Ponds and Water Gardening forum: Do You Think I've Outsmarted the Master Fisherman?

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Arum
May 3, 2013 9:59 AM CST
OK, I've got four goldfish,(one has a nasty sore where he was gouged), and one black goldfish , from the dinner table of the Great Blue Heron. This is what I've done to out smart him. Tell me what you think.
I took a great big black plastic flower pot, the kind you get from what a tree was in, and at the top I put a good sized hole. Then I turned it upside down in the pond, and left a small space between the side of the pond and the pot. Then I placed a cinder block on top to hold it down. When the Heron comes the fish will swim in the hole and up, thus the heron can't get them. Smiling I think it will work! Arum
Name: Jewell
South Puget Sound (Zone 7a)
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Jewell
May 3, 2013 10:36 PM CST
Good luck! The herons are persistent. Before I turned the electric charger on again, our resident heron did some damage too. They have gotten very citified.

Arum
May 4, 2013 6:16 PM CST
Well, I wish he would find another restaurant. This one's closed. Sounds like you have it all in hand. :)
Name: Jewell
South Puget Sound (Zone 7a)
Ferns Region: Pacific Northwest Cottage Gardener Hellebores Dragonflies Ponds
Permaculture
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Jewell
May 5, 2013 4:41 PM CST
Too bad you aren't close. I should have left the sushi bar open a little longer. I have a few too many gold fish. Too bad he got my two favorite white fish though Glare at least the raccoon is staying clear. Hurray!
Name: Carolyn Madden
Pennsylvania
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Carolyn22
May 11, 2013 3:26 PM CST
Let us know how the pot works - I think it is an excellent idea.

Every year that goes by that I don't lose fish to Mr. Heron, I breathe a sigh of relief. I live between 2 rivers and it is not uncommon to see the herons go from one river to the other.

Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
May 21, 2013 2:02 PM CST
Giving your fish a good hiding place is an excellent start. A few more things to try - I got these ideas off Fishgeeks.com so can't take credit, btw.

Heron decoy - they are territorial birds, so if your heron sees another bird already at the pond, he will fly on by. There are beautiful life-sized heron sculptures available (for a price of course) but I have so far "made do" with a little tin cut-out heron that stands in front of my water iris in plain sight.

Lizard or alligator decoy - I have a couple of ceramic lizards by the pond. They look nice, and I hope they help keep the big birds from coming to fish.One guy got his tail broken off, and it is at the bottom of the pond somewhere, but we pretend he's coming out from under the waterfall.

Steep sides, deep water - if your pond has a gradual slope, or shelves for plants you are really inviting the raccoons to come and fish. Luckily I've not lost any fish to raccoons, but I did find one little guy swimming in the pond one night. The sides of my pond are vertical and the water is about 8in down from the walkway around, so they really can't reach the fish. The 'island' is a sculpted piece of concrete set on cinder blocks so the fish hide under there, too. It does have one point where the cat has found she can stand, close enough to lean down and get a drink. But she has never tried to get at the fish.

Fast, smart fish - when we moved into this house (and I had never had a pond before) our pond was stocked with 6 beautiful big feathery Orandas. The slowest, most awkward swimmers I've ever seen. On top of that, the previous owner had "trained" these fish to eat floating food, so whenever anyone walked by on the way to the front door, they would come up to the surface and ask for food. When the white heron showed up a few months after we moved in, of course the fish came up and they were . . lunch. I looked at replacing the Orandas (in my initial ignorance) but they were really expensive. That heron ate about $200 worth of fish in 2 days! I've stocked the pond with cheap goldfish from Petsmart, and have never given them any floating food. They eat bugs and algae, and are healthy, fast, and in the last 4 years I've only lost one or two fish. They started out about 2in. and at least one is over 6in. long now.

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Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Carolyn Madden
Pennsylvania
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Carolyn22
May 21, 2013 6:54 PM CST
Elaine

A lot of good information in your post. Love your pictures too.

