Autumn Pond Cleaning
When the water temperature starts getting cooler and the evenings darker, the wildlife in your pond starts to move out and fish’s metabolism will slow down. Amphibians, such as Frogs, Toads and Newts start migrating away from the water, usually going underground or under protective stones and rocks where they will spend the winter months. This means that it will give a window of opportunity to clean out your pond and sort out the aquatic plants with minimal disruption to the ecosystem and get it ready for the winter months, so in the spring the pond is ready for another season.
Smaller ponds may need cleaning out every 3 to 5 years, however this depend on a number of factors, such as the amount of stock, the quantity of food you give the fish, if any filtration is installed, how many plants or overhanging trees may be in or close to the pond, causing detritus build up and silt. Larger ponds will need cleaning every 6 to 8 years and again, will depend on these factors.
Pond cleaning removes the decaying debris from water lilies and fallen leafs from surrounding trees which over time will turn to silt and although not a real problem, can cause reductions in depth and oxygen in warmer months. 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 and when filling the pond that the natural balance is not massively disrupted.
The aquatic plants can, at this time of year, be cut back and if necessary, re-potted. Although many hobbyists prefer to complete pond cleans in the spring time, as long as it’s not too cold, so around September/ October time, then there is no reason why plants can’t be split and ponds cleaned. For wildlife ponds, pond cleaning can be damaging, but less so in autumn or early spring. If you have fish, it is also important to make sure you can complete the works in one day, this will ensure less stress is put on the fish.
Most marginal aquatic plants can survive out of the water at this time of year for a number of hours, so giving time for re-potting and pruning. You should prepare a facility for holding any livestock, such as fish and any late migrating amphibians, before removing any plants, this can then be filled with some clean water from the pond before it is disrupted and the detritus gets stirred up. A suitable cover might be necessary for larger fish to prevent them from jumping out and damaging themselves.
You will need a suitable pump to drain the water and these can be hired if necessary. The fish can be removed as the water level drops and they become easily seen, once the fish are removed it’s time for the plants. Removing the 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. The liner and any nearby rocks or waterfalls can be cleaned using a jet wash, be careful not to use a powerful spray on older liners as this can sometimes damage them. If you have any leaks, this is the time to repair them. If you have any filtration, then the sponges can be cleaned and the pump serviced.
Once all the cleaning has been completed; you can place the plants back into the pond and start re-filling. If you use tap water, it is a good idea to use a de-chlorinator. Start to drain the holding facility back into the pond and carefully examine any fish for damage and possible ailments before putting them back.
If you have a pond that needs cleaning, then Cornwall Ponds offers a complete service and maintenance facility from their professional, trained staff.