For many pond keepers, the influx of wildlife into the garden is a welcome treat and often the main reason for installing the pond in the first place. It is common to see frogs, newts, hedgehogs and many varieties of birds make their way into your garden to utilise the pond. In many cases, visiting or introduced wildlife can live quite happily alongisde resident fish, either co-existing without paying much attention to each other, or simply avoiding each other. Frogs and toads, for example, generally fall within these categories. Other types of wildlife, however, pose a real threat to the pond inhabitants. Perhaps the best known examples of such unwelcome wildlife visitors are birds that prey on fish and amphibians.
The main offender is the Grey Heron, an ominous predator that will often clear out a pond in a matter of minutes. They usually visit ponds at first or last light so you may not notice they have been until you realise your fish are missing. Herons are a protected species in the UK and must only be deterred using humane methods.
There are a number of simple measures that can be taken to protect your fish such as providing tunnels and nooks for them to hide in and ensuring a good level of plant coverage.
You may still want to offer further protection against pests so here are some of the most popular pest deterrents:
There are many types of net available to create a barrier on the surface of the pond. They will do a good job of stopping pests from getting at your fish. There are a few drawbacks to using netting, they can disrupt the growth of plants and, if not pulled taut, will become less effective. One of the most popular nets is the Pyramid Shelter Net as this protects without disturbing plants.
These Pond Protectors come in the form of plastic hexagons that interlock together and float on the surface around the edge of the pond. This stops the herons or other predators getting into the water. Herons tend to stand at the edge and duck their heads in to catch the fish so these pond protectors offer a great barrier to prevent this from happening. They maintain the aesthetic appeal of your pond as they sit just below the surface and are almost invisible from a short distance.
A very simple method of keeping herons away from the pond is to use a plastic heron lookalike. Herons are territorial creatures so installing a replica like this should help you avoid visits from the real thing! Herons are intelligent so it is best to move this decoy around from time to time to improve effectiveness.