Winter is coming to a close and it’s time to head outdoors! As the weather warms, your pond will gradually come back to life. The cold weather forces most fish and plant life into hibernation, but as temperatures rise everything begins to “wake up.” Facilitating this process for the organisms in your pond or water garden will help ensure that you have a healthy and thriving ecosystem for the whole season.
Here are some quick tips to help you.
When to start waking up your pond.
Watch for signs of life from your pond to start this process. Try not to start working on your pond until temperatures hit at least 50° F. At 50° F, the bacteria in the pond will resume their active lifecycles.
Try not to disturb the water until the water temperature reaches at least 60° F, as read by a pond thermometer. If the fish and other organisms are stressed right away as they come out of hibernation, they could become sick and die.
Thin the plants and clear debris.
When the frost is finally gone, you can start working on your plant life. Be sure to clear out dead portions, and remove leaves and debris from the pond. You can start this process before the pond water reaches the right temperature, if you make sure to avoid disturbing the water. Work on the outside plants first, waiting to clear the debris within the pond until it warms up.
Every few years, thin the plants by taking the plants out of their containers (if they have one) and separating them. All plants need to have their own space to grow in order to maintain healthy pond water. Avoid changing all the water in the pond and scrubbing it; this will kill the existing bacteria that help your eco-system run smoothly and stay in balance.
Flush out the pump system and treat the water.
If you have pump system, flush it out before putting it into use. Send the water that has been sitting in it to waste; otherwise, if you pump it back into your pond, you could risk poisoning the organisms living there. Be sure to test and monitor your pump as it starts up for the first time. Spring is also the perfect time to replace the pump, if necessary. Check your water quality, and use water treatments if needed. A simple test kit can tell you what type of water treatment you may need. Nitrate and ammonia levels should be zero, if they are not zero, then you may need to partially change out the water. Be sure to use a chlorine neutralizer any time you add tap water to the pond.
Start feeding the fish!
As the weather warms, fish will begin to become more active and will want food. Start feeding the fish once per day when the temperature is about 50° F and twice per day when it hits 60° F. Start with a food filled with carbohydrates, which is easier for them to digest, as they are just resuming their active lifestyles.
For more tips and tricks on caring for your pond or water garden, visit Pond Planet’s Blog.