Spring Cleaning Your Pond

We have been waiting all winter for spring to arrive and can hardly wait to spend time enjoying our water gardens again. The transition from winter to spring can bring new challenges in the water garden. However, with a little work and a lot of patience, your pond will again return to its sparkling, clear magical state.

In the winter, your pond and its inhabitants sleep.  With the onset of spring, fish wake up, begin searching for food and the dreaded algae re-appears with a vengeance.  The water we had sparkling clear in the fall, soon turns murky green.

If you were diligent in the fall, by keeping most of the leaves and twigs out of your pond, your task this spring will be much simpler.  (unfortunately for me, I was not diligent enough!) If not, the first thing you will want to do is net out as many leaves and debris as possible with a net.  Re-start your pumps and filter systems. If you have a skimmer and a puri-falls, now is a perfect time to clean them out thoroughly. Either clean your filter media or replace with new.  If you clean your filter media, it is always best to rinse it in pond water, so as not to kill the “sleeping bacteria” from last year.  After you have removed as much debris as possible, you can vacuum the rest with a Muck Vac or where vacuuming is impractical, such as in ponds with rock or gravel bottoms, adding Microbe-Lift SA will  help speed up the biological removal of slow to degrade organic waste matter from aquatic pond bottoms, that may become toxic to fish and plant life.  Microbe-Lift SA removes bottom organic sludge and helps clarify your pond water at the same time. Another option at this time would be to add Microbe-Lift Spring Summer Cleaner, it helps jump start your pond to a healthier environment in the spring, by reducing buildup of dead leaves and organic sediment. Microbe-Lift Spring Summer Cleaner is a seasonal approach to the proper organic balance in ponds.   The main thing you want to achieve is to get the bacteria started and growing again in your pond. As the water warms, the species of bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrite slowly awaken as water temperatures rise above 55 degrees.  The species of bacteria that convert deadly nitrites to harmless nitrate are slower to start in the spring, usually 2 to 3 weeks behind, depending on water temperatures.  As your fish awaken from the winter, begging for food, it is best to refrain from feeding them at this time. Food eaten at this time  will become toxic by products until the bacteria can catch up.  The higher the protein in the fish food, the more ammonia will be produced. If you feel you must feed your fish, it’s best to feed Microbe-Lift Spring/Fall formula fish food, or Tetra Spring Diet, which consists mostly of wheat germ, and do so sparingly.

Many people, when their ponds are full of sludge, leaves and algae, are tempted to drain the pond and start over.  Try to avoid this method, if at all possible, especially if you have a large pond. When you completly  drain a pond and start over, you destroy all of the good bacteria you have been growing and stress your aquatic life. It is always preferable to work with “aged water”.  Although at times, a partial water change can be beneficial.  I would change no more than 10% to 30% of  the pond though. 

In Ohio, we are still experiencing some unusually  cold  days, the greenhouses are warm though, plants are growing and blooming and I’m sure within the next two weeks,  I will be out tackling the leaves and muck in my pond.  Hopefully I will learn my lesson, and next fall, leave the pond netting on all winter! Hang in there everyone, Spring is just around the corner!

9 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning Your Pond

  1. Jose says:

    I just finish my pond yesterday i can wait to have plants and koi fish on it but i’m going to wait a weak before a add koi, for now i’m going to work with the landscaping around the pond…

  2. Shannon says:

    (Congradulations Jose with your new pond!)
    I have comet and shubinkin goldfish in my pond. I have room for one koi, but will one koi be happy with goldfish?

  3. barbara says:

    hello, i would like to start a small bog ponds in an old preformed fish ponds and i would also like to start a dragonfly pond. i think i need two because i have been told that the fish eat the dragonfly eggs. am i correct? does my bog pond get filled with 1/2 sand and 1/2 peatmoss? how do i keep mosquitoes from breeding in the dragonfly pond? pk, that is it for now. thank you, barbara later, i will need to know about plants.

    • dragonfly says:

      Hi Barbara,
      Yes fish will eat dragonfly nymphs and eggs. Some ideas for your pond would be to have it at least 2 feet deep in center but can be shallow at edges. They like rocks in the pond that provides hiding places for larvae during insects’ underwater growth development. Put some flat light colored rocks around the edges of your pond to give the dragonflies a place to land. They like certain areas and you’ll find a dragonfly will always come back to its certain spot. The light colored rocks attract them. Put some plants such as, cattials, bamboo, zebra bullrush and other grassy foliage around the edges of your pond. This gives the larvae passage out of the pond. As for as the mosquitoes…you don’t want to put anything in the pond to kill mosquitos as dragonflies will eat them. Other plants to add to your pond would be plants such as cardinal flower, blue lobellia, and water lilies. Especially the water lilies as these create some shade for them and also attract them. We have an article on the blog regarding attracting dragonflies to your pond that list alot of good plants for them.
      No need for sand and peatmoss as small rocks at the bottom of your pond provide hiding places for them. Also dragonflies like sun so place your pond with mostly sun but some shade.

  4. Michael says:

    Hi Barb,
    Just wondering, at what temperatures should the filers be started again in spring and at what temps do you apply Microbe lift Spring/summer additive?

    In fall when you shut down the filter do you just let it sit without cleaning the media?

    Can you write a similar article on fall/autumn cleaning and what to add to the pond and when?

    Thank you.

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