When Spring has sprung, not only are the pond predators waking up or returning, but it is also time for mating season. They are hungry, after a long winter’s nap, and so are the newly pregnant mommas. What can you do to save your fish when it is still too cold for protective coverage from your pond plants?
Provide Hiding Places for Fish:
The old adage says, “the best defense is a good offense.” Planning ahead will benefit you in the long run. We know that building a koi pond will attract predators, so plan for it in the beginning.
Large flat stone used to create ledges for pond plants can double as caves or koi shelters. Several spaces, throughout the pond, provided for your fish will give them extra protection. A blue heron, who can learn where the hiding place is, can reach up to 24-inches with its long neck.
If hiding places are an afterthought, you can still add them. A large piece of flagstone can be set at an angle against the wall to create a lean-to. A Koi Kastle is another option. This is a pre-formed object that rests on the bottom of the pond like a rounded tent.
Install Pond Netting:
Pond netting is not just a benefit in the fall to keep the leaves out. Covering the entire pond will definitely deter most pond predators. A domed net like Atlantic’s Pond and Garden Protector or EasyPro’s Pond Cover Tent will cover the pond but still allow space for the pond plants to begin to grow.
Unfortunately, this tactic will not necessarily work for mink or river otters. They are sometimes able to get under the net and take a swim at their leisure.
Build a Fishing Line Perimeter:
A blue heron will not attempt to land in the pond water. Instead, they land on the ground and walk to the edge. When they approach the pond and get stopped by fishing line, that they are not able to see, they will eventually become discouraged and find another buffet in town.
Utilize Shiny Objects:
Finally, a use for those old CD’s. Hanging shiny objects around the pond area, that will catch the wind and flash the sunlight, can be a great way to scare off predators during the day. The sudden flash of light and movement gives them a sense of insecurity. As audacious as a blue heron can be at times, they are actually a shy creature who does not want to take any chances.
Motion activated security lights may deter your night time visitors.
Use Predator Decoys:
No one is going to stick around if they feel threatened. From the fear of getting eaten by a predator to the fear of getting beaten by a competitor; alligator, coyote, owl and even blue heron decoys have proven to work in most cases.
One thing to note is that mid-March to mid-May is mating season for the blue heron. Although they are greatly territorial, a decoy at this time may result in attracting them instead of deterring them. And no one wants a bunch of plastic baby heron running around.
Making it difficult to find or get to the edge of the pond can also aid in keeping the hunters at bay. Park benches, shrubs, ornamental rocks, pottery and such can make the landscape very attractive while functional at the same time. If it is difficult to approach the pond, it may not be worth the try.
To learn more read our blog on “Keeping Unwanted Critters out your Pond.” Good luck and Happy Ponding!