Pond Owners Handbook - Latest Articles
What’s Changing? Everything is changing! All pond residents depend on the water temperature, so if you don’t have a thermometer now is the time to pick one up! This important simple tool will help guide you all season.
It is only necessary for the pond water to warm up to as little as 2° C in order for living things like good (cold water) bacterias (aka the garbage men) and aquatic plants to work together to help create a healthy environment. The warmer the water gets the more life in the pond will come into action!
Just how quickly the pond will warm up depends on a number of factors such as pond shape, volume, exposure to sun/shade, wind, and of course the day and night time temperatures. Water warms up slower than air, so be patient.
As the ice leaves the pond consider draining the pond to remove toxic sludge and debris that may have built up over the winter, or if this sounds daunting hire the Cole’s Crew to come do it for you. As the ice leaves and the water warms the pond fish will become more active. Now is a good time to check your fish to open wounds, torn fins, or scrapes. Also watch out for fungal growth and parasites that may try to attack when fish immune systems are low. While checking your fish you should also check your pond fish population. If it is too high you will run into problems with sludge and water clarity. When removing fish from a pond always check with friends, family, your local pond shop if they are looking for fish. Never place in a natural lake or stream as this can lead to over population and and many pond fish are not natural to our local water ways.
Fish once you have conditioned any new water you can start feeding the fish Cold Water Fish Food once your water temperature is 10-15°C any warmer use regular fish food.
As the temperature rises further to 12°C, pond plants will show signs of life. Raise plants from there winter home on the bottom of the pond, and cut back any remaining foliage from last season and divide any lilies or plants that look pot bound. Plants should be given our “Once a Year” slow release fertilizer and topped up with pond soil at this time as well. If you have been overwintering any tropical pond plants they should be kept indoors until the risk of frost is gone.
After spring maintenance the pond can often have an algae bloom or you water can begin to look like pea soup. This is because the pond plants have not been able to shade the water and pull nutrients out as they are still growing. We recommend using Pond Shade, a dye that stops the sun’s rays from penetrating the water as a preventative against algae. If you already have a prevalent algae problem we recommend our all-purpose algaecide D-Solve 9. D-Solve9 works fast and will take care of green water shown in the picture to the right. We also recommend barley straw pellets or extract in early spring to help combat the algae blooms that happen as the water temperature rises.
We hope this was helpful! Please visit us for friendly advice and be ready for the Spring Changes coming to your pond very soon!
Give your Pond a Spring Cleaning!
After a year or the winter there is likely a lot of sludge and debris at the bottom of your pond! It is very important that this sludge and debris is removed; the health of your pond and fish depend on it.
What will you need?
You will need a hose and pump suitable to drain all the pond water out of the pond. When you start draining the pond, your first step is to fill some buckets or a large Rubbermaid container with pond water as a temporary home for your fish. Once your pond is down to a few inches of water, it would be a good time to start catching your fish. Use a fish net and gently place them into the your container of pond water you just filled up. Once all the fish are caught, place a small pump or aerator in the bucket/container to keep your fish happy during the clean out process. Fish can get pretty jumpy being in a new place, so we recommend placing some sort of cover over the fish holding tank.
The next step is where it gets dirty! Now that the pond is empty, you now want to begin removing all the debris and sludge! Depending on how your pond was built there are a few ways to do this.
- If there aren’t any rocks on the sides of the pond rinse everything down so that all of the sludge and debris settles at the bottom of the bottom. Once this is complete you can use a plastic scoop shovel to place debris and sludge in a bucket for removal.
- Remember! Sludge and Pond debris makes great fertilizer in the gardens!
- This is the type of pond we recommend so that all of your pond liner is aesthetically hidden. Sludge and debris can get locked in-between the rocks, so we recommend using a power washer to blast all the debris and sludge out from in between the rocks. All debris and sludge will make its way to the bottom of the pond where we recommend using an industrial clean out pump or our Pond Vac to remove all the sludge easily.
When power-washing and cleaning remember not to “over do” the cleaning. We do not want to have a “sterile” pond. There are some good bacterias and enzymes in the sludge and algae that we want to keep to help balance the pond later. So it is a bit of a fine line, if you have questions on this while you are cleaning don’t hesitate to call, or go clean very well and we can always add more good starter bacterias later.
