How to Stock Pond Fish


Backyard ponds can provide more than just a pretty location in your landscape. When stocked with fish, these ponds can serve as a close-to-home fishing trip for the recreational sportsman. These ponds can also attract wildlife such as deer and raccoon who like to drink and fish in these ponds. Not all fish can thrive in a stocked pond, however, and combining species or adding too many fish to your pond can result in competition for food and nutrients, eventually leading to death for some of the fish. Take proper precautions when stocking your pond to keep your fish healthy.

Things You'll Need

  • Thermometer
  • Stock your pond in the spring or fall; stocking in the summer heat or the winter cold can result in illness or death to the fish in their new habitat. Fish must have time to acclimate to the new site before facing extreme weather conditions.

  • Follow all building and safety regulations set in place by local authorities for ponds. These regulations vary by area and can include the width and depth of the pond and safety requirements such as fences.

  • Consult with your local extension service or conservation service regarding the type of fish to stock in your pond. The healthy fish species for a stock pond can vary by area; for example, the Missouri Department of Conservation recommends bass and bluegill, while Ohio State University Extension service suggests carp and minnow.

  • Check the temperature of the fish's holding water, as well as the water of your pond. Stock fish only in water that reads less than 65 F to allow time for acclimation to the water. Also, never add fish to water that differs from the holding water by more than 5 F; any larger change in temperature will shock the fish and can potentially cause death.

  • Add only the recommended number of fish to your pond; this number varies by species, size of the fish and size of your pond. For instance, fingerling trout are only 2 to 3 inches long and can be added at a rate of 200 fish per surface acre of pond, but larger trout, which can measure up to 9 inches long, should only be added at a rate of 100 fish per surface acre.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do research through the extension service or conservation service regarding species of fish that survive well in your climate, as well as those that can cause competition or those that will eat other species. The goal is to keep your pond a safe place for the fish to swim.
  • Find fish for stock ponds from commercial fisheries or from the extension service or conservation service.
  • Do not stock your pond with fish that you catch from other ponds, lakes or rivers. You cannot guarantee the species of these fish, and you can create a hostile or dangerous environment in your pond.

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  • Photo Credit fish in a pond image by Mircea Rosescu from
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