Keeping Fish

Keeping Fish Outdoors in the UK

Keeping Fish Outdoors In The UK

One of the most beautiful features of a garden is a fish pond but keeping fish outdoors in the UK does have its challenges due to climate changes. In this article, we take a look at outdoor fish plus some amazing ideas to keep fish outdoors even with very little space.

How Easy Is It To Keep Outdoor Fish?

Keeping fish outdoors has different challenges to an indoor aquarium, but overall it is not that difficult providing you follow a few basic steps to ensure the fish will thrive outdoors.

Firstly, it is worth considering how many fish you want to keep in a fish pond, plus what type of fish you want to keep.

One of the most popular outdoor fish in the UK is the Goldfish which are perfect for an outdoor garden pond, especially for beginners.

The larger the pond or water quantity within the pond the easier it is to keep outdoor fish, goldfish for example can grow up to 18 inches in length so it is essential not to overstock a small pond or you could run into problems as the fish grow to full size.

Goldfish that are kept in a pond can live for over twenty years if looked after properly so bear that in mind before deciding to keep fish outdoors.

Garden ponds can be below ground level or can be a raised feature within your garden, for smaller gardens it is possible to install a pre-built water feature for your fish that will stand on a patio or hard surface area.

Some images and products shown in this article are affiliate links, we may earn a small commission, we hope you find the information useful.

The outdoor pond or water feature will require filtration in the same way an indoor aquarium does, a filtration system for ponds can be bought as a filter unit or a man-made filtration system can be built into the pond to achieve the same results.

Water movement is important in the same way it is for an indoor aquarium, outdoor pumps can be used to create water flow and can also become part of the garden feature such as installing a water fountain or waterfall to create water movement.

Smaller ponds will need to be monitored carefully in the UK especially during winter months, the smaller the volume of water the more the pond could freeze over, larger ponds tend to freeze around the edges unless the weather is severe for long periods.

During winter weather it is important to make sure that the filtration system does not freeze and it is kept operational at all times, smaller garden ponds or patio feature ponds may require an outdoor pond heater to ensure the water doesn’t freeze too much.

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Last update on 2024-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Best Position For An Outdoor Fish Pond

An outdoor fish pond needs to be carefully positioned because the fish will require a reasonable amount of sunlight, also fish will need some shade during very hot days.

Find a position that allows plenty of sunlight, and if possible locate the pond where some of the surface of the water is shaded, if this is not possible you can create a shaded area by planting trees, adding water Lilly pads, or incorporating a feature such as a bridge over the pond, this will give your fish somewhere to go to avoid direct sunlight during very hot weather.

Types of Outdoor Fish Ponds

Natural Fish Pond

natural fish pond

A natural fish pond is an area of water that has been naturally created by nature, a hollow in the ground that is filled by rainwater, if you have a natural pond in your garden then this is a perfect starting point for keeping fish outdoors.

It may be necessary to do some maintenance to a natural garden pond before adding any fish, test the water quality to make sure it is suitable for fish, and if necessary treat the water to make it fish safe.

Hand Built Fish Pond

Hand built outdoor garden fish pond

The hand-built fish pond is similar to a natural fish pond but the hollow in the ground will need to be dug out, the pond may need lining to ensure the water you add to the pond will not soak away, this type of pond can take some time to build but you will be able to locate the pond exactly where you want it which is really cool. Depending on the size of the garden pond you want it may be necessary to speak to your local authorities to see if planning permission is required to build the pond. Always be aware that water pipes, mains electric cables, or other services could be running under the area that you are digging out!

Molded Fish Pond

A molded fish pond is a pre-shaped plastic pond that is inserted into the ground or into a raised garden area, this type of pond is available in different sizes and is easy to insert creating a beautiful feature pond area for your fish.

Water Feature Fish Pond

A water feature fish pond is a large tank that is decorative but designed to hold fish safely and securely, this type of outdoor fish pond can be placed onto patios, or featured areas of a garden that allows easy maintenance when keeping fish outdoors.

Maintaining An Outdoor Fish Pond

General maintenance is important with outdoor fish ponds, during the autumn months a pond can be covered fairly quickly with fallen leaves so try to keep the surface of the water clear of dead leaves, during the Winter months ensure that ice is broken so that it does not cover the surface area of the pond, during summer months ensure the fish have plenty of shaded areas, and during the Spring months general cleaning can be done such as light dredging to remove some sludge build-up from the bottom of the pond.

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Last update on 2024-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Features For Outdoor Fish Ponds

The design of an outdoor fish pond can be enhanced by introducing some great features that not only look amazing but also provide value for easy maintenance and outdoor fish keeping, bridges for shade, fountains for water flow, and waterfalls also for flowing water in the pond.

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Last update on 2024-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Protecting Outdoor Fish From Predators

The most common predators for fish in the UK are large birds, cats, and foxes, it is necessary to take precautions to protect your pet fish.

If your pond is below ground level it is a good idea to have a raised area around the pond such as a small wall or raised earth, this will make the water level low enough so that cats struggle to reach the fish, floating pond guards can be fitted to deter large birds, alternatively, a fine net can also be put across the pond to ensure birds cant easily swoop down and take your precious fish, foxes are an issue in the countryside so a more robust net may be required to protect your fish.

PROTECTION – An essential piece of pond equipment protecting your pond from pollution and predators such as Heron’s and cats. Also prevents escaping fish

Last update on 2024-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The advantages of keeping fish outdoors are that the fish can thrive and grow to a much larger size than in an indoor aquarium.

A garden pond can be attractive and make fish keeping lots of fun.

Larger volumes of water provide a very healthy habitat for fish.


Keeping fish outdoors requires constant maintenance in all kinds of weather conditions.

Fish are vulnerable to predators living in a garden pond.

Wiring pumps for water flow is more difficult outdoors compared to indoor aquarium pumps.

Should Outdoor Fish Ponds Have Lighting?

Pond lighting is certainly a good idea for fish if they are installed correctly, there are many different opinions about lighting but overall I believe the consensus is that carefully positioned lighting is good for the fish.

The real challenge with lighting is to emulate the fish’s natural habitat, most fish in the UK is a tropical variety of fish where the climate is much different from our own.

There is much more cloud cover in the UK that would not be present in the tropics so lighting can help to achieve a better habitat for the fish.

It is important at night not to have bright white lighting in the fish pond or the fish would see this as daytime lighting, instead, blue light or very soft lighting would be more beneficial creating a lighting effect to emulate the moon so that the fish feel more at home.

During the day different coloured lighting can be used to create an amazing-looking fish pond which fish find stimulating and very often gather towards the lights socially.

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Last update on 2024-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Keeping fish outdoors in the UK is a great option that can be beneficial to the fish and to the keeper watching the fish grow to very large sizes, with a feature fish pond the garden will look amazing which your friends and family will enjoy for years to come.

It is essential that general maintenance is carried out to keep your fish happy and healthy, providing basic protection to a pond will protect your fish from predators such as cats and birds.

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