Spring Pond Start Up and Cleaning
Once the snow has disappeared, the ice melted in your pond, and the temperatures have been consistently above 40°F for a week or more, it’s time to open up your pond and garden pond water features for the spring. Below are 12 steps to lead you through the clean-up process.
Rake up and dispose of leaves in the area surrounding your pondand remove. Then, remove the pond netting (which was hopefully installed in the fall to prevent the leaves from falling into the pond).
Use a skimmer net or pond vacuum to remove debris from the pond. A long handled brush is also helpful in removing string algae.
Clean up your water plants, cutting back dead debris and bringing pots that were placed in deeper levels to over winter to their proper location. If water plants are overgrown, spring is an excellent time to divide and repot, with the exception of early blooming plants such as Iris’s. Aquatic pots, planting soil and fertilizer will be needed to repot existing plants. Begin fertilizing with aquatic plants in late April or early May.
If your pond has minimal debris and sludge build-up, perform a 25% water change. Note: Before adding new water, be sure to add a water conditioner that will remove chlorine and chloramines from city water, detoxify heavy metals in well water, and reduce fish stress by adding essential electrolytes, replacing the fishes slime coat.
If your pond has significant sludge and debris (1”or more) after the initial skimming and vacuuming, you should perform a complete water change.
Prior to performing a complete water change set up a temporary tank for your fish using water from the ponds surface (do not pull water from the sludge laden bottom that may contain significant toxic gases). Add an aerator or pump to the tank to add oxygen to the water. The tank should be set in the shade and covered to prevent the fish from jumping out and predators from getting in. Do not feed the fish while they are in the temporary tank. Prior to returning the fish to the newly cleaned pond add a water conditioner to remove chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals. Also, if the temperature of the new pond water is more than 2ºF different than that of temporary tank, the fish should be placed in plastic bags with water from the temporary tank and floated in the pond for 10 to 30 minutes prior to release. The floating time will vary based on the temperature difference: if the difference is 5ºF or more, replace 25% of the water in the bag with pond water every 10 minutes until the temperature of the bag water is within 2ºF of the pond water. When releasing the fish into the pond, carefully net the fish out of the bag and dispose of the bag water on the ground.
When cleaning the sludge from the pond bottom a pond or wet/dry vacuum can be very helpful. Be sure to set the vacuum outside the pond for easy empting.
Reconnect your pump and filter. If the filter or skimmer pads were not cleaned in the fall, they should be rinsed prior to restarting your pump. Do not over clean your filter pads or use any form of soap, or bleach on the pads. If pads are badly worn or torn they should be replaced. If new pads need to be purchased, consider upgrading to the new “Matala” pads. Matala is easier to clean and lasts longer than the traditional filter pads.
Test your water quality using an at home pond test kit. The Ammonia and Nitrites levels should read zero. If higher than zero, an additional 25% water change should be done until the levels are reduced. pH should be between 6.5 & 8.5. If the pH is outside this range add pH Up or pH Down and pH Buffer according to the directions on the container. If you have fish in your pond, the salinity should be between .1% and .25%. To achieve a salinity of .1% (assuming your current salinity is 0%) add 1 pound of Pond Salt per hundred gallons of water. Pond salt is 100% pure salt, contains no additives and is in large crystal form for slow release.
Add a Spring Cold Water Cleaning Bacteria to breakdown remaining sludge and a Start-Up Bacteria to re-colonize beneficial bacteria in your bio-filter; and Liquid Barley Straw Extract to help keep your pond water clean and clear.
If you have an Ultraviolet (UV) Light Clarifier or Sterilizer to prevent green water, replace the bulb and clean the quartz sleeve that covers the bulb. However, do not turn the UV unit on until the bacteria have had 48 hours to colonize.
Prepare for The Return Of The Heron by placing fishing line around the edge of your pond, netting the pond, installing a Koi Castle to provide a safe area in the pond for fish to hide or installing a motion detection device (ScareCrow) to scare away predators.
You can begin feeding your fish when water temperatures remain at 50°F or higher. Use a Pond Thermometer to test the waters temperature. From 50 to 65°F, feed fish once weekly and at 65°F and above, feed fish every other day with a Spring Fish Food that is wheat germ based and contains vitamin C and immune stimulants for optimum fish health, or a higher end koi food that has additional additives such as: high levels of spirulina and montmarillonite clay for color enhancement, beta glucan that stimulates immune systems to prevent disease and infections and added vitamin C.
To keep your pond clear and healthy, and to breakdown sludge and debris throughout the season add an all season Beneficial Bacteria and Liquid Barley Straw Extract on a regular basis; and once the water temperatures are consistently 60°F or higher, begin adding a Sludge Remover which is available in a liquid, granular or pellet form. If your pond has green or brown water a Water Clarifier to quickly clear up murky water caused by floating organic and inorganic particles by pulling these floating particles together and settling them to the bottom. If this is an ongoing problem look at adding an UltraViolet Light.
Enjoy the beauty and tranquility your pond brings you each day!