How To Remove Leeches From Your Pond Without Chemicals
A Safe Pond For Fish And Wildlife
What to do if you have leeches in your fish pond. If you have a nasty leech infestation, you really don't have to use chemicals to save your fish! When caring for your fish how do you cure a leech infestation without killing all the plants and wildlife and starting all over? That is the question I faced recently when I saw some horrible leeches on my fish. I needed a safe way to remove leeches from my pond. I had too many leeches in my garden pond and the leeches were attacking my fish. If there is one creature that totally grosses me out it has to be the leech. Leeches can't help it, but they are basically unloved and unwanted. The very thought of them is enough to make you cringe - and here was a leech on my fish.... What could I do? What would you do to remove leeches from your pond?
Photographs used in this article are all my own work. Please do not copy!
Before you resort to dangerous chemicals try this method.
Not everyone is confident in natural treatments for a start but this is one that worked. It is all about caring for your fish in a more natural way. You can control a leech problem using natural methods! Before you buy pond chemicals, read this story....
The fish have been well cared for during my vacation in British Columbia and I shall check them carefully this morning. If necessary, a repeat treatment may well see us safely through the Fall. Update on pond.... the little fish are growing well, they are lively and eager to feed, and I have seen no more leeches. We may be through the crisis certainly until Spring. I will watch them carefully!
An Established Pond With Fish And Frogs
Twenty years of caring for a garden pond and pond leech removal
Shortly after my parents moved in to the bungalow where I now live, they decided to dig a pond. They wanted it to be natural and encourage frogs and newts. My partner and I left some goldfish from the fair in the pond one weekend while they were away. They were delighted (so were the fish) and over the next year or two they were given ghost koi, shubunkins and some golden orfe. Frogs came to the lily pond and established themselves. The pond was kept fresh by a water pump, water soldiers, water snails and mum's meticulous care removing falling leaves and debris. The plants spread, the ghost koi kept the balance. Herons came and took some of the fish, but it was peaceful enough. Chemicals were never used. Then the remaining big fish died one by one and the last fairground goldfish, now huge, succombed the week they moved into sheltered accommodation. I saw a leech on his body, but assumed it was there due to his weakened state.
We redecorated, refurbished, moved in and saw the pump was hardly working. It was important to fix this as it is the main factor in caring for your fish. At this point the frog population was healthy too because it was before the big freeze. The week we moved in, we bought a pump with a water filter and UV light intending to restock. We bought six comets and two green tench to join the little brown carp-like wild fish that we believed were the result of crossbreeding and reverting between shubunkins, goldfish and ghost koi. We couldn't believe how clean the pond became within days. One of the comets died - again we saw a leech, but didn't realize at that point that fish were being attacked by leeches. We thought it was because it couldn't cope with the move.
We were keen to restock our pond, so when the weather warmed up, we went back to purchase some ghost koi babies and some small shubunkins. There were fewer frogs due to the harsh winter, and we wanted to get things back the way they were.... little did we know what awaited the new fish. Within days we had to remove a comet for treatment - it had a leech attached. Then one of the baby ghost koi died. That was when alarm bells really rang - leeches on pond fish are no joke!
The Peaceful Garden Pond - Our Pond in May....Click thumbnail to view full-size
Making A Leech Trap - The Search For Safe Leech Control
Avoiding Dangerous Chemicals And Using Safe Methods
Hmmmm.... how to kill leeches in pond..... If you want to go down the chemical route it is complex and dangerous. It is also expensive to buy pond chemicals in the quantities needed. It involves replacing all plants, estimating exactly how much water the pond holds, mixing chemicals that could possibly harm the smaller fish - and destroying every living invertebrate in the pond. That was not something we were prepared to consider. So what is safe to use to kill leaches? I searched and searched until I found the idea of constructing a leech trap out of a coffee tin. Here coffee tins are not so easy to find, they tend to be metallic cardboard. Then I thought of fresh soup containers and the leech trap was born.
At present we are on our third trap and numbers are reducing. I was horrified at the number of leeches in the last trap.... How you dispose of them having caught them is another issue of course, but you need to remember that leeches are dangerous, but they are also living animals with a nervous system and should be disposed of humanely. Freezing them is one method, or release into a river system, if it is permitted, where larger fish may eat them.
Leeches in Medicine - Leeches have been used in medicine for centuries.
So why be kind to leeches? Well, believe it or not they can be helpful. This book explains how and why leeches can be useful to the healing process.
Find out how leeches can help us.
Making the holes in the leech trap - Boring from the outside of the leech trap
Boring holes from the outside to create a burr on the leech trap makes it less likely leeches will crawl out through the holes. These holes can be made carefully with a steak knife and should vary in size from 2-5mm.
Raw Materials for the Leech Trap - And how the Leech Trap works
The leech trap works on the same principle as Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Jar. Leeches, being greedy, will gorge on blood and when they do they become so big that they get stuck in the hole. That is the principle - and it works. The main items needed are meat and a container. Liver or kidney is cheap and works well. Here you see a view of the inside of the leech trap. The holes are also burred which discourages early escape.
