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Backyard Ponds: A Quick Springtime Maintenance And Care Guide

Spring Pond Care

Garden PondSpring is finally here in the northeast, and it is time to give your pond some attention after a long cold winter.  Here is a quick to-do list to help you make sure that your pond is in good shape, and will give you a summer of trouble free enjoyment.

Inspect Your Pond

Freezing, thawing, heavy snow (and pets and kids) can cause rocks and landscape to shift.  Check the perimeter of your pond for any changes to your pond boundary, looking for any potential hazards or areas that may have weakened that could cause a leak.  This is especially important if your pond has a stream or waterfall.

Prepare Your Equipment

Whether you bring your equipment inside, or leave it outdoors, make sure that you look over all your plumbing and filter equipment.  Check for cracks or other damage, worn parts, pull everything apart and make sure that nothing is hiding inside your pumps or filters that could cause a problem on start-up, replace Filter Media as necessary.  Inspect your nets and maintenance equipment, so that everything is ready when you need it.

If your pond includes an Ultraviolet Sterilizer or Clarifier, check the quarts sleeve, make sure it is in good shape and clean.  Make sure that all the seals are in good shape, so there are no leaks.  Replace your U.V. Sterilizer Bulb.  Even if your U.V. is still functional, it may not be producing quality good light.  Bulbs degrade over time, light spectrums shift, and efficiency is reduced.  Replacing your U.V. bulb every spring will ensure that it is working at peak performance when the hot weather comes, and your need it most.

Clean Out The Mess

Evaluate how much cleaning really needs to be done, Don’t overdo it!  Especially if you have fish, you don’t want to do too much, it will completely disrupt the biological system in your pond.  In most cases netting out as much debris as possible, cleaning out the filters and stirring up and pumping out some of the dirty water is all that is needed.  If there is a considerable amount of debris, and the water is dark and organic laden, more extreme cleaning may be warranted.  In these cases it is advisable to use a kiddie pool, or some other safe container to temporarily house your fish during cleaning.   Pump water from your pond into the pool, and then transfer the fish once the water level is low enough to easily catch them.  Drain the pond as much as needed (completely drain id needed), and use a hose to wash the pond from the top down, pumping the dirty waste out with a submersible pump and large diameter Flexible Tubing.

pond lillyThis is a good time to do some maintenance on your pond plants if you have any.  Trim off any remaining dead or damaged foliage, evaluate whether you need to split or move anything to a larger pot, it is much easier to do this now with a lower water level.  Using a 5 gallon bucket will make it much easier to gather plant debris or potting material.

Refill the pond and use a conditioner if you are using a chlorinated water source.  Make sure that you slowly acclimate your fish back into your pond if you did a very large or complete water change.  Do this by adding some of the new pond water to the pool that has your fish, and putting some of the water from the pool back into the pond.  Do this slowly over a period of time until the pool water has been completely mixed with the new pond water, do this slowly, especially if there is a big temperature difference.  Once acclimated, put your fish back into pond.

 

Spring Pond Treatments

There are a few things that you can do for your pond during your spring start-up to ensure that your ponds biological system gets a good start.  Use of biological supplements like Microbe Lift Sludge Away, will help to break down organic waste and muck that has accumulated in your pond over the winter, and get your pond headed in the right direction.  Using a live nitrifying bacteria like Microbe-Lift PL will help re-establish your biological filter, this is especially beneficial if you have completely shut down your pond for the winter and stored your filter indoors.

This is also a good time to start Barley Straw Treatments for algae control, these take time to establish, so adding them now will make sure they are active for warmer weather.

 

Spring Fish Care

You need to be careful with your fish as they become active in the spring.  Your fishes metabolism is controlled by the water temperature, and you should not feed your fish until water temperatures have stabilized above 40 degrees, your fish will have trouble digesting food in cold temperatures.  Use a Spring and Fall Formula fish food that is easily digested until your ponds temperatures have stabilized above 60 degrees.

 

Hopefully this will get your pond headed in the right direction, and all you have to do this summer is sit back and enjoy!

Until next blog.

Dave

 

 

Winter is Coming – Cold Weather Pond Prep

Pond in winterSay what you will about the changing of seasons, getting to watch the leaves turn from green to shades of red and yellow, and partaking in what are arguably the best holidays of the year (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and that one where we all go shopping), but going into winter is a pain in the pond! Well, this blogger is here to help you overcome your winter-time woes with some helpful reminders of how to get your outdoor pond ready for the winter.

