Making sure you open your pond from its winter hibernation in the correct way is vital to both fish health and the overall success of your ecosystem pond or water feature.
If you installed pond netting before the leaves dropped in the Fall, then most of those pesky little leaves should have been kept out. However, it is still recommended that you use a pond net to scoop out any remaining debris from the bottom of the pond. You will want to do a proper full clean-out if there is an excessive amount of debris buildup, sludge or fortuitous amounts of algae growing on the rocks. It is essential to remove as much of this organic material and waste from the pond as possible. For ponds that have a small amount of "muck" or sludge buildup that can't be removed with a net, we recommend adding Aquascapes Sludge Cleaner. This product contains several different strains of beneficial bacteria that helps remove the finer debris and particles.
It is also important to add live bacteria to the pond. As mentioned in the product feature article, at this time of the year, it is advised to add a coldwater bacteria formula. The strains of bacteria contained in the coldwater formula are able to function in cooler temperatures. The addition of this beneficial bacteria is essential to opening your pond. It helps restart the biological processes within the pond as well as lower levels of nitrates, phosphates, ammonia, and organic debris, all directly related to water quality and fish health issues.
Adding salt during this time of year will also greatly benefit your fellow finned friends. It aids in preventing and warding off parasites that surface with the warmer temperatures. In addition salt also helps your fish maintain essential electrolytes and repairs their natural slime coat. It is also a good idea to add parasite and disease preventatives at this time of year. They will help lower the risk of your fish coming down with parasites and infections.
Be sure to trim off any dead foliage from plants around the pond. Do this carefully as to avoid damaging any new growth. This allows the new growth to surface. Fertilize each plant with 1-2 tabs of pond plant fertilizer and make sure that the fertilizer you are using is safe for use in an aquatic environment.
If you own a smaller water feature such as a fountainscape or spitter, then your start-up should be fairly simple. Start off by draining the basin of your fountain. The next step is to clean out any debris within the basin or the surrounding area. Keeping the basin free of leaves will ensure proper circulation and water flow. After cleaning the basin and reinstalling the pump, you will then refill the basin with fresh, clean water. It is crucial to NEVER let your pumps run dry, as this will most likely cause irreversible damage.
By allowing for yourself or our highly trained crew at Action Water Gardens to complete these early care steps at this point in the season, will immensely determine how much work or effort into maintaining your water garden during peak season this summer. The little extra effort and money you put into your water garden now will save you lots of time, money, and annoyance later on for when instead you should be relaxing pond side this summer in problem free bliss.