Cleaning your pond regularly and observing the best practices on pond maintenance have several benefits. Some of these include reducing pollutants and providing a mini-sanctuary for local wildlife.
However, pond maintenance is no easy task. It requires a good amount of commitment and effort, from picking out the right equipment to disciplined upkeep.
If you aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry; we’ll break down the process for you in this article.
Much like pools, fountains, and other water features in your garden, ponds require regular maintenance to keep them in perfect shape. You want the water to be clean and its occupants to be healthy and happy, which is the main goal of pond maintenance.
Here are some of the reasons why pond maintenance should be a priority in your backyard care routine.
In sustaining an ecosystem such as that of a pond, balance is key. Overpopulating it with fish, overfeeding them, or having too many plants could lead to the dreaded algae bloom.
While a little alga isn’t entirely bad for the pond, too much of it entails adverse effects. It could compete for water nutrients with the aquatic plants and block the sunlight.
Decaying algae could also reduce oxygen levels and increase carbon dioxide in the water. That said, regular pond maintenance can keep the algae population manageable and cut it down before it can become a problem.
Large quantities of decaying matter in the water can increase the ammonia and carbon dioxide. Consequently, the pH level of the water rises as well.
It means the water is acidic or polluted, which is generally toxic for fish and plants. This is why it’s important to remove debris and uneaten fish food from the pond every day.
Then, take some time every week to scoop out smaller articles that may have sneaked through the net.
Not all debris stays on the surface. This is where regular and meticulous maintenance comes into play.
It’s easy to overlook submerged pollutants if you only look at the surface of your pond. However, if you take the time to remove the sludge that accumulates at the bottom, you can prevent further contamination.
Waterscapes are known to reduce stress levels, but not with algae and murky water ruining the picture. So, whether your pond has fish or not, pond maintenance is non-negotiable.
Really, there’s not much use in keeping a pond and not caring for it. It’ll only be stagnant water and serve as a breeding ground for pests and diseases.
Maintaining a pond is expensive, laborious, and time-consuming. There’s just no sugar-coating this fact!
To start with, you need ample space and specific equipment to build a sustainable ecosystem. The population of the flora and fauna needs to be balanced, and caring for the pond needs to be a daily chore.
You’ll also have to regularly monitor the health of the fish and plants, as well as the condition of the water. A small act of neglect could have adverse effects on the system, and possibly turn all your hard work into waste.
In other words, creating and maintaining a pond is a demanding venture, but many people still choose to do it. That’s because it has environmental benefits, including:
- Attracting wildlife
- Regulating moisture in the atmosphere
- Keeping the surroundings cool
- Adding value to the home
- Reducing stress levels
So, is pond maintenance challenging? Yes, it is.
However, is it in everyone’s best interests? Absolutely!
Pond maintenance means keeping the water clean and its inhabitants healthy. How? Let’s take a look at these tips below.
An overcrowded pond is generally a bad idea. It’s not only uncomfortable for the fish but there’s also the risk of having a higher concentration of fish waste in the water.
When this happens, the excessive droppings act as fertilizer for algae. While some algae species are good for the pond, an excess of these green blooms could mean trouble.
First of all, it’s unsightly to have a pond covered in floating seaweeds. Second, they could cover up the entire pond and block the sunlight.
This prevents aquatic plants from undergoing photosynthesis. What’s more, the dense algae will die off eventually and use up what’s left of the oxygen in the water.
Let this sit too long and your pond will run out of oxygen.
Thus, it’s important to keep your fish in comfortable quantities. Also, don’t put too many fish all at once.
Instead, wait for at least a month before adding in new fish. This will allow your pond to build up enough beneficial bacteria to keep up with its dwellers.
If there are more than two occupants for every 200 gallons of water, consider giving away some of your fish. Alternatively, you may upgrade to a bigger pond to keep everyone cozy.
Excess food in your pond, just like fish droppings and decaying plant matter, will break down into ammonia. Ammonium hydroxide, the solution formed by ammonia dissolved in water, is toxic to fish.
It harms the fish’s central nervous system and damages the gills and internal organs, which eventually leads to death. Therefore, give only the amount of food that your fish can consume at a time.
You can do this by gradually dispensing the food, giving it only as per demand. This will help keep any excess food at the bare minimum.
Then, give your fish about two to three minutes and look out for any food they leave untouched. That’s your signal that they’re already full.
If possible, buy fish food that floats on water so that it’ll be easier to get rid of the uneaten ones. Make sure to remove them before they start dissolving into the water.
The purpose of a pump is to ensure water movement. Poor circulation or stagnation will promote algae bloom and the breeding of mosquitoes.
In addition, pumps help evenly distribute the oxygen across the pond.
Ideally, the entire volume of your pond water should circulate once per hour. This will ensure that the water is always clean, especially if you have fish.
Remember, though, that other factors besides pond size may determine the type of pump to use. These include whether you have falls and fountain features in your pond and how big they are.
Choosing the suitable pump capacity and tubing requires precise calculations. So, it would be better to ask for assistance from the pump seller or distributor before purchasing.
You can use a pond vacuum to remove the sludge and debris that have settled at the bottom of your pond. Do this once every few months or depending on the amount of litter present.
The more trees and plants nearby, the more frequently you might need to vacuum.
However, you can minimize debris buildup by scooping up any visible debris with a skimmer every day. Another effective option would be hanging a net over the pond.
This way, only the smaller debris could actually reach the water, thus reducing the chance of polluting the pond. Remember that leaving debris to decay in the water could lead to algae bloom and all the issues that come with it.
In case of a spike in ammonia due to algae formation, you may either treat your pond with a neutralizer or introduce beneficial bacteria into it.
Whether you have fish in your pond or not, you’re going to need a filter. There are different kinds of filters, each with distinct features for specific purposes.
The types of filters include:
- Submersible: Can be hidden underwater
- External: Placed on-land nearby the pond
- Pressurized: For ponds with waterfalls or fountains
- Vortex: Filters larger fragments before the water flows to the fountain
- Bio-tube: For bigger ponds with fish
On top of that, the filter capacity also depends on the volume of the pond. When choosing the right filer, the principle is also similar to that of the pump.
It should be able to filter the entire volume in an hour. If the filter is undersized, you can expect an accumulation of fish droppings and other organic wastes in your pond.
On the other hand, an oversized filter may not have adverse effects on your fish. You’ll be wasting good money and energy, though.
So, it’s still good to seek advice from someone knowledgeable on the matter if you’re not sure which filter size and type to get.
Aquatic plants help regulate oxygen and carbon dioxide quantities in the water. Consequently, they keep the algae population at bay by consuming nutrients in the water, thus starving the weeds.
Plants also serve as food for some fish, as well as local wildlife such as ducks and insects. In addition to these, beneficial insects, like damselflies, lay their eggs on the leaves of aquatic plants.
Fish and tadpoles also take advantage of aquatic plants’ shade to keep cool or hide away from predators. Yes, plants do all this while keeping your pond looking lively!
However, make sure that you don’t put too much greenery in your pond because anything in excess is bad. This applies to aquatic plants, especially during summer.
An overabundance of plants can disturb the pond’s ecosystem because there are more plants than their consumers.
At night, photosynthesis is impossible because of the sun’s absence. However, respiration continues, so the plants give off carbon dioxide, consume oxygen, and lower the water’s pH level during this time.
Ideally, you only need 15% to 25% of the area to have aquatic plants. This should be enough to keep the oxygen at healthy levels.
Deep cleaning your pond regularly doesn’t necessarily mean once a year. Still, this depends on a few factors.
For example, if you don’t diligently take out the debris and sludge as scheduled, then you might need to deep clean every year. On the other hand, you only need to do this every three to five years if you’re diligent in your daily and weekly routine maintenance.
In addition to frequency, timing plays a vital role. For instance, the best time to do a thorough cleaning of a koi pond would be when the fish are in their healthiest state.
If you do this during the growing season, you could put unnecessary stress on the fish. So, make sure that the fish are past their most vulnerable phase before deep cleaning the pond.
Don’t forget to clean out the filters and pumps regularly as well.
Keep the pond cozy during warm seasons by allowing plants to grow up to the maximum allowable density. It’s during this period that you need the greenery to maintain cool temperatures.
Warm waters affect the breathing of both fish and aquatic plants, making the pond dwellers breathe in more oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. So, if you notice your fish coming to the surface more often than normal, consider installing an aerator.
It’s important to take the time to research the best practices and techniques on pond maintenance before beginning.
Additionally, you must be willing to invest in high-quality equipment, such as pumps, filters, and vacuums, if you’re serious about this endeavor.
To be completely honest, pond maintenance is a lot of work. However, if you take a step back to take a good look at the scaled-down wildlife sanctuary you’ve created, it’ll be rewarding.
After all, time and effort spent on nature are always worth it!
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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