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A Fresh Clean Pond

Hurth Waterscapes Spring Pond Clean Out

The Water Garden in Spring

Spring is the time of the year when everything here in Wisconsin slowly thaws and comes back to life.  The snow melts and day after day, your pond slowly thaws.  At first you will only see water around the edges, but as the temperatures rise, your pond will slowly but surely open up and come back to life. The recent dramatic thunderstorms that we’ve had bring a smile to my face, because they are a clear indication that spring is finally here and they add some fresh water and aeration to my pond, which I’m sure the fish are grateful for at this time of year.  As the water temperature in your pond rises you will notice your fish and frogs begin to move around more and more.  You’ll also notice any leaves and debris that may have gotten into your pond over winter.  Don’t get too excited and jump in to start cleaning your pond as soon as the ice melts, this would only unnecessarily stress out the fish and frogs.  They need a little time to warm up and start moving around before you jump in and force them in to action.  We usually start pond clean-outs for our clients in late March or early April.  Believe me, at that time of year the water is still plenty cold.

Before you start any type of spring clean out, it is a good idea to check your piping, and filter boxes to be sure that they are fully thawed.  Often times the pond ice will melt long before the ice in the pipes buried beneath the ground.  The easiest way to check is to fill your biofalls box with water and see if it runs through the pipe and into the skimmer.  If it does, you are ready to perform your spring start-up.

There are several levels of spring start-up that you may want to consider.  The minimum that needs to be done is to pull out all of the filter mats and/or bags of filter media that are in your biofalls and skimmer and spray them off with your garden hose.  If the filter mats are a couple of years old, they may need replacing and now is a great time to upgrade your standard mats to barley mats to help with your water clarity throughout the upcoming season.  Secondly, you should remove any leaves and debris that may have entered your pond over the winter.  If your pond is really dirty, it may be better to do a full clean out.  If too much silt and debris are stirred up during your cleaning, it will stress the fish more than a full clean out.  This time of year the fish are weak and slow, so be gentle with them.  The less you disturb them the better.  Lastly, you should inspect and clean your biofalls and skimmer boxes and re-install all filter mats, filter media and your pump.  Before installing the pump, and while the pump is unplugged, it is a good idea to spin the impeller by hand.  Sometimes the impeller gets stuck in place over the winter and a little spin will break it free.  Spring is also a good time to hook up your auto-fill line or to have one installed if you don’t already have one.  Believe me, you will thank yourself later.

Many people like to take the spring start-up one step further and pump the pond down, pressure wash all of the rocks, fertilize the water lilies, divide any aquatic plants that are spreading, replace light bulbs, adjust the lights and refill the pond for a fresh start in spring.  If you will be pumping your pond down, remember to have a safe, covered pool to keep your fish in while you do the cleaning.  This pool should be filled with water from your pond to minimize the stress on your fish.  Never leave the fish out of the pond for longer than absolutely necessary, never leave the temporary pool in the hot sun, and never use any type of chemicals to clean your pond.  While the pond is empty it is a great time to install a fish cave or tunnel to give your fish a safe place to hide from predators.  When you refill the pond, be sure to give the fish time to adjust to the change in water temperature.  Koi will only tolerate temperature changes of a few degrees per minute.  Be sure to use dechlorinator if you are filling your pond with city water.  If at all possible, it is best to partially refill your pond with the old pond water to help age the tap water and reduce fish stress.  Often times this is not possible, most people don’t have a huge water tank to keep the pond water in while the clean out is performed.  Once the pond is up and running, you will want to give it a generous dose of beneficial bacteria and enzymes to help maintain water quality.

Whether you just start it up or do a full clean out, spring is probably the most exciting time of the year for pond owners.  We get to see all of our fish again after the long winter and we can start pondering life once again from the best spot in the world, right next to our very own water garden.

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