Now, obviously we don’t all live in the same climate; so this blog will likely only be helpful for folks who actually get to experience a winter and all the glorious tribulations it has to offer: freezing weather, snow showers, etc. Those of you lucky enough to only need a light jacket through winter months can move right along with your “lows in the 60’s” weather! If, on the other hand, you actually own a snow shovel, then let’s work on getting that pond ready for the winter with 4 easy-to-follow steps:

Ice is bad, m’kay?

One of the worst things you can let your pond do is completely freeze over when the temperatures drop. If there is no opening in the ice, then there is no gas exchange going on. Your fish might be hibernating, but they still need oxygen to breathe and your pond still needs to release carbon dioxide. Does the whole pond need to be ice free? Of course not! A little hole in the ice would be satisfactory. This can be accomplished two ways: by using an air pump or a de-icer.

Air pumps pump air into the pond, creating bubbles to disrupt the surface of the water and preventing ice from forming. Air pumps are also a nice investment because they are useful in the summer for extra oxygenation when the temperatures rise. Read More »

Choosing a Pond Pump for your Pond or Water Feature

Ornamental Pond Backyard pond projects can be rewarding if you give plenty of consideration to design and equipment from the start. To build your dream pond or water feature, one of the biggest and most important investments will be the pump, which will bring your display to life. It is important to invest in the right pond pump for your pond or water feature to ensure that the flow rate is appropriate for your design. If you’re planning on including any type of vertical feature like a waterfall in your plan, be sure you are prepared to add a pump powerful enough to make strong flow for the best impact.

Types of Pumps

Submersible Pumps are designed to operate completely submerged in your pond, and need a constant flow of water while running to keep them from overheating. Many submersible pond pumps include integrated pre-filters or filtration systems, and possibly pond fountain systems.  Submersible pond pumps are very easy to install, however they must be retrieved from the pond to perform maintenance. These pumps are easily concealed on the bottom of the pond, and they won’t disrupt your outdoor activities with unwanted noise or look visually unappealing against your natural display.  Debris handling waterfall pumps are designed for large ponds and for supplying water to vertical features including streams and waterfalls. Unique designs allow these pumps pump at high flow rates and to allow small debris to pass through without damaging internal parts. Read More »

Algae Control in Ponds and Water Gardens

Free Floating AlgaeWhat fun is a pond with pea-green water or masses of stringy gunk growing from every submerged surface? You work so hard to keep your pond clean, clear and looking good, but even with the best efforts, algae can appear in a flash, a stringy, slimy eyesore, mucking up the view. Most algae outbreaks can be quelled by addressing water chemistry (nutrient) issues or finding a way to control the amount of light that penetrates the water’s surface.

Getting to the proverbial root of the problem is the best solution, but there are also numerous algae control products on today’s market to help you rid your pond of that unsightly green invader, at least temporarily. While we generally recommend algaecides as a last resort, when you reach that point it’s important to use them correctly to ensure the safety of fish, plants and other inhabitants of your pond.

 

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Algae blooms are generally the result of either too much sun exposure or too many nutrients available in the water for the algae to feed on. If your pond is exposed to full sun for the majority of the day or when it is strongest, alga take advantage. You can provide shade using floating and marginal plants which provide cover for fish and other pond inhabitants, as well as aiding in nutrient control. Desirable flora like floating lettuce, hyacinth and duckweed will compete for dissolved nutrients and provide the shade you need while also serving as a food source and shelter for fry that may be produced by koi and goldfish. Read More »

The Blob in Your Back Yard – Bryozoans in Backyard Ponds

Pond BryozoanA few weeks ago, a co-worker presented me with a photo, and asked me if I knew what the thing represented in the pic was. I’ve seen a lot of things in my 15 years with That Fish Place (many of which spent in the fish room), but I had never seen the object I was looking at in the pic. My first guess was a bizarre form of algae, as ponds can be home to some strange sludge. Then I contemplated that the mass might be an egg mass of some type, the gel of which possibly being coated or having incorporated algae and muck into it as it floated along. But something still wasn’t right about it. I turned to Google, and with a few quick clicks I found similar photos helping me to identify the blob with relative certainty. It was a freshwater species of Bryozoan! I was familiar with marine forms of bryozoans, but this was quite a different and interesting specimen from others I’d seen, and certainly worth a little more research. Read More »