Showing posts with label dechlorinator. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dechlorinator. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Preparing for Spring

Spring has arrived here in New Orleans, where I live, so it's time for spring pond care. I know you folks who live in northern climes are still feeling some nip in the air, so you will wait a bit before prepping your pond for spring. 

But for us, we are excited that our fish are swimming around, our plants are poking green shoots above the water, our waterfalls have come back to life and we are relaxing out of doors in our wonderful spring weather. 

We cannot relax just yet, because our temperatures are still fluctuating as are yours. Just because you have a 70 degree F day does not mean that you can start feeding koi. They must not be fed until the pond water temperatures are stable at 55 degrees F at night. Remember, if you have a balanced pond and no koi, you never feed your fish. 

Things to Have 

Check your filter. It is clean? Even if it looks clean, it probably is not. So give it a good cleaning. If you have a biofilter, give it a kick start with a bacteria/enzyme product like Microbe-Lift PL to ensure a good bacteria colony starts to grow in your biofilter. 

Check your pump. Clean it up. Check all your hoses for leaks or cracks. Nothing is worse than coming home from work and finding your pond dry because a hose leaked and your pond is nearly dry. 

Make sure you have a dechlorinator on hand. You will need it. I know you think you won’t, but you will. Here’s what happens. You decide to top off the pump. The phone rings. Then you realize you need to get to the bank before it closes, so you dash out. While you are out, you decide to take care of a few more errands. You return home a couple of hours later. Oops!! Your yard is flooded and your fish are lying motionless at the bottom of the pond. Add dechlor immediately. Start the pump is it was not already running. 90% of the time, you can save your fish. 

Keep Microbe-LIft PL on hand for blanketweed or string algae growth. With warmer temperatures, algae begins to grow quickly. 

Check your nets. Are they useable? It might be time to replace them. 

It never hurts to have a few hose clamps in your pond drawer or on your pond shelf. Those rascally things always break when you don’t have any spares. 

Do you have spare pumps? If so, check them now to see if they still work. Often when a pump is stored out of water, seals can break, especially if the pump was in a freezing garage or shed. 

Things to Do 

If you have chemicals, fertilizers or fish food left from last summer, throw it away. Most likely they have lost potency or have become rotten. It’s best just to dispose of them and start over. 

If you have leaves or other debris in your pond, remove it now. As the water heats up, the debris begins to decompose, fouls your water and fish can die quickly. Spring is a great time to totally clean out your pond. Remove all water, all equipment, scrub the sides lightly (no soap), rinse, use a wet vac to get the last of the dirty water out and then replace everything. Your fish and plants will thank you for it. 

Check your fish for any illnesses or wounds. If your fish are still a big sluggish, leave them alone. They are not fully awake until the water temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees F. 

Within a couple of weeks after your water reaches 55 degrees F, you can start exchanging 10% of your water weekly. Pond water is the best fertilizer in the world. Pump it into your veggie or flower beds. Water exchanges keep nitrites from building up and keep your fish alive, healthy and happy. 

Check your water plants. Spring is a great time for dividing and repotting. Remember, do not use any soil full of organic matter. I have had my best luck with water plants by potting them up in sand. I do not fertilize any pond plants except water lilies. They grow fast enough utilizing fish waste without having those plants leaping out of their pots by adding extra fertilizer. If you have extra plants after you have divided them, you can give them to a neighbor or friend. Remember, though, that many water plants can grow in low, damp spaces in your garden. So if you have taro, umbrella plants, or papyrus, plant them in your garden. Be aware they are very, very invasive, so be careful where you put them. 

If you have lost some of your cover or floating plants, now is the time to replace them. Your fish are happiest with 1/2 of the top of the pond covered. That gives the fish a place to hide from predators and keeps them cool in the heat of the summer. It also keeps the blazing sun from helping algae grow in your crystal clear water. 

Water lilies will start to grow when the water reaches about 65 degrees consistently. If you removed them from your pond and stored the corms in damp sand, you can pot them up and put them in the water with the top of the pot about 6” below the water surface. Do not fertilize them until the first leaves reach the top of the pond. Then use an aquatic plant fertilizer. I use a tab that I can just poke into the sand. If I am out of those, I have used Job’s Tomato Spikes or lacking those, Job’s Tree Spikes. Take the tree spike, whack it with a hammer to divide into 4 pieces. Use one piece at a time. Throughout the summer, your lilies want to be fertilized at least once monthly. Do not over fertilize or you will be feeding algae as well as your pond plants. 

Things to Watch Out For 

Be careful as you are beginning to play in your pond again. Big Daddy bullfrog is snoozing between rocks lying in wait for a tasty fly. If you disturb him, he will jump and scare the pants off you. 

