What kind of fish do I need for my Water Garden?

Question from Sue and Jim Fain:

“We just bought a bunch of guppy type fish from Petco, and they all died within a few days. Any tips on type of fish would be appreciated.”

At the nursery, all of our pots and ponds are stocked with Platies. There are a number of very good reasons for this.

  1. We got our first platies twenty years ago, they have been living and reproducing in our ponds for generations. This makes them perfectly adapted and literally right at home in a water garden.
  2. Pet store fish have lived their whole lives in aquariums and may not do very well in a more natural environment that doesn’t include temperature control, consistently sanitized water, and regular feedings.   
  3. We love our platies in particular because they’re beautiful; bright red or yellow with black fins and tails. Their coloring makes them easy to spot as they dart around the container.
  4. Platies have a knack for self regulating their own population. Get two females for each male, they will reproduce, but not over produce. You will always have fish, but never too many. 
  5. These small fish don’t need much food. They can get all they need from a single aquatic plant. In turn, their waste provides nutrients to the plant, creating a balanced and sustainable ecosystem. 
  6. They eat algae, mosquito larvae and other bugs! 
  7. It’s great fun to get several small platies for your water garden and watch them grow into the container and make more platies! 

Our Platies are available at our nursery in Kilauea for $2.50 each.


  1. Adele

    I just got 4 new platies on Saturday from your stock and are so keen to see every day if they are still alive. Mine are bright red like the picture and I am so keen to see if they will grow big.

    I was wondering if I should feed them more fish food and now I know better. They have plenty of food.

    One question though – if they swim at the bottom I can’t see them. Does that mean that they have enough oxygen?

    Mahalo for your answer.

    1. gardenponds

      Aloha Adele, Platies can grow up to about 3 inches, though usually don’t get bigger than 1 1/2 inches, we here at garden ponds don’t recommend feeding platies. we allow them to help up clean the water garden. clarifying plants like tape grass and hornwort. create oxygen during the day. so unless u are feeding the platies and they are overpopulating the container then the plants should be able to keep up with the oxygen needs of your platies

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