Cleaning Your Pond
may have lost some fish during the winter. Many fish die because the
ponds froze over and they suffocated to death. With hopes that spring is
finally here and the memories of snow behind us, it is time to open our
ponds and prepare them for warmer weather. As the days get longer
and the sun warms the air we begin to see activity in our ponds. The
fish become more active and our plants emerge from their dormancy. We
should begin to see new growth on plants such as marsh marigolds, hardy
water lilies and water irises. Now is the time to:
pumps to the water after careful inspection of them and your hoses.
You can give your biological filters a spring boost by inoculating
them with beneficial bacteria available from garden suppliers.
These help to jump start your pond and maintain a healthy immune
system for your fish. Make sure you are using the correct one for
your water temperature.
water to assure that ammonia has not built up over the winter
months. If you have high levels of ammonia, a 25% water exchange at
this time should reduce the risk to your fish. If a greater amount
of water exchange is required, you will have to remove your
fish. If you have chlorine in the water, you will need to
treat it. Be patient if you notice string algae or green water. Once
your pond has established a balance this will disappear.
plants and trim or pinch the old growth and all yellowing leaves
off. Divide and repot these plants. Give tadpoles, dragonfly larvae
and other pond inhabitants time to escape before placing the
trimmings on a compost pile.
your plants with fish-safe fertilizer pellets to help give the
plants a jump-start on the season.
leaves and debris that may have blown in during the winter. A
fine-mesh, long-handled swimming pool skimmer net is perfect for
this job. The removal of this debris will remove potential sources
of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates from your water, which is also
toxic to fish.
plants at their appropriate depths or set in shallow water to
encourage quicker growth and then placing them at the depth you want
them to be.
your fish once the water has been treated, and sprinkle "Sea
Salt" around the perimeter of the pond. This will give your
fish a good slime coat that will help protect them from diseases.
Fish may be
coming to the surface looking for food, but you should not feed your
fish until the water temperature reaches 50 degrees F. Start them
out with something like plain cereal (e.g. Cheerios) or something
that can be easily digested. Wheat-germ-based floating pellets are a
good source of food for your fish at this time. Feed them in the
morning so that they have ample time to digest their food before the
night turns cool. Keep a watch for parasites and disease in your
is here, algae is growing, and you're wondering what to do about that
green water or that fuzzy green stuff on your pots and around the sides
of the pond. You might even have long, green, stringy algae...
is caused by an exploding population of free-floating, single-celled
algae. This is the first step in a natural process that establishes
a healthy, balanced ecosystem. This should clear up naturally within
4 - 6 weeks as the plants start to take over. Your pond has to build
up beneficial bacteria. You can also add this bacteria yourself to
help speed up the process.
mossy algae that looks like fuzzy hair and grows on rocks and on
pots is good. It indicates that the wastes in the pond are properly
being broken down and nitrates are being made. This fuzzy algae is
working like submergible plants. They keep ponds clear by removing
excess nutrients from the water preventing the pea-soup algae that
turns your pond green. Some people like to scrub this off their
rocks or pots - but you should try to work with Mother Nature not
against her. This fuzzy algae also gives the fish something to eat
when you're not around to feed them.
DRAIN YOUR POND. Mother Nature takes her time to work. If you drain
your pond you will have to start all over again. Leave the fuzzy
stringy stuff. Until your water plants put out enough growth to
remove the nutrients from the water that feed this, use a toilet
brush to remove it. Algae needs sunlight to grow. Keeping your water
covered 60% to 65% with plants will help shade your pond or you can
use a water dye. Using a dye during the winter will darken your
water and keep the winter and early spring sun from giving you an
early growth of algae. The dye will dissipate by spring. There are
products available that are dissolved in water and added to the pond
in the early spring when the water temperature is below 55°.
If you don't like to remove this string algae you can use a UV
sterilizer to kill it. A UV Sterilizer uses ultraviolet light to
kill algae and fish pathogens that are free-floating in the water.
Do keep the string algae from wrapping around tender young plants,
they can strangle and kill plants. Heavy concentration can also
suffocate plants or deprive them of necessary sunlight.
Better yet, try barley products! We all know Barley
helps us keep that fuzzy, stringy, bubbly unsightly stuff from
growing in our Pond. The trouble is those, almost equally unsightly,
Barley Bales floating around in the Pond.
