Do you have a swimming pool on your property you don’t use anymore? Why not turn your swimming pool into a pond so you can harvest your own fresh fish for your family?

We changed our swimming pool last year into a fresh fish pond and today I am going to teach you how to the same thing on your property. Soon you will be able to enjoy whatever fish are native to the freshwater lakes in your area.

Are you ready to dive into a new self-reliant skill on the road to reliance that you will love? Let’s get started.

In-ground pool turned fish pond
An in-ground pool converted to a fish pond

Why Turn a Pool Into a Pond

You might be wondering why you would want to turn your swimming pool into a pond. Well, it actually makes a lot of sense.

Many people love to fish. A day at the lake or ocean means fresh fish and seafood right? But what about all the pollutants that enter our natural waters in the United States – oil, waste, and so on?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to eat anything that swims in contaminated water, even if they do say it is safe to eat. After all, I grow my own food so why not raise my own fish?

When you turn a swimming pool into a pond, you gain the ability to raise your own fish. Not only that, but think about other life that will present itself. Frogs, tadpoles, lizards, as well as new plants, mosses, and ferns, will even flourish there.

You can float vegetables and herbs (aquaponics) in your pond. That’s a whole other post though for later. Right now, let’s talk about how to get started turning a swimming pool into a pond.

Swimming pool turned fish pond
Our Backyard swimming pool turned into a fish pond

Getting Started

The first thing you must do is stop putting any chemicals into the pool. What will happen is that over time the chlorine and any other chemicals in the pool will disappear. In turn, you will be left with a pool of green water and algae.

That green alga is a good sign that your pool can start being transformed into a pond. One thing to watch for when your pool is ready is, of course, life. Yep, watch closely, little tiny minnow-type fish should appear. You may even see some frogs.

At this point, it is ready to have even more life added to it.

If you have a saltwater pool, you must test the water first, even if you have algae and life swimming. The salt level must be below 1500 parts per million for your pond to be safe for plants and fish.

Pool ready for fish
The pool is ready for fish and more plants

Filter and Pump Considerations

Your pond will need a way to filter the water and aerate the water. There are many options available, depending on the size of your pond. The filter that came from your pool is sufficient.

In general, select a pump with a gallons-per-hour (GPH) pumping capacity that equals half the pond’s gallon capacity. For example, for a 4,000-gallon pond, choose a 2,000-GPH pump.

Swimming pool pump
Your pump can be enclosed in a tote or box to hide and protect it.

Adding Plants

We are lucky enough to. have a small lake behind our property. From it we took some lily pads and some cattails. We put the cattails in small 6″ pots and then filled the pots with some rocks. We attached the pots to the side rails of the pool. The Lillies float on the top.

Keep in mind that the Lillies will take over if you don’t keep up with them. So make sure to remove some every so often.

Get your FREE Printable Pond Plants Lists HERE!

You can also purchase plants online. I have listed a few resources for pond plants below this post in the Resources Section. If you have a deep pool, make sure to attach the plants so they don’t sink to the bottom.

Plants add aeration and a food source for your fish. They are a necessary part of a successful ecosystem.

Lillies in pond
Water Lillies in bloom

Adding Other Elements

Depending on what you choose to have in your pond, you may want to add some rocks and or other items to your pond so that the smaller fish have some hiding places.

We are having river rock added to the bottom of our pond. I am waiting on delivery as we speak and will simply drop them by the bucket full until the bottom of the pool has about an inch or two of coverage.

I also have some bigger rocks that I will place on top of the rocks. The smaller, rounded river rocks on the bottom will allow me to place the bigger rocks in my pond without tearing the pool liner.

We have a small turtle and frogs in our pond so we also placed a log on a slope in our pool. This is so the frogs and turtles can come out of the water safely and get some sun without leaving the pond.

River rock used when turning your swimming pool into a pond
River rock is safe for the pool-turned pond because of the round shape of the rocks.

Choosing Your Fish

We fish our local lakes and what we catch, we throw in an aerated cooler. When we get home we place them in our pond. I don’t recommend that you do this though unless you are sure the fish is completely healthy.

I would recommend that you order your fish from a fish hatchery locally. This way you know they are healthy and that they will thrive in your pond. I have added some well-known and reputable hatcheries in the Resources Section below.