Once the Pond is clean. Clean or replace filter media your filter media. Filter media is normally good for 2-3 seasons. If your pond is using lava rock as a filter, you will also want to power wash this or replace. The pores of lava rock can get clogged and should be replaced every 2-3 years. If you are replacing lava rock you definitely want to consider BioBalls. They work the same as lava rock but never need to be replaced and provide more surface area for beneficial bacterias to grow on. You will also want to check your pump over. Make sure there is no debris inside the impeller and check for cracks, breaks, and any other damage.
Your next step is to examine the rocks and boulders for shifting around the pond, stream, and waterfall. Look for rocks that may have fallen and re-stabilize so all areas are sturdy and safe if someone were to step on them.
Aquatic Plants and Water Treatments
It is time to check out your aquatic plants and bring up any that you may have sunk to the bottom for the winter. Remove all the dead foliage, check to see if re-potting is needed, and add fertilizer. It is now time to re-fill the pond and add Pond Detoxifer to remove chlorine & other toxins that will affect or kill fish, plants, and beneficial bacteria. Once the water is circulating add beneficial bacteria to re-seed the clean filters. The fish can be added back to the pond at this point; be sure to check the fish for wounds and disease. Also make sure the water temperatures between the holding tank and the pond are acclimated so that your fish aren’t shocked. Liquid Pond Shade may be a good idea to add at this time to reduce algae growth before you plants get growing.
That is it you are done! Enjoy your Pond!
Now, if draining and a full clean out is not an option for you, consider these three options!
- Leave the Fish in the pond and preform a 30-50% water change, to remove any toxins and excess nutrients that may have built up over the winter. Again, always add Pond Detox when re-filling. Next you will want to keep sludge under control, add “Muck OFF” now. These tablets are safe and effective blend of bacteria that kill and prevent sludge and algae. These living microscopic “garbage men” go to work instantly eating the food that algae needs to live.
- Rent our Pond Vac for a quick and easy clean out without draining the pond completely and removing the fish.
- Call us to do it all for you! Our Clean out crew has the experience and tools to make your pond a clean healthy environment. Come see us today for advice and everything you need to start a wonderful new pond season!
We’ll begin with a few reasons why temperature effects feeding your fish so heavily.
Winter is approaching and bringing with it cold weather. As the water in our ponds cools towards freezing, fish begin their transition into semi-dormancy. Many biological processes slow, including a fish’s immune system, and the digestion of food. Due to this natural slowing, fish cannot process the same amounts or varieties of food they often encounter in Summer and Spring months. While immune-suppressed fish can be susceptible to a varied set of infections and disease.
Many popular pond fish have no true stomach, this includes our beloved Koi and Goldfish. Without a stomach to properly digest food prior to passing it to the intestines, whole food will stay latent in the gut of a fish and begin to rot. Potentially harmful bacteria will capitalize on the ideal conditions found inside of a fish, colonizing and passing into the bloodstream of the host fish. From that point forward, there is little a pond owner can do to help the inflicted fish. Sepsis can set in and kill the weakened fish, otherwise stressing and possibly leading to secondary infection of the fish.
Pond owners would do well to taper off fish feeding when temperature nears the 60*f mark. Feeding below 60*f should be done in small amounts with a low protein cold water food such as Aquascape’s Cold Water Fish Food. Monitoring water temperature is essential to feeding properly at this time of the year, with floating pond thermometers being under 10$. Don’t worry if you miss feedings or don’t see your fish eating food left to them, as fish will naturally forage on algae and plant matter that is easier to digest. At Cole’s we’re particularly fond of Hornwort as an over-winter perennial feed plant. Feeding should stop altogether when temperature drops below 50*f.
When temperatures are lowered, not only are your fishes biological processes slowed, but so are the bacteria we rely on to filter the pond. Bacteria that normally convert ammonia from fish waste and not performing at optimal levels, and this can lead to toxic levels of ammonia, and in rare cases nitrites. It is a good idea to monitor ammonia levels if continuing regular feedings – always bring water to room temperature before testing to ensure accurate results. High ammonia can be remedied with Cold Water Bacteria or AmmoniaFix.
Read more on fish food with this article: http://www.colespondstore.com/food-nutrients-and-your-pond/
Stay tuned for our article on Spring feeding and common Spring-time mistakes.
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