The Snowdrops are peaking through the snow, and the Robins and Red-Winged-Blackbirds have returned.
With the ice gone and water warming up it’s time to start thinking about your fish. The pond looks good right now but will start greening up as the water warms. First thing is to net out the leaves and debris off the pond bottom. Adding some fresh water will be good, about 10-15%. It’s important too to flush out your garden hose before using since it’s been sitting unused all winter. Good time to start your filter too but rinse it out good first. Don’t forget the water conditioner for those who have city water. This is NOT the time to vacuum the bottom. The fishes’ immune system is still dormant and they will not be able to fight off parasites that are in the muck. It’s better to salt first and wait until the water temperature is 60* before you do a major cleaning. The salt will kill 85% of the parasites if applied at the rate of 3#/100 gallons, added over a 3-day period. If you cleaned your pond last fall and there is no muck salt may not be necessary, but it won’t hurt.
Another problem could be the water temperature going up and down. So if you can run your filter and by-pass the waterfall when it gets cold at night that will help. The filter will take a while to be effective. The nitrifying bacteria starts working at 40-45*, at 65* it is only half there, full speed is 72*. Because food is the main source of ammonia, don’t feed until your water temperature is a consistent 55*, and then only every two days until up to 60*. Using Cheerios or a wheat-based food is best for starting as it is low in protein and easily digested. If you have an ammonia problem, 10% water changes are best. Plants should be pruned back, repot when they start to grow. As they grow they will help to control nitrites and algae blooms.
There is a new product called Nualgi, and it is found to be very effective. It is a combination of 12 micronutrients which creates a growth of beneficial diatoms which consume excess nutrients in the water, out-competing nuisance algae. Check it out at: www.NualgiPonds.com
Summary on Pond Opening when ice is off:
1. Change 10% of water, dechlorinate if necessary
2. Net out light debris
3. Get filter running
4. Check fish, treat with salt or antibiotics if necessary
5. Prune plants
6. Wait until water temperature is 60*
7. Clean pond, changing 30-40% of water is good
8. Feed lightly
9. Repot plants
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