Get Your FREE Printable Best Pond Fish List HERE!

The recommended amount of fish is one pound of fish per ten gallons of water.

School of Tilapia

Common fish for a home pond may include the following:

  • Tilapia – Water temps must stay between 77 – 86 degrees or you will need a heater
  • Catfish – Very resilient fish, can withstand very cold and very hot temps.
  • Carp – Very similar to Koi, raised for food
  • Trout – Does well in very cold temps but need very clean water
  • Koi – Raised for selling purposes, very hardy fish
  • Largemouth Bass – Excellent for food
  • Salmon
  • Perch

Feeding Your Fish

When you first start your pond, you will not have established a true ecosystem. Therefore, you will have to purchase commercial fish food. These are available anywhere pet and livestock feed is sold.

Once your pond is established and your ecosystem is in place you should not have to feed your fish at all.

An easy way to determine whether to feed your fish is by how much food they consume. If you throw a handful of feed pellets in the pool and they devour them instantly, they are not getting enough food.

However, if you have plenty of plants and organic matter in your pond, and the food stays floating for a long period of time, it is probably safe to assume they get enough food from the pond itself. At this point, you can stop providing the feed.

Fish food
A handful of feed pellets for our fish

Adding Decoration and Upkeep

There are many ways you can be creative with your backyard pool-turned-pond. We used leftover, cutoffs from an old privacy fence we replaced to surround the sides of our pool. It made it look much better from the road than an old green pool.

It also gave us a way to hang some plants and things on the pool without attaching them directly to the pool. We even added a Tilapia sign a friend gave us.

You can decorate your pool as you wish. Please keep in mind if there are children nearby, install a fence for safety around your pool. many towns require this anyway.

The only maintenance we do anymore is to remove fallen leaves from the top and any dead plants. We don’t remove dead fish as you would think. They actually turn into fish food and help maintain the ecosystem.

Now we enjoy fresh fish when we want them, and have a beautiful pond at the same time.

Pool with recycled fence and Tilapia sign
Our recycled privacy fencing around the pool with our Tilapia sign


Fish Hatcheries and Supplies:

  • Tilapia Depot: supplies tilapia fingerlings and channel catfish, also sells fish food
  • Lakeway Tilapia: Absolutely everything Tilapia you could need, guides included
  • J & J Aquafarms: Tons of fish, food, and supplies for any aquaponics need you may have
  • Beavers Fish Farm: All natural supplies, feed, and fish available
  • Troutlodge: One of the few places you can order salmon eggs
  • Jonesfish: For everything fish related, make sure to get their catalog.

Pond Plants and Supplies:

Final Thoughts on Turning Your Swimming Pool Into A Pond

Now you can turn your swimming pool into a freshwater pond and provide your family with a great source of fish as an added food source. And you have learned yet another self-reliant skill on your personal journey to the Road to Reliance.


  1. Thank you for this article!! We are in the process of turning our small pool into a pond because we rarely use it; it’s in the woods, and, we love native plants/gardens and it seems like a huge disconnect for us to use a pool with chlorination. We even changed it into a salt pool, but this is virtually the same to the animals…For two years we have found beautiful frogs in our pool when we have opened it…Such a shame to displace them…Anyway, I am writing to see if you would be a further resource if we needed to ask you more questions? Thank you for your time and attention. Karen & Robert

  2. Love to see this article. I live in Arizona and have just started this journey two days ago. We are super excited!!

  3. I have an above ground pool that i want to turn into a fish and frog pond. My current filter will not work as the suction through the skimmer and out the jet is so great it would kill my life in the pool. How can i covert this system to something more pond friendly?

    1. Author

      I would go on Amazon and look for a simply aerator that puts oxygen into the pool. I also have a piece of screen over my intake so that nothing gets sucked into the filter. Fish and frogs stay away from the “pulling” water.

  4. I am seriously thinking about doing this. I have a 30,000 gal cement pool that has hardly been used in the last two years. Just costing me money and I am relying on others to vacuume and brush it when green starts. Shocking it once a week in this heat. We’re getting older also. In the spring the frogs and toads lay their eggs on the tarp we use to cover. . This would be awesome!!

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