Duck ponds bring a touch of nature to your surroundings, but their management can pose unique challenges. In this blog post, we'll explore the top issues associated with duck ponds and practical solutions to ensure a thriving ecosystem that both you and your feathered friends can enjoy.
1. Constantly Dirty Water: Ducks and Debris
Ducks, being water-loving creatures, contribute to debris and dirty water due to their frequent swimming and defecating habits.
- Solution: Combat this issue by installing a pond skimmer, specifically designed to remove floating debris. A well-positioned pond drain working in tandem with a pond skimmer can create an overall recirculating system and help keep your water clean and clear. Adding a Ultraviolet Clarifier or UV Sterilizer can also kill floating algae cells and microscopic bugs in the water. Be sure to turn your UV Clarifier or Sterilizer off for a few days after you add beneficial bacteria to your duck pond. If not, you'll kill the beneficial bacteria you're trying to colonize which will help clean the pond for you.
2. Erosion Control at Pond Edges: Ducks on the Move
Frequent movement of ducks in and out of the water can lead to soil erosion along the pond's edges.
- Solution: Designing the pond with a 45 MIL EPDM pond liner might work, but it's important to note that ducks' nails can scratch and shred the edges thereby voiding the manufacturer's warranty. Consider constructing a sealed concrete pond for ducks, and use a pond sealer to ensure durability. You can also cement in flagstone or other flat stones along the border. Be sure the sides of the pond are level or else you will see the black pond liner under elevated areas along the edge. You can insert a board in the middle of the pond and then use a long 2" x 4" board that will go from the middle to the edge of the pond. Move this board in a circular motion with a level on top and add or remove soil, stone or whatever you're using for the pond's edge, as needed. You may be able to rent a laser level from a home improvement store. Mastering this touch of having the edges level will make your pond look professional and you'll be pleased you made the extra effort in doing so. Make sure the edge of the water isn't too high so the ducks can easily get out of the edge. And, where there are ducks, there usually are baby ducklings who won't be able to hop up out of the water like an adult duck can. So, keep in mind baby ducklings when you're making your duck pond. Having a graduated sloped edge is also idea with small cobblestones over a pond liner.
- Check with local city ordinances before considering putting a duck pond in. Take caution to protect children, pets, etc. from getting in the pond and possibly drowning. Your duck pond may need to be fenced around it.
3. Destruction of Pond Plants by Ducks
Ducks have a knack for destroying pond plants, making it challenging to maintain a plant-filled pond.
- Solution: While it's not recommended to have plants in a duck pond, if you choose to do so, opt for sturdy varieties or use protective barriers. Even fake pond plants may do the trick for you. Adding pretty bog or marginal plants that the ducks can't get to would also be an option. Ducks like to burrow their beaks into the soil where plants grow. This can easily uproot your valuable pond plants. So, take that into consideration when designing and decorating your duck pond. You might want to consider putting 2-3" size cobblestones on top of the soil to help deter the ducks from foraging in the plant soil. It's not 100 percent fool proof, but it may help. It will also help keep your pond a bit clearer instead of being constantly murky from the ducks agitating the soil within it foraging for food.
4. Introduction of Unwanted Floating Plants: Ducks on the Fly
If ducks can fly in or out, they may introduce unwanted floating plants like tiny duckweed and watermeal.
- Solution: Address this issue by placing a pond skimmer strategically at the pond's edge. A properly positioned skimmer with the right size of pump, typically on the opposite side of the pond as a waterfall feature or filter discharge, can aid in the removal of floating duckweed and other debris. A pond skimmer can do wonders to keep a pond clean of floating debris that would otherwise sink to the bottom of the pond and add to the unwanted nutrients that cause algae to grow. Check out our pond skimmers for a reliable option. There are also pond skimmer extension tubes that can help hid the pond skimmer box back a couple feet from the duck pond's edge. Check those out, too.
5. Ducks Feeding on Fish
Ducks may pose a threat to baby fish in your pond.
- Solution: Don't add fish to your duck pond, particularly if it's small and shallow, as ducks will enjoy them as a quick, easy meal. The constant dunking down in the water looking for food and movement the ducks make in the water can also freak out and scare the fish, depending on it's depth. This constant source of stress can result in fish disease and fish loss. Some folks are lucky to have their ducks and larger fish cohabitate together just fine, while others are not. Take that into consideration when planning your duck pond.
6. Duck Ponds Can Be a Breeding Ground for Mosquitos
- While ducks can eat small bugs and fish in a pond, mosquitos are small and their larvae are even smaller. Mosquitos can lay their larvae into tiny crevices where a duck's beak cannot get to. These areas can become breeding grounds for mosquitos and other bugs. This may have a negative effect on your outdoor living experience.
- Mosquitoes can transmit malaria, west nile virus, dengue, zika, yellow fever and other diseases, depending on what part of the world you live in. They can also be a big nuisance. There are small mosquito fish you can add to your pond but the ducks may eat them. They are prolific breeders and they are small enough to get into small crevices to eat mosquitoes and mosquito larvae. There are also Mosquito Dunks available. They add a chemical to the water that kills mosquito larvae. You would need to protect the Mosquito Dunk from the ducks so they don't try to eat it. We don't sell them, so be sure to check for cautions about using them in a duck pond before you purchase any, if you so desire.
Conclusion: Harmonizing Your Duck Pond Experience
In conclusion, managing a duck pond requires thoughtful consideration and strategic solutions. By incorporating proven products and practices like incorporating a pond skimmer, pond drains, concrete pond sealers, a UV Clarifier or Sterilizer, and adding beneficial bacteria, you can help ensure a harmonious coexistence between ducks and your pond.
NOTE: If you plan on having a duck pond in an area where it gets freezing temperatures, be sure to have an aerator in the pond that will keep a large opening in the pond from freezing over. This hole in the ice will be the very source of refuge if a predator comes along such as a coyote, dog, raccoon, fox, etc. Sharing from personal experience, you don't want to see that happen. It's horrible. There are also Great Horned Owls that will attack your ducks and eat them as prey or severally wound them. They fly into the pond or just over the duck while standing or sitting and usually grab them by their neck with their long talons that puncture into their neck. Unfortunately, I'm speaking from experience on that, too. Great Horned Owls stand about 2-3 feet high. They're huge and much bigger than a duck. I was able to save my duck by nursing him back to health. It took me over a month. I called him, "Survivor". He was actually my neighbor's duck. The little boy next door had a small, backyard pond and they thought they could go out there every day and hammer a hole into the ice to keep part of the pond open. I will tell you, that never works and can harm your fish as well. Well, one Christmas morning, they went out and their whole flock of ducks were slaughtered all over their backyard - except this duck. They initially brought him inside their house and put him in their bathtub and the next day they put him over the fence into my yard. We found out that a cougar had gotten to their other ducks. I've never seen a cougar around but I have seen coyotes and foxes. So, that is how "Survivor" got his name. I had him for a while with our other ducks and then one day, a Great Horned Owl got him that I mentioned above. I was able to nurse him back to health. My little farm is kind of a long story but do know that there are great joys and great sorrows that can come with having livestock. And, those sorrows can come quite unexpectedly. Overall, though, they were some of the happiest days of my life. I loved my little farm and my duck pond and koi pond as well. It was beautiful and peaceful. Perhaps, I'll tell you about it sometime in another blog. :)
Overall, having a duck pond can be fun and rewarding but they do create a big mess, can shred your pond liner and are easily susceptible to predators. In my experience, nets don't seem to work, either because a determined raccoon can be smarter and stronger than you think. Enjoy your duck pond whatever you decide to do.