Pond Care & Fish Pond Care in Northern Climates

Pond Care 101!
Ponds may seem mysterious and hard to care for but once you know the basics, they really are pretty easy to maintain, providing you with something beautiful and enjoyable year round!

Spring Pond Care:
In northern climates where the pond freezes over completely, you have to wait until the water in the pond, skimmer (pump house), biofalls, AND the underground pipe thaw before turning the pump on.  Sometimes thawing takes a while, especially if there are shady spots near your pond.
Once the ice melts, it is time for a little spring cleaning! Spring is a good time to deep clean your fish pond. This removes sunken debris and muck and algae still clinging to the rocks.
Before cleaning, remove any deicer gadgets or special aerators and store for next winter.  Switch the return de-icer pipe to the regular piping set up.  Watch a DIY video on deep cleaning your pond.
If you don’t have time, schedule a “clean my fish pond”.  (You can order a pond clean out with or without fish!) Once the pond is clean, it’s time to turn it on.

Keep your pond looking great all summer by following the simple pond maintenance tips below:
*Add some beneficial bacteria to help keep algae in check.
*Check for low spots in the liner around the edges.
*Adjust lights or replace light bulbs if needed.
*Trim back plants or remove dead foliage leftover from last year.
*Give landscape plants and aquatic plants a dose of fertilizer.
*Add extra gravel on the pond bottom (this gives good bacteria a place to colonize).
*Plant a few annuals for color around the edges or add a new water lily or native plant
(here is a list of invasive plants to avoid!)
*Don’t feed the fish until the water warms up to roughly 55F.  (The fish don’t digest the food at the cooler temps, it just rots in their stomach.)

My fish pond a few weeks after the spring cleaning.
Early Summer care:
This time of year seems to be when leaks show up and algae dances along.  If you suspect there is a leak, follow Jeff’s step-by-step leak detection directions.

Algae problems:
Algae are a type of plant which performs photosynthesis just like other plants.  There are several types found it home ponds. String algae, microscopic algae, and sometimes brown algae are the most common.
All types need food, light, and oxygen.  If you remove one or more of those needs, the algae can be controlled without harsh chemicals.

Fish- Over feeding fish is one of the chief causes of algae “blooms” that we see.  Feed only what the fish eat in one period.  The fish waste also provides nutrients to algae so play around with the balance of plants vs fish in your pond. You’re trying to mimic the balance of a natural ecosystem.

Algae control we recommend:
Automatic doser- automatically drips the correct amount of beneficial bacteria, and clarifiers into your pond.  You can sit back and enjoy clean, clear water!

IonGen probe- The copper ion probe inhibits algae growth automatically.  It can be turned up or down depending on how bad the growth is.

Bogs/pond plants- use the nutrients in the water so fewer nutrients are available to algae.

Or use Ecoblast- a granular algaecide that can be spot applied.

For more information on recommended products, check out this link from Aquasacpe.

Happy pond plants enjoying full afternoon sun!
Summer Check list:
*Auto-fill valve- does it work?  This is a great tool to use while on vacation so your pond doesn’t go dry due to evaporation.
A typical 8 x 10’ pond will lose 1-3” of water from evaporation in the heat of summer, especially if it is windy. An auto-fill will cover your loss and prevent the pump from running dry.
*Plants- give them a mid-summer fertilizer and a trim.
*Fish care- Feed, but don’t over feed! They can be trained to come to you.
* Check your skimmer basket regularly. Remove debris. Once a week is typical.
*Wash your filter mats about once a month (or more if the pond is quite dirty.)

Fall Pond care:
In northern climates, fall pond care is largley a battle to keep leaves out!
*Place a net over your pond before any trees nearby start dropping their leaves.
*Use a net to scoop floating leaves before they sink to the bottom.  (Fall leaves will discolor your water turning it a tea color.)
*Check your skimmer basket OFTEN! Leaves can plug the basket causing the pump to suck air and burn out!!
*Switch to cool weather fish food when the water temp starts dropping below 60/55F.
*Trim back over grown plants before they freeze and fall into the water.
*Remove annuals and tropical plants.  Cut back and store in cool location inside if you want them next year.
*Wash the filter mats.

Late fall pond care: 
*Remove your pump and store in water in a place it won’t freeze.
*Place any aerators or heaters in the pond or switch the piping to a return de-icer.  These will oxygenate the water for fish overwintering in the pond. Stop feeding the fish as the water temps drop below 45 F.
*Check the auto-fill valve on your pond to make sure it doesn’t have water standing in it.

Winter Care:
There isn’t much to do in the winter unless you have fish outside.  Simply enjoy your pond’s different moods throughout the winter season!  Uplighting on nearby trees makes the pond look magical especially in winter.
If you keep fish in your pond year round, regularly check the pond, making sure there is an open place in the ice for air exchange.  The fish don’t need food but they do need oxygen!  A heater, return deicer, and/or aerators will provide this.  Make sure they are running, especially when the temperature dips below zero F.

If you’d like to keep learning about backyard pond care or fish care, please check out other blog posts or Aquascape Inc.  Keep your pond happy and enjoy life!

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