How to Build a Fish Pond in Your Apartment

Just because you live in an apartment or other small space does not mean that you should not be able to enjoy your own fish pond. I have done it myself and found that not only is it easy, but it is inexpensive as well. All you need to start is a small porch area or tiled area near a sunny window.

If you will be keeping goldfish in your pond, you need to buy a good book on caring for them first. Goldfish are, contrary to popular belief, a delicate and finicky species which require special care. They are cold water fish, not tropical, and will not benefit from full direct sunlight.

Absolutely never put Koi into a small fish pond. They may be small when they are babies, but they become large and will quickly outgrow their surroundings. When choosing fish, remember to pick light-colored fish that you will be able to see against the dark bottom of your pond.


  • One very large sealed flower pot (waterproofed) or a sealed or lined half whiskey barrel. Some garden and hardware stores sell kits for ponds.
  • Dark or black stones to line the bottom of the pond no more than 1 inch deep. Larger stones about the size of a nickel are better than gravel.
  • One water pump that does about 40-50 gallons per hour
  • One piece of PVC pipe at least 4 inches in diameter and cut just shorter than the water level of your pond. Black PVC will look better than white PVC.
  • One small flower pot just larger around the base than your PVC pipe
  • Small lava rock and large pieces of aquarium charcoal (not grilling charcoal)
  • One tube of aquarium sealer

Your fish will need some plants, so make a trip to the pet store to pick some up. Potted plants are lovely, but choose plants in tiny pots that will not take up too much of your fishes' swimming space. Be wary of plants that float on the surface like lily pads. They will greatly reduce the amount of oxygen your fish will be able to get. Anacharis is cheap and can be tied in bundles to a rock with a rubber band to weigh it down. Always check plants and wash them thoroughly for snails and their eggs. Snails will destroy your small ecosystem and you will never be able to get rid of them.

Start by setting the pond up where you would like to keep it. If the pond is set up indoors, it should not be set up on carpet. Find a tiled or concrete area. It will need sunlight for part of the day. A porch corner is a nice place. If the spot you choose gets direct sunlight for most of the day, try to find a way to shade your pond just a little such as placing it under a large indoor plant or tree. It will also need to be near an electrical outlet or you will have to use an extension cord.

Next, cut a u-shaped groove in the top end of our PVC pipe. The groove should be at least 2 inches wide and 1-2 inches deep. Place the pipe flat-end down in your pond, not too close to the edge. If you like, you can secure it with a little aquarium sealer. Let it dry completely, then add the cleaned rocks around it in the bottom of your pond. Always wash and rinse well anything you are going to add to your pond.

Place the water pump inside the PVC pipe and hang the wire and tubes outside of the groove. You want the intake portion down on the bottom of your pond for sucking up dirt and debris. Cover it with a few rocks to keep your fish from getting sucked up against it.

Take the end where the water comes out and place it inside the hole in the bottom of your small flower pot so that it sticks about a ½ inch in. Seal around the hole in the little pot well with aquarium sealer to hold the tube in place. This will be your pond filter. Once the sealer is completely dry, fill the small pot with lava rock and large rinsed aquarium charcoal. Set the pot on top of the PVC pipe. When the pump is turned on, the water should fill the pot, get cleaned by the lava rock and charcoal, and pour over the side of the pot and back into the pond. A filter is a must if your pond will have fish.

When all aquarium sealant is completely dry as per instructions on the tube, add the water and plants. Chlorine will kill fish almost instantly, so it is important to wait 24-48 hours before adding the fish. When adding water in the future, always let the water sit uncovered for a couple of days first to let the chlorine evaporate. It is a good idea to always keep a few jugs of water especially for your fish under your sink in case of emergency.

Now you are ready to add your fish. You should not keep more than 2 fish in a pond this size and absolutely never more than three. Water only holds a small amount of oxygen and too many fish in a tank will cause them to suffocate and they will die after too long.

Let your fish adjust to the water temperature first by floating them in their bag in the water for about one hour. Never overfeed your fish. The excess food will upset the water quality of your pond. Goldfish also enjoy fresh lettuce and small thin orange slices with the seeds and juice removed. If you planted anacharis in your pond, it will provide a healthy snack for your goldfish.

To care for your pond, make sure you empty and rinse the filter rocks and add new charcoal once ever 1-2 months. Add water as necessary and change 1-2 gallons of it with fresh water when you clean the filter. Check your fish periodically for disease and be sure to read up on fish care regularly.

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