Preparing your Pond for Spring
Author: Adrienne Dodge
First published Aquarium World August 2013
Yes - it is winter and no one feels much like going outside on a cold damp or frosty day, much less do anything about their pond, but if you take a little time now you will be rewarded with a pond that requires a lot less effort come Spring to make it look sparking and clean.
Photo Credit: Caryl Simpson
Most pond keepers notice that their ponds experience an increase in algae once early Spring (which is not really that far away) arrives. The cause of this is the pond plants ie the beautiful water lilies, which gave so much pleasure over summer have died down in the water or become dormant. If there are lots of dead leaves on the bottom of your pond combined with fish waste rotting over winter, the algae is going to feed on the nutrients when the days start to lengthen and get a good head start over new plant growth. If you remove the dead and rotting leaves and debris off the bottom of your pond over the winter you are going to slow this process down. Leaves can be removed with a skimmer type net that has a square end which enables you to push it across the bottom of the pond. There are also pond vacuums available for this purpose however they require high-pressure cold water for them to be effective. You can also rearrange decorative rocks and make plans for new plantings in the area around the pond while you are working away.
A water feature is a popular addition to a pond and August is a good time to clean it out. Completely emptying it and removing all the sludge and debris from inside it with a scrubbing brush will make it look like new!
Once the weather begins to warm and all signs of frosts have passed then it is time to turn your pump back on (if you live in the colder areas of NZ and turn it off for the winter). You can begin to feed your fish again albeit sparingly once the water temperature has reached a constant 10 degrees Celsius increasing the amount you feed back to your normal feeding routine when the temperature of your pond reaches 15.5 degrees Celsius.
If you chose not to venture out in the colder weather to do some remedial clearing out of your pond now may be the time for you to decide whether or not you need to do a complete water change. This is not desirable as it will affect the balance of the pond and upset your algae control but if your pond is full of rotten leaves and sludge it may be your only option.
This is the method I suggest if you are going down this route –
· Pump or place water from your pond into a large bucket, tub or container
· Place your fish in this container and cover it with netting to prevent fish jumping out
· Pump out as much water from your pond as you can and remove any potted plants.
· Use a dustpan and brush to remove all the sludge
· Refill your pond being sure to remove chlorine with a de-chlorinator (pond de-chlorinators are available and go a long way)
· Add some of the de-chlorinated water to the container your fish are in and wait half an hour (about 1/3 of new water to the existing water)
· Return your fish to the pond along with the water from the container they were in
· Return your plants
Now is also the time to fertilise your plants. Plants such as water lilies require fertilizer every four weeks during the growing season.
If your water starts to turn slightly green turn on your UV sterliser if you have one. N.B. There are other options available aside from a UV sterilizer to help you keep your pond water clear, such as algae removers and barley extracts, however the UV sterilizer is the most reliable method of removing green water and keeping it clear.
Your filter is also going to require cleaning. If you have a pre filter you will most probably need to check and clean this weekly. If you have a biological filter this will need cleaning when the flow reduces due to all the debris accumulating in it. Clean the filter sparingly by removing only enough debris to return the flow to normal.
Photo Credit: Caryl Simpson
Happy Pond Keeping!