There’s a fear in the water gardening community that raccoons and other four-legged predators will go swimming in your pond, and while in there, they’ll help themselves to some of your prize koi, shubunkin, or goldfish.
When you go out to your pond in the morning and discover you’re missing a fish or two, it’s very tempting to blame it on such critters, especially if you didn’t see it happen. There has to be a reasonable explanation, and predators are as good as any, right?
However, take the following facts into consideration before you jump to any conclusions. Raccoons generally won’t swim. That’s not to say they never swim, or couldn’t stand on the side of your pond and take a paw swipe or two at your fish. Fortunately, most fish will swim to a deeper, more protected part of the pond when a predator is threatening them.
The one predator with legitimate credentials is the blue heron. These tall, long-legged, big-beaked birds can easily wade into your pond, help themselves to any fish they think look tasty, and fly away with their bellies full. They are a protected species, so they are off limits if you’re thinking about taking revenge on them. However, a scarecrow, a motion-sensing sprinkler that can be set up alongside your pond, ready to fire a steady stream of water at a heron, has had some degree of success in warding off these curious critters. It’s a good idea to move the sprinkler often, to keep them guessing.
Giving your fish a place to hide dramatically helps their odds of survival. Plenty of lily pads give them some protection and will work to minimize attracting a heron in the first place. Other protection measures include a cave-like structure that can be built in during the pond’s excavation, or if you already have a pond, they can be added with a little pond remodeling.
Rocks are essential in creating these hiding places in your pond. Crevices, or miniature caves, can be created within the rock walls of your pond.
The possibility of pond predators seeking out your pond is, indeed, a valid concern in terms of the safety of your pond’s inhabitants, but the possibility shouldn’t be a reason to avoid building a pond.