How Deep Does a Pond Need to be for Catfish

How Deep Does a Pond Need to be for Catfish?

Whether you’re looking to balance your pond populations, experience great catfishing, or just clean up your overgrown algae, catfish can be a great addition to your freshwater pond. Before running to the pet store, first, you’ll want to make sure your pond offers the proper conditions to suit catfish life.

How deep does a pond need to be for catfish? For private or recreational ponds, the ideal depth would be from five to eight feet. With a minimum water depth of two feet. For commercial catfish ponds, the average total pond depth needs to be seven to seven and a half feet. With a minimum water depth of three feet at all times.

Coming up: There are multiple types of catfish ponds to choose from, with some being better or worse for the catfish themselves. Learn a little bit about catfish production farming and discover the types of catfish and their ideal pond conditions. As well, consider these other breeds of fish that mingle well with catfish and be informed about winter pond procedures.

Types of Catfish Ponds

ideal catfish pond conditions
  • Earthen Pond: Manually dug ponds in a natural environment. These include your man-made ponds and lakes, backyard ponds, and anything manually dug out of the Earth. The most popular pond, catfish thrives here.
  • Concrete Pond: Concrete poured in a shape to hold water for a pond. Very popular in urban areas where catfish farming occurs. It can be constructed by digging out the earth then pouring concrete, or above ground. Versatile but not the best quality of life for catfish.
  • Plastic or Rubber Tanks: These are often manufactured for raising catfish and come in various sizes. Not good quality of life, usually temporary.
  • Synthetic Leather Pond: Similar to an earthen pond for being dug out of the earth. Except for the walls of the pond are layered in a form of rubber or tarp to prevent water erosion. Popular pond, good quality of life. Catfish enjoy muddy pond bottoms best, so this isn’t the most ideal for them.
  • Cage Tank: Large cages placed in natural bodies of water to replicate natural environments for catfish. Good for breeding, nice habitat, and quality of life. Cramped space, though.

How Deep Does a Pond Need to be Stocked With Fish?

For small ponds, four feet depth will keep predators from targeting your fish and prevent evaporation. Although, it is recommended to have a minimum depth of at least six feet at your deepest section for ponds stocked with fish.

In small ponds, such as two to three feet deep, goldfish and other small breeds can survive. This is not ideal conditions for these breeds, though.

Minimum Pond Sizes for Catfish Production

For commercial catfish production, your pond must be a minimum of 1.2 meters deep (A little over three feet). Ideally, it will be deeper, between five to eight feet deep, but this is the minimum requirement for Mississippi.

This varies for what type of catfish pond you’re producing.

Do Catfish do Well in Small Ponds?

While catfish thrive in pond life, they may not be the best option for your small pond. They do not do anything to clean the water and considerably lower the water quality overall.

Also, they tend to bully Koi fish and each their food, so these two might not be the best pairing in pond life.

Catfish thrive best in larger pond settings, with deep depths and shallow edges.

Best Breeds of Catfish for Ponds

  • Channel Catfish: These catfish are scavengers and won’t mess with your other fish. They mainly eat dead animals and algae off the bottom of the pond floor. They are also the most common and easiest to obtain for your pond.
  • White Catfish: Essentially albino catfish. These are also great for pond life and can live five to ten years. Other than appearance, they are the same as channel catfish. These catfish might be harder to obtain for your pond, but if you’re lucky you might find some!
  • Blue Catfish: Require a current to survive, so if you are wanting them in your pond you are going to need some serious aerators and pumps. If not, it’s best to leave them to canals and rivers. They are great for fishing if you’re near a canal or river!
  • Flathead Catfish: Reproduce very well in pond life but can eat everything in a pond if an aggressive eater. If you have multiple, say goodbye to the rest of your pond life. These catfish are mostly bred in ponds strictly for the purpose of fishing for sport.

Ideal Catfish Pond Conditions

The utmost ideal conditions for a catfish pond include:

  • At least eight feet deep with pond edges sloping quickly to three feet deep.  Three feet is the minimum depth, the entire pond should be this or deeper.
  • Full with aquatic plants such as; fishbone water fern, iris flag, Japanese iris, Egyptian paper plant, umbrella grass, watercress, or water mint.
  • Warmer water 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. With this being said they can survive winter temperatures through hibernation. Catfish will enter hibernation when temperatures reach 40-50 degrees.
  • Stones or gravel at bottom of the pond with mud underneath. This way food can get trapped in the stones for them.
  • Some type of aeration or filtration system.

Fish That Do Well With Catfish

Fish breeds that mingle well with catfish are corys, danios, gouramis, guppies, loaches, mollies, platies, plecos, rasboras, swordtails, and tetras. Although these breeds of fish mix well together, they all thrive best with multiples of their own kind.

We recommended to get at least four to six fish of each breed you want for the highest success of integration.

You can also house turtles and frogs in your pond with your catfish, to make for an ultimate nature experience. Beware that during winter your creatures might not make it if you experience harsh winters.

Winter Catfish Pond Procedures

Important tips and reminders for winterizing your pond:

  • Leading up to cold months, begin consistently feeding your fish more food. Once water temps drop to 40-50 degrees, your fish will go into hibernation and no longer eat. They need to be full for hibernation!
  • Treat pond with bacterial prevention if you desire.
  • Never break pond ice! No throwing rocks, breaking with a hammer, etc. You could injure or kill a hibernating fish on accident.
  • Consider a filtration system or aerator, ice can close off the pond from natural filtration and cause bacterial issues.

Ideal Catfish Pond Depth

So, how deep does a pond need to be to house catfish?

  • Privately, at least five to eight feet deep.
  • Commercially, seven to seven and a half feet deep.
  • Earthen types of ponds are the most popular catfish pond. Your pond needs to be at least four feet deep to stand a chance against predators and evaporation.

Channel and white catfish are the best breeds of catfish for pond life. Ideal conditions for catfish include deep waters with shallow sloping edges, warm waters, stone-bottomed ponds, plenty of plant life. Catfish mingle well with corys, guppies, swordtails, tetras, and more.

Catfish can be a great addition to your pond, or they can be a nuisance. Farming catfish can be expensive and a lot of maintenance. Make sure to make the right decision before adding to your marine life!