Fish in ponds, captive or wild?

What is the boundary for captivated and wild fish? There’s a pond in my backyard, and it was stocked one single time with fish around 2011. Since then, the fish have reproduced significantly. Are all individuals still in the pond considered wild? Or perhaps all the obviously younger fish? Or none at all since they’re still in the pond? How about the individuals I’ve found downstream living in a creek that came directly from the pond after heavy rain?

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My view would be that since they’re all obviously surviving without any human intervention, they’re wild, regardless of how they got there originally.

yes, i too would consider them ‘wild’ in the inaturalist sense since they are reproducing on their own. but, it’s a grey area so if you want to flag as captive you can.

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To me, this is very much a grey area case. I would call them captive. If some of those fish, or the progeny of, appeared in other waterways nearby, then THOSE fish I would consider wild.

In the same context, Lions in an enclosure have a baby lion, it is considered captive, not wild… regardless of whether there was human involvement.

I think the key here is you place them in the pond with the knowledge that they will persist, and in fact are relying on them to do so,so the fact that they persist is part of the cultivation method. In fact, part of the cultivation method is placing them in a pond, rather than a stream, to CONTAIN them and stop them spreading…

The captive/cultivated flag is very much a vote situation, so you can feel completely free to set it as you see fit based on your perceptions of what wild and captive mean, but visit the help pages to get a feel of the general guidelines that iNaturalist give. If anyone disagrees with you strongly enough, they can put their “vote” as to which way they think it should go, and the majority will rule. Honestly, though… for most of us we would not contest grey areas… there are better ways for us to “add value” to iNat observations!


I totally agree with kiwifergus. Maybe, those fishes wouldn’t have survided if put in a river so their survival and the eventual reproduction may be only due to the conditions of the artificial pond which are not similar to those found in nature (absence of predators, etc…).

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And of course in places where stocking occurs even the fish in the streams aren’t really wild.

It’s a gray area. If obviously non-native, like koi, I would go with captive, while native I would probably go with wild, but that is just my opinion. If a community forms and reproduces in the creek, I would go with wild.

I consider “volunteer” plants in my yard wild, if I don’t have the parents planted somewhere, nor know of where they migrated from. Most are weeds, though I do have a pine and an oak as well. All will be drafted to the city’s grass clippings and branch removal service at some point.

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