protecting fish in ponds

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How To Keep Pond Fish Safe from Other Creatures

First, Pond Fish Are A Good Thing!

When a pond water feature is well-designed-and-built, koi will naturally help balance the entire pond ecosystem.

However, many pond owners fear that the fish will be harmed or will not survive.

Keeping Koi Safe

Keeping Koi Safe

 

 

And while it is true that koi can be tempting to cats, raccoons, and herons, etc., there are precautions that will mitigate their attempts to reach your pond fish.

 

 

 

 

 

Adding Rock Overhangs

Adding Rock Overhangs

 

Adding koi castles and tunnels at the bottom of the pond will give fish a safe place to hide from many predators.

Include rock overhangs around the outside of the pond. This will, first and foremost, make any pond appear more natural while discouraging cats and raccoons from reaching into the water after the fish.

 

 

 

 

Pond Water Depth is Key

Pond Water Depth is Key

Planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can also dissuade raccoons and cats further, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner.

Plus deeper water at the edges (more than 18” deep) discourages heron wading.

Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. The continuous movement of its water, or even water from nearby sprinklers, will put off many avian predators.

 

 

Herons do not like deep water

Herons, for example, do not like deep water.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener.

Photo Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener.

Other precautions koi pond owners can take is installing scarecrows, such as owl statues. A net will also work, but most pond owners prefer to limit net use to fall foliage season.

However, one particularly effective deterrent Deck and Patio has found is installing a motion-activated sprinkler.

Indeed, one gardening expert, the Laidback Gardener, agrees. After testing just about every animal repellent conceivable, he wrote in his blog last year:

“…the only simple deterrent that keeps most animals away in the long run is the motion-activated sprinkler.”

—Larry Hodgson, the Laidback Gardener

 

 

Art Courtesy: the Laidback Gardener

Art is Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener

“At Deck and Patio, we believe that if you build your pond well, and install a motion-activated sprinkler, there really is no reason not to add koi to your pond,” says Dave Stockwell.

“And when using a motion-activated sprinkler, you might find it will drive unwanted animals away from your garden as well.”

 

 

 

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. The pond is sufficiently deep, including around the edges. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators. Add a motion-activated sprinkler for the final bit of security, and you and there’s no reason to fear for your koi.

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. The pond is sufficiently deep, including around the edges. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators. Add a motion-activated sprinkler for the final bit of security, and you and there’s no reason to fear for your koi.

 

The feature photo at the top of today’s blog is artwork courtesy of the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson.

 

 

 

 

 

By | 2018-05-31T13:30:00+00:00 May 31st, 2018|Gardening, Koi Ponds, Living Landscapes, Moss Rock and Stones, Outdoor Living, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Waterfalls|Comments Off on How To Keep Pond Fish Safe from Other Creatures

Preparing Ponds for Winter

 

We are not alarmists at The Deck and Patio Company, but our job requires that we pay attention to credible weather forecasts. And according to Accuweather, the Northeast may be in for an extended snowy winter, stretching into spring of 2017. If you have a backyard pond, there are a few things you can do to get ready for this onslaught.

Pond Fish in Winter

First, let’s deal with the misconception that you can’t leave your fish in the pond during winter months. Actually fish do just fine in winter. They go dormant and hibernate. However, our pond expert, Bill Renter, does add that it’s well to be especially alert to their needs once water starts to freeze. Should ice, for example, completely cover your pond, the fish could become starved for oxygen.

“This can be remedied by ensuring the pond has at least two feet of water for them to swim in,” says Bill. “It’s also key for the water to remain oxygenated by keeping a little hole in the ice with a heater, bubbler, and an aerator. We use products from Aquascapes Inc. — pond experts from St. Charles, Illinois.”

Aquascapes’ designs manager, Gary Gronwick agrees it’s important to use a pond de-icer. “This will keep a little hole in the ice so gases can escape,” he says. “While some recommend boiling water to create an opening in frozen-over ponds, that should be discouraged. It will only ice up again quickly.“

Gronwick also says to avoid chopping or sawing the ice to open a hole. The noise and vibrations will stress out the hibernating fish to a point they could die.

These things done, Mother Nature will do the rest. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond, or in a cave designed for this, and then will slowly wake up as the water warms in the spring. The fish do not need to eat during this time and, in fact, shouldn’t be fed at all.

We’ve included in our photo captions below more tips on preparing your pond and fish for winter and how to watch over it all. Happy ponding.

 

Prepare Ponds in Fall for Winter:

Prepare Ponds in Fall for Winter:

Before winter sets in, carefully look over your plants and remove any dying material. These materials rot and build up poisonous gases that can’t escape through ice when it forms. Such conditions might mean the koi are no longer simply hibernating, but are in a dangerous state of torpor.

 

Pond Waterfalls in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc.)

Pond Waterfalls in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc.)

Keeping any waterfalls running during cold months helps move the water so ice doesn’t form. But if ice builds up, pond aerators can put bubbles back in the water to add oxygen for the fish.

 

Contented Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc)

Contented Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc)

This pond has been cleared of excessive plant material and ice does not cover over the pond so the fish are happily hibernating.

 

Water Plants in Winter:

Water Plants in Winter:

Hardy water lilies (shown here) that float on the water’s surface and have a short blooming period can withstand the cold winter months nicely. Lotuses also can withstand the cold winter months because they bloom in summer and go dormant in winter. Note that frost kills water hyacinths; water lettuce, which fights algae, should be wintered in a warm spot that is well lighted as they will not survive in the pond over winter.

