Safeguarding Your Pond Fish

Safeguarding Your Pond Fish
Well, we awoke this morning here in southwestern Utah to the sounds of some pretty raucous splashing around in our pond. The reason?

It’s spring, when young fish fancies turns to love.

Or, more appropriately, heat. The simple truth is that the mature females are in season, and every male in the pond knows it. So they’re busy chasing the females around, trying to corner them in the shallows, and then doing whatever it is that big fish do in order to make little fish. And that brought up a thought.

If you have fish in your pond, is your pond fish-friendly? Last year about this time, we had a female who had been chased nearly to exhaustion. In a last-ditch attempt to find some peace, she wiggled herself in between the pond liner and a large rock we had leaning up against the pond wall. After waiting a suitable period of time to see if she could wiggle herself free, we decided to intervene. We carefully pulled the rock away from the wall, allowing the fish to swim out. We placed the rock back in the pond, leaving substantially more space behind it.

This morning, we found a fish in the same spot, wedged between the wall of the pond and the same rock. We had not anticipated that, between last year and this, our fish grew about 20 percent in size—just enough to allow another fish to get caught again!

Fortunately, the same routine worked again this year. This time, we moved the rock away from the wall entirely!

It’s a good lesson to keep in mind for fish keepers everywhere. How fish-friendly is your pond? Here are a couple of things to check.

1. Make sure there’s either no space at all or plenty of space between the sides of your pond and any rocks you place in it.

2. If you have a shallow end in your pond, make sure the fish can’t get chased up and out of the water and onto the bank where they could get injured or die.

3. See that the water in your pond doesn’t come right up to the very top, in order to keep the fish in their exuberance from jumping out and dying. If you leave 4 – 6 inches of exposed pond wall above the pond surface, the chances of that happening will be significantly less. If necessary, lower the water level in your pond until the fish are through with their annual breeding period.

4. Make certain you don’t have any sharp rock edges or twigs implanted in your pond on which fish during their mating ritual could get injured or impaled.
By taking just a few precautions before mating season begins, you can avoid a lot of problems for your fish later!

Check out D. J. Herda's two latest gardening books, Zen & the Art of Pond Building and From Container to Kitchen: Growing Fruits and Vegetables in Pots, both available from

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