September/October Clean Up Checklist

With autumn approaching we here at Pondbiz have developed a checklist to help you maintain and transition your pond into the winter months. If you are lucky enough to live in an area that remains warm, these procedures may not apply to you, but they do apply to most of us.
What About My Plants in Fall

1. Let’s start with the plants in your pond. They are usually the number one decaying factor in your pond and have the most potential for causing future problems. At the first sign of frost, you should remove all foliage from your aquatic plants.

2. Water Lily leaves and blooms should be clipped at the container and discarded. Move the containers to the deepest section of your pond for the winter. Marginal plants are generally trimmed 2″ above the water line. You may want to do these last, just in case the weather turns nice and causes them to grow. That way you only have to do it once. Surface plants should be removed and discarded. Most are tropical in nature and will not make it through the winter. You should purchase new plants in the spring.

3. Submerged or oxygenating plants can survive under certain conditions, but more than likely they won’t make it. The deeper your pond the better chance they will have. Remove foliage and debris from the plants. Don’t allow the cut leaves and blooms to settle to the bottom of your pondas they will decay and create more work for you in the spring.

4. Bring any sensitive, non-hardy aquatic plants indoors for the winter, as well.

5. Many pond owners have found that our Plant Scissors and E-Z Reach gives them the additional reach necessary to cut and remove plants. If you don’t have a pair of Aqua Gloves, now is the time to buy a pair. They are full arm length, 28″ long with elastic bands and reinforced sleeves. A must for every pond owner.
Taking Care of Your Fish

6. The most important thing you can do for your fish prior to the cold is to give them a clean environment in which to winter over. Koi and Goldfish are cold weather fish and their metabolism will slow as the water gets colder, making them inactive. During Autumn, be sure and switch to a wheat germ food which is easier to digest and will add some fat to carry them through the Winter. Stop feeding them when the water temperatures approaches 55 degrees. We carry a full line of Wheat Germ food products. Remember, your fish DO NOTrequire feeding during the Winter months. To do so may cause stomach rot. You can resume feeding them in the Spring when the water temperatures are above 55 degrees. Save a little wheat germ to start your Spring season. It is much easier for your fish to digest than high protein foods.

7. Assuming that your fish are at least 4″ to 6″ in length and your pond is at least 30″ deep, your fish should be able to survive the winter. Again, the deeper the better. If you are in doubt, then net them and move them to a protected covered area. Use some of the existing pond water to reduce stress on your fish and treat them with Pond Stress Coat or Microbelift Aqua Extreme. Be sure to provide aeration in their new winter home and cover any temporary housing with a good fish net to keep them from jumping out. We carry several good brands of air pumps which can be used to prevent icing over in winter and promote healthier fish and can be used in the heat of Summer for additional aeration.

8. If you are leaving your fish to winter-over in your pond, you should consider a pond deicer which will keep a hole open in the ice so that toxic gases can escape. Otherwise, trapped gases will kill your fish. We carry a variety of different de-icers depending on the size of your pond. The most popular uses only 100 watts of power.
Cleaning your Pond

9. Treating your pond with the proper additives will greatly increase your chances of a clean, clear and healthy pond in the spring. Nitrifying bacteria (good bacteria) is what helps keep your pond clean. The problem, is, when the temperature drops below 55 degrees, it usually dies or goes dormant. Use a specialized product like Microbelift Autumn Prep which will continue to provide sustained biological activity in water temperatures down to 38 degrees water temperature. It also helps to jump start your pond to a healthier environment in the spring. Even when frozen, the good bacteria will remain effective after thawing out.

10. In the fall it is essential that you remove all the debris and scum from the bottom of the pond, as this will make the difference in water quality and clarity in spring. The Muck Vac is a hose powered vacuum that really works to remove silt, dirt, leaves and debris from your pond. With the introduction of the PondOVac 4 by OASE now with free shipping, pond cleaning and vacuuming has never been easier. This self contained unit comes with everything you need to clean and vacuum your pond. Ponds that are vacuumed clean of debris before winter experience less debris rot which results in less toxic gas being emitted into your pond.
Covering Your Pond

11. While part of the pond should always remain uncovered for pond health, depending on your winter temperatures, you may want to keep most of your pond completely covered throughout the winter. This will insulate and protect your fish from both the cold and any hungry predators that happen by. You can add a pond net but even a piece of plywood would help. Covering just reduces the chance of problems occurring and gives you peace of mind.

12. Be sure to remove any built up leaves and debris that may accumulate on the netting or cover. Rotting vegetation emits gases that are toxic to fish so they must be removed to protect fish health.
Taking Care of Your Equipment

13. There are differing opinions on what to do with the equipment that filters, pumps and sterilizes your pond. One thing we know for sure, if you have fish, and there is a possibility of your pond freezing, it is NOT recommended to leave the pump running to power your waterfall or other water feature. While beautiful to look at, a frozen waterfall can divert running water out of the pond causing your pond to freeze solid. A pump designed to oxygenate the water can be maintained as long as it is not drawing water from the bottom of the pond, or it can super cool your pond water and kill your fish. In colder areas we recommend that you disconnect and clean all of the equipment in your pond. This means the pump, filter systems and UV sterilizers. Let them air dry prior to storing in your shed or garage. Keep in mind that water expands when it freezes, therefore your pump, filter and sterilizers are at risk.

If you spend a little time now, it will save you a great deal of time and effort in Spring and your fish and plants will appreciate it.

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