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Do Ducks Need a Pond? Duck Pond Ideas

Do Ducks Need a Pond?  Duck Pond Ideas
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It is a common misconception that you need to have a large pond or lake in your yard if you want to keep ducks.  Lucky for us suburban farmers, that is just not true! Backyard ducks will be happy with a small wading pool.

When space is a concern and you don’t have the luxury of a natural body of water in your yard, picking the right breed is important.   There are lots of breeds of domesticated ducks, these ducks have been bred for years to be raised by humans on traditional farms, in backyards, or even as indoor pets!  Click here to read about different duck breeds.

Domestic breeds spend more time on land

Some of the most popular domestic breeds include: Buff, Cayuga, Pekin, Indian Runner, Rouen, Welsh Harlequin, Swedish, Muscovy, White Crested, Khaki Campbell & Call Ducks.  Unlike their wild ornamental relatives who spent most of their lives on the water, domestic ducks only spend about 10% of their day in the water.  They are happy to forage in the woods, nest in the bushes, and spend their day searching for slugs in the garden.  Another benefit of domesticated duck breeds is they are bred to be very poor flyers, so you don’t have to worry about them taking off.

Domesticated ducks might not NEED a pond, but they would LOVE a little pool for splashing!  Before you get out the shovel to start digging, dial it back a bit.  Ducks love splishing and splashing, but they don’t need an Olympic size pool.  They will be happy with a small kiddie pool or stock tank.  

With a large pond, cleaning can be a hassle, but a small kiddie pool is easy to dump and refill every day or two.  The only requirement ducks have is water deep enough for them to submerge their whole head.  They need to keep their mucous membranes moist so having clean water available at all times is really important.

My duck pool experiments

We have tried several pool configurations in our years of keeping backyard ducks. Some worked better than others.

Tiny Kiddie Pool

At first, when we had just two ducks, we bought a very small kiddie pool.  This is a great little pool, about 3 feet across and about 5 inches deep, and holds maybe 20 gallons of water.  It’s good for little ducklings or a small flock of ducks.  I love that it is super easy to dump and scrub, which means I can easily & quickly clean it.  The downside is it needs to be dumped every day in the summer, or every other day in the spring/fall.

duck pool

Stock Tank Pool

As our ducks grew, we realized they really wanted to dive and swim underwater (which is really hard in just a few inches of water).  We found a 150 gallon stock tank on a yard sale site for cheap so we snapped that up. It is 38 inches tall and 58 inches long.  This pool has been more hassle than it’s worth.  

Things I like about the stock tank are that it is super deep (the ducks LOVED diving in it!) and that it has a drain plug in the bottom for emptying.

The things I hate are numerous – because it is deep, that means it’s really tall so a ramp of some kind needs to be made to get the ducks into the pool.  We tried many things and never really found a good solution. We tried building steps out of cinder blocks, a long plywood ramp, even an old plastic slide from our kid’s old playset. You could bury it to make it level with the ground, but then you can’t access the drain and it would be impossible to clean without buying pond equipment.

It was really deep, but the surface area was so small, only a couple of ducks could fit in at once.  But what I hated most was all the water waste – 150 gallons is A LOT of water, we didn’t have a good place for it to drain, and it killed me to waste that much water every few days.  Besides the waste, the time involved in waiting for it to drain and then filling it back up was just insane compared to the 5 minutes it took to clean the little kiddie pool.  We only filled this tank up a couple of times before giving up on it.

duck pool options

Bigger Kiddie Pool

So we went back to the kiddie pool idea but got a MUCH bigger one.  This new one is 5 feet across and about 10 inches deep, it holds about 130 gallons.  The ducks loved having all the surface area to swim, and the water is just deep enough to dive a little bit.

This pool is much harder to dump than the small pool and takes forever to fill, but it didn’t have to be changed as often (I could dump it once or twice a week vs four-five times a week with the small pool). I didn’t love all the water waste when dumping this big pool.

I want to install a drain in the bottom connected to a series of pipes to bring the used water to our orchard.  I drilled a hole in the pool and used plumber’s putty to seal it. We had a ball valve piece to control the water flow. Unfortunately, the walls of the pool were too thin to properly support it. So that was the end of this pool.

duck pool options

Large Plastic “Thing”

Shortly after ruining the big blue pool, we ended up moving. In the new barn, we found this large plastic “thing”. It is about the same size as the blue pool – about 5.5 feet across – but not quite as deep. The nice part is the plastic is really thick so when I pick it up to dump it, it doesn’t crumble or bend. This makes cleaning much easier than the blue pool. I dump it and scrub it pretty much every day in the summer & fall because we have 13 ducks & 2 geese sharing this.

do ducks need a pond?