This and other seasonal maintenance tips are in my pond how-to book.  You can buy it here.:

At my website pondlady. com you can meet hundreds of other pondkeepers, ask questions and share your pond experiences.  And we love photos. Show off your pond.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

When to put the fish in


Fish in garden ponds?
When is it ok to put fish in a garden pond? The waters just gone in.

If you put a dechlorinator in the water, you can put fish in instantly. Put the submerged and floating vegetation in at the same time.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Spring questions

I get questions via email constantly. I like to feature the most common ones so all can see.

Here's one I get often:

Hi Jan,

I love your site and hope to ask a question specific to our pond. Can we avoid changing out all the pond water in the spring, as is recommended for most ponds in the spring? We live in Westminster, Maryland and have a 3' x7' x10' pond with liner to 2' depth, then stacked landscaping stones to surface and above to the bank. It is an awful lot of water to exchange for spring maintenance (more than 1200 gal) and the habitat is very healthy - 15 koi/goldfish and aquatic plants. We use an ultraviolet clarifier with regular filter ( no biofilter) and a separate pump for the waterfall. In December we removed them down for winter.

Could we simply start up the pumps, filter and uv system in the spring to get things rolling instead of exchanging all that water? I know we'd have to clean our filter almost daily for a period, but don't mind. I'm afraid to shock a healthy ecosystem, but not sure how to proceed.

It's our first spring with the pond and I don't want to mess things up!

Thanks so very much!

I think you can get away without a full water exchange. Use an enzyme like Microbe Lift PL
to get things started when the temps hit 55ºs day and night. First pump out about 25% of the water, put the Microbe-Lift in. Start up your pump/UV/filter. Repeat the following week. If you do this 4 times, you should be fine. If you see lots of gunk at the bottom, you have to get it out of there before it starts to release ammonia as the weather gets even warmer. You may need a pond vac
to get it out of there. I like it as well as any of the vacs even tho it is not perfect.

Pump that water into a veggie or flower bed because it is great fertilizer. Don't forget dechlor every time you exchange water.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My Plants/Fish are Dying, help

Check the following possibilities:

Are grass clippings or other debris getting into the pond and decaying?

If you allow any organic material to decay in your pond, the ecosystem is thrown out of balance and fish and plants die. Remove dead or dying water lily pads and flowers. Remove any other dead or dying plants. Of course, remove dead fish immediately. Your pond could easily be crystal clear and the ecosystem could be out of balance. Be aware and check your pond at least once weekly. I also advise changing at least 10% of the water weekly.

Have you or your neighbors sprayed fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides?

With termite problem in New Orleans, most people have a pest control service to kill termites and other bug critters. Although post Katrina, the termites have evacuated, we expect them to return forthwith and spraying will begin anew.
Many folks hire horticultural companies who specialize in spraying the garden for every kind of bug, destructive or beneficial. Not only does this practice kill all the good bugs, it keeps butterflies and hummingbirds from visiting, it also can easily kill your pond.

Has the local government done any spraying nearby lately?

This is a problem here in New Orleans because we have mosquitoes and therefore we have a mosquito control program. They send trucks out to destroy mosquitoes. They swear they will not harm plants or fish, but I am suspect of any chemicals.

Is someone painting or scraping a house or car in the area?

Paint from the house, especially lead paint, can get in your pond and kill everything.

Has cleaning been done on surrounding driveways, decks or walkways and run off into the pond?

I include this only because I was at my wit's end several years ago trying to figure out why I could not keep a client's pond healthy. After months of investigation, I finally asked a housekeeper if she was cleaning the surrounding patio. She said, "Of course, I scrub it and hose it down every day." OK, there was my answer. She stopped and the pond was healthy again.

Did someone feed the fish too much or the wrong thing?

Feeding goldfish is probably the biggest problem pond people have. All of you want to feed those poor fish. Those poor fish need to eat what is good for them; submerged vegetation, algae and mosquito larvae. Please make them work for their room and board. Koi must be fed and live in a pond with filtration.

Did you use a new concrete block to prop a water plant up? Use bricks or aged concrete blocks?

Lime can leach out of the concrete and quickly throw the pH into the stratosphere.

If any of these events have occurred, change the water immediately. Don't forget the dechlor.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

How Much Water do I Have?

I get asked one question more than any other. How much water do I have? And you need to know this, at least approximately, so you can add dechlorinator, calculate how many fish you can have or how much to medicate them.

This is the formula for calculating the number of gallons of water in your pond. Because most ponds are irregular, the capacity will be + or - based on various contours within a rectangle or square (in gallons)

Rectangle: Length x width x depth = cubic feet.
One cubic foot of water is 7.5 gallons.

Circle: radius squared x 3.14 x 7.5
One cubic foot of water is still 7.5 gallons. learned that in basic geometry