Spring Pond Maintenance
Things To Do:
Consider draining and cleaning the pond if there is two inches or more of muck on the bottom. During this process, you should temporarily place any fish and aquatic plants into a "kiddy pool holding tank" that contains water that has been taken directly from your pond. Before you return the fish to the pond, temper and adjust the "holding tank" water with the new water from the freshly-filled pond and add a dechlorinating product to the main pond, if necessary.
If there is less than two inches of muck on the bottom of your pond, you can simply net or vacuum out the debris. (e.g., use either a wet/dry ShopVac or other pond vacuum to "spot clean" dirty areas).
Add "cold water" beneficial bacteria (e.g., MicrobeLift Spring/Summer, MicrobeLift PL) to help breakdown the leaves and other debris on the bottom and to help "jump start" your pond for the spring.
Lift, groom, and fertilize hardy waterlilies and marginals when they are showing signs of regrowth. Divide and repot those that appear to be "pot bound" (usually on a one-, two-, or three-year schedule). Reposition aquatic plants to their normal summer locations, as this will encourage quicker plant growth during the spring season.
Check the oxygenating plants and replace them as needed. Do not fertilize them as they obtain their nutrients from the pond, thereby competing with the algae growth.
Inspect and reinstall the pump in the pond or skimmer system when the water temperature remains around 50 degrees on a regular basis. Replace the pre-filters with new ones, if necessary. Check for any leaks after you turn the pump on for the season.
Reinstall the filter pads in the filtration unit or replace them with new ones, if necessary.
Inspect and reinstall the ultraviolet light system, if necessary. Replace the UV bulb at least every two years (or as often as the manufacturer recommends). Just because the bulb illuminates does NOT mean that it's functioning at its maximum intensity.
Begin feeding the fish when the water temperature reaches approximately 50 degrees on a regular basis (usually around mid-April). Start with very small amounts.
Consider treating the pond several times with MelaFix or PimaFix to provide an extra layer of protection for the health of your fish at this time of the year.
Add barley straw (available in various forms – bales, pads, pellets, flakes, etc.) in an area of moving water (e.g., under a waterfall or stream) to keep string algae to a minimum. Refer to our “Hay is for Horses...Is Barley Straw for My Pond" handout for further guidelines and details.
Check and record the water chemistry of your pond to serve as a seasonal baseline and to identify problem areas that might need your attention.
Things to NOT Do:
Do NOT feed the fish before the water warms up sufficiently. Wait until the water temperature reaches 50 degrees - no matter HOW much they beg! You run the risk of having them succumb to various diseases if the food remains undigested in their system due to cold water temperatures.
Do NOT drain and clean the water garden thoroughly until the water temperature has warmed up to around 50 degrees. Doing so at a lower temperature will expose your fish to extreme stress as their immune system will still be suppressed. Stirring up the muck prior to their immune system being fully functional might also expose them to numerous pathogens that were simply lying harmless on the pond bottom all winter.
Do NOT be tempted to use a pressure washer to clean the liner. Doing so could potentially contaminate the entire pond (e.g., soap and other chemicals) and/or blast multiple holes in the liner, thereby requiring many liner patches, or - worst-case scenario - a brand-new liner.
Do NOT drain and refill the pond if and/or when an algae blooms occurs. Doing so will simply “reset the clock” and cause the problem to reoccur as you continue to provide a fresh supply of nutrients for the algae to utilize. Allow the system to balance itself. Eventually the aquatic plants (i.e., waterlilies, oxygenators, etc.) will take over and the algae will be “starved out.”
Note: This is just a general list. Refer to our “Green Water Woes” handout for other specific guidelines to follow.