Prepare your pond for winter by performing a pond and filter clean out, paying attention to fish health, and seeing to plant care. Remember that even if your pond season extends a full year, a fall clean up will contribute to a healthier system. Any work done in the fall will preserve pond equipment, improve water quality, and provide a start on spring.
One extra reason for a fall pond cleaning is that if you are contemplating complete pond clean out, now is the time. Everything from plants to fish are at their most robust, healthiest condition and will best withstand the loss of bio filtration with the least amount of stress. Nitrifying bacteria will be reduced but will quickly grow back at the still warm water temperatures.
Fall steps to a better pond:
– Early in the season conduct the pond clean out. Lower the water level in the pond. Net out fish and place in a safe holding container. Do this when the pond gets half empty because the fish will be easier to net and they will not be subjected to the very worst water when the draining gets to the sediments on the bottom.
– Supply your fish with aeration and keep them out of the sun. Quickly proceed with cleaning activities to minimize the time the fish are in these cramped quarters.
– Take this opportunity to inspect fish for injury, parasites, or other signs of disease and treat now.
– If you do not wish to drain the pond this year change at least 20 % of the water and vacuum up the bottom.
– As soon as the sediments from the bottom of the pond are removed, begin to refill the pond to prevent the least stress to fish and injury to nitrifying bacteria.
– Remember to use AquaSafe to break the chloramine bond and neutralize chlorine. This way the fish can happily return to their pond in the shortest amount of time.
– Cut back dying plants. Remove any dead foliage from the water to prevent it from decaying in the pond and fouling the water. Water hyacinth will not survive a frost and so should be removed.
– Net out leaves. Consider netting because more leaves sink to the bottom of the pond than float and these are more difficult to remove.
– Cut back spent blooms & leaves from hardy water lilies at pot level. When lilies no longer produce new shoots lower them to a deeper area in the pond. Do not repot them now. Leave this activity until the spring when they begin to send up shoots.
– Leave tropical lilies in the pond as long as they produce leaves and blooms. This will be later than the hardy lilies. When they no long produce new shoots either discard them or make provisions for winter storage.
– Plant new bog plants. Divide bog plants now. They will recover faster in spring if they are divided and moved now.
– When the water temperature reaches about 50° nitrifying activity will cease. If the manufacturer suggests, remove the bio filter, clean it out and store indoors.
– Ultraviolet lights should also be removed when algae is no longer a problem with less light and lower temperatures. Give the UV light a thorough cleaning and store indoors for the winter. If you have a waterfall continue to run the waterfall. A waterfall provides aeration, enjoyment and to some extent delays freezing.
– Switch to Tetra Pond Wheat Germ Sticks to increase body mass in preparation for the winter. Fish more efficiently digest Wheat Germ Sticks during periods of cooler water temperature than other foods.
– Keep a close eye on water temperature. A Koi Pond Thermometer is indispensable for this. It will guide you through the season change. Reduce feeding with temperature reduction and stop feeding at 50 °.
– Relax and enjoy the last of your pond this season.