The life cycle of the leech and its medical uses in great detail!
Sinking the leech trap - Placing the leech trap in your pond
Just use a net to lower the trap into the water. It will fill with water and float upright. This will catch many leeches as they can sense the meat and swim up to it. To sink the trap deeper, put stones in before the meat. Then just leave the trap for a few days to a week. It will soon fill if you have a bad infestation.
Garden Pond Resources. - Everything you need for a pond in your garden
If after reading about our safe, organic method of leech control, you still feel squeamish and want to go down the more extreme chemical route, you can buy chemicals to clean your pond, or chemicals to kill leeches, in this section.
The First Leeches at the Feast - Leeches in the Trap....
Within a few hours, the first few leeches will come to the trap. They swim in through the holes and gorge happily on the meat.
The Leech Trap Works - The leech trap fills with leeches - pictures of blood sucking parasites.Click thumbnail to view full-size
What is a Leech then?
Facts about leeches....
Apart from being gross, what is a leech? A leech is a water worm, it belongs to the phylum Annelida, class Hirudinea. The blood sucking leech is a parasite to animals, birds, fish, frogs and mammals - including man. Infestation by leeches produces a condition known as Hirudiniasis. Not all leeches suck blood, some are carnivores and hunt insects and snails. However about 75% of known species of Leeches are blood sucking external parasites.
Leeches secrete Hirudin, a chemical produced in their mouth glands, which stops blood coagulating. Up to the middle of the 19th century bloodletting by leeches was a common treatment. Medicinal leeches are sterile, but wild leeches can produce infection and ulceration when satiated as they drop off.
Leeches enjoy slow moving streams, ponds, lakes and marshes, and can live on on moist vegetation in jungles and other humid environments.
Facts about Leeches - Leech Control and Collection
"He with a smile did then his words repeat
And said that gathering leeches far and wide,
He travelled, stirring thus about his feet
The waters of the pools where they abide
Once I could meet with them on everyside
But they have dwindled long by slow decay,
Yet still I persevere and find them where I may."
From Resolution and Independence by William Wordsworth, 1802
I wondered should there be leeches in my pond? Some of these links are about killing leeches in ponds, others are by admirers of garden pond leeches. Leeches after all will control a snail infestation quite effectively. Some people just LIKE them. Not everyone is out to how to kill leeches in pond water....
- Control Of Fish Leeches By Bruno Broughton
Bruno Broughton - Fishery Consultant
- Merck Veterinary Manual
The Merck Veterinary Manual (MVM) has served veterinarians and other animal health professionals as a concise and reliable animal health reference for over 45 years. The Merck Veterinary Manual Online is published on a nonprofit basis through a coope
- Leeches? - Wild About Britain
Are leeches a natural part of the ecosystem in small natural garden ponds? If they are, do they have predators in this situation and what damage, if
- Lovable Leeches
People who like leeches....
LINKS Home Permits Construction Stocking Management Weed Problems Beneficial RESOURCES Construction manual Farm Pond Management Guide Alternative Species Guide Farm Pond Calendar List of Fish Suppliers Leeches
- A nature observer's scrapbook of the diverse wildlife found in East Lincolnshire, UK.
Images, notes and diary records of some of the biological species found in East Lincolnshire, UK.
- Romney Marsh Countryside Project - Medicinal Leech (Hirudo medicinalis)
Some leeches can be useful....
- Pike - esox lucius - Wildlife Photography
British Wildlife at Wild About Britain - The home of British wildlife, nature and environment conservation across the UK. This pike has a passenger....
Leeches in your drinking water?
A serious health problem
Someone asked this question:
How do you treat a pond that is your drinking water and it has leeches in our pond?
This is a very real problem! Drinking leech infested water can lead to fatal illness. Leeches have been known to attach to the throat or mouth and suffocate the victim or cause internal haemmorhages. If your pond is your drinking water supply then you must treat it aggressively. Treat with chemicals, neutralize, drain, remove and destroy all plantlife and allow the pond to dry out completely for several weeks.
This will basically destroy your pond wildlife, and you maybe don't want to be so destructive, so you are faced with two alternatives, chlorinate pond water with water treatment tablets from a camping store and then thoroughly boil it before use or find an alternative drinking water supply. Purchase a watercooler or ask for the town water to be connected....
Water Treatment Solutions On Sale - Chemical and other water treatments
Maybe the route we choose isn't right for you? Perhaps you need a faster solution? Do you want to buy leech killing chemicals for ponds? Perhaps you have an algae problem and just need to clarify the water? Here are some water treatment solutions for common pond problems.
Some people have manicured ponds, others like them to be as close as possible to nature. Do you have a pond? Have you experienced a problem with leeches? Tell us about it here.
© 2010 Lisa Marie Gabriel