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Building a Pond Cover to protect Fish from Herons and reduce Sunlight

For a while now I have been toying with the idea of building some kind of wooden cover for my pond.

For a long time we have used netting over our pond to prevent herons stalking and catching our fish, ever since we lost 3 of our fish very early one morning when a heron came and had some breakfast!

[Picture copyright and courtesy of Zyllan Spilsbury]

Herons are very early risers, generally attacking ponds at the crack of dawn, and you may not even know or notice you have lost some fish for a couple of days, unless they are particularly greedy and eat many of your fish in one sitting!

Whenever I wanted to work on the pond it was a bit of a pain having to unpeg the netting, lift it off all round the pond, then fasten it all back over when finished. And sometimes it would get caught in the lawn mower at the edge of the pond if I wasn't careful.

I had in mind that having some other kind of solid cover would not only prevent herons from attacking, but also;

  • will offer the fish some shade from the summer sun; and
  • also help reduce algae forming green-water; and
  • slow any blanket-weed growth; and
  • in addition it is strong enough to prevent our small grand-children from falling in the pond.

I have seen some koi keepers build complete pagodas/houses over their ponds to provide permanent shade, but I can't really afford an elaborate structure. However previously I had built an archway-pagoda next to the pond for my wife to grow clematis against, and I thought that this might provide a suitable fixing for a rope and pulley to hoist a hinged pond cover.

So, this is the result....perhaps it might give you some ideas too?

My Drawbridge Pond Cover

It's a simple enough affair which uses a good strong eye-bolt fixed into the top of the pond cover, which the hoisting rope attaches to, passes through a pulley, and then wraps around a cleat to fasten it when in the up position.

Read on for more details and photos.

Jims Pond Blog

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For great fish-keeping communities visit my favourite forums at:-

They are very friendly and knowledgeable groups of people who will make you feel very welcome. There is tons of discussion going on about fish of all kinds, problems whether relating to the health of your fish or the state of your pond, and advice on filters, pumps and anything else you can think of!

I highly recommend Bradshaws Direct (UK) for all your ponding supplies:-

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I built the main structure of the cover in a weekend, from some spare pieces of tongue-and-groove boarding and old skirting boards that had been laying around in the garage for months, and three 3m lengths of 44x44mm timber. They were ideal for the job.

The only items I had to actually buy were the metalwork, i.e. some good strong hinges, the eye-bolt, pulley and cleat, and a decent piece of strong rope.

The part that took the most time was carefully laying out the wood to see how I could build it to the shape and dimensions of the pond, and also to allow spaces where the larger marginal plants can grow up at the sides of the pond. I think it makes an interesting shape and cover for the pond. Also I made sure that the gaps in the wood allowed things like my venturi pipe, or other plants in the centre to protrude through the top.

Here is the pond cover, with the "drawbridge" raised up, so allowing clear viewing of the fish, and easy maintenance work on the pond. You can see the 3 strong hinges at the base where I have securely fixed the pond cover to the archway behind. They have to be able to support its weight. The pond cover is not too heavy, and lifting it up and down is reasonably easy, and certainly quick to do, lifting up takes just a few seconds, although as the plants have grown it is necessary to help them back through the spaces in the cover when lowering it back down (although this is possible on your own, two people makes it quicker).

After cutting the wood and doing a test construction, I then completely dismantled it again and used some water-based (non-toxic / fish safe) timber preservative to seal and colour the woodwork so that it is more pleasing on the eye, and to prevent the wood from rotting so that it lasts a good long time.

To finish off, I have some more ideas for further decorating it, which I have yet to do. For example adding some down-lighting to the underside of the cover to light the pond at night. Also I will keep an eye out for some nautical oddments, such as a small boat anchor to fix to the topside for added interest.

Since adding the cover, we have noticed that the fish seem much more at ease in the pond. They come to the surface more readily, and seem less cautious. I guess perhaps they feel more protected? Also the cover has made a dramatic reduction in the amount of blanketweed in the pond, and all year the water has remained gin-clear - I have not had a single occurence of green water in 2006.

I have since found a suitable adornment for the top of the cover. This dragonfly is a door knocker that I found in our local garden centre. Nice isn't it?

It is made by a company called Black Country Metalworks (visit http://www.ws-hardware.co.uk/home.html), and they supply a wonderful range of knocker designs; fish, dolphins, foxes, squirrels, and so on.

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