How to Build Your Own Fish Pond at No Cost


You can make your own fishpond for free, with just the supplies you already own. It's innovative, and you can produce the same quality pond that would cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to have installed professionally. It requires a little hard work and some old-fashioned creativity, but it's something that any homeowner can do with very little, if any, personal cost.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Tarp or plastic lining
  • Natural rocks and vegetation
  • Access to water
  • Fish

Build Your Own Pond

  • Determine the size of your pond. This will vary based on the size of your yard and the types of fish you want to add. If you're just using standard goldfish, a 3-foot by 5-foot pond that's 2 feet deep would be your minimum, but feel free to go larger. If you're using koi fish, which tend to grow much larger than average goldfish, your pond should be larger, and at least 4 or 5 feet deep.

  • Determine the location of your pond. You should locate the pond somewhere that it will be visible year-round. Avoid putting it too close to a tree line in order to avoid having debris fall into your pond. Also, if you're adding vegetation to the pond, it's important to locate it where it will receive some sunlight. Also, do not locate it near drainage such as a gutter exit, as runoff can be unpleasant and sometimes toxic.

  • Outline the area you wish to dig, and then dig beginning at the center. Leave a 1-foot or 6-inch perimeter of dirt, and dig the central area flat to the bottom. It will be necessary to clear out any rocks you find, and be sure that the base of the pond is level and smooth. Remember that your pond doesn't need to be a perfect circle; an irregularly shaped pond may appear more natural.

  • Dig out the remaining perimeter area, sloping the edges inward. The slope should be gradual and should seem natural.

  • Once the full basin of the pond is cleared out, smoothed and leveled, lay down your tarp or plastic lining. Make sure that it's tight to the earth and smooth out all ripples and folds. Use a knife or box-cutter to trim the plastic around the pond's perimeter.

  • Surround the perimeter of the pond with rocks, dirt or vegetation to cover up the trim of the plastic lining. This is a good opportunity to find visually appealing rocks and to make a decorative display around the pond.

  • Add vegetation and rocks to your pond to make it look authentic. You can go to a nearby body of water and harvest your own water lilies, which will grow and flourish in your pond. You can also buy inexpensive water-living vegetation at your local pet store or home and gardening center.

  • Add water. For fresh water fish, nearly any source of clean, fresh water will do. Filling up your pond with water from a hose is fine.

  • Add your fish. Be careful not to overpopulate your pond. A pond 3 feet deep can be home to approximately one dozen gold fish. If you want more fish, you should consider expanding your pond.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you use a tarp, or you wish to make the base of your pond seem more natural, put a layer of dirt or sediment over the plastic lining so that the basin of the pond looks like real earth.
  • If you choose, you can add a filter or a fountain. The sound of running water is naturally appealing and can benefit your fish by filtering the water. If you have a preexisting water filter from a fish take, it can be transformed into an outdoor fountain. You can also purchase inexpensive outdoor fountains at home and garden centers.
  • If using vegetation such as water lilies, you should only cover up about 60 percent of the surface area so that you can see your fish beneath the plants.
  • Depending on the source of your water, you may want to use a pH tester to test the quality of water before putting your fish into the pond. You may also want to use a dechlorinator to rid the water of any harsh chemicals.

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