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How shallow of a pond/pool can fish survive in?

 
garden master
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I'm hoping to dig a few small pools over the next few months, that will most likely be just a few feet wide and deep, and I would like to have some with fish, and some without fish.

These will be just filled with rain water.

I've been reading about the depth needed for fish to survive the heat of summer and the cool of winter, and am seeing a wide range of depths mentioned, so I thought the best thing may be to ask people here what they've actually seen.

I'm guessing the range may be due to the size of the fish, with smaller fish being able to survive in more shallow water, and bigger fish needing deeper water.

What's the shallowest you've seen fish survive and what kind were they (if you know) ?
 
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We had Bluegill in our seasonal creek at about 18 inch depth of water.  My aquaponics tanks are maybe that deep, with Bluegill doing very well.

Really tough fish like Bluegill can live in shallow water, but something like Bass or Trout might require deeper water which can stay cool in hot weather.

In both the above situations, the water was moving, so there was good aeration.  Still or stagnant shallow water will kill fish right quick.

 
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One consideration is predators - too shallow, and a heron or raccoon can clean you out pretty quickly.
 
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It will depend on your weather, In my climate the only consideration is that it must be deep enough to not freeze solid in winter so about 3ft is fine here. That also gives enough depth to hide from herons and cats.
 
Steve Thorn
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I wonder if I could plant lots of water plants to help clean and oxygenate the water, and the fish could also hide from predators in the plants.

I also have some rocks that I plan to put in the bottom and along the side to help regulate the water temperature and provide more shelter and habitat.
 
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If it is spring fed/flowing then 1ft in the summer and less than 2ft in the winter.
If it is a pond/stagnant then 3ft to prevent overheating in the the summer and whatever the frost depth in the winter +1ft.

So the short answer is 3ft.
 
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I think it's also highly dependent upon the species.  Largemouth bass and bluegills are a farm pond staple around here.  They can handle a bit warmer water and less oxygen (I think).  Trout are trickier.  Some species are probably even easier (catfish? carp? bullheads?) in mucky low oxygen waters.
 
Steve Thorn
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I'm interested to see if I can get them to hold water year round. I have a few really wet places that I think could hold the water well.

I guess I could see which ones hold water for the year and then add fish to those after that. It would probably give some time for the plants to get established also.
 
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    Really great information here. I need it for the pond I’ll be digging in the spring. I wasn’t sure if I was planning deep enough.
 
pollinator
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I think it is very much related to your climate.  In this area, pond depth for fish ponds is at least 10 feet for warm water ponds, deeper for cold water species.

UW-Madison says minimum of 12 feet to avoid winterkill and for correct oxygen levels in summer.

Wisconsin Lake and Pond Resource: "These ponds vary in depth but ideally should be deeper than 12′ and up to 30′ deep at times."

From Michigan DNR: "Minimum depth for sustaining warm water species like bass and panfish is 10 feet. For trout and other cold water species, the minimum is 12 feet or more unless a cold spring or stream feeds the pond. The entire pond need not be this deep, but unless 25 to 50 percent of its surface area lies at such depths, the pond will not provide the right amount of dissolved oxygen in winter and range of temperatures in summer that fish need to survive."

 
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You need to make sure there is air/ water circulation .. we have a 5 metre dam that is dying as it is too deep due to lack of movement .. so we are having to spend $10k on three air pumps.  The fish can not survive this this environment.
 
Giselle Burningham
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Amend should read : 5 metres DEEP!
 
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