How do I care for my pond? Answers from a Minnesota contractor

As a pond building contractor, I receive questions like, “How do I care for my pond?” “What do I have to do to my pond?” “How do I get clean water?” quite often.  Below are some tips to help you do just that.
Taking care of your koi pond is completely dependent on how it’s built. When it’s built with a properly sized filtration system, you can keep your pond running well with very low maintenance!
Spring: Pond with fish or without fish: 
Clean your pond!  There are two versions of “cleaning a pond”- a simple cleaning or a deep cleaning.  Those who take care of their ponds and keep a majority of the dead leaves out of the water can do a simple clean out.  You can do this yourself or hire it done. When we are hired to do clean a pond in spring, we clean the pump and filters, install everything, and get the water moving. We trim up plants around the edges, and top off the water. For others who don’t have the time to keep their pond as clean or haven’t cleaned the pond for a season or two, we suggest a deep clean. When performing a Deep Clean, we drain all the water, keep the fish happy and safe in the coi care spa, and flush the entire system. Some do this every year.  We recommend doing this at least every 3 years. We pressure wash all the rocks above the pond surface,  and enough  below the pond surface to leave some beneficial bacteria growing and happy! After cleaning, we safely transfer the fish back into the pond, trim plants around the edges, top off the water, clean the pump and filters, and if needed, add extra beneficial bacteria to boost the system.
Spring- Fish Pond tips:
If you have fish, we recommend adding cold water beneficial bacteria to the pond. When there’s ice, we recommend adding it monthly. As soon as the ice is open, we recommend adding it weekly. This will clear the ecosystem clean from toxins produced by leaves and other debris breaking down. This helps keep your pond fish healthy and your water clear.
Overgrown pond plants contribute to “mucky pond” problems
More Spring Pond Care Tips:
Add beneficial bacteria. We recommend adding beneficial bacteria every day for the first week after your pond is started. 
After that first week, adding bacteria once every week is usually plenty.
We suggest getting an Automatic Dosing System if you have a busy lifestyle and don’t have time to add bacteria treatments to your pond. 

We also suggest checking the skimmer basket about once a week. During the first few spring weeks  in Minnesota, tree seeds can fall in your pond and plug the basket  An easy 10 minutes spent every week in spring goes a long way towards clean and clear pond water for season later.
Summer Pond Care Tips:
During the summer months, your pond will start losing water to evaporation. The beautiful water plants will also start to give off moisture to the air through the leaves. You should be adding between 1-3 inches of water per week to maintain the correct water level in your pond.
Keep adding beneficial bacteria weekly, also.
Fall Pond Care Tips:
Cover your pond with a leaf net. This will help keep your pond clean. Make sure you keep the net off the surface of the water so the leaves don’t release tannins in the water. Tannin makes the pond water look like dark tea.
Fall is when the lights in the pond really come into play. Watching the fish swimming around, showing their beautiful colors as they play around the rocks, is so fun! Make sure as fall approaches you quit feeding your fish around 50 degrees. The fish can’t digest heavy foods at low temperatures but may eat algae and other things if they’re hungry. Don’t tempt them to over-eat!
Switch to Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria. Continue adding cold water bacteria every week until the ice comes, then add one dose every month to help keep the fish happy and healthy.
As fall comes to close it’s also time to close down your pond, typically around the last week of October. In Minnesota you can keep fish through the winter but it is hard on them. Make sure to accomodate for your fish health! Take the fish in and place in a tank with aeration or keep them in the pond if the pond will have some form of aeration and a hole in the ice (for air exchange).  
Waterfall with lights near Plymouth, MN
Overall, a 10×15 pond should take about 25 hours a year to keep it going, and once you get started, you’ll find that it’s a great time to slow down, relax outside, enjoy nature, and even make some new friends as people hear your waterfall and want to see it!


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