Regular Pond Maintenance
Regular pond maintenance is good for aquatic life. You can enjoy a wonderful ecosystem by just taking proper care of your structure and its aquatics. If you are raising koi or goldfish and growing aquatic plants, you can be sure to enjoy beautiful fish and stunning plants with proper care and maintenance of your water feature.
How to Maintain and Care for a Koi Pond
- Clean your pond regularly.
- Manage the nearby plants.
- Grow water plants.
- Control ice in the winter.
- Control algae growth.
- Maintain pump, filter, lines, and fountains.
- Troubleshoot and repair any leaks.
- Maintain the right water level.
- Maintain the right temperature.
- Make it well-aerated.
- Keep the water chemistry optimum.
1. Clean Your Pond in the Spring
Garden ponds accumulate dirt and debris. Leaves are a major threat as they can release toxic gases when decaying, destroying the ecological balance. To keep the reservoir clean, you can use a skimmer net to collect and remove leaves and other light debris.
You also need to remove sludge. You can use a pond vacuum or cleanout pump to scoop the mud from the bottom, but you need to leave a little of it to support the growth of algae.
You can rent a pond cleanout pump & hose from Terra which is powerful enough to remove sludge, debris and decaying organic matter. With different nozzle head options, this equipment can clean through gravel, stoney, earthy and even flat surfaces.
If you want to do a full cleaning, drain all the water first using a pump or container, then secure your aquatics in another reservoir. Next, scoop up the sludge and clean the bottom completely. You can also clean the liner and edging materials—a task that can be performed with a brush. Terra does rent out a cleanout basin if desired to pump water into for fish and water storage.
The wetland or biofalls media will need to be flushed and cleaned early in the spring and bacteria added to pond after refilling. Be sure to detoxify water and add bacteria to jumpstart the ecosystem for the season. Questions? Feel free to stop by Terra Waterscape Supply for products and answers!
2. Manage the Nearby Plants
If you have trees in your garden, your water feature can be affected negatively by falling leaves. You can prevent this problem by using a trap net. Install the net over the structure and use a filter mat below it to trap the smaller debris. You can secure the net and mat with rocks or bricks. When there is a heavy leaf fall, you need to empty the net regularly to prevent it and its content from falling into the water. The net and mat have another benefit of protecting your aquatic animals from predators.
If you have trees hanging over the structure, prune them using a garden shear or any other suitable tool. The shading trees prevent light from reaching the aquatic plants, inhibiting them from getting full photosynthesis.
3. Grow Water Plants
The best time to introduce new plants is in the early summer when the water is warm and capable of supporting rapid plant growth. Some categories of plants that you should consider growing include oxygenators, lilies, marginals, floaters, and marshes.
You can boost the growth of the plants with a suitable fertilizer (at Terra) which you can apply every five weeks. Since some aquatic animals use the plants as food, keep them as healthy as possible. Do not use toxic fertilizers or inorganic pesticides.
Keep thinning or culling the plants and ensure their leaves do not cover the whole surface of the water. You can use a garden rake to remove the excess aquatic. Some aquatic plants may die as a result of freezing or after the end of their lifespan. If you notice some dead plants, remove them immediately to prevent the disruption of the water chemistry or the formation of toxins.
4. Control Ice in Winter
Ice is a common problem in winter. If your pond’s water surface freezes, the water below the ice starts to get limited oxygen and develops very low temperatures which put your aquatics in danger.
You can prevent freezing by floating a ball or de-icer on the surface (Available at Terra). If you already have ice on the surface, you can use a hot pan to melt it but do not use force to break it, as this can harm the aquatic life.
If you cannot do away with the ice, you can control its effects by floating wood on the surface. The wood will absorb the ice pressure and therefore protect the structure from damage. It is recommended to add an air hole through the ice to improve the effectiveness of the wood.
5. Control Algae Growth
Algae are beneficial in a garden pond, but they can be a big problem when they are allowed to grow excessively. These non-flowering plants are a good source of food for aquatic animals, so it is recommended not to remove all of them. When it comes to controlling these micro-plants, you can use both natural and artificial methods.
One natural way is to grow aquatic plants that can compete with the micro-plants for nutrients and other resources. Introduce plants that use large quantities of nutrients, such as lettuce and hyacinth. You can also introduce cover plants like lilies which minimize the amount of light reaching the algae.
On the side of the artificial methods, you can use a tool like a rake to physically remove the non-flowering plants. This involves detaching the colonies from the surfaces and disposing them away. Another artificial method is to use algaecides or dye. The latter turns the water surface black, reducing the amount of light reaching the algae.
