More Out of the Norm Fish for a Water Garden: 5 New Alternatives to Koi and Goldfish

Generally most people get the idea to make a water garden and think about putting in some rocks and fountains, sprinkle in water lilies and some cattails, and then drop koi in randomly and let it go. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but some people want a little bit different approach to the water garden. Those that want something different and out of the norm can browse through these five fish and see some variety that can work in a pond or water garden setting.

Crucian Carp

The Crucian Carp, or Carassius carassius, is a medium sized fish, generally getting to around three pounds. They typically are a sport fish, but make a good water garden choice too. As they aren’t very brightly colored they aren’t available in many pond supply or fish supply stores. While there are some that will claim that this fish is the “wild goldfish” it is not. Young fish will have an interesting dot on the base of their tail that will leave as it ages.


Bluegill, or Lepomis macrochirus, is part of the sunfish family and is freshwater. This fish is named for the bright blue side that is seen on the gill and has blue or black gill cover extensions. It will grow to near a foot and a half in length. They tend to eat other smaller fish, so keep that in mind while placing other creatures in a pond with Bluegill.


While there are many fish that are typically called “bass” they are all in the Perch order of fish. There are both salt water and fresh water species; for ponds the freshwater ones will be the ones needed. There are many variations, that will get to different sizes, and there are many different colorings. See through the different types as to which is right for the water garden or pond planned.


The Acipenser is a type of sturgeon, all of which are threatened. Having an acipenser in the pond will need to be thoroughly thought out, but will have the interesting look that all sturgeons have. They too have many different looks and sizes to them depending on the species of Acipenser that is chosen.

Golden Orfe

This freshwater fish, Leuciscus idus, is silver colored and has typically red or gold fins. Other creatures in the pond will need to be carefully thought out as this fish is a predator, eating mostly small fish and insects. It will be a conversation starter with people who realize that the fish has teeth. A real interesting species for a pond.

These fish aren’t the standard koi, they will have many different looks and personalities to bring out in the pond and water feature. Any of these will be viable in a pond setting.