughout their lives. It does not have the carrying capacity for higher densities.
Perfectly Circular Goldfish Ponds
No shape is more representative of continuity and flow than a circle. The lack of corners and sharp edges give circular ponds a softened overall appearance. Even with minimal edge plants, the pond is eye-catching as it has a little bit of everything. The firm bricks and stone fountain pleasantly contrast the movement of water.
The outline looks to be a solidified extension of the ripples from the central fountain, which subtly breaks the perceived outline of the circle from any angle. Most importantly, the deep orange color of the goldfish stands out above the dark green color of the pond bottom.
The outline of this pond is more like a roughly drawn circle. The profusion of potted plants, coupled with the centrally located fronds of papyrus, bring a wealth of character to the overall setup. The bright green leaves and orange to pink flowers would make every visit an energetic affair for the eyes. If you look closely, you’ll see that a wealth of submerged plants likely makes this pond an endless maze for its live occupants to explore. The goldfish likely never get bored, even if they swim in circles!
The semi-circular arrangement of pondside seating around this perfectly circular pond is hard to resist. The outer bricks that are arranged in a perpendicular manner around the pond outline make the setup seem larger than it is. The dark, circular volume of water makes the pond seem as though it is a mirror or a wishing well. A few bright green marginal and floating plants, coupled with wooden and sculptural pond décor, add color and depth while providing protective structures for the fish. Nothing jumps out as artificial as only earthy materials have been used. This goldfish pond is undoubtedly a site for peaceful thought and meditation.
Goldfish Ponds With Well-Defined Edges
Well-defined edges, such as those seen in this rectangular pond, also draw the eye to the pond’s inhabitants. Sharp corners and straight edges can be a welcome break from the organic shapes of the living things around them. They strongly contrast the outline of natural bodies of water, which is why they are often considered a “modern” design choice.
The lovely pond here has an almost minimalist finish as its slabbed edges are free of plants and décor. Textural interest is largely concentrated in the center of the pond itself. Goldfish are likely to consider this spot, which receives the spray of water from the fountains, a highly oxygenated haven.
Straight-edged ponds need not take on the outline of squares and rectangles; they can be three-sided too! This triangular pond is perfect for small spaces that could use additional edge greens or turf. It is simultaneously simple and remarkable as the shape is so rarely used for ornamental ponds or seen in nature. The submerged, circular pots, which keep the rapidly multiplying floating plants separate, help balance out the rigidity of the concrete edges.
You can count on goldfish and their close relatives to become well-adjusted in just about any pond shape, so there are truly no limits to creating a unique design.
Navigating the line between a decorative pool and an ornamental pond, this water feature is a sublime addition to this urban setting. Its clean edges complement the shapes of the manmade structures around them. Coupled with the neatly arranged edge plants, the entire setup gives off an orderly and highly functional vibe.
An absolutely delightful water feature is also encased in the same rigid edge material. Fine spurts of water flow, in identical trajectories, from the gaps in between the stones. These create a gentle current and help distribute oxygen to all parts of the pond, while ensuring the water remains cool. Goldfish are likely to find this shaded pond a true haven in a bustling setting.
A raised rectangular pond would be a perfect addition to spacious gardens that need a little more structure. Reasonably straightforward to construct and maintain, ponds like this are a great investment for family fun. The raised borders also provide their inhabitants with more protection from pets and wild visitors. The smooth edges double as a sort of “pondside bench” on which spectators can safely sit and observe the goldfish.
The submerged macrophytes, floating fronds, and marginal plants are a vital addition to this design as they help naturalize the pond. They add color and texture to what would otherwise be a minimalist pond design.
Goldfish Ponds With Multi-Purpose Water Features
What lover of fish wouldn’t find joy in a water feature that is inspired by one? “I have a giant fish in my yard, and many small ones too,” is a likely conversation starter for the owner of this pond. Children and adults alike would revel in the uniqueness of a fish-shaped fountain, especially one where the water flows out of the fish’s mouth!
The slightly irregular outline of the fountain mimics the breaks in the ripples of water and further highlights their movement. They also add complexity to an otherwise small and shallow basin, which would not be able to house larger fish. Goldfish and smaller fish species would be the perfect inhabitants of such a pond.
The water feature of this bean-shaped pond mimics the appearance of a shallow stream or creek. The exit point of the water is fairly low, creating a mild current that effectively facilitates water movement. This type of mini-waterfall is perfect for ornamental ponds that are also made to invite wildlife.
Relatively easy to construct, a stream like this can be accented with many natural materials to create a harmonious finish. Here, it is bordered and strewn with small stones. Apart from its obvious benefits for fish and its ornamental appeal, it would safely draw in many insects and amphibians wanting to cool down or hydrate.
