Clean out your garden pond this spring

When the temperatures start to rise, it’s time to get outdoors and spring clean your garden pond. The number one priority should be water quality.

Once the snow has melted and the sun begins to warm up the ground and the water, your pond will spring back to life. In order that you and your pond’s inhabitants are able to relax and enjoy the new season, you’ll need to make a few preparations. Your main focus should be on cleaning the pond and treating the water, for this is the pond’s elixir of life and the biological equilibrium must be maintained.

The basic clean

The first step is to repeat the autumn procedure by removing dead leaves and plant matter from around the edges of the pond as well as from the water. Take this opportunity to check the edges for filamentous algae. This appears in most ponds in the spring and usually disappears fairly quickly. Help it on its way by simply pulling out any unwanted plants with your hands. If the algae has already made its way down into the deeper regions of the pond or if green scum has started to form on the surface of the water, the water biology has already been severely disturbed. You may well need to use products to combat the algae. There are biological agents available which work with microorganisms to attack the filamentous algae directly, as well as chemical products. In both cases, you should exercise great caution with the dosage. You should also check your filter system to make sure that the levels of nitrate and phosphate in the pond water are not excessive.

Remove sludge

Spring cleaning your pond includes removing the sludge which mainly comprises dead leaves and plant matter. To avoid severely disturbing the biological equilibrium, you should never remove all of the sludge, but only parts of it. Empty it into a bucket and return any insect larvae, snails and beetles to the water. Alternatively, you can also empty the sludge into a strainer and leave this by the water for several hours. The animals will wander back into the pond of their own accord.

Once the water has settled down and the suspended matter has sunk to the bottom of the pond, it’s time to turn your attention to the water plants. Dead or dried-up parts must be cut away and thick growing plants cut back.

Check the water quality

Now check the quality of the pond water. The easiest way to do this is to buy a quick test from a specialist store. The pH should be between 6.5 and 8.5 and carbonate hardness should be between 6 and 12 KH. You should then check the ammonia and nitrite levels; these should be 0. If one of the levels is critical – i.e. above 0 – appropriate water conditioning agents must be used. A change of water may be necessary. Those of you who keep your pond going throughout the summer with a pump and filter should check your equipment away from the pond before switching it on.

Now you can add any new plants. Add a little fertiliser (sparingly) to the root balls before planting them. If you’re planning to incorporate floating plants such as water hyacinth, you will need to wait another few weeks as they won’t survive the frosty nights.

Don’t start too early

Spring cleaning your garden pond is a time-consuming job. Nevertheless, you need to be patient and hold off until the water temperature has reached at least 10 degrees Celsius. Otherwise, you will disturb fish, frogs and plants from their winter slumber. Wait until the cleaning work is finished and the water temperature begins to rise before feeding your fish. Fish should only be fed at temperatures of between 9 and 25 degrees Celsius.

Call into your local store today to discuss your fish’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts