I'd like to clarify my understanding of staked and delegated tokens. Cardano website says:

Ada held on the Cardano network represents a stake in the network, with the size of the stake proportional to the amount of ada held. The ability to delegate or pledge a stake is fundamental to how Cardano works.

Delegation is the process by which ada holders delegate the stake associated with their ada to a stake pool.

AFAIU, therefore Total Stake = Delegated Staked Tokens + Non-delegated Staked Tokens, where Non-delegated Staked Tokens are staked by the pool owners directly to their pools without delegation. Total Stake tokens amount in the Cardano network, therefore, should be always bigger (or equal as extreme) than the total amount of Delegated Staked Tokens.

Is this understanding correct?

  • 2
    Based on the conceptual clarity of that explanation, the meanings of the words within the context of Cardano, and the use of those terms in the passages you cite... yes. But I don't want you to lose 50 rep in a bounty when it seems you've answered your own question! Is there some specific technical outgrowth of the question you are interested in? Or are you looking for an official answer from some organization? Oct 12, 2021 at 16:24

3 Answers 3



Your ADA is your stake in the Cardano network. You can do different things with this stake. The most prominent use case is for sure delegating it to a stake pool to secure the network. But you also have a stake in voting in the Catalyst proposals for example.

Therefore the total stake of the Network is the total amount of ADA in circulation. This doesn't equal the amount of ADA that is delegated to stake pools as some people don't stake their ADA.

Stake pools

The stake pool operator has to pay a fee of 500 ADA when registering the pool. This ADA doesn't count towards the pledge or staked amount but will be returned once the pool is retired. The pledge of a stake pool is ADA that is delegated to the stake pool by the owner of the pool. It counts towards the staked amount of the pool like any other delegation.


Total Stake = Delegated Staked Tokens + Pledged Staked + Non-delegated Staked Tokens

Delegated Stake= any Wallet holder

Pledged Stake= Stake Pool owner

Non-delagted Stake= usually lying unused on an exchange/HW Wallet


Delegation is the name of the process that enables staking. There aren't different types of staked ADA tokens or delegation processes.

An SPO doesn't need delegators if they have enough of their own ADA to mint blocks, some pools do this today.

Total Stake in terms of a stake pool means the combined ADA stake from the SPO owner and the delegators who staked with that pool. ADA staked by the pool owner is also referred to as a pledge.

  • Are you saying that an SPO's pledged stake is ada that they are 'delegating' to themselves? This seems like an abuse of delegate as an english word. On the other hand, (to use the simple meanings of the english words), one does not have to delegate anything (stake it on someone else) in order to stake it per se. I.e. you can stake something on your own competence, and such would not be an instance of delegation. Oct 13, 2021 at 3:01
  • SPO's pledged ADA is what they are delegating to their own pool. If they don't have the threshold amount of ADA to mint blocks, they would need delegators to make up that difference. You must complete the delegation process to the stake, if not, the ADA in your wallet will just sit there and do nothing for you. It won't count towards the network's total of staked ADA. If you want to Stake to your own pool then you'd set up a stake pool and add your pledge to it. After that you just wait for the 3 epochs it takes for the rewards to start generating. Oct 13, 2021 at 23:17

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