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Now that my plants are gone, how do I protect my fish? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Now that my plants are gone, how do I protect my fish?

Q: Now that my plants are gone, how do I protect my fish?

Vicky – Chatham, NH

A:  This time of year, aquatic plants are tough to find in backyard ponds. Cold temperatures and fewer hours of sunlight make all the lush greenery die off or go dormant for the winter — and that leaves your fish high and dry and without any protection from hungry predators, like raccoons, herons and passing coyotes.

The lack of lily pads, hyacinth leaves and other plant cover also means more sunlight will penetrate the water. All those rays can lead to algae blooms and poor water quality, which is not something your hibernating fish will appreciate.

So how do you protect your finned friends from hungry bad guys during the sparse winter months? Here’s what we recommend.

  1. Create fish habitats: Because fish will naturally hide in crevices between rocks and other sunken debris, replicate that environment by creating fish habitats and caves. Prop up some slate slabs to make a fabricated lean-to. Build extra hiding places with clever rock placement. Provide an ecosystem that will encourage them to do what’s natural.
  2. Install fish shelters: In the winter, fish will intuitively head to deeper water where it’s warmer and safe from claws, paws and beaks. But to add another layer of protection — particularly if your pond isn’t that deep — give them plenty of sheltering options. Install a Koi Kastle or two. Lay down some empty flower pots or short lengths of 4-inch PVC pipe. Give your finned pals plenty of options to hide, just in case predators stop by the pond.
  3. Crank on your aeration system: As your aeration system bubbles and infuses oxygen throughout the water, it creates water surface movement that can help camouflage your fish from overhead predators. The aerator will also keep the water churning, and create a hole in the ice for gas exchange. If it’s not running already, now’s the time to crank it on!

Until your plants start growing again, keep your fish safe and sound with these simple steps – and do it before the frigid temperatures really kick in.

Pond Talk: Where do your fish hide when your plants die back for the season?

Provide Hiding Places For Fish - Nycon Koi Kastle Fish Shelters

When Should I Put My Heron Decoy Out? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

When Should I Put My Heron Decoy Out?

When Should I Put My Heron Decoy Out?

Michael – Brenham, TX

Pond owners everywhere use Heron Decoys to protect their fish from becoming a quick meal. While using heron decoys can be a very useful tool for keeping herons at bay, knowing when to actually place them pond-side makes the difference between deterring a predator and attracting unwanted attention.

In the northern hemisphere the heron mating season generally lasts from April to May but can sometimes extend into early June. If used too early, your decoy will actually attract a heron or two as they will be searching for potential mates. Use your decoy at the end of the mating season to give herons the impression that your pond is already claimed. Since herons are territorial they will try to find a pond of their own and move on.

Placement is also important to consider when using the decoy. Herons are smart and patient animals and may investigate your decoy if they find it suspicious. For best results place your decoy at the edge of the pond and move it daily. Make sure the decoy is standing upright and not in any unnatural poses.