 

Prepare Pond Fish for Winter:

Prepare Pond Fish for Winter:

To be on the safe side, take water temperature regularly once it hits 55 or lower. If your pond jewels are hungry and moving about and you haven’t fed them, they will find something in the pond to eat and soon will be dormant anyway.

 

 Pond Caves for Fish:

Pond Caves for Fish:

Ask your pond designer/builder to create a small cave, or caves, where the fish can hide from predators in warm weather, and where they can also lie dormant during the winter months. Caves are easily made from the way rocks are positioned in and around the pond.

 

 

Keeping Pond Fish Safe and Healthy in Winter

It is a common myth that you can’t leave your pond fish outside once the cold sets in. Actually, fish do just fine during winter. That said, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, does caution to be alert. When ice covers the pond, the fish might not be getting enough oxygen.

This can be remedied as long as you give them:

  • two feet of water to swim in,
  • oxygenate the water,
  • and keep a hole in the ice with a heater, bubbler and an aerator. This allows the naturally produced gasses to escape from under the ice.

If the above efforts fail to keep it from freezing, Aquascapes Inc. designs manager, Gary Gronwick suggests using a pond de-icer. “This will keep a little hole in the ice so gases can escape,” he says. “While some recommend boiling water to create an opening in frozen-over ponds, that should be discouraged. It will only ice up again quickly.“

Gronwick also says to avoid chopping or sawing the ice to open a hole. The noise and vibrations will stress out the hibernating fish to a point they could die.

That done, Mother Nature will do the rest. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond, or in a cave designed for this, and then will slowly wake up as the water warms in the spring.  The fish do not need to eat during this time and, in fact, shouldn’t be fed at all.  

 

Prepare Ponds in Fall for Winter:

Prepare Ponds in Fall for Winter:

Before winter sets in, carefully look over your plant material and remove dying plant material. These materials rot and build up poisonous gases that can’t escape through ice when it forms. Such conditions might mean the koi are no longer simply hibernating, but are in a dangerous state of torpor.

 

 

Pond Waterfalls in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc.)

Pond Waterfalls in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc.)

Keeping any waterfalls running during cold months helps move the water so ice doesn’t form. But if ice builds up, pond aerators can put bubbles back in the water to add oxygen for the fish.

 

 

 

Contented Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc)

Contented Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc)

This pond has been cleared of excessive plant material and ice does not cover over the pond so that the fish are happily hibernating.

 

 

Water Plants in Winter

Water Plants in Winter:

Hardy water lilies (shown here) that float on the water’s surface and have a short blooming period can withstand the cold winter months nicely. Lotuses also can withstand the cold winter months because they bloom in summer and go dormant in winter. Note that frost kills water hyacinths; water lettuce, which fights algae, should be wintered in a warm spot that is well lighted as they will not survive in the pond over winter.

 

Prepare Pond Fish for Winter:

Prepare Pond Fish for Winter:

To be on the safe side, take water temperature regularly once it hits 55 or lower. If your pond jewels are hungry and moving about and you haven’t fed them, they will find something in the pond to eat and soon will be dormant anyway.

 

 

Pond Caves for Fish

Pond Caves for Fish:

Ask your pond designer/builder to create a small cave, or caves, where the fish can hide and also lay dormant during the winter months. Caves are easily made from the way rocks are positioned in and around the pond.

 

 

Are You Afraid to Keep Koi in Your Pond?

When a pond water feature is well designed and built, koi will naturally help balance the entire pond ecosystem. However, many pond owners fear that the fish will be harmed or will not survive.

Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, offers encouragement: “While it’s true that koi can be tempting to cats, raccoons, and herons, etc., there are precautions one can take that will mitigate these threats.”

For example, adding koi castles and tunnels at the bottom of the pond will give fish a safe place to hide from many predators. Also, including rock overhangs around the outside of the pond, which first and foremost will make any pond appear more natural, also discourages cats and raccoons from reaching into the water after the fish.

In addition, planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can dissuade raccoons and cats further, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner. Plus deeper water at the edges (more than 18” deep) discourages heron wading. Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. The continuous movement of its water, or even water from nearby sprinklers, we have found will put off many avian predators.

Other precautions koi pond owners can take is including scarecrows, such as owl statues. In the end, if all else fails, a netting can always be installed over the pond.

Here’s some of The Deck and Patio’s favorite award-winning pond features. And, yes, even if not picked up in the pictures, there’s koi in each and every one.

 

 

Pond Ecosystems:

Pond Ecosystems:

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators.

 

 

 

Reflecting Pond:

Reflecting Pond:

The homeowner wanted to accentuate the beautiful 1880 stone bridge structure with a reflecting pond. To allow the entire stone gazebo to reflect in the water, the pond had to be more than 250 feet long and 45 feet wide. This created the perfect habitat for koi. Lots of flowing water, rock overhangs, and lots of space to hide.

 

 

 

Natural Ponds:

Natural Ponds:

When creating a new pond, we consider each rock’s form, texture, shape and height. In addition, incorporating such finishing touches as plant material and gravel helps it appear as if it was created naturally.

 

 

 

Where to Position Ponds:

Where to Position Ponds:

We always look over the property for any new pond — both from inside and outdoors — in order to place the pond in the perfect location. Since in the northeast, we spend more time indoors that in our yards, it is essential to see, and perhaps hear, any water feature from key indoor locations.

 

 

 

Pond Water Movement:

Pond Water Movement:

Having the force of moving water into your pond is not only an aesthetic choice, but will deter many natural koi predators. Also —even if it comes from nearby sprinklers — pond water movement helps keep the pond ecosystem healthy by eliminating stagnation.