Unlike the water features above, this one seems to defy gravity. With a visual impact that would likely be witnessed from afar, it adds a vertical dimension to the irregularly-shaped pond. The jagged edges, variety of stone colors, mixed and matched animal sculptures, and varied thicknesses and textures make this waterfall unlike any other. The stones even look like they are situated precariously, with the removal of one potentially causing the whole structure to teeter-totter or crash!
The bottommost slabs of stone jut out significantly, creating a shaded area at the foot of the waterfall. This section of the pond would likely be a refuge for goldfish in the summer.
A more conventional waterfall, this one is built right onto the edge of the pond. It creates a more classic, timeless look that can withstand harsh weather. It also serves as a visually relaxing and off-center focal point.
The natural edge look is created with thick stone slabs which elevate the pond’s height. Marginal plants with a variety of leaf shapes, along with a small colony of floating plants, give just the right amount of contrast without taking attention away from the rocky features. The bright yellow to orange hues of goldfish would add pleasant pops of color to this design.
Goldfish Ponds With Planted Margins & Edges
This stunning pond looks like the stuff of fairytales because of its well-placed and nuanced selection of ornamental plants. Wildflowers, which are placed along the right and left flanks and on one section of the backdrop, compel one to view the pond from a distance.
In the foreground are a few, low-growing pansies that help soften the look of the rock border. In the background is an understated waterfall with thoroughly planted edges. The trailing stems give it a carefree and effortless look. The small floating fronds coupled with larger lily pads would certainly keep goldfish cool and comfortable apart from being potential food sources in the absence of fish feeds.
Planted edges give superb shade to a pond while adding texture and color. They also help facilitate the safe entry and exit of small wild animals apart from providing them with potential sources of food. Fully naturalized ponds can quickly become self-sustaining ecosystems.
Edge plants need not be herbaceous or low-growing to be beneficial; they can also come in the form of large shrubs or low-growing trees, like the palms seen here. These almost hide the pond, making it the garden’s secret spot for daily reflection. They also seem to enlarge the small area, which is the perfect size for rearing a few goldfish.
If you’re low on maintenance time, dislike the idea of having to prune edge plants, or would prefer to funnel the majority of your expenses on fish care and electricity bills, consider investing in just one ornamental plant. Once it produces offsets, you can separate these and distribute them to other key sections of the pond. The perfect options are those with large, detailed leaflets, like those seen here.
It’s evident that just a few leaves can drastically change the look of the pond. While providing some shade for underlying fish, they also keep the overall look simple and easy on the eyes.
Goldfish Ponds With Overhanging Foliage
The foliage of trailing plants can be allowed to cascade above the pond’s surface. This casts pretty reflections on the water while maintaining dappled shade. Many cool water fishes, including goldfish, can thrive in dappled shade as it helps maintain mild temperatures in summer. Overhanging plants are also a great site for many aquatic insects to lay their eggs, which eventually drop into the pond. These are protein-rich treats that goldfish would love.
Note that cultivating trailing plants in this way requires some commitment as their fallen leaves and stems will have to be regularly netted and removed from the pond.
Epiphytes such as the grey-green air plant seen here look fantastic above tropical-themed ponds. They can be cultivated on the overhanging branches of edge trees or allowed to dangle from a trellis above the pond. Apart from adding a vertical dimension to the pond setup, they help mediate the force and flow of rainwater during storms. They must be secured properly, however, to prevent them from falling into the pond.
Make sure to choose safe, fleshy plants that are devoid of thorns and toxins so that any fallen structures will not harm your goldfish.
A tree grown within the premises of the pond itself will eventually produce branches with overhanging foliage. The canopies of fully-grown trees can look quite spectacular above the water, especially once they produce flowers. To ensure that the entire pond isn’t shaded by the canopy, it is ideal to situate the tree close to one corner or edge. This way, fish can choose between spending the day in warmer, sunlit areas of the pond or in cooler, shaded spots.
Again, while this design can look quite stunning and may even attract many birds and pollinators to your area, it may require daily maintenance. Fallen plant materials will need to be removed regularly to prevent them from decaying in the pond.
Small Goldfish Ponds With Rocky Borders
Small ponds can often be dwarfed by rocky borders, especially if the slabs are large and thick. However, there is a way to pile on rocks so that they seemingly expand the pond area without casting most of the water in shade.
Aim to layer on evenly-sized slabs and faintly push each layer further back from the lower edge. This way, the vertical edge is slightly diagonal (angled outwards from the pond center) instead of straight. More of the water will remain visible from any vantage point around the pond, providing spectators with greater chances of spotting goldfish!
Rock borders are great for ponds in areas that already have a lot of turf. They can also help a pond blend in with sand to mimic the look of a desert oasis. For a perfectly natural look, use rocks of different sizes. They can be piled on top of one another, on the bottom, and along the submerged edges of the pond for a more seamless finish. This is a nifty way to conceal traces of pond liner or to increase the stability of earthen edges.
Soften the look of the stones with the addition of a few choice plants. For a desert look, those with deep purple, red, or brown fronds may work best. These will also beautifully complement the colors of goldfish.
Predominantly flat stone slabs aren’t the only rocks that can be used to design a pond’s edge. Small boulders can also create an organic finish and may be easier to acquire in your area. These are often used to weigh down pond liner, particularly in ponds that have multiple depth levels. They can be arranged along the edge of a goldfish pond to create a simple yet highly textural finish.
The gaps in between the stones can be covered or filled in with marginal grasses and edge plants. As this type of finish can look somewhat plain, you can always opt to add a water feature for more visual interest.
Goldfish Ponds With Protection
Goldfish are highly susceptible to the wiles of curious pets, particularly cats that may perceive them as tasty treats or potential offerings to their master. Pond protection, usually in the form of barriers, is key to ensuring you can cultivate an undisturbed pond in places where your beloved pets may explore. In urban areas, disease-carrying vermin and amphibians may also attempt to visit the pond. As much as possible, you’ll want to keep these away as they may compromise the health of your precious goldfish.
Here, a low fence is used to keep small animals out of the pond area. The bottom third has a finer mesh size to prevent entry through the gaps. As this barrier is mostly see-through, it does not block out the view of the pond.
A sturdy, metal screen placed all across the surface of a pond is sometimes necessary in areas where either wild animals or young children may attempt to enter the water.
Goldfish, given their bright colors, are highly attractive to overhead birds and hungry terrestrial creatures. This cover is one of the best ways to ensure the survival of these fish, even as animals attempt to eat them. Unsupervised children, who would of course have a wholly different agenda for attempting to enter the pond, are spared from falling in. If using a cover like this one for children, make sure the mesh size is fine enough to prevent a child’s limbs from falling through and getting trapped.
At first, this may seem like an unwelcome obstruction that defeats the purpose of a well-designed pond. Over time, you’ll find that a covered pond can still be wholly enjoyable, and you’ll sleep easy knowing that your fish are safe.
Pond protection may also come in the form of a roof. This may serve several purposes, including (1) hiding the pond from overhead, predatory birds, (2) keeping the water cool through intensely warm summers, (3) protecting the pond from snow or hail in winter, and (4) preventing leaves and windswept debris from accumulating in the water.
Roofed ponds would still benefit from sunlight in the early or late hours of the day. Sunlight should ideally light up the pond from an angle, even for just 3 – 4 hours on average. This ensures that goldfish are able to have a day/night cycle with which to stimulate a healthy feeding and sleeping routine for normal growth. Beneficial microbes will also benefit from natural light exposure.
Goldfish Ponds With Structural Features & Pond Décor
To effectively make a goldfish pond your own, it’s always a good idea to be quite daring when it comes to design choices. If your budget allows for tiny additions that add character and life to your pond, try to opt for those with a dual purpose.
For example, this whimsical pond spitter is both a sculpture and a fountain. Perpetually perched to take flight, the downward trajectory of its ‘spit’ merges seemingly opposing forces. The flow of water helps aerate the pond and prevents it from becoming stagnant. Close by looks to be a delicate sculpture of a timid woman. It is nicely contrasted by the dramatic caladium leaves.
A pathway with platforms that are level with the water’s surface, this stepping stone footbridge aesthetically cuts through the center of the pond. It leads to a pond island with its own miniature garden. It appears to be floating as its shadows are visibly cast onto the pond bottom.
This illusory effect can be achieved by mounting stone slabs onto hidden platforms that have a smaller surface area. The components must be attached to one another in as sturdy a manner as possible so that the path can fully support the weight of an adult human. Goldfish can freely swim through the gaps in between the platforms.
This circular pond structure is actually a stone water feature. At the center is a spout from which water passes through to gracefully arch and wet the slab. When switched on, the water flows toward the edge and gently streams into the pond. This feature goes to show that even small ponds can have relatively large ornaments for maximum impact. This one, in particular, works quite well as goldfish can swim in between its supporting posts and make their way to cool corners of the pond.
Arching marginal grasses and floating leaf pads effectively complement the colors of the stone. Even with the fountain switched off, the pond is a visual spectacle because of the diversity of leaf forms.
This pond has a unique outline that seems to cast the water in a frame. The curved corners are reminiscent of design elements from the Art Deco period. On the paved wall are sculpted figures of robed men and women with a more medieval or ancient appearance. The arches above the figures and the curves of the pond outline create a rustic theme that takes the pond spectator back in time. As a result, this goldfish pond looks as though it has survived weathering for decades or even centuries. The dense shrubs, pondside petunias, and floating plants balance out the inorganic décor elements to create this well-balanced feast for the eyes!