Up until now I’ve only been keeping guppies in my aquarium, but like many people I would love to keep guppies in a larger outside pond. The problem is that a project like this takes time and consists of many steps. Therefore I decided to spent over 8 hours on research and asked other experienced fish keepers about their tips.
Start a guppy pond in spring when the temperature is unlikely to drop below 70 °F / 21 °C. Use a tub that’s at least 20 gallons / 75 L; adding a filter or air stone is recommended but optional. Feed the guppies once a week and add plants to provide hiding spots for the fry.
Obviously there is a lot more to it than this, but now you know the short answer. Keep reading the rest of the page because I will cover everything you must know in order to successfully start and maintain your own guppy pond. I’ll share tips that were given to me by people who’ve been doing this for years that will make everything easier.
What materials do you need to start a guppy pond
First you need to find a suitable container to transform into a pond. Try to find a tub that’s at least 20 gallons or 75 liters as smaller bodies or water are prone to temperature fluctuations. The bigger the pond, the more constant the temperature, which is good.
There are dedicated ponds available to use, but you can also improvise which can save you a lot of money. You can use IBC containers, sturdy plastic tubs or for example these basic pools that are available on Amazon. Old tanks are often sold on places like Ebay or Craigslist for little money but using glass aquariums can be risky as they risk breaking.
Next to the pond itself, I recommend picking up an air pump that you can use to aerate the water in the pond. A filter is optional as many other experienced fish keepers that have had a guppy pond do not use a filter. Many do use an air pump. If you’ve got a relatively large pond you also need to find an adequate air pump. One that’s been recommended as the most bang for your buck is this one on Amazon. Buying a “used” one is better as these pumps last long, increasing the chance to find a good deal.
Another piece of equipment you can consider is a fountain or pump that adds a flow to your pond. Just like when it comes to healthy aquariums, water flow adds to the overall quality of the pond. From all the examples I’ve reviewed I noticed only a handful had some for of water flow. Most guppy ponds did not, which makes this equipment a nice addition but optional.
To provide hiding spots and maintain a better water quality you’re going to need some live plants to add. We’ll get into this a little bit further down when we cover how to set up your pond for the best chances of success.
How to set up a guppy pond for success
Depending on where you’re from, a guppy pond is a seasonal endeavor. Guppies are tropical fish so unless you live in a tropical climate, you’ll only be able to have an outside guppy pond during the warmer period of the year. For many of us the temperature remains high enough near the end of May / begin of June.
To provide the best start for your guppies, set up the pond about a month before you’re adding the first inhabitants. During this month, the pond can mature a little. What I mean with this is that the 30 days without fish gives the algae a chance to grow. When timed correctly, this first month also gives mosquito’s the chance to lay eggs that will hatch to be mosquito larvae. This is the great guppy food!
Adding guppy-proof plants to your pond
Now that you know when to set up your pond, we need to think about the content. Adding plants is super easy and a great way to help keep the water clean for your guppies. Great plants to add are water wisteria, water sprite, java moss, water hyacinth and floating plants like water lettuce or duckweed.
If you had to choose just two of the plants above, I recommend choosing a lot of java moss and floating plants. The moss provides shelter for newborn fry and will protect them from hungry adult guppies. The floating plants (obviously) provide cover near the water surface and will prevent stressed guppies.
If you want, you can (before even adding water) add a layer of potting soil followed by a layer of plain gravel to the pond. The potting soil will provide nutrients for any plants that depend on their roots. The layer of soil with gravel is great when you want to add plants that need to be rooted.
Add cover and (sun) protection
Some of the best guppy ponds that I’ve reviewed all had a net protecting anything large to get into the pond. You need to find what works for you, but using something like bird-netting is a great way to protect your guppies from the outside world. It’s definitely not expensive and widely available. Here’s an example on Amazon and if you buy through my links I get a tiny commission for which I am grateful.
If you live in warmer areas you also need to protect your pond from the sun. Direct sunlight is not a problem, but the temperature needs to be more or less constant and not too high. It’s best to place your pond in the shade. Again, smaller ponds are more susceptible to large temperature fluctuations than larger ponds.
How to maintain a healthy guppy pond
Now that you know how to set up a guppy pond, it’s time to briefly cover the maintenance required. The great news is, there is hardly any maintenance, especially when you compare the weekly maintenance with a regular aquarium. You’ll not be spending a lot of time on your guppy pond on a weekly basis, but you do have to know what you’re doing.
Feeding guppies in a pond
Guppies swimming in a guppy pond only have to be fed once a week. They do not need to be fed often and they also do not need much, as there is a lot of natural food already present in your pond. Guppies can feed on algae and insects that they find in the pond.
If you’re going to feed your guppies, make sure not to over feed them. This is very important, as all uneaten food will start to decay and cause the ammonia levels in your pond to rise. As you probably know, ammonia is toxic in low concentrations and can easily stress out or kill your fish.
Guppy pond maintenance: water changes and cleaning
You do not have to perform water chances on a guppy pond, which drastically drives down the amount of time you are spending on maintenance. If your pond is not protected from the rain your water chances will be done for you every time it rains.
If you do have a filter in your guppy pond, make sure to check on it every other week to see whether it’s clogged or not. That’s about all the maintenance that you need to do, as you also do not have to regularly clean a guppy pond.