Forum home Wildlife gardening

How big does a pond need to be for sticklebacks?

I've just finished putting in a pond which I'm hoping will attract lots of wildlife to the garden. I'm now thinking of making another smaller one so that I can have some sticklebacks. I'm aiming to keep the first pond stickleback free as I thought they would eat lots of the things I'm trying to attract! How big does a pond need to be for sticklebacks? We're on the east coast of Scotland so I need to go big enough so it doesn't freeze solid in the winter but just wondered if anyone had any thoughts on minimum size? Thanks! 


  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,791
    We had a pond 4x4ft that supported sticklebacks for several years but their numbers gradually declined. So larger than that I think. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    I had a pond in a previous garden and we 'obtained' a little stickleback that had come in on a plant or similar. It was probably a little bit bigger than @Loxley's. The pond - not the stickleback.... ;)  

    If you have enough depth in the pond, it's unlikely to freeze solid anyway. Ours was about 2 feet in the middle, mainly because it was formed as part of a raised area where the back garden met the front, and we had a slope  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 12,181
    Remember that Sticklebacks are carnivores, so will need appropriate food to be in the pond.
    Consequences, altered cases
    Broken noses, altered faces
    My ego altered, altered egos
    Wherever I go, so does me go
  • Tennis ball floating on the surface should stop it freezing over.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    I've never found that works @strelitzia32. They just freeze into the surface  :)
     I have a piece of polystyrene, covered with black gaffer tape, which I float on the surface. The underside has an indent [from something ball shaped it came wrapped round] and that keeps an open area on the surface. It's also got a wire on it to attach it to  the side to stop it disappearing in the wind. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • nick615nick615 SW IrelandPosts: 1,154
    If you can introduce a slightly shallower area, say 1ft (30cms) deep with a gravel bottom to it, they'll like that for making their nest in.
  • Thanks all, I'll have to have a good think. We had sticklebacks in a pond at a previous house and they are great to watch, the idea of seeing them build a nest has reminded me how much I enjoyed them! I think we fed them to start with but once the pond was well established they lived on tadpoles and whatever else appeared. I'd really love to see newts though which we've never had before so trying to increase our chances by not having stickleback predators eating everything in the new pond. Might need to try and work out a reasonable sized space somewhere else for a stickleback pond with a wired gaffer taped dome - brilliant idea! 
  • Even down here in tropical Cornwall it is recommended to dig ponds to at least 4ft to avoid the whole pond from freezing solid. We do not get such extreme weather down here but my pond 6ft circle x 4ft deep in the centre, freezes over on the surface quite regularly during cold winter spells. So far I haven't lost any fish to being frozen. I have a common tench in the pond, once put in the pond it has never been seen again as they are bottom feeders.
    Before moving to Cornwall I arranged for a friend to rehome my fish but it wasn't until I was emptying the pond I found the huge tench which I had forgotten I had put in several years previously. The 4 ft area does not have to be very large, just enough for the fish and critters to hide in while the cold weather lasts. My pit is only about 2ft circle.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 80,396
    I'm afraid that putting a sign up saying This Pond is for Sticklebacks Only ... Newts Keep Out doesn't work ... either they don't learn to read or they're anarchists 😂

    If there's a pond they fancy the newts will find a way in. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Thanks Joyce, I'm impressed with the tench! We used a floating polystyrene ice preventer in a pond years ago and it worked so I could get one of these again - they're not very pretty but they do work.

    I was really wondering if sticklebacks would be happy enough in a small 70 or 90 litre pond or do they really need more space?

    Dovefromabove - it's the other way round! I'm happy for newts to go anywhere, I just didn't want sticklebacks eating them all 😂

    We've had ponds before but always had sticklebacks in them and never saw a newt - I'm wondering if the sticklebacks are the reason...

Sign In or Register to comment.