Spring Pond Maintenance
As spring and warmer weather arrive your pond or water garden becomes an important part of your daily life again. Although it’s not quite time to add new fish and plants, a small amount of maintenance will go a long way in maintaining the proper environment for your pond inhabitants. Your local climate plays a major role in when steps need to be taken, as well as what equipment will be necessary.
Water temperature in the pond is the most crucial factor determining the schedule of maintenance. If your pond is too cold when you start the process of “opening” your pond for the season undue stress may be placed upon your fish potentially causing diseases. Waiting until after the last frost of the year to begin working on your pond is a good general rule of thumb, or until the pond temperature is consistently around 50 degrees. Since your pond has been dormant for many months, the bacteria colony that was well established at the end of last year has completely died off and will need to be re-established in the pond filters. Water will need to be monitored and tested carefully for the first few weeks after the filters are running.
Once the temperature permits, remove leaves and other forms of debris that may have accumulated during the winter. This also includes removal of any sludge build up in your pond and filter.
The same products used in the fall to prepare your pond for the winter can help with your spring clean-up:
Pond Vacuum: These can be either pump powered or gravity powered. Use the vacuum to suck out debris and sludge.
Bottom Drain: By placing a bottom drain in a low point of your pond you can increase the amount of material that gets trapped in your filter.
Biological Pond Treatments: Special bacteria cultures have been formulated to maximize your biological filter efficiency, and to break down waste and debris biologically.
Along with the removal of this debris a partial change of approximately 25% is recommended. This will allow for the addition of well oxygenated water to the pond.
In warm climates, or climates in which temperatures do not stay below freezing you can let your pond filter run year round. However for those who live in cooler climates where temperatures can go below freezing, the pumps, filters and plumbing should have been shut down and drained over the winter. With the arrival of spring it is time to relocate them along with your Ultraviolet Sterilizers and prepare them for operation. It is very important to check to make sure impellers are still in place, no debris or dust has found its way into the mechanics and filter media is replaced.
One of the best investments for your pond will be an Pond Ultraviolet Sterilizer. This will decrease the chances of parasites and unwanted organisms that may thrive as the pond slowly comes back to life. During the spring, fish are particularly vulnerable to disease, they are slowly becoming more and more active and their immune systems are still strengthening after being relatively dormant over the winter months. Also, as the sun is out more and more each day free floating algae can begin to take over. A U.V. Sterilizers will keep your pond clear allowing you the best conditions to view your fish.
Water temperature also plays a major role in fish keeping; you should always have a pond thermometer for your pond and track your temperature. As spring arrives and your water temperature returns to around 50 degrees, use a spring/fall food two to three times per week. Usually wheat germ based, spring/fall foods are easier to digest, and are safer to use as the fishes’ metabolism rises. During the summer when water temperatures are above 65 degrees your fishes’ metabolism is in high gear and they have hardy appetites. During this time use a high protein staple food which will allow fish to gain maximum weight and build up a fat reserve. Although you may have to add new fish to your pond, it is best to wait until the water temperature is around 65 degrees.
As spring moves into summer and water temperatures continue to rise, move your plants from the deep section of the pond back to the shelves they were the previous summer. New arrivals will have to wait until the last frost has passed, after which begin with plants such as water Hyacinth, water Lettuce and Hardy Lilies. Taros, Cannas, and the remaining tropical plants should only be added at the beginning of summer when the warmest water temperatures and the longest light period are available.