Well, Spring is officially here after what has been, for much of the US, a particularly nasty winter. That means that it’s time to pull off the cover net, clean up around the pond, squirt various liquids into your water, etc. You know the drill. Here are a few quick tips to make things go more smoothly this year.
Make an actual to-do list
This is one of those tips that took me a long time to figure out, but has since been absolutely invaluable. Sitting down with a pen and pad to make out a physical list that you can check off is incredibly useful for a few reasons. First of all, it’s helpful in just about any endeavor to have a list of discreet tasks that you can attack one at a time, making the whole project less overwhelming. Second, you’re much less likely to forget some key step along the way if you have a list of them to check off. Finally, the act of making out the list itself will help you to think of different things and ways to do them that can make the whole process easier and more effective.
Be thorough with your first debris removal
That bane of pond health, organic debris, has slipped into your pond over the winter. There’s just no way that I’m aware of to avoid it. Every new Spring means cleaning out your pond. What many pond owners forget to do, though, is to clean around the pond before removing the net. This can be one of the most effective things that you’ll be able to do all year to keep your pond’s ecosystem healthy. Your pond, as you well know, will develop a mystical magnetic force that will pull any leaves and sticks and acorns within range into the water to decompose and throw your chemical levels all out of whack.
Early in Spring is also one of the best times to deal with your pond sludge before it gets out of hand. Use your pond vacuum, your skimmer net, or just stick your hand into that still-chilly water and grab out every bit of debris and sludge you can before it really gets going as the water warms up.
Do your partial water change right
I know that this is something that I harp on constantly, but partial water changes are really invaluable for preventing the buildup of harmful elements in your pond. A good partial water change can help to prevent all sorts of problems, and they may be most valuable early in the year, when your pond has had a full winter of less-than-entirely-effective (or even entirely absent) filtration. I realize that a chilly weekend might not be your favorite time to be dumping a garbage can, rain barrel, or buckets of water into your pond, but, trust me, it’s worth it.
Clean your pump intake
Spring is the best time to do basic pump maintenance, as things have been building up and growing in your filtration system throughout the winter, and starting Spring with a fully functional pond pump can make everything easier. Even if you don’t do much maintenance, though, at least go ahead and pull out your pump and clean out the intake (you should be able to just use your fingers or a brush of some sort). This will do a lot to not only extend the life of your pump, but also make it run more efficiently throughout the year.
Time your fish food changes right
Once your pond is staying consistently above 42 degrees F, you can start feeding your fish cold-water fish food. Do NOT, however, start on regular fish food until your pond is staying above 55 each night. Normal fish food is richer, and can cause digestive problems for your fish when their metabolisms are slowed by cooler water.
Consider Cold-Water Bacteria to get a head start
When your water gets below 50 degrees or so, your pond’s beneficial bacteria’s metabolism slows to a crawl. However, using Aquascape’s Cold-Water Bacteria is a great way to get a head start on pond health. It’s designed with bacteria that continue to metabolize nitrates and ammonia down to 35 degrees, which can give you weeks, or even months (depending on where you live), of extra biological filtration, and that means much healthier water and fewer sludge and algae problems.