Once you’ve established your fish pond, you may find that your friends and neighbors aren’t the only ones interested in the progress of your goldfish or koi. Domestic explorers such as the family cat or neighbor’s basset hound—or wilder visitors such as herons, raccoons, and even skunks—may drop by looking for a little fun or the proverbial free lunch. Any one of these can devastate a prized fish collection in a very short time.

Raccoons can be clever, efficient scavengers.

How do you ward them off? Sufficient pond depth, of 24 inches or more, is a big help. Most mammals can’t latch onto your fish while the fish are swimming; they must find solid footing in the pool.

Overhanging pool borders and dense marginal plants provide fish with a temporary hiding place; so do hollowed-out “islands” made from wood or stones and covered with water plants.

A pond running beneath a deck, with a solid wall above the water and fish-sized openings below, is another option.

Large birds can be a nuisance to pond fish.

Netting is the surest solution for marauding herons, though this is usually a less than satisfactory solution visually.

A fence made of electric wire, anchored to insulated posts and strung completely around the pond area, also is less than beautiful and can make pond access difficult—but it is effective if carefully installed; these low-voltage units are available from home centers and garden pool suppliers.

At the high-tech end of the spectrum, you can install a motion-sensitive alarm, but be prepared for false alarms.


Photography: Thomas J. Story