Name: Sherry
Tucson (Zone 9a)
Region: Southwest Gardening Ponds
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desertkoigal
May 21, 2013 8:40 PM CST
Hello there. I used to run a koi farm and herons were a constant menace until we set up a perimeter of motion-activated sprayers. The one we used was tradenamed "Scarecrow" and ran off batteries and hose power. Nets would sometimes work, but the herons would often sit on them and then poke their beak thru the now-submerged netting to spear the fish. Decoys worked for a few days but had to be moved frequently to keep the birds from catching on. Hiding places and steep sides on ponds help a lot, and sometimes are a complete solution,but I've seen a heron fish all night on a full moon, and eventually the fish got brave or stupid and came out. The sprayers are basically just the kind of irrigation device you find on a golf course that sprays water into the air in an arc combined with a motion sensor. You can set them up so that they will only trigger when something lands in the pond (not you when you go out to feed the fish) and there is a sensitivity switch on the head also, so that you can walk up behind, turn them off and then take your daily swim undisturbed (haha). Either way, I feel your pain! Good luck !
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
May 21, 2013 9:42 PM CST
I've got one of those Scarecrows, and it works like a charm to keep the birds off my lychee tree. Sadly, there are so many moving leafy plants around my pond that it would be constantly going off when there's any wind. Water's really expensive here, so that wouldn't do.

I've set it up in the back driveway a couple of times to try to discourage raccoons, but then the cat comes in wet and in a total huff. Rolling my eyes. It works fantastically to keep the neighbors' dogs from visiting, though.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sherry
Tucson (Zone 9a)
Region: Southwest Gardening Ponds
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desertkoigal
May 21, 2013 11:16 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:I've got one of those Scarecrows, and it works like a charm to keep the birds off my lychee tree. Sadly, there are so many moving leafy plants around my pond that it would be constantly going off when there's any wind. Water's really expensive here, so that wouldn't do.

I've set it up in the back driveway a couple of times to try to discourage raccoons, but then the cat comes in wet and in a total huff. Rolling my eyes. It works fantastically to keep the neighbors' dogs from visiting, though.


Good points ! I hadn't thought about the leafy plants as I live in Tucson ! lol about the wet cat, I remember getting soaked a few times myself and probably had a similar look on my face ! Hopefully the pot trick will work. I think we had really bad problems because the herons could see our many ponds from the air too easily on their brunch circuit flyovers, traveling from golf course to golf course.
Name: Carolyn Madden
Pennsylvania
Charter ATP Member The WITWIT Badge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Daylilies
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Carolyn22
May 22, 2013 5:33 PM CST
I have a sensor sprayer too that covers the whole length of my pond. I wouldn't be without it. We live between 2 rivers and were hit once a number of years ago by Mr. Heron. I am so glad the sprayer does the trick. Every once in a while we get hit by the spray of water when we walk by the pond, but it is a small price to pay!

Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
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extranjera
May 23, 2013 10:44 AM CST
It does help if they can't see the pond from the air. I put a shade cloth trellis over the pond I built in Palm Springs, it was not enough to stop the lilies from blooming but it obscured the view of water from the air and the herons never found it.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.

Arum
May 24, 2013 2:47 PM CST
Hey, you guys have some great ideas! My idea with the upside down pot seems to be working, now that the ole bird has eaten about a 1000 $ worth of Koi.
Name: Carolyn Madden
Pennsylvania
Charter ATP Member The WITWIT Badge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Daylilies
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Carolyn22
May 25, 2013 8:08 AM CST
Arum said:1000 $ worth of Koi.


I am sure they all taste the same to the heron. I put a fortune into fish as well. I have decided the next pond will have the $5 variety.

Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
May 25, 2013 9:46 PM CST
Mine were 29 cents each at Petsmart. I got 10 feeder goldfish 4 years ago, and still have 9 of them, plus they've produced a few new ones that have survived. Biggest one is over 6in. long now, and looks just like a koi to me. Plus they're easy care - all they want is enough water to swim in!

I definitely think those wily heron know when you've spent a lot on a fish. Shrug!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Carolyn Madden
Pennsylvania
Charter ATP Member The WITWIT Badge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Daylilies
Bulbs Purslane Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Hummingbirder Clematis Cat Lover
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Carolyn22
May 26, 2013 11:50 AM CST
I couldn't agree more! I agree I agree

Arum
Jun 13, 2013 4:42 PM CST
For all of you ponders who have had trouble with the great blue heron, my idea worked, They now have a refuge, no more have come up missing. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaah! Smiling Arum
Name: Paul Anguiano
Richland, WA (Zone 7a)
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psa
Jun 13, 2013 5:52 PM CST

Moderator

Very cool. I'll have to make sure I include fish shelters whenever I clean out my ponds from now on.
Name: Carolyn Madden
Pennsylvania
Charter ATP Member The WITWIT Badge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Dog Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader Daylilies
Bulbs Purslane Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Hummingbirder Clematis Cat Lover
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Carolyn22
Jun 14, 2013 9:34 AM CST
Good news!

Arum
Jun 15, 2013 8:00 PM CST
Thanks!!! :)

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