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A pond is an area filled with water, either natural or artificial, that is smaller than a lake. It may arise naturally in floodplains as part of a river system, or be a somewhat isolated depression (such as a kettle, vernal pool, or prairie pothole). It may contain shallow water with aquatic plants and animals.
Factors that affect the type of life found in a pond include depth and duration of water level, nutrients, shade, presence or absence of inlets and outlets, effects of grazing animals, and salinity.
Ponds are frequently man-made or expanded beyond their original depth and bounds. Among their many uses, ponds provide water for agriculture and livestock, aid in habitat restoration[further explanation needed], serve as fish hatcheries, are components of landscape architecture, may store thermal energy as solar ponds, and treat wastewater as treatment ponds.
Ponds may be freshwater, saltwater, or brackish.