3 Goldfish Gone Missing With No Explanation?

MrFishy222

Hello, I have a large pond in my garden which has been running for about 5 years. I have 7 medium to large size goldfish in it. 2 Shubunkin, 3 Common and 2 Comet goldfish. I noticed this morning whilst feeding the fish and doing maintenance that 3 of them seem to have just vanished out of thin air with no clues whatsoever. I have ruled out the possibility of it being a predator as there is a net over the pond and 2 motion-activated security cameras facing it which would have been set off if a predator came by. Plus I live in the UK and in the area, I live I have never seen a heron before and the only wildlife I get is domestic cats and foxes which at the most will take a glance at the pond and then run of. I have also ruled out the possibility of them jumping out as the net completely covers the ponds surface and the area around the pond is completely clear after a thorough search. The fish missing are 2 common goldfish and 1 shubunkin and these fish are quite large so I am almost certain that there is not enough space for them to hide as the rocks in the pond do not have enough space under them for 3 big fish to hide under. I am very confused as the 4 remaining goldfish are showing no strange behaviours and schooling together normally so if they would have been spooked by something they would have been hiding away as well. At the moment the only idea I have is that if I see no sign of them in a few days I may drain the pond and take all the rocks out and see if I can find anything but other than that I have no idea where to go from here. Any advice or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
 

Shrumple

I would strongly suspect a heron. I'm in the UK, in SW London, and our garden pond lost 2 shubunkins and a goldfish around this time last year - despite a chicken wire structure over the pond and an ankle-height line around 3 sides designed to prevent herons wading into the water, I'm very sure that a heron was the culprit, probably accessing the edges through a heavily planted bed that I thought it wouldn't go through. (We have had visits in the previous year so I know they know there's food here.)

They are very canny and very persistent if they see prey.
 

FishDin

How long since you've seen them? Have you been checking the water parameters? 3 dead fish could show up as an ammonia/nitrate spike.

Wouldn't a Heron activate the security camera? Maybe not big enough??
 

Shrumple

I suppose my question would be "what does the security camera do if it is set off"? A lot of suburban herons are fully accustomed to the defence measures people put on ponds (such as decoy models, noise making devices) and aren't put off by them.
 

86 ssinit

Yes maybe a heron. Could also be a fox or cat or some other animal. Some people get a plastic heron and place it around the pond. As long as you move it every other day it will keep other herons away. Next since your not getting anything on the cameras. They may need to be replaced or it could have been aliens :eek::eek::).
 

FishDin

"set off" means it was activated, took pictures.

I agree Herons are quite clever and capable
 

MrFishy222

I have just gone into my security camera app and there are no recordings for days on end so nothing has set it off. I still find it hard to believe that is a predator as the net has not been disturbed at all and if something did stand on top of the net to grab the fish it would have been messed up and made a commotion which would have activated the cameras. But then again I do know that some of these predators are smart so I wouldn't be surprised.
 

Shrumple

Yeah, we lost fish in the previous two years and the heron made more of an obvious mess - knocked over plants on the ledge of the pond etc. and the remaining fish hid for a very long time. Last year there were neither of these signs, but 3 fish completely vanished. So I can only assume it was a heron.
(I don't believe foxes are quick enough to scope fish out of water and we've seen foxes around here drinking plenty of times without any fish going missing.)

It's a pain, isn't it!
 

MrFishy222

I did use to have a trail cam to capture the wildlife entering my garden (which unfortunately doesn't work anymore) and these are the only type of potential predators I caught after having it out for about a year (Inserted below). The foxes were all quite small and the only other thing were cats and they would always run past the pond or at the most have a sniff and runoff. They seemed to not want to be in one place for too long. (Keep in mind the pond in the trail cam pictures is not the one the fish are in this is my smaller one)
 

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MrFishy222

UPDATE: I have just drained my entire pond and taken all of the decor out and none of the 3 fish are in sight which pretty much confirms that it was some kind of predator :emoji_cry:. I did also find what looks to be part of one of the fishes scales and a chunk of what looks to be fish flesh so something must have damaged them badly. I am going to take some more precautions to try and defend my pond. So far I am buying a heron decoy and more lilypads to provide cover. I have also put some terracotta pots in the pond so the fish have a place to hide from predators and rearranged the rocks so that they can hide within them. Is there anything else you recommend I could do to keep my remaining fish safe or have I covered everything?
 

Shrumple

Oh I'm sorry to hear that :(

If you want to dissuade herons, one tactic is to put a line/wire around the pond at about 6 inches high - herons can't step over things and prefer to wade into water rather than land in it directly (to avoid alerting their prey), so a line run around the edge that prevents the heron easily accessing the water can help. I put usually put one out between about January and April-ish which is when herons are most likely to be resorting to garden ponds for food rather than rivers. (My failure last year was that our cat chewed through the line on one side where there are lots of shrubs and I lazily didn't reinstate it. Live and learn!)
 

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