For pond owners it is the time of year that will set the pace for either an enjoyable year ahead or a year of catch-up. Below is a simple check list of some of the Spring- things-to-do and products that will help you get off to a good start this year.
Your fish will slowly become active as soon as the water temperature reaches 55+ degrees. Don't rush out and feed them heavily. They are just re-acclimating themselves to their environment and their metabolism is still a little slow. Only feed them a small amount wheat germ diet for the first week or two. It is easier on their digestive system plus you don't need the fish waste that a high protein diet will produce in your pond while your biological filter is not yet up to speed. Try not to show your enthusiasm by jumping in the pond to clean it. Remember, your fish have been sitting near the bottom of the pond throughout the winter and their immune system can be weakened. They have been living on stored fat and may be susceptible to parasites and other infection. I like to wait a few weeks before starting a serious spring clean to give the fish an opportunity to rebuild their immune system. It is a good time to add Pond Salt, to your pond at a rate of 1# per hundred gallons of pond water plus Pond Stress Coat or Aqua Extreme which will replace the natural slime coat on your fish. In addition, Microbelift Pond Fish Protectant can be used to replace the slime coat and work as a preventative for ick, parasites, fungus and bacteria before they cause problems. Microbelift now offers a complete line of products that will improve your fish heath as well as clarify your pond water.
You might notice that you are experiencing algae growth, especially string algae. This is not uncommon even in a well balanced pond. Algae will start to grow as soon as water temperatures permit, which in some cases can be in the 40 degree range. It is still too early for your biologial filters to be functioning well, if at all, at these temperatures so it gives string algae a jump start with virtually no competition. Coupled with increased sunlight due to longer days and the combination sets the stage for pond algae. You may experience a losing battle for awhile but if you take care of these items now, you will have your pond under control again shortly. We recommend GreenClean to be an extremely efficient (fish and plant safe) algaecide which will help you control string or hair algae. If you don't own a Test Kit, now is the time to invest in one. Water chemistry is the key to clear water and healthy fish. A simple test kit and less than 5 minutes a week will pay dividends for your pond. This is one of the best and least expensive investments you can make for your pond. With the results of your test kit you can correct small probelms before they become big ones.
Many other products for sludge and algae are also available. Microbelift PL is still the favorite for year around use (or TAC Dry) but Microbelift also has a specialized Spring/Summer Cleaner which accelerates the breakdown of accumulated organic waste as well as OXY Pond Cleaner. Sludge-Away works well for digestion of natural sludge and muck removal. Crystal Clear Algae OFF is a spot treatment for waterfalls, streams and rocks. This product removes attached organic debris quickly. Naturally, all of these products are fish and plant friendly.
After a couple of weeks of spring like weather you should remove any dead or decaying debris that has accumulated in your pond. Use a pond net for leaves and a Muck Vac. The Muck Vac works great for removing dirt and debris and works on hose pressure without the need for electricity. Our handy E-Z Reach will get you several feet closer to your pond without getting wet. There are also powerful 110v pond vacuums for serious pond owners. Check out the Oase PondOVac3 or Matala PondVac2. Water changes in early spring will help to bring a fresh supply of new water to your pond. We suggest several 20% water changes every few days until you have exchanged 100% of your water. This is preferable to one big water change and less stressful for your fish. Be sure to add a Dechlorinator if you have chlorine or chlorimine in your water supply or use Pond Stress Coat or AquaSafe which will also add a slime coat along with removal of chlorine/chlorimine.
Spring is the time to check your filter and pump. Clean or replace any filter material. We carry replacement media for most pond filters. If you have a UV filter, lamp efficiency declines with age and use. We suggest you replace it annually each spring, before it goes out. Just because the UV light is on, it does not mean you are getting the full benefit of it. We carry, parts and UV Bulbs for most of the name brand UV filters. If you are thinking about a UV filter, the Pondmaster UV can be used both submerged and out of pond. They are easy to install, come in 10w , 20w, and 40w, and you will see a dramatic difference in your water clarity. Check your electrical cords and plugs to be sure there are no signs of wear or fraying. Electrical cords are a favorite for rats, gophers and moles. Test your GFI to make sure it works. It could save your life someday. If you do not have one, we sell portable GFI's. Every pond needs one. If your pump has a pre-filter, clean or replace it. Many pumps have easy access to the impeller. If you did not clean the impeller in fall, be sure that you do so now. Small lodged pieces of algae or small stones can cause serious damage to a pump.
Check your aquatic plants. If you have not already done so, it is time to trim off any decaying leaves and transplant any plants that have out grown their container. It is much easier to work with a pair of arm length Aqua Gloves . Microbelift Aquatic Planting Media is pre-colonized with beneficial bacteria for stronger and healthier plants. Plan on using it when you transplant or split your water lilies and lotus plants. You should also Fertilize all of your flowering plants at the first sign of growth and monthly through-out the blooming season with Pond Fertilizer Tabs. Order new oxygenating and floating plants early so you can get the most from these beneficial plants this season. We have added dozens of new Water Lilies again this year to the site. In choosing them for your pond remember "Hardy" lilies are perennial and will come back each season while the showier "Tropical" lilies are annual and will need to be replaced each year in most areas. The Nycon Underwater Plant Stand, available in two sizes, will give you an opportunity to place one nearly anywhere in your pond. If you plan on ordering a Lotus, order early as they do go quickly. Lotus are shipped as tubers and are only sold March through mid May. They will experience rapid growth in late May or early June.
We only ship aquatic plants to you when the water temperature in your zone can support them. If you want them sooner, please let us know and we will try to accommodate your request. Hardy Lilies look wonderful again this year and Tropical Lilies are not far behind.
Just as you would not remain healthy eating only junk food we feel that a quality well balanced pond food is a basic requirement for all pond fish. Stick with name brand foods as they offer the best value and selection and are manufactured with guaranteed analysis. Our biggest seller is Microbelift Legacy. This line of food contains pro biotics which make it easier for the fish to digest it and easier for the "beneficial" bacteria to remove the waste. The containers have screw-on lids for freshness and to keep out predators. We are fully stocked this year with Saki-Hikari the ultra premium food from Japan. The Grand champions from Japan are fed this food for maximum color and growth. If you really want to spoil your Koi, give them Saki-Hikari. We also carry the complete line of Tetra Pond sticks, Sho Koi, Blue Ridge, Chengro, Black Water and others. No matter what brand you prefer, start with either a wheat germ food for your fish for two to three weeks and then switch to a high protein food. Don't over feed your fish. It helps contribute to algae and water quality problems. Only feed them what they can eat in 3-5 minutes. It is better to feed them several small meals than one big one.
Replace any burnt out bulbs in or around your pond. Low voltage bulbs and transformers are available for most pond lights. Pond lighting brings a new experience to any pond. It is easier to replace your bulbs annually during the spring clean so you don't have to do it again during the year. If you don't have night lighting in and around your pond you are missing a whole new dimension of your pond. LED lighting is popular this year. We have added more LED lighting, including several color changing lights. Don't forget to add a night blooming lily to your pond. It is a sight to behold.
Using these Spring pond tips as a basic to-do list will benefit both you and your pond. There is a direct relationship between having a balanced pond and spending a little more time in the spring to prepare for it. Like most things in life, you only get back what you put into it.