Have you ever been sitting near a pond and noticed the greenish-brown scum on the surface of the water? If so, you’ve seen pond scum. But what (if anything) eats this slimy substance? And why can it be both a good and bad thing to have in our ponds? Let’s explore what exactly pond scum is and which animals sometimes feed on it.
What Is Pond Scum?
Pond scum is made up of single-celled organisms called algae. Algae are an essential part of any ecosystem. They produce oxygen through photosynthesis, and they provide food for a variety of aquatic creatures. In addition, they also help to reduce pollutants in the water by using these nutrients for growth. That being said, too much pond scum can become a serious issue – but before getting into that, let’s break down what eats pond scum.
What Eats Pond Scum?
Fish: Fish are one of the most common predators of pond scum. Many fish species eat algae as a way to supplement their diet or to avoid eating other smaller fish. Some examples include carp, trout, tilapia, blue gill, and bass. These fish can consume large amounts of algae in a short period of time and can quickly reduce the amount of scum in a pond.
Invertebrates: Invertebrates such as snails, crayfish, mussels, and clams are also known to eat pond scum. They use their suckers or mouths to scrape off bits of algae from rocks and other surfaces. While they won’t consume as much algae as fish do, they can still have an impact on the amount of scum in a pond over time.
Birds & Mammals: Birds and mammals that live near ponds may also consume pond scum as part of their diets. Ducks, geese, herons, otters, beavers, muskrats, and raccoons have been known to eat pond scum from time to time!
Why Too Much Pond Scum Is Bad
Even though certain critters and aquatic life feed on pond scum, too much pond scum can be an issue. The biggest issue with too much pond scum is that it blocks sunlight from getting into the depths of the water, depriving plants and other organisms living beneath the surface from getting enough light. This lack of sunlight can be detrimental to aquatic life and may lead to their death if not addressed quickly enough. Additionally, too much pond scum can make the pond look unappealing and decrease its aesthetic value drastically.
Furthermore, excessive amounts of pond scum can also impede oxygen production since they prevent sunlight from reaching aquatic plants that produce oxygen through photosynthesis. Without enough oxygen in your pond’s ecosystem, animals will die due to suffocation or lack of resources necessary for survival. Lastly, when exposed to extreme temperatures, pond scums have been known to release toxins into the environment which can be harmful for both humans and animals alike.
To learn more about pond scum and the potential drawbacks of it, check out these additional resources: