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How to Protect Fish from Pond Predators

variety of koi fish in pond

Pond predators are the number one nuisance that pond owners hope to avoid. If you have fish, they are especially worrisome as they can pose a threat to their livelihood. Depending on the location of your pond you may find yourself trying to detour blue heron, owls, minks, raccoons or even the neighborhood cat. If this is you, keep reading for strategies you can use to keep these pests out of your pond and away from your fish.

Netting is the Best Way to Keep Pests Out of Your Pond

While it's often not preferred, netting is the number one way to keep predators out of your pond. When installed correctly, netting will prevent most animals that live outside your pond from being able to get in, keeping your fish safe. Two of our favorites are the Aquascape Protective Pond Netting and the Atlantic Ultra Pond Netting.

We explore alternative options later in this post, but netting is the surest bet to preventing fish loss.

Even if you don't keep netting up year round, it's likely you may install it in the fall for catching leaves. We recommend keeping that netting up as long as you can after fall—into the winter. Fish become more vulnerable to predators in the winter (in most climates). Plants die and get cut back leaving pond surfaces wide open for predators.

Alternate Options for Detouring Pond Predators

While netting is the safest bet for detouring pond predators, we understand it's not always preferred. After all, you built your pond to enjoy the natural beauty, and there's no denying that netting does detract from that some. Here are a few other options you can try to keep predators away.

Provide Hiding Spots for your Fish

One option to protect fish, is to provide hiding locations they can retreat to if they sense danger. Build an underwater bridge, lay a piece of large pvc pipe underwater or purchase a pre-built solution. The Aquascape Fish Cave is a great pre-built option.

Our lead tech Joe, says he has seen good results with laying a piece of large PVC pipe on a pond bottom and covering it with gravel and stone for concealment.

Use Motion Activated Sprinklers

Motion activated sprinklers can also scare off predators. These sprinklers will turn on as soon as movement is sensed near your pond. The sudden spray of water can ward off unwanted visitors.

Protect from Nocturnal Predators

Some predators like raccoons, cats, owls and mink like to prey at night. For these problem prey, we suggest Nite-Guard—a device that flashes a light all night. This light mimics the look of another predator's eyes lurking in the dark, scaring the real predator away.

Employ Natural Protection Ideas

Floating plants and lilies can provide natural pond coverage. These plants make it less likely that a predator will see your fish when passing by. If a predator doesn't see prey they may continue on. Plants provide minimal protection, but they can help.

Keep your pond as clear as possible, so you can keep tabs on your fish. Keep count and if you notice one has gone missing take more aggressive action in protecting them. (At that point, it may be time to put up a net.)

How to Keep Blue Herons Away from Your Pond

Blue herons are especially important to detour. Once they find fish in a pond they will keep coming back until they've emptied the pond if they have a way in. Aside from the nocturnal product, the strategies mentioned thus far can be helpful in keeping blue heron out of your pond. Here are a couple of additional ideas specifically for detouring this dreaded pond stalker.

The "invisible" barrier

Try laying fishing line across the perimeter of your pond. Fasten the line to stakes or wooden dowels around the pond.

Unlike other birds heron generally land at the edge of a pond and enter by foot. If heron walk into the fishing line it can startle them—making them take flight. Make sure that the line is high enough that they can't step over it and low enough that they can't duck under it.

Heron decoys for ponds

Heron are territorial birds. If they see another heron near a pond, they will generally carry on and find another body of water to stalk. Heron decoys are readily available for purchase and can be put up near your pond in no time.

The catch here is that heron are smart. You'll need to move the decoy to keep up the ruse (we suggest every other day). This movement can prevent the real bird from realizing you've got a fake bird on the ground.

Creating a Safe Environment for Your Fish

In conclusion, protecting your pond from predators is crucial to maintaining the safety and health of your fish. While netting remains the most effective method, various alternative strategies can also offer substantial protection without compromising the aesthetic appeal of your pond. Providing hiding spots, using motion-activated sprinklers, and employing nocturnal deterrents like Nite-Guard can significantly reduce predator threats. Natural elements like floating plants add an extra layer of defense, and specific tactics for blue herons, such as invisible barriers and heron decoys, can be particularly effective. By combining these methods and staying vigilant, you can create a safe and serene environment for your fish to thrive.

webb's pond tech team

Article Posted: 06/19/2024 09:08:50 AM

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