Despite their size, koi are vulnerable to predators. From birds to cats and raccoons, the last thing you want is your prized and very costly fish ending up in their stomach. A number of countermeasures have been proposed by pond enthusiasts, but one that many overlook is decoys. Below is a description of how decoys work, and why they are one of the best ways to protect your fish.
How Do Decoys Work?
A decoy is an object which resembles another object that is used to fool and deter a predator (or enemy) from attacking the true target. For instance, if you own a pond in an area where Blue Herons live, you could place one or two plastic Blue Herons near the pond perimeter to deter the real birds from making a move on your koi. These birds are territorial, and will avoid areas where other herons are present. A similar decoy can be used against other predators.
The downside to using a blue heron decoy (or decoys of other birds) is mating season. If a male or female heron is looking for a mate, they might confuse your decoy for being the opposite sex, and might actually be attracted to your pond. This of course defeats the purpose of why you setup the decoy in the first place. This means that once the weather turns warm in spring, mating season will begin and you’ll need to remove the decoy until mating season ends.
Even when the mating season is over, the decoy cannot be left in the same location for too long. Birds are quite intelligent, and if enough time passes they will eventually realize that the “blue heron” in the pond is not real. Repositioning the decoy from time to time however will keep them believing that a bird is actually present. You will want to place the heron decoys near the edges of the pond or floating on top of the pond water itself. Bird decoys that float along the pond will move around by themselves and will deter the actual birds without you having to constantly reposition it manually. It should also be noted that killing a Blue Heron is illegal in the state of Georgia, so you should avoid taking lethal action even if it successfully kills your prized koi, and by using a decoy you won’t have to.
The Alligator Decoy
Perhaps the best decoy that money can buy is the alligator decoy. The American alligator is an apex predator, with few animals being able to overcome an adult. It is a multipurpose decoy that will not only deter birds, but cats and raccoons, since they are no match for the real thing. A floating gator decoy is actually better than one that remains stationary near the ponds edges, since it will constantly move which to potential predators will make it seem frightening real.