Guidelines for aquaculture pond construction

There are specific processes and guidelines that you'll need to follow if you're using a pond-based aquaculture production system for either land-based marine and freshwater aquaculture.

Follow the Guidelines for constructing and maintaining aquaculture containment structures (PDF, 1MB) help ensure your containment structures are stable, effective and environmentally friendly.


  • Farm layout—aim for the lowest possible risk to surrounding land, accounting for run-off, flooding, noise and odour.
  • Containment structures—before you build any containment structure, assess the design of foundations, embankments, freeboards, inlet and outlet works.
  • Intake and discharge points—you can use concrete blocks, rock armouring and other design solutions to minimise erosion and leaks around intake and discharge points.
  • Buffer zones—use mound formations to provide separation between containment structures and environmentally sensitive areas and beneficial land uses.
  • Engineering plans and drawings—seek the advice of a qualified engineer to help you design aquaculture facilities. An engineer should help ensure your facilities are energy and cost efficient, meaning up-front cost for their expertise may be offset by savings on later operating costs.


  • Notification—ensure you notify authorities such as local governments before any construction begins.
  • Site preparation—before you begin construction, clear all trees and woody materials.
  • You may require:
  • Material suitability—make sure you line the structure with well graded, impervious material.
  • Placement of material—consider earth material lining, embankments, erosion control and pipes, culverts and weirs.
  • Correct moisture content—material used for lining should be treated to meet moisture content standards needed for compaction and low permeability.
  • Compaction—each layer of material should be compacted to a density greater than 95% of the standard compaction density.

Monitoring and maintenance

  • Purpose—assess the impact of containment structures on the environment by checking for potential leakages, embankment instability and contamination of pond water quality.
  • Visual inspections—carry out regular visual inspections to identify any potential problems.
  • Groundwater monitoring—monitor groundwater to help identify any significant problems with containment structures.
  • Maintenance—develop a routine maintenance program for your containment structures, including repair of erosion, pond floors, and removal of woody vegetation.
  • Consult—seek advice from a certified engineer if you discover any structural issues.


  • A certified engineer should prepare a post-construction report that confirms the structure has been built to the certified plans and drawings.
  • Any reasons for variations to the plans should be documented.
  • Keep records of all excavation works and foundation levels
  • Document any testing of earthworks undertaken during construction.