Here are a few timely reminders:
- During the winter months, keep as much debris out of your garden pond as possible. Debris decays and leads to a greater algae bloom when warmer weather finally arrives.
- Never break ice that may form on the top of your garden pond…this can harm your fish. It might even kill them. It is important to keep your pump running through the winter months to provide aeration and release gases which may build up throughout the winter. Try pouring warm or tepid water – never hot – to open an area. If there is sufficient water movement in the pond, you may be able to keep the surface from icing over.
- Review the prior year’s successes and errors so mistakes can be avoided in the future.
- Plan additions or changes that you want to make to your pond this coming spring. Maybe select new plant varieties or plan to divide crowded plants.
- The unpleasant but necessary task – pond clean-up. Remove any winter debris that might prolong an algae bloom as the weather begins to warm. If you have pond fish and transfer them to a holding tank, remember to aerate that tank to ensure the fish have adequate oxygen.
- As the weather warms:
- Clean the filter
- Replace the biomedia
- Seed the filter with nitrifying bacteria to jump-start the nitrogen cycle
- Check the pond and make any necessary repairs
- Move all aquatic plants that overwintered at the bottom of the pond in pots closer to the surface for faster growth. Then repot and divide them when growth
- Resist the temptation to feed your fish until temperature reaches 50 degrees.
- As water warms it holds less dissolved oxygen. Watch your fish for signs of oxygen depletion – gasping at the water surface. If this becomes a problem, consider adding another fountain, spray head or waterfall to your pond. Pumps should be left running continually during hot months.
- Check plants for disease and insect problems. Keep fertilization going through out the summer months.
- Fish diseases are harmful not only to your fish but also to your biological filter. Antibiotic treatments are detrimental to your biological filter. Isolate sick fish and medicate them. If that is not possible, you may need to turn the filter off.
- Continue feeding the fish daily. Fish enjoy vegetables. Any abundance from the garden can be used in the pond. Try to feed your fish early in the morning or in the evening. Fish are more active at these times.
- Plants are ready to utilize fertilizer. Waterlilies are in abundance now. They need fertilizer as do your bog plants.
- Fish are very active now, but remember to feed them sparingly…only the amount they will eat in five minutes.
- Have baby fish? Here are some tricks to help feed them:
- Either soak the food long enough so it can be easily nibbled, or grind fish pellets in a blender until powdery in consistency. Pour it into an old salt shaker and shake it over the pond for the small fish.
- Regularly check for pH, ammonia, and nitrate levels
- As temperatures reach the 90’s, remember that half your pond should be in the shade. This helps keep the water cooler and provides a hiding place for the fish.
- Remember to feed the fish less and less and finally stop feeding them at 50 degrees.
- Leaves are falling now. Keeping them out of the pond is a tough job. Use a skimmer net for day-to-day cleaning. Another method would be to place bird netting over the water’s surface to catch the falling leaves. This will prevent them from becoming a problem in the spring.
- Bring your pump nearer to the water’s surface in preparation for winter. This will recirculate the warmer water instead of pulling the cold water from the deeper area of your pond.
- A fish’s immune system get weaker as the water temperature gets lower. take precautions to assure a clean environment for your fish during the fall/winter months.
Barley bales are helpful for pond clarity. When decomposing, barley bales inhibit the growth of blue-green algae to give you a cleaner pond. Drop one bale in your pond and notice the change.
Use immune stimulating pellets for spring feeding for about six weeks when water temperature reaches 50 degrees. Feed the pellets to bolster the fish immune systems.