What Can I Do With Unwanted Pond Fish? (Solutions)

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A fish pond
There are many ecological, economical, and personal reasons for having to get rid of your pond fish. Steve Slater, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rearing pond fish comes with ethical responsibilities, too. Every fish pond owner has a duty toward his/her pet fish, regardless of the cost or means involved in acquiring them. Unfortunately, there may come a time that some fish or an entire pond can no longer be supported.

There are many ecological, economic, and personal reasons for having to get rid of pond fish. Avoiding these can sometimes be as challenging as evading the curveballs that life naturally throws at us.

While having excess or unwanted pond fish may be unavoidable, even for experienced pond keepers, an acceptable solution can often be found with a little creativity or openness. Rehoming fish in a non-harmful manner will always be a possibility as long as pond owners can communicate their needs and challenges with others who share a love for animals. Keep in mind, however, that you may seldom receive monetary compensation for your fish.

Have unwanted pond fish? Post on our Facebook page and our community may be able to help! Click here.

Reasons for Getting Rid of Pond Fish

Largemouth bass in an aquarium
You may need to remove fish if they are harmful to others, for example, largemouth bass may eat goldfish if they’re feeling hungry. wsimms8518, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Like other pets, fish must be purchased or obtained with the future in mind. Over-eagerness without ample consideration and judgment can often lead to animal abandonment. As much as possible, try to evaluate your pond situation and future plans before stocking up on fish.

More often than not, no one is at fault for unwanted fish as there are truly many scenarios that can lead to having them. Some common scenarios are listed below.  

  • Overcrowding – Ponds that are initially overstocked or have breeding pairs of fish can often lead to overcrowded conditions. This can lead to poor water quality, sick fish, and an endless string of pond management issues. Oftentimes, the simplest way to combat overcrowding is by getting rid of excess fish. This way, you can at least be selective about which fish you would like to keep in your pond.
  • Harmful to other fish – New pond owners may sometimes rear incompatible freshwater species alongside one another. Some species may attack or attempt to eat other fish, especially if your pond is devoid of hiding places. For example, largemouth bass may not hesitate to feed on smaller goldfish when they feel hungry. On the other hand, some small fish have a tendency to peck at the fins of larger fish. Those causing a ruckus in your pond may have to be separated and rehomed.
  • Starting a new pond – If you feel as though your pond system needs to be renovated, revamped, or redesigned, and your fish community is in need of being refreshed with trendier, more attractive species, you may find yourself wanting to get rid of your old fish.
  • Moving elsewhere – You may have to quickly empty out your pond and opt to rehome your fish if you are moving to a new location or house with/without a pond. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy (or wise for that matter) to transport fish over long distances. Though this is possible, it can cause fish to become extremely stressed and can compromise their immune systems. Only risk doing so if you have previous experience or can consult an expert.
  • Costly pond upkeep/lack of time for maintenance – Managing a pond system can be extremely costly and time-consuming. Sometimes, reducing the density of fish may aid in lowering costs associated with heavy filtration or aeration. Less fish can often be tantamount to less pond waste, which can lead to reduced pressures on your water filter. Remember that you can always opt to keep a wildlife pond with low-maintenance/cheaper fish and pond plants instead of an ornamental fish pond. A wildlife pond is more likely to sustain itself without the aid of machinery and frequent maintenance.
  • Restocking a recreational fish pond or aquaculture pond – Leftover fish from a fishing season or grow-out period may need to be culled prior to restocking in preparation for the coming year. In recreational or aquaculture ponds, these unwanted fish are seldom even accounted for as the entire pond is simply treated with pesticide.

How to Deal With Unwanted Fish

Pond stores, fish collectors and even public water gardens may be willing to take on unwanted pond fish if they’re in good health. Marlin Keesler / CC BY-SA 2.0

Here are some simple ways to deal with your unwanted fish. Once you’ve decided on a means to get rid of your fish or have found a new home for them, carefully fish them out of your pond and prepare them in an appropriate manner. If you intend to transport your fish, make sure that you have a suitable holding tank or transport container and are able to provide them with oxygen to survive the journey.

  • Post on our Facebook page and our community may be able to help! You can add your details to the comment section of this post.  Please include then type of fish, amount of fish, and your location! 
  • First, ask your friends or family if they are interested in caring for fish or adopting a new pet. Those with children may be keen on the educational value that a smaller pet fish can provide. Do ensure that they are able to care for the fish appropriately, and for larger species, such as koi, they would need a pond. Pond fish may take some time to acclimate to new conditions, especially those in fish tanks. They may also need to be quarantined beforehand if they must be transferred to a tank with existing fish.
  • Get in contact with pond hobbyists or fish collectors in your area. This is also a great way of establishing communication with local experts. They can help lead you to other persons who could potentially benefit from your unwanted fish. These people may also have acquaintances in the garden or pet store industry. If you are able to offer your unwanted fish for free and can make flyers or posters to put up in local shops, you might just be surprised to find that there are a lot of takers out there.
  • If you just recently bought your fish from a local pet store, personally speak to the owner or manager and share your concerns. Ask them if they are willing to take the fish back. If they are unable to, don’t be afraid to seek advice from them or gather ideas about how to find a new home for your fish.
  • Take advantage of the internet! Advertise or auction your unwanted fish online. There are so many social media portals that you can use to get information out there. Be clear about what you are offering and provide accurate details about the species, length, age, and condition of the fish.
  • Consider euthanasia as a last resort if no one is willing to take your fish or help you with your issue, but only under the guidance of a professional veterinarian. If your unwanted fish are old, have parasites, or can potentially be riddled with disease, this may be the more sensible path to take. Try not to be ashamed about having to consider euthanasia, especially if you’ve done what you could to avoid it.

Important Things to Remember

Hertford Union canal
Don’t dump unwanted fish into urban waterways, canals, or natural bodies of water. Your fish may grow to be invasive and compete with wild fish communities. Sludge G / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Do not dump your unwanted fish in natural bodies of water, urban waterways, or canals. Your fish can introduce new diseases or parasites to these shared systems. They could also grow to be invasive and compete with wild fish communities.
  • When you purchase fish, you are legally obligated to care for them. Owning animals comes with responsibilities. Though fish may be less interactive or intuitive compared to other domesticated pets, they can’t simply be disposed of once they are no longer needed or after the initial excitement of having one wears off.
  • There are more humane ways of getting rid of fish than leaving them to die under the sun or flushing them down the toilet. These are things we grow up seeing in movies or in cartoons, but they shouldn’t even be options in real life. Flushing fish can also introduce them into your local waterways – that is, if pollutants and water treatment chemicals don’t kill them first.
  • Do not place your unwanted fish in someone else’s pond or aquarium without their permission! It may be extremely tempting to get rid of your fish this way, but this could endanger both your fish and disrupt the balance in the other system.
  • Try to ask questions or vet those who are willing to take your fish for free. Don’t simply give the fish to someone who wouldn’t care for them properly. If any kids or teens offer to take your fish, make sure that they have consent from a parent or guardian.
Chris G
About the author

Chris G

Pond consultant and long-time hobbyist who enjoys writing in his spare time and sharing knowledge with other passionate pond owners. Experienced with pond installation, fish stocking, water quality testing, algae control and the troubleshooting of day-to-day pond related problems.

Read more about Pond Informer.

58 thoughts on “What Can I Do With Unwanted Pond Fish? (Solutions)”

  1. Good afternoon.
    my wife and myself live in Cambridgeshire and are looking at redeveloping our fish pond and are looking to rehome our assortment of fish ranging from
    2 x sturgeon to various carp and a few koi. Were not looking for any money just good homes if anybody is interested then please contact us
    Steve and Debs

      • I have ten fish that I need to get rid of. 2 koi carp, 2 fan tail carp and 6 other carp. You are welcome to them all, am giving them away. You will need to get them. I live in Sutton on Sea , Lincs.

        • Hi,

          Are these still available? I’m just started getting my pond area sorted. I’m from North Yorkshire but willing to travel to collect.

          • I’m also N Yorks Andy. I have quite a number of (as yet) black fish from small to 2+ inches. A few orange ones too. Just collect, if you want any…


          • Hi Andy. Do you still have room for more fish? We have 5 small carp (bought last year) and one 6 year old, so a little bigger. Approximately 6 goldfish and 5 small ghost carp (bought last year). Acouple of black gold? fish also. They all live happily together in our pond but we can no longer afford to keep them and maintain our pond. We live in the lincolnshire Wolds.

      • I have three beautiful large koi for sale. I will be moving soon and can’t take them with me. I want to deal with a responsible buyer that can property relocate them.


  2. I have alot of baby fish that need a home I’ve offered for free on social media and word of mouth but with no luck. The fish are shubunkins and I have over 20 to give to a new home

  3. Hi my sister has various sized garden goldfish ( koi?) She needs to rehome. They are beautiful fish, she just can’t keep them any more. All free to fish lovers who are able to collect. Gloucestershire.

  4. Need to re-home about 40 mature (and about 4 babies) gold fish; they are mostly shubunkins, some with fantails.
    Not wanting money, just a good home.

    • I have about a dozen Koi Carp to rehome of various sizes from 10 inches upwards. I can send you some photos and I’d be happy for you to visit to see for yourself. Sadly, I am no longer able to care for them as I’m getting on a bit, failing health that comes with longevity and arthritis. These were my husband’s but since we moved here with some of these Koi 15 years ago, I have cared for them and still do but trying to get up from turning the filter drain on and off is a challenge. The pond that the Koi are in is about 7,000 gallons and is 7 foot at its deepest with a shallower 3 foot viewing area. I had easy maintenance Nexus filter equipment installed. I also now have a submerged UV system in the filter that was manufactured locally that knocks spots off any in line system (I’ve tried them all). Once rehomed, the pond will be professionally decommissioned (already sourced) and there will be a lot of equipment and pipework also available. I have become quite knowledgeable over the years learning on the job and am happy to pass on my knowledge but now I cannot treat the fish individually for any ailments as they are too heavy for me to lift and that concerns me for the future. I did have someone who came occasionally to help me but haven’t see him since before lockdown and I am concerned for the welfare of the fish. I am trying to get them rehomed this year. I have already got their first supply of food in for the summer so this move can be done gradually, if necessary. Hope this is of interest and thanks for reading. I am in Folkestone in Kent. Please let me know, one way or the other. I don’t want to put them down if I can help it as they are all pretty healthy. Thanks

    • Hi Ian,
      We have about 20 medium to large pond koi that need a good new home as we need to remove our pond, we’re in SE London, largest is at a guess 60cm, black, yellow & silver don’t know technical name, if these might suit please get in touch. Marion

    • Hi Ian
      We have 5 koi carp that we would like to rehome as we can no longer keep our pond. They are black, white and gold and large. We are based in Surrey. Please let me know if this is of interest to you. Thanks Collette

    • I have 2 koi carp, 2 fan tail carp, 6 other carp all are different colours. Smallest is 14″ biggest is 30″. If you want them come and get them, I don’t want anything for them. I live in Sutton on sea, Lincs.

    • I have three beautiful large koi for sale. I will be moving soon and can’t take them with me. I want to deal with a responsible buyer that can property relocate them.


    • Hi Ian, I have over a dozen large koi im looking to move on, I want no money for them but have no means of transporting them, I live in North Bristol.

    • Ian
      Are you still looking for some koi carp as only just seen your email?
      We will be removing a 22 year old pond early next year and have some good specimens to re-home.
      All been with us over 10+ years and longer.
      Let me know

  5. Looking to rehome about 20 goldfish. The owner left his pond when we bought the house and I’m not very knowledgeable in this area

  6. Hi
    Due to a family loss we have a pond of fish that need rehoming in Aylesbury. Any advice or anyone interested?

  7. Due to a family loss we are looking for a good home to house about 25 koi carps in the Acton area no time wasted please.

  8. I have large koi in the West coast of Florida. I NEED to re- home them, but do not know who would take them nor how to transport them. I need help!
    They are all sizes, free to a good home and lots of koi food for free as well.
    Please, help. I am disabled and never had the foresight of this situation.
    [email protected]

  9. Our neighbour recently died leaving 5 or 6 pond goldfish which are about 8 inches long. His family do not live nearby and we have offered to try to find new homes for the fish. They are in the Machynlleth, Powys area and are free to a good home.

  10. Hi, I’m having to go into temp accommodation and sadly can’t take my free standing pond or my 3 koi with me. Happy to give away with no cost but you will need to collect. Happy to separate fish but I can’t give you the pond until fish have gone. I’m in Shropshire. Please help.

  11. I have a established pond with too many Koi in the Rye Brook NY area.If you arrange and handle pick up the Koi are free to take.Looking to rehome about 12 Koi

  12. Approx 8 koi in backyard pond. Owner has died and I don’t live locally. Free. Located in Catalina AZ. Please hurry.

  13. Hi, I have 13 baby goldfish (Koi?) that I would like to give to a good home. They range in size from inch to two inches. Some are completely gold in color and some have black spots. Picture available on request. I live in Mesa AZ. Please contact with questions.

  14. I still have koi in various sizes and some beautiful pond goldfish as well – all free to a good home. I am in Clearwater Florida very close to Clearwater Beaches and Dunedin Florida. The fish are free, I just need to have them moved. If anyone is interested, please email me at [email protected] use a title about interest in Koi. Thank you.

  15. I am located in Liverpool Uk and have purchased a house with a small pond that I don’t want
    I’m Looking to rehome the fish asap as I’m due to get building work done in the garden
    They are pond gold fish
    Orange and black
    Unsure how many are in there
    Counted 12 but may be more
    Whoever takes will have to remove from the pond and transport

  16. I don’t see a viable solution for a 1/2 acre, spring fed pond. I stocked it with catfish a couple of years ago and didn’t realize the prior owner put their unwanted goldfish in it. I don’t know how deep the pond is but its kept at its water level with a drain pipe covered by a weir. No fish are introduced to the waterway (creek) that it feeds into.
    Advice appreciated as there are hundreds of them now. I am unhappy to have to poison the pond as I have 10 ducks that call it home and I would like to keep the pond from being drained if possible.
    I live in Tennessee as any solution may be dependent on the laws here.

  17. We are in South Derbyshire and would like to rehome (for free) numerous healthy goldfish. They range from 1 inch to 8 inches long are are various colours from pure gold to multi coloured. Currently in a large natural pond which we would like to encourage more wildlife to. They all seem very healthy and happily breed. If anyone is interested please reply.
    Many thanks


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