Running a pond can vary in levels of maintenance, depending on the type of pond and its inhabitants. However, any successful pond requires key pieces of equipment.
There is much more to keeping the occupants of a goldfish pond happy, healthy and thriving than just adding water, plants and food!
Vital equipment such as filters and air pumps come in a range of different sizes and styles, and the type you ultimately choose will be dictated by your pond’s own needs, such as the size of the pond and the number of fish you will be keeping.
Owning this equipment prior to adding your fish is highly advised, any issues with your pond put your livestock at risk, and you don’t want to rush out to buy something while your fish are in danger.
Equipment can be categorised into groups; the first group is “vital equipment”. This includes the life support systems such as the filter and pump which your fish could not survive without in a small pond.
Do I need a pond pump for goldfish?
No matter what setup you go with, it is always recommended to include a filter in your pond. Even for natural setups, it can still be highly beneficial to add a filter as it provides added security and is ensuring your goldfish with the best welfare.
Do goldfish ponds need a filter?
A filter is the most important piece of equipment in fishkeeping; it is a life support system for your animals, keeping the water clear of toxic ammonia and nitrites, converting them into nitrates.
Without adequate filtration, it takes much longer for an aquatic ecosystem to convert these toxins into a less harmful state.
No filter means that the ecosystem is more fragile, and cannot cope with as much biological waste. A setup without a filter would need lots of plants to remove the nitrites and nitrates, lots of rocks or substrate to provide surface area for bacteria, a very low amount of livestock and a cleanup crew such as snails and other invertebrates.
A filterless system couldn’t handle high amounts of bioload, so the fish would be fed very infrequently, which could lead to nutritional deficiencies, emaciation and eventual death.
The system would also have very poor water movement and so the pond would be very poorly oxygenated, which again, endangers the livestock within, leading to hypoxia and death.
With all the serious drawbacks and limitations not owning a filter brings, it is always better to include one than to not have one.
As mentioned, there are all different types of filters, which match different environments and budgets, finding the best one for you can be quite easy, and many filters are easily available from local aquatics stores or online.
What equipment do I need for a goldfish pond?
Here is our list of the essential pieces of goldfish pond equipment:
Vital fish pond equipment
Goldfish are fairly messy animals, and it is important to provide filtration in order to process their waste and keep the pond healthy. Goldfish grow to be quite large, up to 10” or more, and with that size comes a large appetite, and large amounts of waste.
This makes them very messy as far as fish go, and goldfish have a considerably high bioload.
This waste must be broken down by beneficial bacteria – this bacteria grows within the pond and can be effectively utilised within a filter, which forces water through colonies of nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria, which cleanse the water of harmful ammonia and nitrites.
Ensure that you choose a filter that is robust enough to cope with the volume of water within your pond; again, the volume of water that a filter can process will be indicated on the packaging.
There are a few different types of filters to choose from to run a pond. An often highly recommended type among pond keepers and aquarists is the canister filter. These come in two main types: gravity fed and pump canisters.
Both of these canister filters require electricity, as a pump is required to draw water from the pond and feed it to the canister. This canister comes in the form of a bucket or large tub, containing filter medium, either sponge or bio balls.
The gravity fed canister is placed above the pond, and naturally the water flows from the top of the container, over the filter medium, and falls back into the pond.
The pump canister works very much the same, however, it contains a secondary pump within the canister to then push the water back into the pond. This allows for greater diversity of filter placement, as it can even be placed at a lower level than the pond, but is often more expensive and consumes more electricity.
Sponge filters are perhaps one of the most versatile filters of all – they are extremely effective, cheap, easy to use and require very little electricity depending on the air pump size.
Sponge filters are characterised by a ring of sponge surrounding an upward facing tube. Air is forced up through this tube by the use of an air pump or piston pump and this displaces water, pulling it through the sponge.
These filters are organic and nearly all the work is done by the bacteria – they are especially good for small ponds, or ponds with fry/very tiny fish as there is no risk of pulling them into the filter.
These filters do however have downsides; for one, they create no current or water movement, aside from the surface distortion created by the bubbles.
They do not filter out much debris and are mainly focused on keeping the chemical water quality high, this means that the water clarity may be poor if only sponge filters are used.
