Easy Pickins

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Easy Pickins

Easy pickins our goldfish and Koi

Easy pickins, the fish in our pond. Our goldfish and Koi are prey fish. The creatures that stalk them come in all shapes and sizes. They walk on land, they fly and they also swim with our fish. We can fence in our ponds and cover them with nets. We can set up deterrents of all kinds, but it’s easier to build a pond that’s predator proof

Herons are at the top of the list of predators for Koi, being the largest of the fish kept in captivity. They grow up to 3′ in length. It takes a really big pond to support a school of Koi, and these ponds are easy to spot from the sky. Smaller predators may have difficulty hauling off the big fish to a safe place to eat, however, they will try

Heron’s nemesis is the raven; ravaging their nests, devouring their eggs and their young. The very sight of a raven sends heron flying off in a different direction. Add a statue or silhouette of the infamous black bird to your pond decor to keep your fish safe

Goldfish are more likely prey for ground predators. Their ponds are typically smaller, so it’s less likely heron will spot them, and if they do, the small fish are just a light snack to tide them over until they get to the next Koi pond

Koi predators

Neighborhood cats are always on the prowl, and the sound of moving water beacons them. They must feel like a mountain lion as they make their way down to the watering hole. Thankfully, few are willing to reach too far down into the water, and if by accident they fall in, they’ll make a quick and embarrassing exit. Motion detected sprinkler systems detour cats easily

Raccoons are a different story; they enjoy the water, and a tasty meal is so worth getting wet. In order to discourage these crafty critters, the water table must be well below the top of the pond by a good 12″ to 16″ This same distance also works for cats as well as most other animals. Raising the ridge also keeps fish in the pond during the spawning season. Build up from the top of your pond with stone if possible

Easy pickins

Terrapins and water turtles are not above snagging a goldfish or small Koi. Many of the species are nocturnal, making our fish easy prey while they sleep. You might spot them during the day, but chances are they’re dug in somewhere, getting some shuteye. You would be surprised to find out what’s swimming in your pond while you sleep. There are many snakes that are comfortable in and out of the water, and during the summer, many of them become nocturnal to avoid the heat. Sleeping fish are an easy catch for water snakes, and the rocks around your pond make them feel right at home

Make your stone slither proof by securing gaps and crevices in between rocks with mortar. Place the stones in a manner which blocks the water’s access from turtles; easy enough, as they can’t jump or climb. Add vegetation around the pond, but leave at least 10′ of clearance around it. Snakes prefer cover, and will be hesitant to travel the distance to get to a pond without it. All predators can easily turn to prey, and snakes are at the top of the list. Herons are more likely to grab up a snake in the clearance than work to catch a fish. As a second line of defense, use sharp substrate for the clearance, such as crushed marble. Crossing the the short distance may not be worth the pain

Goldfish predators

Goldfish and Koi both are diurnal, sleeping at night while their predators are on the prowl. We can use this to our advantage. Offer your fish a deep pond that makes them difficult to see. Create a ledge that hangs several inches out over the water as cover

Our fish are always on the alert. They’re prey, and they know it. If they have sufficient cover, they won’t get caught unless they’re weakened by injury or disease. This may be one reason fish have no eye lids. That, and the fact the sun doesn’t penetrate the depths of water where they dwell. Goldfish and Koi both are bottom dwellers. There’s no good reason for them to expose their cover at night when they should be resting on the bottom, unless… the oxygen levels in their water are low. Both fish suck air at the surface if O2 isn’t available in the water. Many pond keepers misinterpret this behavior as begging for food

Learn about oxygenating water

Small and overstocked ponds may be high in Co2, a gas created from the waste our fish produce. This gas fills a body of water, keeping oxygen from entering. Only a real pond pump provides the kind of action that eliminates carbon dioxide from water. No pond is complete without one, two, maybe three. Test the pH levels in your pond water and compare to your freshwater source. If the pond water is lower, Co2 may be dragging oxygen levels down

Learn about pond pumps

Fish keepers that rely on planted ponds to oxygenate water may not realize that the same Co2 plants absorb during the day is released at night, pushing oxygen out of the water. The fish may be relaxed during the day, but stressed at night, sucking air and vulnerable to predators. Planted or not, Co2 may be an issue in your pond

Some of the biggest problems with ponds; they’re too small for the stocking level, they’re too shallow, there are no hiding places and the predators have easy access

Goldfish ponds should be a good 3′ to 4′ deep. Koi ponds should be closer to 5′ to 6′ deep. This depth gives them added protection in case of an attack, however, it also gives them more space to swim

Easy pickins

The small pond in the photo below has a nice ridge built up over the top of the pond, along with some great hiding spots for the fish. It’s close to the house, so the owners can keep a close watch

easy pickins

Goldfish pond

The list of goldfish and Koi predators is a long one. Don’t think you’re safe because you live in town. Our cities are filled with wildlife of all kind; foxes, woodchucks, possums, raccoons, coyotes, feral cats, owls, hawks, herons and the list goes on

Just about every pond owner has found a dead fish within a few feet from the pond, and there’s a few reasons this could happen. During spawning sessions, males chase the females vigorously. They leap from the water, making a splash. In all the excitement, fish have been known to end up on dry land, helplessly flopping around. This flopping could end them up back in the pond or farther away from it where they dry out and suffocate. In some cases a predator catches a fish, and drags it up on shore, gets spooked and runs, leaving its catch behind. Animals are at their most vulnerable when they’ve made a fresh kill

If you have a goldfish pond, keep single tail variety only. The fancy variety are an easy catch

If you live in a neighborhood, there may be a local ordinance requiring your to fence your pond to keep small children safe

If predators are lowering your stocking levels, maybe your fish are easy pickins

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Author: Brenda Rand

2017-06-20T22:20:33+00:00

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Long live our fish

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