You went out one morning and were excited to see the fish swarming the food you just threw into your pond. The fish are reluctant to feed and continue to hide. What happened? Well, this is one of the first signs that you had a predator visit your pond. You may not have been aware, but Northern California has 3 main predators that need to be on the look out for. These predators will not stop preying on your beautiful fish until you act. 

Read on to learn several of the deterrant methods that pond companies in Sonoma County suggest homeowners use to help mitigate the risks posed by predators.

The Main 3 Predators

  • Raccoon: Although not a big problem for larger ponds of 6 feet across or better, a raccoon is very opportunistic. With a properly sized pond your fish are the most vulnerable during spawning. Your fish really do not care who or what is watching. This is a dangerous time for your fish.
  • Blue Heron: Herons seem to be most active in the Spring and Fall. These birds visit your pond and catch the fish that don’t hide in time. The Great Blue Heron
    Great Blue Heron

    Great Blue Heron

     maybe the smartest predator of them all. Very patient and very efficient with its spear like Bill.

  • River Otter: The Russian River in Sonoma County allows the dreaded river otter access to your pond if you are anywhere near this waterway. They can sniff out a large concentration of fish and will make there way to your pond for a quick clean out.

7 Tips to Keeping Your Pond Predator Free

There are many steps you can take to keep predators out of your pond. It usually takes a combination of these steps and diligence on your part to save your fish. 

1. Fish Caves: Building fish caves into your pond from the beginning is your first line of defense. Fish caves allow your fish a place to hide when they are threatened. For fish caves to be effective though, they must be placed deep enough at the bottom of your pond. We recommend at least 2’ to 3’ deep.

2. Dogs: A dog can be the best deterrent to predators. Not every dog though has the demeanor to chase after prey so we recommend bird dogs like: Labradors, Spaniels, Pointers, English Setters, etc.

Daisy The PondDog™

Daisy The PondDog™

Daisy the Pond Dog was trained to protect the pond and alert us there was a bird. She would chase herons out of the pond barking. There is no need for your dog to learn to attack, as the noise deterrent is enough. You can also train your dog so when you say “Bird” they run to the pond and start barking. Make sure to reward them for their work.

3. Decoys: These come in four categories and should be moved from time to time to keep predators wary.

  • Blue Heron Statue– This statue can be placed in your pond or on the edge of your pond and works to deter real Blue Herons because this type of bird tends to be territorial and do not like to share their food source.
  • Predator Statue– A natural predator to the predators fishing in your pond can keep them away with fear. We recommend an alligator statue as it is a major predator and is shown to work.
  • Goose/Swan Statue– These birds like herons are territorial (geese more than swans) and will chase after predators trying to get into their area. And lets face it, even we know to give geese and swans some space.
  • A DeKoi- It seems counter-intuitive to have a decoy of your beloved fishes as it would attract predators. But Herons especially will grab this non-moving plastic fish, giving your real fish time to hide.

4. Fishing Line: String out 100lb fishing line across your pond in a crisscross pattern. As herons land, they will get tripped up in the fishing line giving your fish time to hide. Keep in mind this might be harmful to other birds as well. 

5. Motion Sensors: Motion sensors either use water or sound to scare of predators.

'Fly Like an Eagle"

‘Fly Like an Eagle”

  • Scarecrow- This is not the same scarecrow you place in your garden to scare away birds. This scarecrow sprays a stream of water when motion is detected which spooks the predator. Available here
  • Radio- A motion sensor is connected to a power outlet which turns on a radio. This works well as predators don’t like sudden sounds. 

6. Plant Cover: Water Lilies and other floating plants that cover the top of your pond will help hide your fish and may give them enough time to escape predators.

7. Pond Netting: This netting does work to deter predators but it can detract from the beauty of your pond. If you are really having issues with predators and the above tactics don’t work this is one more thing you can try if you want to continue having fish. It also helps with keeping leaves out of your pond, which is an added bonus during the fall season.

Making sure to change up the location of your predator tactics will keep predators on their toes and stay afraid. Coming out to your pond and seeing your beloved fish missing is never fun and we hope that these tips help keep predators away from your fish.

Do you need help making sure that your fish stay safe from a variety of local predators? Get in touch with Sweetwater Landscapes! If you have further questions about keeping your fish safe don’t hesitate to contact us.