How do you take care of your pond? There is so much information out there, and so many products available it can become a daunting task. The type of pond you have will help determine exactly what you need to do. For example a water garden and a koi pond will need very different kinds of care. However all ponds do have some things in common.
In this guide we will go over typical pond maintenance by season.
As summer approaches do not forget to maintain your plants. If necessary fertilize your plants. Remove dying leaves from plants by cutting them off. This helps keep the pond clean and stimulates new plant growth. If leaves fall into the pond remove them as well.
Feed your fish carefully. Do not starve them but be careful not to over feed. Feed them a couple small meals throughout the day. If they can not eat what you have given them in 5 minutes you have overfed them and will need to cut back next time you give them food until they can finish their meal in less than 5 minutes. Also remember to feed them a quality food that is high in protein so they can build up their fat reserves and make it through the winter.
Summer time it is especially important to aerate the water because warm water holds less oxygen than cool water and the fish are using more oxygen in the warm water. You should be aerating all day and night. You may even need to add an additional pump.
Don’t forget to keep the filter clean and use a beneficial bacterial product to maintain a clean pond. Also, don’t forget to enjoy all the beauty of your hard work!
This is the time of year when leaves begin to fall. There is no way the filter can keep up with a heavy leaf fall. You will have to use a skimmer net very frequently or install leaf netting over the pond.
If too many leaves make it into the pond they can plug the filter or through of the delicate microbial balance. You can also add a microbe product to help speed up the breakdown of these leaves.
As the water temperature drops the need for aeration drops as well. Turn down the water flow. You can place the pump or pump intake closer to the water outlet so it picks up water from the mid depth, or if you need to, turn off the pump for the winter and drain all of the plumbing. However, if you can keep the water flowing you allow the bacteria to live in the biological filter which gives you a jumpstart on high quality water in the spring.
As the water temperature drops the fishes metabolism will slow down which means they will require less food. After the water temperature drops to the sixties you need to decrease the amount of food and drop back to feeding only once a day. Fish should be fed easily digestible food such as a wheat germ based food.
As the water temperature drops below 60 degress cut back to feeding only a few days a week. Once the water temperature drops below 50 degrees stop feeding completely until the water raises and remains over 50 degrees in the spring.
You need to keep a small area of the pond free from ice so that the toxic gases produced by decomposition can be released. You can get a floating pond de-icer that turns on when the water temperature drops below a certain point. The pond de-icer can even be used to keep a small pond from freezing solid. However, do not break the ice because the shock waves produced can actually kill your fish.
To prepare your plants for winter bring any cold sensitive plants inside and place hardy plants deep enough in the pond to keep the roots from freezing. While some plants can survive if their roots freeze it is best to err on the side of caution and place all plants deep enough to avoid freezing. Now sit back and wait for spring to start all over again.
Spring is a wonderful time for a pond owner because as the water warms and ice melts everything starts to come back to life. It is also an important time to get everything going well for a great new season.
You must prepare your pond for warmer weather by undoing all of the hard work you put into winterizing it. You can turn your pump back on and remove your water heater as soon as freezing weather has passed.
Don’t get too excited about feeding the fish. You can start slowly feeding your fish a cold-weather food when the water temperature reaches a constant 50 degrees. Then, when the water temperature is 60 degrees you can feed them their regular diet.
Some leaves or other debris that have fallen in your pond over winter can be removed with a skimmer net. The skimmer should have a square end so you can push it across the bottom of the pond to fish out the leaves with out damaging the liner.
For smaller quantities of debris there are products available to help increase the natural decomposition rate. You may even wish to use a pond vacuum to get rid of the leaves and sludge at the bottom of your pond. Some people may try to use a shop vac but this often removes too much water making it a poor choice.
If there are a lot of leaves and decomposing debris you may want to do a complete pond cleaning, however you need to remember that this will actually change the microbial balance and may even cause an algae control problem.
If you do decide to do a complete pond clean it is actually not too difficult or time consuming. All you have to do is remove the water, then remove all of the accumulated debris from the bottom. If you have fish this may be a bit more difficult. Remember the fish must be kept in an aerated tank with water that came from the pond. Before you add the fish to back into the pond remember to neutralize the chlorine and float the fish in plastic bags so they may slowly adjust to the new temperature and avoid shock.
You can also begin to add plants as the weather permits. Once all danger of frost has passed it is safe to add floating plants such as water hyacinth and water lettuce.
This time of year algae can become a problem. Anacharis is a plant that can help reduce algae growth. In small ponds under 50 square feet add 1 bunch of Anacharis per square foot. For medium sized ponds of 51 to 200 square feet add 2 or 3 bunches per square foot. For lager ponds over 200 square feet add one bunch for every 3 to 4 square feet. You can also combat algae with an Ultraviolet sterilizer once your biological filter starts to work and the water becomes slightly green.
One of the best things that individuals can include into their backyard is a fish pond. This will make the landscape of any garden appear more tranquil and beautiful. But the work that goes into having a fish pond does not end once the fish has been dropped into their new home. Fish pond maintenance means routinely cleaning and taking care of the fish pond. If you do this, your pond will be a source of joy and pride year round.