Do Ducks Help Clean Ponds?

When it comes to maintaining a local pond, there are a lot of things to worry about–litter, pond scum, invasive species, pests…It’s a lot to take in. One of the most common ways to clean up a pond is to introduce animals to it that help curb the type of pollutants they have.

Ducks may or may not help clean ponds depending on what your pond needs in terms of cleaning. If it has an issue with algae or small snakes, ducks can help clean it up. Duck poop, however, may be a drawback. 

Ducks are not a universal cleaning option. If you’re considering getting ducks in order to clean up a pond, there are several things you need to think about before you give them a new home.

Do Ducks Help Clean Ponds?

Ducks, like many other fauna, eat plants and animals that most pond owners find to be pesky. This gives them a reputation as “natural pond cleaners” among many circles. However, it’s important to remember that they still have limits as well as pitfalls.

The fact is that ducks are a good solution for very specific problems. When faced with areas filled with predators or non-natural pollutants, ducks might not be a good way to clean your pond. 

What Can Ducks Help Clean Up?

Before you decide to get ducks for your home’s pond, it’s important to know what they can and cannot do. Believe it or not, most of a duck’s cleaning abilities come from its diet. When given a pest they find delicious; ducks quickly become a pond owner’s best friend. 

Ducks can help clean up the following problems:

  • Algae. If your pond is overrun with algae, getting ducks might be one of the best things you can do. Ducks love to eat algae and are excellent for cutting down on algae that overruns ponds. 
  • Frogs. If you have way too many frogs in your area, you’ll love having ducks. Ducks eat frogs’ eggs, which cuts down the amount of frogs in the area. 
  • Insects. The vast majority of insects that you find in ponds are also food for ducks, which means that populations can be curbed by a couple of quacking friends.
  • Snake Infestations. Some ponds get plagued with swarms of small snakes. In many cases, ducks will actually eat smaller snakes. This, in turn, can drive away snakes from your pond. To read more Do Ducks Help Keep Snakes Away?
  • How Effective Are Ducks At Cleaning Up Ponds?

If you have one of the above-mentioned issues, getting ducks may prove to be moderately effective in terms of cleanup. They will happily eat away at prey and algae, but of course, there are limits as to what each duck can do. 

Ducks are relatively small creatures, and they can only eat so much. You can’t expect them to wipe out a pond’s algae or insect population overnight. Though ducks can be hungry, they aren’t bottomless pits.

You can’t expect ducks to be a universal solution to pond problems.  If you have more pests than ducks can eat, then you will need outside help. 

What Won’t Ducks Clean-Up?

While many environmental problems can be cleaned up by introducing ducks to a pond, there are some things ducks just won’t do. Trying to get ducks to eat actual garbage or trying to use ducks to keep their predators at bay will not work.

If you are trying to rid your pond of large snakes, snapping turtles, or any other “predator pest,” then you shouldn’t try to introduce ducks to your pond. This will only end with your new feathered friends being put in danger.

Will Ducks Need Any Special Care When They’re Cleaning A Pond?

Assuming that the stuff you want ducks to clean is in their natural diet, chances are high that they won’t require any extra food. They will, however, do better with a special shelter for their nests and with wings that are pinioned.

Why Is Pinioning Your Ducks’ Wings So Important?

Ducks do not have a natural tendency to stay around a “home base” like dogs or cats do. When left to their own devices, many ducks will simply fly away to a new place. Pinioning their wings prevents them from flying, which keeps them close to you.

Many people see pinioning a duck’s wings as cruel, but it’s really not. Ensuring that your ducks stay within your home’s limits prevents them from being shot by hunters or getting lost in unfamiliar territory.

Keeping Predators At Bay

Ducks aren’t without natural predators, and it’s very possible that your ducks’ presence can attract them to your pond. If you want to protect your new pets, make a point of preventing against the following:

  • Large Snakes. A snakeproof fence can keep these predators at bay if they’re already problematic.
  • Foxes. Foxes are best handled professionally. If you have ducks in a fox area, giving them a special shelter, and keeping an eye on them can reduce damage.

When Ducks Can Hurt More Than Help

Ducks aren’t professional cleaning crews; they’re animals. As animals go, they can definitely help in reducing the populations of overgrown species. Unfortunately, they also produce waste, and they don’t really have control over when or where they poop. This can lead to problems.

Whether you like it or not, ducks create waste in the form of poop. Waste can cause the following issues in and around your pond:

  • Messy Lawns. If you were hoping to get a pristine lawn through ducks, it’s not going to happen. Ducks poop as they walk or swim, which means poop will end up on your lawn quite a bit.
  • Bacteria-Laden Ponds. When ducks use the water as their toilet, bacteria will stay in the pond. This can require additional cleaning solvents or species to clear up. Otherwise, the pond may become uninhabitable for plant and animal life.
  • Nitrites. Nitrites are one of the leading causes of algae, and yes, duck waste can contribute to it.

How To Prevent Duck-Related Damage To Your Pond

Though ducks can do a great deal of damage to ponds, the damage their waste does is easy to mitigate. These quick tips below can help reduce problems in your pond:

  • Use Bacteria. Healthy bacteria can offset the bacteria caused by waste from your ducks. Bacterial solutions fight off toxic bacteria, keeping the pond viable for other life forms.
  • Introduce Snails and Scavengers. Snails and other scavengers are known for eating the very waste products ducks leave behind. This can add a natural balance to your pond in a pinch.
  • Use Nitrite-Reduction Solutions. Most hardware and gardening stores sell chemicals that help lower the number of nitrites in ponds, rivers, and pools of water. Using them in your pond can assist in algae growth reduction. 
  • Scoop Up Poop. If you’re concerned about being able to walk around your pond, cleaning up after your ducks on a regular basis is a smart idea.

Are Ducks Worth Adding To Your Pond?

Generally speaking, ducks can only do so much to help clear up a pond. When introduced with the right coexisting species, having a duck or two can be a natural way to keep a pond clean. However, ducks are not miracle-workers when it comes to keeping water clean. 

The overall verdict is that ducks should only be used to clean up a pond if you’re ready to have ducks as pets and if you’re willing to accept the pitfalls along with the perks. When making a decision, think things through before you make a move.

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