Sponge filters are best used in small planted ponds, breeding setups or in unison with another form of filtration such as the before mentioned canister filter.
Testing your water is a vital practice of fishkeeping. Not testing your water is like driving a vehicle while blind; it puts your fish at a fatal risk, although the water might look clean to our eyes, we need to be fully aware of the chemical parameters of our ponds.
High nitrites or ammonia can spell death for any animals living in your pond, and for goldfish having too low pH, low hardness and low oxygen can cause irritation, sickness and eventual death.
There are many different types of testing equipment out there and many hobbyists will have different opinions on each of them, or recommend different types.
These are the most simple and easiest to use, they are very cheap and widely available. However, they are the least accurate of the available testing equipment and this should be remembered when using them.
They come in the form of a strip of paper or card, adorned with pads of litmus paper, these pads are pre treated with a dried test solution, which will change colour when in contact with water.
This colour change comes with a guide on the box or packet – the paper will change colour according to the conditions of the water. Compare them with the box and you get your water parameters.
Test strips are very easy to use and only take a couple seconds, many come with the added bonus of an easy to read harness test, which is extremely useful for goldfish and koi ponds.
Remember, the test solution is reactivated and will never be as accurate as those chemical or digital tests.
Chemical master test kits
This is yet another form of water testing equipment widely used in fish keeping. It is a more accurate test than the strips, however, is more time consuming to perform, has a higher upfront cost (but less costly long term) than the strips and is more difficult to use.
Instructions always come in the tubs and essentially, samples of pond water are taken, a chemical is added to this sample and the colour of the water changes depending on the parameter.
More accurate than the test strips, however, for those with many ponds or aquariums, it can be far too time consuming to use chemical test kits over and over, as the process takes about 5-10 minutes.
However, for the average hobbyist, these are highly recommended as the most suitable option.
Digital test kits
Digital tests come in all shapes and sizes and are perhaps some of the most expensive yet most accurate of all the equipment out there.
Two of the most iconic, easy to use and cheap digital tests are a pH pen and a TDS metre pen – these are very easy to use, the pen is simply dipped in the water and a digital reading comes on screen.
They are also battery powered which makes them the longest lasting of all the tests as there is no chemical to expire.
There are many other digital tests such as the oxygen metre gun which can detect oxidation levels with a laser pointer, salinity metres and all the rest. As mentioned, these greatly vary in ease of use, cost and availability.
Water conditioning treatments and equipment
Don’t forget that you may need to add various treatments to your pond water depending on the water quality in your local area, such as dechlorinator or water softener.
There are various treatments and chemicals that can be added to water to make it suitable for fish, the most commonly used treatment is a dechlorinator, this removes chlorine and other harmful heavy metals from tap water to make it safe for fish.
Dechlorinators or carbon filters are highly recommended. Some hobbyists refuse to use these products as they argue that the water conditions vary from location to location. However, this puts your fish at risk and what might work for some, won’t work for others, it is best to play it safe.
Some also argue that chlorine evaporates from water after a period of time, while true, chlorine isn’t the only thing dechlorinators remove. Heavy metals are also a harmful substance found within tap water which can jeopardise the livelihood of your pond inhabitants.
In some parts of the world, like across America, chloramine is added to tap water, this is chlorine bonded to ammonia and cannot evaporate, but can be removed by using a good dechlorinator.
Other things such as water buffers or softeners to adjust the hardness and pH of the pond, bacteria colonies to help cycle the pond or replenish lost bacteria or even disease treatments are also considered vital pieces of equipment for a pond.
Pond cover or netting
Pond covers are vital in protecting your fish from predation, harsh weather, debris or even thieves. They are a highly recommended piece of equipment and add an extra level of protection to your pond inhabitants.
Not to be confused with a net to catch your fish, pond netting can be tacked over the surface of your pond if you find that your fish stock is being attacked by herons, other wading birds, or even by domestic pets!
You will need a reasonable amount of flexible rubber tubing to run your water pumps and direct the water flow to the stiller areas of your pond.
Be sure that the tubing is the correct size and thickness to handle the flow of your filter, smaller tubes can lose their integrity and leak if put under too much pressure.
An aeration pump (or multiple aeration pumps for larger fish ponds) is an essential piece of pond equipment in order to keep the surface tension broken, and allow oxygen and other important gases to diffuse between the surrounding environment and the pond.
