Time to Wake Up Your Water Garden Pond

If your pond has been hibernating, it is time to wake it up. Before starting any pond cleaning project, wait until the water temperature is fifty degrees. That’s when the bacteria becomes active again. The first thing you want to do in Spring for your pond is to make sure you have all the leaves and debris cleared out.  Do this by draining the pond by about fifty percent, getting a fine mesh net and manually scooping out as much debris from your pond as possible.  Never change the whole pond and scrub it out. There are bacteria and enzymes living in the waterand on the surfaces that provide a natural balance in your pond’s ecosystem, helping to keep it clear in the Spring. If you go in there and clean all that out, you will destroy them and you’ll soon have algae-ridden water, clouding up your pond. This is one of the most common mistakes we see pond owners commit.


  Also, don’t feed your fish (koi, goldfish, shubunkin, ryukin, fantails, etc.) until the water temperature is 50-55 degrees. When you do start feeding them, give them a wheat germ based or a Spring-Autumn form of food. This has a lot more carbohydrates, which fish can more easily digest at lower temperatures. Summer foods have more protein, which is more difficult for them to digest. Therefore, much of that will go as waste in the pond, which will add to your algae problems.


It’s time to prime the lines, turn on filter and recirculating pumps, test all valves and skimmers for function and turn all on. Get it running and oxygenate your water. A cautionary note before the initial start-up: It is advised that the first few minutes of water coursing through your lines and filters be vented to waste, to prevent the pumping of polluted water into the system. It is important to give your filter media a thorough cleaning prior to starting the system. 


You'll want to have a U/V clarifier, which has a germicidal, ultraviolet bulb in it.  When the water passes through the chamber and past the bulb, it irradiates the algae, killing it. This keeps your water clear.  Beneficial bacteria is also available to help you keep a healthy pond environment. Microbe - Lift / PL is a product specially formulated for decorative fish ponds, lagoons and smaller water features. It contains photosynthetic bacteria which reduces cloudy water by promoting settling of organic and inorganic particles.


Begin testing the pond water again.  Pay particular attention to the ammonia and nitrite levels…both should be zero.  It will be necessary to perform partial water changes if either test gives a reading other than zero. Whenever you add water to your pond, be sure to also add a chlorine neutralizer.


You can start getting plants in April! There are cold tolerant plants available such as iris, marsh marigold, Arrow Arum, and water hawthorn. They will absorb nutrients, which starve the algae. This will aid in water clarity, so you can better see your beautiful plant and fish life! 


Check out the plants you already have, it may be necessary to divide some of them. Water lilies should be divided about every three years.  Abundant, full leaves and diminished flowers are good indicators that the lillies need to be divided   If any plant is too crowded in its pot, their growth and flowering potential will be limited.  The best time to divide or transplant aquatic plants is when they begin to grow in spring.  This gives them time to develop new roots and thrive.


Be sure to cut away dead foliage and cut back any plants that flower on new rather than old growth.  Spring is also a good time to begin fertilizing pond plants.  Wait until you see new growth, be sure to use time release fertilizer designed for aquatic plants. 


A little care today will bring maximum benefit later!