There is a better way:
Put some Barley Pellets in the
Pond Filter! They are
small enough to be put into any kind of Pond Filter: submersible,
pressurized or waterfall Filters. Works like a charm and also helps
to gradually reduce frequency of Filter cleaning. Do not wait for all
the them to decompose, add a handful of new pellets
every week or so to keep effective beneficial enzyme production at a
the time to keep your strainers and skimmers clean. Keep adding
fresh water to your pond because the hotter weather will cause water
to evaporate. Monitor all pond life carefully for diseases and
parasites. Treat as needed. Feed your fish at least twice a day.
Only feed them as much as they can eat in 5 minutes. It is best to
under feed than over feed them. Give them different foods like,
lettuce, watermelon, grapefruit, and anything else that they might
If you buy
new fish, quarantine them for at least 21 days before you release
them into your pond with other fish.
new plants for 14 days before you add them. They could have been
kept in a pond with diseased fish and still be harboring disease
agents. A final rinse under the tap should prevent anything still
attached to them from getting into your pond.
fertilizing your plants through August.
pump continuously. Aquatic plants add oxygen during the day but
remove it from the water at night.
your fish if the temperatures goes over 85°. If the water stays
over 85° for several days, you may want to add fresh water to cool
it down. Do not do more than 25% exchange.
Do not have
an overstocked pond. Too many fish means too little oxygen.
signs of autumn are springing up everywhere it's time to prepare your
pond for winter. Transplanting and dividing of your pond plants should
be left until spring.
fading foliage from marginal plants after the first frost. In areas
where the water lily beetle is prevalent, they love nothing better than
the dying foliage of your marginal plants where they can hide for the
Now is the
fertilizing your plants.
bring indoors your tropical marginal plants before the first frost.
your hardy water plants, lower them to the bottom of your pond.
protective net over the pond if you have a lot of falling leaves.
Plastic bird netting is available at most garden centers. You can
insert a stick or garden rake into a potted plant to give your net a
higher point, like a tent. This will allow the leaves to be swept
from the net. Do not allow the net to drape into your pond. Fish and
frogs can become entangled in the net. Remove the leaves regularly
from both pond and net. Keep them picked up from your yard so that
the wind does not blow them in the pond.
damages and leaks before winter.
biofilters with bacteria. This will help maintain good water quality
during fall - use the type for winterization of your pond that works
in water temperature under 55°F. It will help to decompose the
leaves, scum, sediment, and other organic matter during fall and
winter. These are natural, nontoxic and nonpathogenic and contain
psychrophilic which is a cold weather bacteria. You can purchase
this at almost any nursery that sells pond supplies.
dead leaves and such from your pond. If you have a skimmer you will
want to clean it at least once day to prevent blockage.
feeding your fish food that is higher in carbohydrates and lower in
protein. Carbohydrates will fatten your fish up for the long winter.
Your fish do not hibernate during the winter. Their metabolism slows
down as the water-cools down. If we fatten them up before we quit
feeding them they will have enough to live on through the cold
feeding your fish only once a day until the water temperature
stabilizes below 55°. DO NOT FEED THEM AGAIN UNTIL SPRING WHEN THE
WATER TEMPERATURE WARMS UP ABOVE THAT POINT.
are have some warm days during winter, do not feed.
fish do not have the cover of the plants to hide from predators.
Keep an eye open. The herons can still get to your fish through a
net. Try some fishing line around your pond, about six inches from
the ground. Crisscross the line across your pond also. A milk
carton, large planter turned upside down with a hole in the side,
drainage pipes or anything else that your fish can hide in will
protect them from raccoons and other predators. Make sure there
aren't any rough edges for your fish to cut themselves on.
also use a liquid shade to darken your pond. This will also keep the
burst of algae down in the sunny winter days and early spring.
filters and store any pumps or equipment you won't use during the
winter. Remember to store oil-encapsulated pumps in a bucket of
water that won't freeze to keep their seals from drying out.
de-icer or bubblers in the pond. Whatever method you use, remember
to always keep an opening in the ice (pond) so that the gases can
escape. Your fish will survive in as little as 18 inches of water as
long as it does not freeze solid.