November 13, 2005

Today's Pond Q&A

Today's Pond Q&A

In this issue:




Hi there. I actually have 2 questions. This is my first year of
having a pond and having Koi. The questions are now that it is
winter what exactly should I do as far a feeding. The water temp
just went down to 40-45. I have heard and read many things. The
fish are still coming up to the top and want to eat. I bought
special medicated food from a koi place, but don't know when to
stop the feeding.

The second question is I was told that the food stays with the
fish for a few days from one person and that is goes right
through from another. If it goes right through, and the fish
have no stomach where does the food lie that causes it
to rot in the winter time?

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This is KOI 101, and koi don't have stomachs, they have one long
intestine that extends the length of their bodies, from the
mouth to the anal opening. So, that's where it would be if it
wasn't eliminated before the temperature dropped to a place
(below 50F) that cut off their metabolism. In temperatures above
55F, it takes a koi 4 days to eliminate the food it ingested

You also need to go by the water temperatures, not air
temperature. I believe that it is advisable to stop feeding
altogether when the water temperatures dip below 50F. Fish being
cold blooded (they get their temperature from the atmosphere in
which they live) they cannot increase their metabolism
independently, so the food which stays in the system can become
septic. I always watch the weather forecast for the week ahead
so to know what is coming, colder weather or Indian Summer.




Dear Carolyn,

Firstly, thank you for your very informative answers to the
readers' queries. It shows that you truly have a good command of
the topic.

We're situated along a golf course which is surrounded by a bird
sanctuary. My sneak attacks were from a very patient, bold blue
heron during the latter part of the summer & fall of last year. I
guess he was stocking up before his flight down south ! We tried
to deter him with a heron decoy, to no avail. I understand that a
net can be used but in our opinion it ruins the esthetics of the

The same goes for the use of a fake alligator in the pond,
especially in a northern climate like Montreal.

The other option we heard about was a water sensor but again we
find this impratical as we have indoor cats who go out once &
awhile and we don't want to traumatize them especially that they
are not at all interested in the fish.

My questions are:
1. Would the low-voltage wiring recommended for the racoons work
for these herons who are very long legged ? I gather that this
works on contact & wonder if they simply would step over the
wire ?

2. Is the voltage adjustable ?

3. Would it be harmful to the bird or pets ?

I would love to re-stock my pond next summer. However, I don't
want to re-experience the grief of losing the koi again until
I have found a solution that I can count on.

Your advice is much appreciated,

- Martha



I'm sorry but raccoons and heron are two different predators with
two different solutions. You wouldn't want to use the fencing
with your cats and the heron would easily step over it. Herons
have a photographic memory. They will always remember where they
ate the year before and fake heron don't deter them. In spring,
mating season, it actually attracts them.

The best defense from heron and others in the crane family is to
make it as difficult as possible, so he will go down the road to
somebody else's pond where he doesn't have to work so hard. Here
in NY, we have two effective defenses: deep, straight sided ponds
and clear monofilament fishing line. The fishing line is
stretched back and forth over the pond from a distance of 2-3'
off shore of the pond, and at varying heights, so the bird has to
step higher at different places. They have about a 3' step, so if
some were placed at 4' high, it would be difficult for the bird
to step over. Make it an obstacle course. This is not beautiful,
but not nearly as obvious or unattractive as netting. Looks sort
of like a spider web. These birds have excellent eyesight, so
they will see it and hopefully move on without further problems.
Once they move on, you can relax. I kept mine "webbed" for two
seasons and then I have not seen it again.

One word of caution, don't put any of the strings in the water
where a fish can catch itself on it.

- Carolyn

Happy Pondkeeping!

MacArthur Water Gardens

MacArthur Water Gardens
PO Box 3628
Alpharetta, GA 30023-3628

Posted by bfogle at November 13, 2005 02:03 PM