Protecting Your Fish from Predators

If you’ve never had fish living in your yard or near your business, you may have never seen the many predators that love to snack on expensive koi. There are predatory birds, raccoons, possums, neighborhood cats, and even bears that will travel long distances to eat a tasty carp. There are many options for keeping predators away from your fish, ranging in price and effectiveness depending on your koi pond layout.

What Likes to Eat Koi?

Depending on where you’re building your pond, your koi may be at risk for hunting from:

  • Raccoons, possums, beavers, and similar medium-sized rodents and related animals
  • Foxes, coyotes, and bears in more rural and mountainous areas
  • Heron, cranes, seagulls, and kingfishers
  • Snapping turtles and large bullfrogs
  • Feral and pet cats that roam the neighborhood.

Hanging and Floating Netting

Bird netting that features a fine mesh can be hung or draped over the surface of the water to keep birds, wildlife, and cats from reaching your fish. Check the netting regularly and secure it around the edges so larger animals can’t simply lift it up and slip underneath. Electrified netting generally isn’t recommended for koi ponds because it will lose charge if it touches the water and can hurt the fish.

Electrified Wires

A single line of electrified wire strung around the pond anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet above the ground can prevent many mammals from messing with your fish. If you don’t have fish-eating birds in your area but deal with plenty of otters, mink, muskrat, or raccoons, electrified wires may be the best choice. A double or triple line can keep larger predators like bears, foxes, and coyotes away. A charger for the wire shouldn’t add much to your electricity bill each month.

Fencing and Enclosures

For a large commercial pond or a koi pond featuring thousands of dollars’ worth of fish, a complete enclosure or protective fence may be worth the cost. Enclosures include mesh or wire covers over the top to ensure even ravenous herons and kingfishers can’t reach the surface. Fences don’t include coverage from birds, but you can always add your own bird netting.

If you’re not sure what your koi are at risk from, only stock inexpensive fish until you’ve determined the local predators. Do your research and contact your local extension office for help, since they generally have local information on fish-pond predators and ideas to prevent them from causing problems.

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