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Thread: Help please - Pond caves

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    New Fairfield, CT
    Posts
    38

    Help please - Pond caves

    Hi all,

    Well, I am still battling with the heron(s) here...just woke up to find one sitting outside my pond, just staring in. At first I was afraid he had already eaten and was waiting to see if he missed any, but it looks like my fishing wire held and he didn't get at my fish.

    Does anyone know where to find some good artificial caves (or other such decorations) I can buy to put in there and give my guys a place to hide? I looked around online and the ones I saw were either too small (for aquariums really) or were ugly (one I saw was just a big aluminum teepee that looked like it wouldn't keep out a persistent heron anyway.)

    Thanks!
    Brian

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    1,268
    My first caves (the koi are too big, now) were two big utility buckets (15-20 gal?) that had holes drilled for circulation. Lay them on their side, chock them with gravel, and put flagstone on the top. Instant caves AND planting shelves at the same time.

    My current pond has the caves designed in, with 4 feet of 12" drainpipe buried in a channel and both ends open for circulation and navigation.

    Sonoma County Susan
    Science Teacher, Ponder (Zone 9)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    New Fairfield, CT
    Posts
    38
    Actually the drainpipe sounds like a good idea...I can get some of that and cover it up with some rocks to blend in with the rest of the pond.

    Thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Decatur, Alabama
    Posts
    84
    I use a half round section of larger drain pipe. I purchase the double wall ADS or HANCOR pipe in 20 foot lengths. I get the 18" pipe and slice it length wise and then cut it into 2 foot pieces and stack it up (i get 20 caves out of one piece of pipe this way). The caves look like a military barracks Quonset hut in form but I work them into the excavation when digging a pond. As I place rocks and logs in my pond, I create a cave opening that conceals the plastic form from view. Covered with gravel, they also help form planting pockets and look completely natural. I don't like deep caves because it makes maintenance more difficult when you can't reach to the back of the cave. If you are building one pond or one cave, you might go to a construction site and see if there is a scrap laying around that you could get for the asking.
    S. Lee Vought
    CAC, CRP, ARCSA AP, SWM, LD
    Vought Water Gardens
    www.voughtwatergardens.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Tecumseh, Ontario
    Posts
    47

    Cave Cleaning?

    This brings me to the question; do caves need to be cleaned? I rebuilt the pond last summer and included two caves that I made from 6" drainage tile cut in 2' lengths (too many winter losses and GBH kills). These are recessed into the side/bottom of the pond. This summer will be the first spring clean of this pond, and my first clean of a pond with caves. So, do they need to be cleaned, and if so, what is the method generally used?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Decatur, Alabama
    Posts
    84
    With the exception of leaf debris, they are usually in no more need of cleaning than the rest of the pond. I mentioned it earlier because I wouldn't want to clean my pond with a bunch of scared fish hiding in a deep cave while I couldn't get in there to get them to safer waters. I know the chlorinated water, pressure washer, and general lack of water would be bad for a fish .
    S. Lee Vought
    CAC, CRP, ARCSA AP, SWM, LD
    Vought Water Gardens
    www.voughtwatergardens.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    119
    I use clay pots. Just make sure they are fired so they don't just decompose when you put them in the water. I just busted out the bottom of them so the fish can swim through. It provides a place for them to hide while also adding a rustic shipwreck-type feel.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Seal Beach CA
    Posts
    34
    I used a black (can't see it) plastic file box, the kind that you can put file folders in, had my husband saw everything out but the corner supports and the top cross bars and the bottom (which will become the top), smoothed the edges. Turned it upside down in a corner of my pond and put a slab of slate on top. This is mainly for my turtles but the koi pass through it also. A couple of those place around your pond might work for you.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    New Fairfield, CT
    Posts
    38
    These are all great ideas...thanks everyone for the input.

    Let me throw this idea out there for you all:

    I was explaining the situation to my father, (who is not a pond guy but comes up with some interesting solutions,) and told him my only trepidation about adding a cave is I'd hate for the fish to camp out there all the time where I can't see them. He suggested using a piece of plexiglass or something set on some rocks that the fish could swim under and be safe from predators but still visible to us. Sounds interesting, but my concern would be that the fish wouldn't KNOW they were safe and if a heron got near the pond they might swim away for cover and actually expose themselves to more danger than if they just stayed put under the plexiglass.

    What do you think? Would my fish be smart enough to recognize the plexiglass as safe cover and feel comfortable to "hide" under it even if danger was within sight?

    Thanks,
    Brian

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    119
    Yea, I wouldn't go with the plexiglass myself. The fish feel much safer when they know they can't be seen. Having said that...your worries about the fish staying hidden all the time is a little misplaced. The only time my fish ever hide in the pots and under my rock bridge is when they see the dogs or cat run by and I assume when other predators come by they do the same. My fish have come to recognize that people=food so whenever I'm out, they are swimming around all excited, not hiding. As long as you are going out there and feeding them and spending time, they will learn to recognize that you are not a threat, but actually a provider. It takes time, but it's well worth it. Some of my fish even let me pet them now and whenever I have to get in the pond for maintenance they swim right next to me. It's a neat relationship.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
    Posts
    92
    Quote Originally Posted by bboozen View Post

    What do you think? Would my fish be smart enough to recognize the plexiglass as safe cover and feel comfortable to "hide" under it even if danger was within sight?

    Thanks,
    Brian
    My goldfish have plenty of places to hide in their well-planted tub garden, but they come out whenever I am around!

    Helen

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    1,268
    The plexiglas probably wouldn't stay clear for long due to algae growth

    Sonoma County Susan
    Science Teacher, Ponder (Zone 9)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    37
    alicat, I am looking forward to that with my fish! Our pond was finished late July, so our little fishies were new to us and their environment. Then they're under the ice, snow and cold hibernating all winter. Now they're lively again, and I'm looking forward to actually seeing my fish while I'm out there, not having to sneak up on the pond or watch from an upstairs window

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    119
    You'll get there, don't worry! It took me about 3 solid months of sitting out there twice a day for an hour or so before they were this way. And I even noticed this spring when i started going out there to feed them that they were a little skeptical since they hadn't seen me in so long, but they are back to their old routine again now. It takes lots and lots of patience, but it's pretty cool once you get there.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Posts
    1

    Red face black file crates

    Quote Originally Posted by bboozen View Post
    Hi all,

    Well, I am still battling with the heron(s) here...just woke up to find one sitting outside my pond, just staring in. At first I was afraid he had already eaten and was waiting to see if he missed any, but it looks like my fishing wire held and he didn't get at my fish.

    Does anyone know where to find some good artificial caves (or other such decorations) I can buy to put in there and give my guys a place to hide? I looked around online and the ones I saw were either too small (for aquariums really) or were ugly (one I saw was just a big aluminum teepee that looked like it wouldn't keep out a persistent heron anyway.)

    Thanks!
    Brian
    Depends on the size of the ponds. I have two smaller ponds one 280 gal and 80 gal. To protect your fish I use these large plastic crates with holes..used for school books or filing. If you have large fish you can cut out larger holes. I put large flat stones on the top, you can have them overlap for cave effect. Next, you need floating plants to cover most of the pond surface. Whatever isn't covered us these floating web like bird defenders. My ponds have snails and plecos to keep them clean and submersible pumps that connect to overhanging waterfalls. I live next to a swamp with all kinds of predators so it's a must. An added protection is-Motion Activated Animal Bat Bird Repeller Solar/Battery Powered + PIR Sensor next to the pond.

    If you have large natural ponds and want to protect them from otters and birds, I use 48" animal crates, cutting hole just large enough for fish, sink to the bottom and cover with stepping stones. You can join two or four crates together and decorate it with artificial plants. There's nothing else that works, trust me.



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