Just like any other type of yard maintenance, pond maintenance varies with each season. These tips on maintaining your pond will help you keep it running well from season to season.
Each spring, you’ll need to clean your pond thoroughly. If the pond is extremely dirty, you may need to actually catch the fish and keep them in a holding tank so that you can drain the pond. Otherwise, you should only need to remove about half the water.
Remove any debris and fallen leaves from the pond. You should clean the filter and change the media or material it uses to work, as well. This gets rid of bacteria that will be harmful to fish. Then, refill the pond with fresh water. You should treat the pond for parasites to keep your fish healthy.
The plants in your pond will usually bloom again as the season progresses. You’ll need to cut off any dead parts and you should use a pond safe fertilizer to feed any potted or deep water plants.
Don’t feed your fish until the temperature stays above 55°F (10°C). Otherwise, the fish will not be able to digest the food. You may want to consider starting them off with wheat-germ based food. As the weather warms, you may also want to give your fish specially formulated food with antibiotics in it for two weeks to prevent illness.
During the summer months, pond maintenance is fairly simple. Switch your fish to a high protein food. Test the water for ammonia, nitrates and pH. If the water quality is bad, the fish may not have enough oxygen to survive. You should change fifty percent of the water if it is unbalanced. It may also be a good idea to add a few additional oxygenating plants to the pond to stabilize the oxygen level and keep algae from taking over the pond. Fertilize the deep water plants and marginal plants in the pond with a pond safe fertilizer. You should also clean the filter and pump.
During the fall, you will be spending most of your time preparing your fish for the winter months. Fish can’t easily digest foods in lower temperatures so you’ll need to reduce the amount you feed them as temperature goes below 70°F (21°C). When the temperature is under 50°F (10°C) stop feeding the fish until the weather warms up again in the spring.
You should trim all the plants in the pond and remove dying parts to prevent them from rotting under water during the winter. When leaves begin to fall you should cover the pond with mesh so that the leaves don’t drop into the water. If the leaves are left in the pond they will decompose and become harmful to your fish.
Winter maintenance involves keeping the pond from freezing solid so that toxic gases do not build up under the ice. As the temperature of the pond water gets below 40°F (4°C), remove the pump from the bottom of the pond. When it is at the bottom, it circulates the water of the entire pond, making it too cold for the fish.
You should put a re-circulating pump at the top of the pond to provide oxygen and to keep the pond from freezing completely during the winter months. You’ll also need to install a heater or pond deicer, which will release toxic gases and provide more oxygen for the fish.
Remove filter mats from the skimmer and filter because they’ll freeze and will be difficult to thaw out. You may want to cover the pond with netting to avoid predators, as fish are most vulnerable during winter and early spring months.