Algaecides are the most effective method of controlling algae though be careful – too much and you will consume all the oxygen in the water killing fish and plant life. When algae dies, oxygen is consumed – don’t kill algae too fast!
The best thing about this algaecide is that it kills existing algae and prevents additional algae blooms – however it does not solve the underlying problem (excess nutrients in the water). For this, you need to be adding Beneficial Bacteria and Sludge remover on a regular basis.
Your pond may be equipped with an IonGen – this will release copper ions into the water which will be absorbed by string algae. If you have no string algae visible, the IonGen should be set at 0. With string Algae visible, it may be better to let your fish nibble on the alage or raise the IonGen to a 1 or 2. Once the string algae is gone, be sure to set it back to 0. An IonGen that is turned up too high will increase copper to unsafe levels for fish and plants.
6. Maintain the Pump, Filter, Lines, and Waterfalls
These parts are commonly found in large or complex ponds, and are prone to clogs which can be caused by debris. During the warm seasons, the pumps and filters are made to run for many hours, something which makes them vulnerable to malfunctions.
If your pump or mechanical filter gets clogged, disconnect it and flush out the debris. Concerning the biological filter, you need to clean it partially to avoid killing all bacteria which are useful in breaking down ammonia and other compounds. You can do this by cleaning the pads with pond water as it contains no chlorine.
The lines and fountains suffer from limescale and algae bloom. To maintain these parts, you can use cleaning chemicals to remove the limescale and algaecides to kill the algae. The ideal water level is 1″ under the top opening of the skimmer to allow for debris.
7. Troubleshoot and Repair Any Leaks
If your pond’s water level starts to drop rapidly, you should suspect a leaking problem (outside of mid summer). If the surrounding ground is wet and you didn’t pour water on it, then you can confirm that your pond is leaking.
Contact Materra should you suspect any leaks in your pond.
8. Maintain the Right Water Level
The water level of a pond drops quickly in hot weather (common in summer), and this can make the aquatic organisms lack enough oxygen. If you notice a reduction in the water level, you need to top up the pond with clean water. You should avoid using tap water as it contains a lot of solutes and encourages excessive growth of algae.
Use a garden hose to top up, but you can also install a water supply system consisting of a fill valve and filter. You need to keep three-quarters of the structure full throughout the year. In extremely hot months, you can refill on a weekly basis.
Careful, let the pond levels get too low and you may damage your pump!
9. Make Your Pond Well-Aerated
Well-aeration water is quite beneficial to the aquatic life. It allows the aquatics to get enough oxygen, boosting a healthier growth in the plants and animals. It also reduces algae growth and odor formation, facilitating a pleasant water garden.
You can introduce oxygenating plants to improve oxygen levels. You can also use waterfalls, bubblers, or fountains to improve air movement in and out of the water. In addition, you can use an air pump to maximize aeration in summer which is associated with diminished air levels in reservoirs.
10. Keep the Water Chemistry Optimum
A number of things can alter the water chemistry. One thing that is well known to interfere with water chemistry is chlorine, which can kill the aquatic organisms. The water chemistry can also be altered by decaying plant remains which release harmful products and add unnecessary organic matter to the water. To detect any changes in the water chemistry, you need to carry out tests every now and then.
If you detect any changes, you can use alkaline solutions and detoxifiers, which control acidic and toxic conditions respectively. To prevent these changes, you need to keep your pond clean, something which reduces the build-up of waste. If you are keeping fish, you need to avoid supplying them with excess food to prevent cases of decaying food remains. In addition, you need to edge your structure to control run-off water which can bring in harmful chemicals.
If you pond is equipped with a dosing system, you can find refills at Terra Waterscape Supply. Depending on the time of year or condition of the pond, you may use different dosing bags – consult those at our store for more information.
Water testing is available at Terra Waterscape Supply with any purchase!
11. Fall Winter Prep
Be sure to net your pond and waterfalls before the leaves fall. Nets are available at Terra Waterscape Supply! Keep very close eye on your skimmer as it will quickly fill up with leaves and may require additional attention. Waterfall should be turned off completely before winter to prevent hypercooling the water which may put fish into shock. Deicer should be installed near skimmer on a dedicated power source. Aerators should be moved up to the mid shelf to prevent interruption to the thermocline and to provide adequate aeration over the winter while your waterfalls are off.
There may be additional information or recommendations here that is not provided – contact our store for more information!
Overwhelmed? Don’t worry, we offer service plans to handle everything for you should you need! Please call the office and we’ll get you more information!