The pond season is open
The yearly cycle begins once again and even after a hard winter, nature awakes and brings forth new life – this also includes the garden pond. The experts from Maxi Zoo have some tips on how pond owners can get their aquatic biotope ready for the year ahead.
The best time to start spring maintenance depends on the weather. Fish start to become more active when the water reaches 10 to 12 degrees Celsius. Keep in mind that fish still can’t dodge you quickly when you disrupt their habitat, so be careful when carrying out any pond work. Pond maintenance can be roughly divided into four areas: the initial inspection, planting, water quality and fish.
1. Initial inspection
Start by getting a general idea of your pond’s condition – Are there too many leaves or other plant matter in the water? Has it become overgrown? Has the pond liner become torn or been damaged by winter frost? Is the bank reinforcement stable or have stones or other elements become loose and have to be secured? Only then you can start with the regular pond maintenance.
Prune back pond plants that have grown strongly and that were not already pruned in autumn approx. 10 cm, separate and transplant these as necessary. Take care not to damage young shoots and sprouts and leave sufficient room between pond greenery for these to grow. Now is the best time to decide whether you want new pond or water plants, e.g. water lilies, water hyacinths or water poppies. Why not try water lilies? They are very eye catching in any pond. You should place them in shallow water and as soon as the floating leaves come above water move them bit by bit until they reach the required depth. When they come into bloom they are resplendent in their glory. Their large leaves offer a place for many water insects and frogs also like to sit on the lily pads. From there they have a good view and can quickly hop into the water if they sense danger.
3. Water quality
Remove loose, dead plant material such as leaves and twigs with a dip net to prevent excessive amounts of nutrients from building up. Now you can change part of the water, but not more than a quarter – otherwise you disrupt the biological equilibrium too much. Fill the pond with clean, soft rain water if possible. You can now also reintroduce equipment such as pumps, filters or surface skimmers to balance out the water quality. Check the pH and water hardness regularly with the appropriate test strips from May on. The pH should be between 6.5 and 7.5 and carbonate hardness should be about 8.75.
You can start feeding your fish again when the water reaches 10 degrees Celsius, but in only moderation and at best with easily digestible feed, so as to not overstress their digestive system after the winter break. Any food taken in could go bad in the intestines and lead to a bowel infection. Allow a thermometer to decide when the time is right to start feeding or transferring the fish from an aquarium.
You can switch to regular feed once the water reaches a constant 12-15 degrees. When the water reaches 20°C you can feed the fish twice a day. Go easy though as too much food can cause algae blooms. Always retrieve leaves, pollen and broken plant pieces from the water as once they sink to the bottom they will produce a never ending reservoir of excessive nutrients which form the basis for algae.
Those who are planning a pond just need to take a look in our book department. There are many publications explaining the planning and layout of a pond in an easy to follow step-by-step manner. Now is just the right time to get started and with a little care and attention you can be enjoying your pond within a year.
Call into your local store today to discuss your pet’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts