Fish Pond Maintenance is essential to keeping you pond and the habitat healthy especially in the tropics. If you have a pond, you may already be enjoying the sounds of splashing water and the colors of water lettuce and purple hyacinth flowers. You can see your fish darting underwater from lily pad to lily pad. Occasionally, a bright dragonfly will buzz through the air. While your pond appears to be a picture of serenity, there are some delicate and complicated relationships taking place between water, plants and animals. In order to continue to keep your pond happy and healthy, you will have to perform routine pond maintenance.
Water quality is arguably the most important part of pond maintenance. Unhealthy water leads to a sick pond. Unfortunately, you can’t always know your pond water’s health by eyeballing it. Clear water can have unseen problems lurking below the surface.
Here are some water issues that you should monitor:
* Chemicals such as ammonia and nitrates are natural byproducts of fish waste and can be toxic in a pond.
* Chlorine from tap water can kill fish.
* The pH levels of a pond should be between 6.8 and 7.4. The pH measurement tells you how acidic or alkaline your water is. Measurements on either side of 6.8 and 7.4 can lead to dead fish and plants.
* High levels of salt, either natural or from winter ice melt, can be a killer.
As your pond matures, bacteria will kick in to help your pond stay in balance by chomping up many of the bad elements in your water. Until this happens, you will probably need chemicals to help the process along.
If you have a new pond, use a test kit about once a week to check the levels of elements in your water. In a more mature pond, you’ll only need to test every three to four weeks.
Siphon off between 10% and 20% of your pond’s water every month and replace it with fresh water. Remember to use a chlorine treatment whenever you add water.
Pond Pumps and Filters
Pumps should be checked every week or two and cleaned. During the spring and summer growing seasons, or any time that algae blooms appear, your pumps may be working overtime to handle blockages caused by plant growth. In this case, you may have to clean your pump more than once a week. The same rule applies during the fall when leaves can get caught in the pumps if you don’t skim your pond frequently.
Check your pond filter every four to five weeks to make sure that it is working properly. Filters should be operating 24 hours a day because any down time can lead to the death of bacteria that are helping to break down unwanted substances in your pond. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning your filter so that you don’t accidentally eliminate the beneficial bacteria that live in it.
If you don’t clean your pumps and filters frequently enough, they will burn out and you will have to replace them. They can be expensive to replace, and the balance in your pond will be thrown off while filters and pumps are out of commission. It also takes time for the bacteria in a filter to do their job effectively. While you’re waiting, algae and other undesirables can get a foothold, leaving you with a mess to clean up. Routine pump and filter maintenance will save you a good deal of work in the long run.
Skim floating debris, such as leaves, from your pond on a weekly basis. It’s best to keep falling nuts and twigs out of the pond as well, as decomposing organic material can alter the water’s pH. If needed, set up a screen over the pond to catch falling seeds and nuts.
During the spring and summer, plant growth will explode in your pond. While plants are pretty, they can end up strangling your fish and clogging your pumps. Plants should only cover 50% to 70% of your pond’s surface. If your plants cover more than that, remove them.
In addition to plants, algae tend to bloom during warm months. If your pond is balanced, your fish will eat the algae and keep it under control. If you do not have enough fish, you can use chemicals to control algae. Be careful with this, as algae are a source of food for your fish. In addition, killing all of the algae in your pond will give it an artificial appearance. Don’t you see algae growing on rocks in natural ponds?
If you don’t feed your fish and have the right number of fish for your pond’s area, algae shouldn’t be a problem. Shading the pond with plant growth can help to keep algae under control as well.
Trim back dead or diseased water plants weekly for a healthier pond.
In general, you should only add about one fish for every square foot of surface space of your pond. If you add any more fish than this, your pond’s ecosystem will be overwhelmed.
Fish are cold-blooded, so they will be more active, and need more food, during warm months than during cold months. With the right mix of plants and fish, you shouldn’t need to feed them at all. If you must feed them, give them just enough food to stay healthy and never overfeed. Excess food will decompose and ruin the water quality.
Yearly Pond Maintenance
Once a year, you should clean out your pond completely. This will prevent sediments from building up in your pond and reducing the area in which your fish can swim. Hopefully, this will just be a matter of removing your plants and dredging the bottom of your pond for debris. If you have ignored this for several years and have not skimmed your pond, you may have to remove both the fish and the plants from the pond and drain it in order to clean it.