While this pool is enough for them to splash in and have a good time, I’m still mulling over options of how to build something larger and more permanent for them. We have a little slope to our yard that I think could be nice for a splashing “river” with rocks and a buried pool or two at the bottom of the slope. I’m trying to work out how I could use rain runoff from the barn to possibly supply water to a circulating pump….now I just need a bunch of money and free time!

Want even more duck pool inspiration?

These are some of my favorite duck ponds from around the web!

I love the landscaping around this duck pool found on

I love how this woman on made a beautiful ramp and drain area for her stock tank (and it’s a shallower, more manageable size than the one we have!)

This is a great idea I saw on, the waterfall feature not only looks pretty, it keeps the water circulating to keep it cleaner and keeps mosquitos from gathering.

Look at this cute duck pool & sundeck to access a deep stock tank from FarmYourBackyard!

I’d love to hear about your duck set up!

Do ducks need a pond?

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Friday 28th of July 2023

We are thinking about getting ducks and have a large pond. Would they be ok to go in that or should we stick to the kiddie pools only?


Tuesday 1st of August 2023

It really depends on the pond. Are there snapping turtles in the pond? They are notorious for nibbling toes or feet off ducks. With natural ponds you just want to make sure you aren't adding too many ducks for the ecosystem to keep the pond clean. The advantage with kiddie pools is that you can clean them often, with a pond you just have to be careful you don't overload the water with nitrogen (from too much poop), which can lead to excess algea and bacterias. I don't have a pond (I wish I did though, I would definitely put my ducks out on it!), but I bet there are additives you can add to the pond to keep nasty growth in check. Just make sure anything you add to the water is safe for wildlife (and ducks)! It's also a good idea to either have a floating house or tall grasses around the pond so they have some shelter when they want to take a break from swimming


Monday 29th of May 2023

Enjoy your posts, thank you! We have a 260 gallon preformed round 6' wide & 18" deep pond liner for our ducks. It's buried to be pretty much level with the ground. We change the water every few days using a sturdy sump pump that can handle moderate debris - attached a long drain tube so we can move the discharge end to different locations on our property for irrigation.

Emptying the pond and then running 2 hoses in different directions efficiently cleans the yuck out of the pond in just a few minutes. I give it a good scrub every few weeks.

We put a laundry basket with smooth rocks along one edge as a safety measure for our ducks. They are usually fine getting out wherever, but this safety feature is very important in case of injury or diminished waterproofing during molts. Regardless, they LOVE the platform and often use it for preening and grooming during pool time lol.

We have quite a few ducks so this has worked out really great for us, and we love watching them dive and have underwater zoomies! Hope this is a helpful idea.


Monday 29th of May 2023

that sounds like an AMAZING set up - those are some lucky ducks!


Sunday 21st of March 2021

So I will be getting 2 Indian runners next week. I got a stock tank that is 20" deep. We will be putting it in the ground so it will be even with the ground. Do I need to build a ramp or put rocks in it so the ducks can get out? If so what do you suggest I use?


Monday 22nd of March 2021

They should be able to hop out on their own, they will love being able to dive down!

Lisa Baird

Friday 26th of April 2019

I now have 12 ducks with 3 large kiddie pools. Looking into an 8ft round tank from tractor supply. To drain my kiddie pools I drilled a round hole and used hose shut offs and pieces used to repair hoses on the inside of the pool. I used epoxy to adhere them so no leaks. I used pieces from old hoses to drain the water into my garden.


Friday 26th of April 2019

great idea, thanks Lisa!

Annie Hall

Monday 8th of October 2018

In July 2018 we ordered and received 26 ducklings. I kept them in our bathtubs and x-large totes for 2-3 weeks. We then put them in a brooder for another 2 weeks. Our problem is these ducks won't go in our man-made pond. They will go in the baby pool as long as it is not near the pond. What could possibly be going on with them?


Monday 8th of October 2018

hmmm that is strange! So they aren't quite full grown yet correct? Is there any cover around the pond? It could be possible they are a little leary of it because it is too big and out in the open. I bet once they are full grown (usually around 4 months) they will love it, but to encourage them to go down there, you could try planting some low bushes or shrubs around the shoreline where they could retreat to if predators are flying overhead. I have also seen some duck keepers with ponds build floating duck houses for in the water (google image search floating duck house to get some ideas). Good luck!

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