Difference Between Pond and Lake

Pond vs Lake

The difference between pond and lake mainly exists in the structure of each water body and the condition of the water in it. Water occurs on the surface of the earth in the shape of many types of water bodies such as oceans, seas, rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, and many more. There seems to be no confusion about rivers, seas, and oceans, but two water bodies that are very similar to each other and make it difficult for people to name them are ponds and lakes. Sometimes it seems that people name them as ponds or lakes arbitrarily without knowing the differences between a pond and a lake. This article tries to take a closer look at these two water bodies that are either natural or man-made.

Small bodies of still water, certainly smaller than seas and rivers are ponds and lakes. These are craters full of water, and completely surrounded by land on all sides. The only difference (and that too is vague and undefined) lies in their size.

What is a Lake?

The lake is a water body fully surrounded by land. When it comes to size, it is said that lakes are larger in size than ponds, but there is no standard size that defines a water body as a lake or a pond. Some experts say that, if the surface area of the water body is larger than 2 acres, it qualifies to be called a lake. But there is no unison among experts from all parts of the world to accept size as a criterion in deciding a lake or a pond. Let us take some other factors.

There are stratified temperatures in case of a lake. So, we have temperatures in the range of 65-75 degrees in the top layer of water. As we go deeper to the middle of the lake, we see a sudden drop in temperature with temperature going down to 45 degrees F. At the bottom of lake, temperatures are the coldest at around 40 degrees F.

Generally, the lake has waves that prevent vegetation from growing along the shore of a lake. This happens because a lake is deep and has enough water to produce waves that can sweep the shoreline in such a way that makes it difficult for vegetation to sustain itself.

If the depth of the water body is such that the sun’s light is not able to penetrate the bottom surface of the body, it is considered to be a lake. In countries with cold climates, the lakes are much deeper to get frozen. The lakes are so large that they affect the surrounding climate.

Difference Between Pond and Lake

Lake Carmel

What is a Pond?

The pond is also a completed landlocked body of water. In size, a pond is considered to be smaller than a lake. There seems to be a difference in the temperature of the water inside a pond and a lake. The ponds, not being much deep, have more or less the same temperature along the water body. In other words, the temperatures of the ponds are more or less constant and do not change much with the depth as they are not too deep in any case.

Ponds are identified with rooted plants growing along its body. The bottom of the pond is often muddy. Also, there is not much wave action to prevent vegetation along the edges of the pond.

In case of a pond, photosynthesis takes place even at the bottom most layer of the water body. This is because the water body is shallow enough to let the sunlight penetrate the water body. In countries with cold climates, it is seen that ponds often freeze. It is really interesting that ponds are affected by the surrounding climate.

Pond vs Lake

Bullough’s Pond

What is the difference between Pond and Lake?

• Point to Remember:

• There is no scientific convention to name a water body as a lake or pond.

• General Classification:

• In general, water bodies that are very large and deep are called lakes.

• Small water bodies that are not very large and deep are referred to as ponds.

• Light:

• When light does not penetrate to the bottom of the water body, it is called a lake.

• When light does penetrate to the bottom of the water body, it is called a pond.

• However, this feature can be attributed to the depth of the water bodies.

• Waves:

• Lake has waves.

• Pond does not have wave action.

• Vegetation:

• As a result of the waves of a lake, no vegetation can be seen along the shoreline of a lake.

• Since a pond does not have wave action, there is vegetation along the shoreline in the case of ponds.

• Climate:

• If the lake is large enough, it can affect the area surrounding the lake.

• Ponds are generally affected by the climate around them. They do not affect the climate.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Lake Carmel in the town of Kent, NY, USA by Daniel Case (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Bullough’s Pond, Newton Massachusetts by John Phelan (CC BY 3.0)