Have you dreamed of adding a koi pond to your garden? Do you have a hankering to join the healthy microgreen trend without the lofty price tag from the grocery store or farmer’s market? Why not combine both interests in an aquaponic water garden? We’ve reviewed the best patio pond containers for water gardens this year, focusing on containers that would work well for growing hydroponic or water plants. Most of the options on our list suit plants due to practical limitations, but a few can accommodate fish as well. Keep that in mind when choosing the pond container that works for you.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024
The 9 Best Patio Pond Containers
1. Aquascape Aquatic Patio Pond Water Garden with Bamboo Fountain – Best Overall
Our best overall choice for patio pond containers for water gardens is the Aquascape Aquatic Patio Pond Water Garden with Bamboo Fountain. This pond adds an elegant Oriental touch to your garden with the included fountain. You can plant water lilies or other hydro-dwelling plants in the 5.5-gallon gray container and listen as the bamboo fountain steadily trickles water into the pond. The high-quality fiberglass gives the container an expensive appearance despite the average price.
The Aquascape Aquatic Patio Pond doesn’t have as much space as many options on our list, so it’s not an ideal environment for fish. Additionally, there isn’t a water filtration system, so you probably don’t want to use it in areas prone to mosquitoes since the standing water may invite larvae. It’s an ideal planter for an indoor water garden year-round, or as an outdoor container in cooler weather.
2. Laguna Lily Planting Tub – Best Value
This 9-gallon circular tub is a true steal. While other water garden containers can cost over $100, the Laguna Lily Planting Tub costs less than $25. Our best value choice doesn’t have any bells and whistles like a water fountain or filtration system, so it’s probably not the best habitat for fish. It’s simply a plain plastic tub with a 19.5” circumference and 9.5” height. However, it’s the perfect size to plant some water lilies to adorn your patio and we think it’s the best patio pond container for the money.
3. Aquascape AquaGarden Pond and Waterfall Kit – Premium Choice
Our premium choice, the Aquascape AquaGarden Pond and Waterfall Kit, takes your water container garden to another level. The top tier hosts a clay planting medium, discreetly covered with the same decorative gravel that lines the bottom layer. The waterfall creates a relaxing atmosphere for your garden and circulates water to prevent it from growing stagnant.
While this container holds a generous 5-7 gallons of water, we don’t know how we feel about using it to house small fish. There have been reports of smaller fish such as goldfish being fatally trapped in the propeller. However, other customers say their fish are thriving in the enclosure, so use your best judgment.
4. Tuff Stuff Products KMT101 Oval Tank
The Tuff Stuff KMT101 tank holds more water than any other container we reviewed. At 40 gallons, it’s more than sufficient for your gardening needs and can stock fish as well. However, it doesn’t have any special features, such as a water filtration system, so you might want to add one if you plan for it to teem with living creatures.
We’re happy to see that the design supports fish both in the enclosure and in the wild since it’s made with 100% recycled plastic. Customers testify that the container is super durable. One customer even uses it as a heavy-duty litter box for their high maintenance cat! Even so, it does have a rather plain design, so you might want to use it for an underground garden or surround it with decorative plants.
5. AquaSprouts Garden Self-Sustaining Desktop Aquarium Aquaponics Ecosystem Kit
A symbiotic combination between a fish tank and a planter? Yes please! The AquaSprouts Garden combines two of our passions by growing plants out of the top of a fish tank. Plants refresh the water for the fish, while the by-products from the marine animals nourish the plants. The black plastic frame surrounds the tank and gives it a modern style. Unfortunately, you do have to supply the fish tank separately, but the enclosure has a 10-gallon capacity for reference.
6. Sungmor 16 Inch Large Size Water Plant Pot
The blue-black painted texture gives this high-quality resin planter a stately stone appearance. At under $60, the Sungmor is one of the most cost-efficient planters on our list. There’s no water fountain or filtration system, but the 8” deep bowl gives sufficient space to add extra features if you’d like.
7. Back To The Roots Aquaponic Garden and Fishtank
You can watch your fish through the clear-sided tub of the Back To The Roots Aquaponic Garden and Fishtank and admire your plants as they’re nourished by the self-watering tank. The 3-gallon capacity isn’t as big as some of the tanks we reviewed, so it probably can’t hold more than one finned friend. The plant portion has plenty of growing space, though, which is good for microgreens and even bamboo.
