A goldfish at the surface of a pond

1. Goldfish

The humble goldfish has enduring popularity. What keeps it at the top of a fish buyer's wish list is its durability. They’re a great option for first-time fishkeepers due to their low care needs and ability to survive in most outdoor temperatures.

The goldfish is a cold water fish that reaches between 8-25cm (3-10″) in length, making it a good option for people with smaller ponds.

Today’s goldfish come in a wide range of colours and sizes, including the multi-coloured Shubunkin, the long-tailed Comet, and the flowing fins of the Veiltail. However, not all goldfish variations are hardy enough to survive harsh winter conditions. The most resilient breeds are the Common Goldfish, the Comet and the Shubunkin.

Two different styled Koi Carp

2. Koi Carp

If you have a larger pond you should consider keeping koi (average length 80cm (31.5″). They’re an ornamental species of carp, featuring exotic colourings and markings, and have been bred to be seen from above, making them an attractive addition to any pond.

Koi generally like to be kept in temperatures between 15-25°C, which means they don’t tend to do well during long periods of cold weather. If you’re thinking of keeping koi, consider installing a pond heater, which will allow you to control the water temperature during winter months.

Koi can be very expensive to purchase, so why not consider buying them when they’re smaller (and therefore cheaper), and wait for them to grow. However, this is not without its hazards; the smaller the fish, the easier it is for predators to take them, so you would need to take preventative measures.

An Orfe underwater

3. Orfe

Orfe are a popular choice among buyers because they’re a very mobile breed of fish; you will find them constantly moving around just beneath the water’s surface. However, keep a watchful eye on your shoal, as Orfe have the potential to leap out of the water. Yes, they’re that lively!

Orfe grow to roughly 40cm (16″). They should be kept in shoals, preferably of around half-a-dozen fish. Being surface feeders, these handy fish are useful at keeping insects populations in check.

Orfe come from fast flowing, well-oxygenated mountain streams, which means that if the oxygen levels or temperature in your pond changes dramatically, they will be the first to suffer. The levels of oxygenation required for them to thrive means they shouldn’t be kept in small ponds.

A Rudd fish swimming underwater

4. Rudd

Another member of the carp family is the Rudd. This species is very similar to the Orfe in terms of behaviour and water quality requirements. As a shoaling fish, it needs to be kept in a group. 

They are robust fish and will live in any well-kept fish pond. More subdued in colour then some of the other species available; the Rudd is a popular choice among pond lovers who want to create a natural environment.

The greatest difference between the Rudd and the Orfe is size. The Rudd is a smaller species, and will usually grow to roughly 20cm (8″). This fish will, therefore, suit buyers with a smaller pond.

5. Tench

A Tench fish swimming underwater

Tench are very useful fish to have in your pond. They’re bottom feeders, eating any left-over food that has sunk to the bottom of the pond, which would otherwise rot and harm your fish. Without them you will need to keep an eye on your fish feeding regime to make sure you don’t overfeed.

It is commonly said that because they are bottom feeders, once you introduce them to your pond you won’t see them. This isn’t strictly true, but they will spend a great amount of time scavenging on the bottom of the pond.

These fish grow to roughly 70cm (28″) and are commonly available in green and golden varieties.

Tench are hardy fish. They can tolerate water with low oxygen levels and have been found in waters where even carp cannot survive.