Once again it is time to start thinking about your water garden. We have found that getting control of algae in the early spring (before temperatures rise) can make the job of balancing your pond much easier.
We rent vacuums that are ideal for cleanout. The dead leaves and sludge are the most damaging remnants from the winter. Removing them is the single best thing you can do to improve water quality.
Replacing the old water with fresh tap water will greatly improve the health of the fish. Some people choose to remove the fish and do a complete cleanout replacing all of the water. This is fine but you have to be very careful not to shock the fish. If you intend to change more than 30%, we recommend you wait until the water is closer to 60 degrees. Be sure to acclimate the fish to the new water before putting them back in your pond.
Keeping pH under control will dramatically slow the growth of all types of algae. Adjusting this before algae starts to take over will make spring maintenance much easier.
The most plant friendly way to prevent green water algae in the spring is to use the blue dye (Aqua-Shade) to keep the algae from getting the sunlight it needs to grow. This will make the pond so dark that you can not see down into the water, but it will keep the algae from growing without harming plants or fish. Once the plants are growing well discontinue use and let the water clear up.
Barley Straw can be an effective means of controlling many different types of algae, especially string algae. After a few weeks, the straw begins to decompose and produces humic acid which attacks the string algae. Barley straw should be present in your pond year round with fresh straw added in April and September. Do not remove the old barley bale until the plastic container is empty, as the new barley bale takes 6-8 weeks to begin working in warm water and much longer in cold water.
We generally recommend shutting down the pump and filter for the winter. It makes winter upkeep easier and can prevent problems related to freezing. It is best to wait to set the pump back up until you know there will not be another freeze for the year.
Make sure we will not have another freeze before setting up your UV light.
Sludge Digesting bacteria are effective at reducing the amount of waste on the bottom of the pond. It is always better to physically remove the sludge and leaves, but if there is some that you can't easily reach these products will make a big difference.
Nitrifying bacteria will grow on their own, but if you seed the bacteria bed with these products it will speed up the nitrification cycle and reduce stress on your fish. This is especially important right after a full spring cleaning or if you have a high fish load for the size pond.
These are the most important plants for balancing a pond out naturally. They will improve the water quality by consuming nutrients and preventing algae growth.
You may start feeding the fish once the pond is cleaned out and the filter is running properly.