Spring Cleaning Your Pond
After a few months of cold weather we are on our way to a much happier climate as everything begins to warm from the longer daylight hours and sunshine.
In the spring when water temperatures are between six and ten degrees centigrade, fish are generally calmer and most amphibians would have migrated away from the water before the really cold weather settled in. This is a good time to clean out your pond and to sort out aquatic plants with minimal disruption to the ponds delicate ecosystem.
Although some people prefer to complete pond cleans in the autumn, as long as it’s not too cold, there is no reason why plants can’t be re-potted and ponds cleaned.
Pond cleaning removes silt caused from decaying debris from water lilies, fallen leaves from surrounding trees and faeces from fish, invertebrates and amphibians. Silt is not an immediate problem in small amounts, but in time can cause reductions in depth and dissolved oxygen levels in warmer months. It can also contribute to Winter Fish Kill in the colder months.
Winter fish kill is due to the extreme cold weather condition. All fish and amphibians who have chosen to stay in the pond, have little option but to fight out the cold winter conditions, some of which may not make it, either due to toxic gasses building up under the ice or lack of oxygen. The best thing to do is to remove any dead creatures so they don’t cause any more problems with water quality.
It is important that when emptying your pond, that you keep a percentage of the water, approximately a quarter if you are able to, this will ensure that any livestock can be gently put to one side when cleaning. When re-filling the pond; the natural balance is not massively disrupted by keeping some of the water. If you use tap water, it is a good idea to use a de-chlorinator.
Aquatic plants should only be removed once the required amount of water has been pumped out to the holding facility, removing plants first can cause unwanted disturbance. The decaying plant material can be cut off or removed by hand and set aside for composting. Allowing it to settle will allow for any creatures to move away to safety until the pond is filled again, any larger creatures can be put into the holding facility.
The sediment and silt can be removed and spread around borders; it makes excellent fertiliser, especially for vegetable beds. Start to drain the holding facility back into the pond and carefully examine any fish for damage and possible ailments before putting them back.
Things to do when spring approaches:
- If your pond filter has been turned off over winter; give it a good clean, as any good bacteria will have died and turned anaerobic.
- Add a bacteria/enzyme product to ensure these bacteria can start to re-colonise.
- Before turning on your UV, ensure that the quartz sleeve is clean and not cracked and replace the bulb for the new season.
- Clean your pond pump and check all hoses for any leaks or cracks.
- If you have a net covering your pond, make sure it is still intact, if not; replace it so the pesky Heron can’t attack your fish.
- If you have no filtration; start adding natural remedies such as Barley Straw Extract as a preventative before the algae can take hold.