Our neighbors are a bit quackers when it comes to ducks – they’ve got several ponds and both own and are visited by loads of them. (Editor’s note: keep the duck jokes to a minimum please!). They also have a swimming pool too – so when it comes to protecting the health of our feathered friends, what’s the deal with ducks and chlorine?
Chlorine at the levels found in a well-maintained swimming pool of around 25 ppm will not kill ducks. At these levels, it’s safe for ducks to swim in and even drink your pool water. Chlorine should never be added to a natural self-cleaning duck pond unless the ducks need to be treated for diseases.
Let’s dive down (pun intended) into the subject of ducks and chlorine in more detail, so we learn how to protect these beautiful creatures in our backyard…
Are Chlorine Swimming Pools Safe For Ducks?
Yes, it’s pretty safe for ducks to swim in your chlorinated pool. If you have a well-maintained pool, the chlorination level should be well below what can be harmful.
Migrating ducks may need a break from flying and will borrow your swimming pool. For the rest of the year, ducks prefer to hang out where they can feed as well. So, chances are that the ducks in your pool are just visiting. If you fear your duck friends are staying longer than you’d like, then read on.
Before we continue, though, let’s talk about the reverse question: are ducks safe for chlorine swimming pools? If you have a pool and a toddler, you probably have experience with poop (aka floaters) in the pool. Well, duck poop is the same.
Duck and geese poop is not healthy, particularly if it gets in your pool water. Duck and geese poop carry diseases that people can get. Although chlorine does a good job killing many germs, it doesn’t kill all of them.
To kill duck poop germs in your pool water, you’ll have to follow the same procedure as for other floaters. Here’s an article.
Can Ducks Drink Chlorinated Water?
Yes – up to a point. Ducks that drink highly chlorinated water may suffer internal damage.
OK, but what does “highly chlorinated” mean? It means that your pool’s level of chlorine is up to or higher than 25 ppm. Well-maintained pools rarely get to this level of chlorination. If you follow standard pool guidelines, you probably have a chlorine level between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm.
Even if a pool is not well-maintained, chlorine is an extremely volatile chemical. It evaporates readily in warm water. Experts say really the only time pools ever get to a dangerous level of chlorination may be just before a spring cleanup.
Can Ducks Swim in Chlorinated Water?
Yup. Ducks have no problem with swimming in chlorinated water – even baby ducks (awwww).
How Do I keep Ducks Out of My Pool?
Generally, ducks swim and eat, swim, and eat. Only – there’s nothing to eat in a pool. Pools are not ideal places for ducks to live in and often, ducks will move on. If you are having problems, though, there are lots of things to try.
You can try duck decoys, floating rubber snakes, a pool cover, ultrasonic pest repellent, motion-activated sprinklers, pool cleaners that zoom around, floating eyeball balloons (“Flock Off!”), shark floaties, flamingo inner tubes, solar-powered owl decoy with glowing red eyes, reflective bird tape, and bird netting.
Get a crazy big killer whale floatie.
Or another floating predator like an alligator. Note to reader – one reviewer found a duck sitting on the head of their $80 alligator decoy.
Bird netting is also recommended by pool experts. It is unobtrusive and easily installed. Most netting will also help with leaves. But – be prepared to help birds that get stuck.
Install a solar pool cover. This is a good choice for pools that get leaves and pollen blown in too. Not to mention, it keeps pools warmer – by up to 15° F.
Some experts say that installing a water pump to disturb the surface of the water will keep ducks away.
Ducks generally like places where they can swim, but then get out and rest. Try to make the area around your pool uncomfortable for them.
Motion activated sprinklers are recommended as a deterrent for a lot of animal pests in your yard. They can work for deer, neighborhood cats, squirrels, coyotes, and skunks, to name just a few. In some models, motion can be detected up to 100 feet away.
To set it up, aim the sprinkler in a likely direction. When it detects motion, it sends two or three jets of (cold) water in that direction, startling the ducks or wildlife.
Try setting up a statue or some reflective bird tape. Birds don’t like to be around shiny, reflective objects. The bright, reflected light flashes make them uncomfortable.
Add some reflective stuff around your pool, like metal art, foil pinwheels, or DIY some flashy and shiny dreamcatchers with small, mirrored pieces.
Get a couple of wind spinners or windsocks, install them on long flexible poles and let them blow in the breeze.
Can I Put Chlorine in My Duck Pond To Clean it?
Experts recommend putting chlorine into duck pond water only if you are combating a duck disease. If so, isolate the diseased duck and clean the pond thoroughly. You can use a chlorinated cleaner to kill the germs, then fill the pond with non-chlorinated water.
How Can I Keep My Duck Pond Clean Naturally?
Ducks don’t just love ponds – they need ponds. Duck experts say that ducks need a source of water to keep their feathers, eyes, and nostrils clean. Water helps prevent parasites. Water helps regulate their internal temperature – especially important if you live in a hot climate.
To keep ducks healthy, they need a pond. The pond can be natural or man-made.
Natural duck ponds are easy to clean because they already have a selection of lifeforms that keep them clean already. Natural ponds should be in balance, but too much duck poop will throw them out of balance.
Many problems in natural ponds start simply – with lack of sunlight. Experts say that for a balanced pond, you should be able to see the bottom in 18 inches of water. If you can’t then you need to figure out why. Some natural solutions are adding plant-eating fish or scavenger organisms.
Be sure to check with your agricultural extension agent first. Sometimes, adding organisms just adds problems.
To get rid of abundant algae in a natural pond – just reach in, grab it, and get it out of there. Simple but stinky. There are lots of tools to help if your pond is large.
Once the excess algae are removed, try to keep it at bay with some barley straw. Barley straw is sold in bales. Put bundles of straw in net bags and float them in the pond. Barley straw extract works as well. This method is not instantaneous, but you should see some difference in a couple of months.
Here’s a good reference from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources on clearing up muddy farm ponds.
If you are considering buying or building an artificial duck pond, experts say to install a biofilter or a drain if you can. Either of those things will help you keep the pond clean. Waterfalls or a water pump to aerate the water will help.
Water pumps help keep a natural balance in the man-made pond. Duck poop will decompose with the help of some bacteria and fungi, but those things need oxygen. The more oxygen, the faster the poop can be cleaned up naturally.
Then, you will have to resign yourself to routinely draining, scrubbing, and refilling your pond. Experts recommend as much as every 1 to 2 days, if your pond is small.
What the heck am I supposed to do with all that water, you may ask. The answer is – fertigation! Fertigation is irrigation with fertilized water. Don’t waste that duck poopy water. Use it in your garden.
We’ve all heard of compost tea – this is manure tea. Design a drainage system for the pond that will water and fertilize trees, bushes, flower gardens and vegetable gardens.
Here’s a resource on fertigation.
If you’ve got your ducks in a row when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your swimming pool (sorry!), then the level of chlorine in it should be low enough that ducks can swim in and drink the water without causing themselves harm. It’s only if the chlorine levels get too high that you should start to worry (and not just about the ducks).
Natural duck ponds are – or should be – a balanced self-cleaning ecosystem, so you shouldn’t really need to clean these. You must certainly never add chlorine to a natural duck pond just to cleanse it, but only if some of your ducks have a disease that needs treating.
Apart from these simple rules, the ducks you own or that visit your garden should be just fine around your backyard water sources.