Spring is just around the corner and it’s time to think about your pond clean out! Clean outs are highly suggested, especially if your pond gets hit by excessive winter debris such as leaves, weeds and water runoff. With the warm So-Cal weather, your pond will be in full swing in a few weeks. If the pond is full of debris, this can lead to a long summer season of cleaning filters, fighting algae and even fish illness. At this time the aquatic plants can be trimmed or re-potted and fertilized. At this time your pond should also be inspected for any signs of leaks such as a torn liner or faulty skimmer connection.
If your pond has not had a proper filter cleaning in months, NOW is the time before complications start with our warmer weather approaching. Even with proper maintenance, external filter units should be taken apart and inspected for wear or any signs of clogged components. Waterfall filters and skimmers often have a filter pad of some sort that should be replaced. Pumps should also be checked for wear and signs of premature failure.
During a Spring clean-out or inspection there are several things we look for:
1. Water Treatment Evaluation
Beneficial Bacteria, Barley Straw Extract, Algae Fix, Koi Clay, Flocculant, Pond Salt, and the list goes on. What treatments are you doing and how often?
I have often spoken to new clients about the care of their pond and they show me their arsenal of additives they add to their pond. Many are used, simply “because they were told to by the kid at the local pet store”. This can do more damage than good.
If your pond is heavily populated, you might find that increasing your beneficial bacteria dosage will help manage your water quality. You might find that when your Koi attain 18” you can reduce algae care products because an 18” Koi can eat a serious amount of string algae! Did you know the use a Flocculant or Koi Clay could improve your pond’s water clarity in a big way! Reviewing your water treatment usage each spring is a great way to make improvements in your water quality.
2. Livestock Evaluation
Its always suggested to inspect your fish often but spring is a good time to evaluate your fish load and the strain on the ponds ecosystem. Those twelve little koi you bought two years ago should be pretty good size beasts by now. With out knowing it they can be putting a huge strain on the ponds life support system.
In the third year of pond ownership, your Koi should start to put on some size (and mass) if you’re doing things right. A 26” Koi can have 8 times the body mass of a 13” Koi. Yes, believe it or not, a Koi that doubles in length can put on 8 times the mass!
Imagine the food consumption and waste byproduct produced if all the Koi in your pond were suddenly 26”? How would that affect your water quality, pond maintenance and water treatment routines? Far too often a pond owner will continue to do the same routine from day one of their pond that they do into the 3rd, 4th and 5th year. This is when things can start to go really wrong. Evaluate your livestock population each spring so you can make minor or major adjustments each year and enjoy your Koi as they mature into the majestic beauties they were meant to become.
3. Review Feeding Schedule Routines, Serving Sizes and Total Annual Poundage
Give this one some thought; think back to when your pond was brand new and when you first populated your pond with Koi. Do you remember how much fish food you went through in your first pond season? Your Koi where still a bit shy and they were only a few inches long.
Chances are, you went through a pound or two of food in that first season. As your pond matures, so do the Koi and in that second season you certainly double or triple your amount of food offerings. Before you know it you are into your third season, your Koi are even bigger, are eating much more than last year and to top it off, they have become sexually active!
By the fourth season, your Koi are pushing 2’ long and have 50 or 60 offspring swimming around the pond and are eating you out of house and home. I actually have a client with a 6000-gallon pond that purchases 250 pounds of fish food each year!
That’s crazy when you think about it! It’s important to realize massive jumps that can creep up on you and understand the demand this can have on your maintenance and water treatment routines.
4. Life Support System Evaluation
Biological filters, UV filters, aeration systems, ion generators, sieve filters, settlement tanks, bottom drains, check valves, knife valves, 3-way valves, filter pads, skimmer nets & pads… There is a lot to a properly built pond and it can get confusing, But that’s what we are here for.
Each year ponds are exposed to to many different elements that eventually work again the stability of the ponds ecosystem such as seasonal changes, leaf debris, fish population and changing environment.
I’ve seen filters so overloaded they are not working properly and it would be hard to tell to the untrained eye. Filters that receive regular care should still have a thorough inspection and be opened up and thoroughly cleaned. Just because the water is flowing doesn’t necessarily mean the equipment is working properly.
Now is the time to replace UV lamps, replace old filter pads on your mechanical filters, repair diaphragms on air pumps, replace ripped skimmer nets and lava rock media bags. Do all these things now so you will be able to enjoy your pond… and your yard without having to worry about replacing something minutes before your guests arrive for that BBQ.
If your pond is equipped with an external pump and filter it may be time to have the two serviced. Some external bead type filters occasionally need to be opened up and cleaned out. The beads can be just dirty enough to clump together and prevent efficient filtering. The internal plumbing on the filters can be get clogged with snail, sand, and plant material which needs to be cleaned out and removed from the system to ensure maximum flow. Pumps have internal parts that can wear or become clogged. These pumps should be taken part and inspected for signs of excessive wear which can cause the pump to cease.