It’s beautiful and perfect, nestled into just the right spot in your yard, creating an organic focal point that commands the attention and envy of passersby.
Every glimpse of your new pond is accompanied by a deep sense of pride and accomplishment. The water has been tested, the pH spot on. Now, it’s time to add life and movement. Koi will add just the right touch. You release the koi, and your masterpiece is complete.
Until they arrive. In flight or on foot, to check out the new digs. Attracting habitués was one of the draws of building a pond. They are welcome, you think. But is the proviso—come, but don’t eat—out of the question?
Reasoning with a blue heron just seems unlikely. But as much as you love the visitors, an all-you-can-eat buffet is not what you had in mind. All who slither, slink or fly are welcome—but only if they leave the fish alone.
Here are some tried and true tips to keep your fish safe—that won’t harm the swashbuckling mischief makers that drop by. Baffling neighborhood prowlers requires tenacity, commitment and creativity—listen up to get your (eco-friendly) operation underway.
1) Gotcha. Motion sensors that trigger water or sudden sounds startle predators, sending them elsewhere to plunder. They can be attached to your garden hose or hard-plumbed for a more permanent solution.
2) Ensure there are plenty of underwater spots for fish to hide. Plant cover enables a quick escape and should be placed strategically. Floating plant islands provide cover (and shade) for fish. Fish caves provide respite for fish on the run and should be placed in areas at least 2 to 3 feet deep. If you designed your pond with steep sides and limited shoreline, you’re in luck. If the water-loving predators visiting your pond are relentless, consider a submersible wire cage that accommodates fish but provides a barrier against predators.
3) Decoys deter visitors by “claiming” the territory as their own. Blue herons respect fellow herons’ territory—if they think their colleague has laid claim to an area, they will look elsewhere for their lunch. Try repositioning the decoy—herons can catch on if the decoy stays in the same place. Ensure the decoy is a native species—it won’t wield much influence if the predators have never seen it before.
A fish decoy is another way to baffle predators. Swooping in and scooping up a hard plastic fish will make them pause...and think twice before visiting your pond for their next meal.
4) Dogs can deter small animals from frequenting your yard. If your dog is instinctually programmed to approach birds or small animals—jackpot. Simply moving toward them will startle them, and in most cases they can escape unharmed.
5) Relocating bird feeders away from water features may help deter birds from noticing your fish as they land on the feeder.
6) Pond netting can keep fish safe from raccoons, beavers and other small animals. Added benefit—it catches leaves before they fall into the pond, saving your filter from working overtime. The obvious drawback—it is visible and can interfere with a pond’s organic look.
Keep in mind, there are usually (and rightfully) legal restrictions against harming wildlife—even if they are making mischief on your property.
We get it—protecting your marine pets is serious business, and on behalf of your fish, thank you.