If you live in a cold area, the plastic design allows you to bring gardening fun indoors in the winter because you don’t have to worry about kids or pets shattering glass. Plus, this aquaponic system is truly low maintenance. All you’ll need to do is clean the water filtration system and feed your fish! It’s worth noting that while most customers express positive feedback about using Back To The Roots as a fish tank, a few lamented the loss of their fish due to the notorious water filtration system. However, it’s possible these fish were already dying from other causes since this doesn’t appear to be a common issue.
8. AquaSprouts Fountain Aquaponics Ecosystem Kit
If you’re wanting to learn aquaponics on a small scale, we recommend investing in AquaSprouts Fountain Aquaponics Ecosystem Kit. With the marbled plastic and soothing waterfall, this planter masquerades as stone for a moderate price tag. The 6-gallon capacity is more than enough room to house one or two Betta fish, and the upper layer holds up to six plants. As an added perk, there’s no nefarious water filter to suck up the fish. However, you’ll need to freshen up the water every once in a while.
9. AquaSprouts Fountain Aquaponics Ecosystem Kit
The dark gray marbling gives this plastic AquaSprouts Fountain Aquaponics Ecosystem Kit a regal appearance that we would expect from a traditional garden. We like how the 8-gallon capacity is a little larger than some aquaponics systems we’ve reviewed, making it perfect for small fish. Like the other option from Aquaponics, there’s a waterfall but no water filtration system, which means you may have to clean the tank occasionally. However, growing plants should automatically clean the water, so you shouldn’t have to intervene very often.
Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Patio Pond Containers for Water Gardens
What Are Hydroponic and Aquaponic Gardens?
You might have heard about hydroponic and aquaponic gardening as floating terms by botanical enthusiasts without really knowing what exactly they entail. Hydroponic gardening refers to growing plants in water, with no fish involved. Unless you’re growing floating plants such as water lilies, you still need a planting medium such as clay or gravel to allow the plants to root, but you don’t have to worry about forgetting to water your plant since they continually stay hydrated.
You still must fertilize this garden as you would feed your earth-dwelling plants, however, which is why some people prefer the aquaponic technique. Aquaponic gardening is a type of hydroponic garden. Instead of using chemical fertilizers to feed the plants, the aquaponic way includes fish in the tank below the plants. The fish’s feces nourish the plants, and the plants purify the water in their tank. This symbiotic relationship allows a hands-off approach for the gardener, which is why this method is a nifty trick for the would-be plant enthusiast who doesn’t have much time.
How to Care for Hydroponic and Aquaponic Gardens
Every plant needs water and sunlight to grow. Hydroponic and aquaponic gardens solve the first problem, but you’ll still need to research the lighting requirements to determine where to place your patio container. Some houseplants don’t like direct light, while others may thrive in the full sun. Know before you grow so that you can choose the most appropriate plant species and container for your space.
How to Choose a Patio Garden Container
Consider your gardening goals when deciding on a container. What type of plants are you wanting to grow? Are you planning on a hydroponic garden, or an aquaponic garden? Fish ideally need at least 5 gallons of tank space, so a container smaller than this would be better for a hydroponic garden only.
Are you placing your container indoors or outdoors? Most options on our list would work for either, but some are better suited for use, such as the Back To The Roots Indoor Aquaponic Garden and Fishtank. However, you can leave this tank on your patio if you live in a warm area as long as you bring it inside if it gets too cold for your particular fish and/or plant species.
You’ll also need to consider your climate. A standing water garden may not be ideal for boggy areas since the stagnant water can draw mosquitoes. You’ll definitely need a water filtration system in that type of environment. Conversely, fish and houseplants excel in tropical ecosystems and will not tolerate brisk northern winter outdoors. If you live somewhere that’s consistently cooler than 75 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll probably need to invest in a water heater or bring the garden indoors when temperatures drop.
Whether you’re dreaming of a hydroponic or aquaponic system, you’ll be sure to find a container on our list that’ll suit your goals. Our overall best choice, the Aquascape Aquatic Patio Pond Water Garden with Bamboo Fountain, was one of the most elegant options for a hydroponic garden but might not be the best with fish. The Laguna Lily Planting Tub suits most of your hydroponic garden needs on a budget. Our premium choice, the Aquascape 78325, features two layers and a waterfall. Although you might be able to use the Aquascape as a fish tank planter, we recommend using the Back To The Roots Indoor Aquaponic Garden or one of the AquaSprouts containers further down the list to house fishy friends.
Featured Image Credit: Pietro Tasca, Shutterstock