When you buy an aeration pump, refer to your calculations on the volume of water within your pond, and check the capacity of the pump(s) you are looking at to ensure that you make the right choice.
Air stones or aeration ornaments
Use of air stones within a pond really help with oxidation of the water body – they are highly recommended for any setup with fish, especially during the summer months when the climate is warmer, and it becomes more difficult for oxygen to diffuse.
They can come in all different shapes and sizes, just make sure that your air pump is powerful enough to feed the stone(s) with enough compressed air, and that your air pipe is long enough to reach the pump and the stone.
Supportive equipment for your fish pond
This category considers all the additional helpful tools you may need in order to keep your pond running. Some of these aren’t required, but they are certainly good to have on hand if you ever need them.
These are a must have piece of pond equipment as they are an excellent method of cleaning tap water to make it safe for fish.
They are highly versatile and simply attach onto a hose pipe, and can be led anywhere. They are easily available online and while can be costly upfront, can save you hundreds spent on chemical dechlorinators.
A potable water hosepipe
While it may seem to go without saying, a hose pipe is your most valuable ally in filling, topping up and changing water on your pond. You don’t want to be lugging hundreds of buckets around to fill up a massive pond.
Just make sure that the hose material is non toxic and can be used to supply drinking quality water, so that it is not contaminated with harmful plastic compounds.
There are many different types of syphons, some are manually operated and require pressure to pull water into a pipe, and others are electrical or automatic and simply work by pressing a button.
Any and all will perform the task the same, and are excellent at removing waste and detritus build up while performing a water change. Just make sure they are long enough to reach into the pond.
Buckets are extremely versatile and can be used for all different things when it comes to ponds, not just moving water around.
Holding equipment, draining a pond, auto top up systems, even to catch and hold fish. Buckets are a fish keepers’ main tool.
Nets aren’t always required but they can be a valuable tool and assist in catching fish whenever necessary, just be sure they are long enough to reach the bottom and large enough to effectively capture the fish, without causing damage to them.
This equipment isn’t really necessary, but can aid in your fish’s wellbeing and make your pond keeping experience more enjoyable.
Not all ponds have a substrate bottom, many people prefer to keep them bare as it makes for easier cleaning, however, having a fine sand at the bottom of the pond can come with many benefits.
One of these benefits is added filtration. Sand can assist in the filtration of a pond, as the substrate provides a home for millions of tiny organisms and bacteria that can assist in filtration.
Sand also provides a place for plants to root themselves, and grow which also assists in filtration, as plants consume nitrates which are the end product of the nitrogen cycle.
Rocks and decoration
Smooth pebbles or rocks can be a great addition to a pond, either around the outside, or submerged, both provide benefits as on the outside.
They can act as a barrier from intruders and harsh weather, structure and security for marginal plants like barred horsetail, iris and corkscrew, as well as providing reinforcement and structure to the pond’s integrity.
Submerged rocks and pebbles can help with filtration like mentioned in the pond substrate – they can help plants anchor themselves and can provide hiding spots for young fish and fry if you ever plant to breed your goldfish.
Terracotta pots are also a good decoration for natural looking ponds, they provide hiding spots for fish and can add a bit of extra colour and shape to a pond’s design.
Just be sure that the rocks or pots you choose to use haven’t been treated with any pesticides or toxins that could potentially cause harm to your pond creatures.
Best equipment for goldfish ponds
Listed here are some good pieces of equipment, with reputable brands to choose from that we recommend you use in your setup:
Canister filter brands:
- All Pond Solutions
- Finest Filters
Pump and power filter brands:
- Finest Filters
- Blagdon Ponds
- Evolution Aqua
(We recommend that you use a mix of both coarse and fine filter sponge)
- Finest Filters
- All Pond Solutions
- API master test kit
- API 5 in 1 test strips (we recommend the strips that include KH and DH)
During late spring and summer:
- Tetra Pond Sticks Mix
- Tetra Japan Goldfish Pellets
- Vitalis African Cichlid Pellet (Herbivore)
- Nishi Koi (Complete)
During late autumn and winter:
- Tetra Wheatgerm Pond Sticks
- Medikoi Wheatgerm
- All Pond Solutions