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What to Expect When Reopening Your Pond

Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

The last few months have been spent bundled in sweaters, staring at bare, leafless trees, and grounds covered in snow. Winter is beautiful and quiet, nature seems to go to sleep as animals hibernate and trees lose their leaves. It’s a great time to reflect on life and plan for the upcoming warmer months. Spring is known as the season of new beginnings as nature reawakens. Plants begin to bloom, animals come out of hibernation, and soon little baby squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits will be wandering about. Once the ice and snow thaws and the temperatures warm, you can reopen your pond finally!

The first step is spring cleaning. Your pond has most likely been dormant for the past few months, so your oasis may need a little help to get back to its former glory. Cleaning is important for water clarity and overall pond health. Leaves and runoff fertilizer make their way into the pond as the snow melts, and cause a buildup of muck and excess nutrients. This can be damaging to fish health, and lead to an algae bloom as we advance into warmer months. Adding beneficial bacteria to the pond can give the water a good boost and will help battle the algae as it warms up.

When the water temperature is consistently above 50 degrees, you can slowly start feeding the fish. Even if they’re giving you the “feed me” eyes, you want to start slowly because their metabolisms gradually take time to get back to normal. They also may seem sluggish, but they’ll become more active as the weather continues to warm.

Once the pond is clean and the water has warmed to at least 50 degrees, you can reintroduce your pump and filter once they are both cleaned. If you haven’t already, take a bucket of water from the pond and scrub away any dirt from the pump or filter. Pond water is better than tap water as it won’t place chlorine or chloramines into the pond. Avoid using any chemicals on the pump or filter because they can be harmful to the fish. Keep an eye on the pump and filter when you run them for the first time this season to make sure everything is in order. You do not want to come home to any surprises. It’s better to run the pump and filter once you’ve cleaned the pond so you don’t stir up any muck and debris.

Test the water to check the overall health of the pond. An imbalanced pH or high levels of ammonia level can cause stress and hurt the fish. They are fragile as they warm back up, needing time for their immune systems to reach full strength. Adding a water conditioner can help reduce stress. Since the weather can be a little drastic in the spring, with one day being cold and the other hot, adding an aerator will help keep the temperature more consistent, which will also lower stress levels.

If you moved your fish inside for the winter, make sure they have time to adjust to the new water temperature. First, place a few fish at a time in the a bag with their current water in it, leaving a few inches of air at the top. Tie the bag and let it sit on the surface of the pond so they can acclimate. Check the temperatures after 10 minutes, and if the water in the bag is the same temperature as the pond water, they can be released. It can be stressful on fish to move back and forth. The process is less stressful when the conditions are as similar as possible.

As the weather continues to warm, you can begin gardening again. Plants will need fertilizers, and spring is a great time to introduce new plants to the garden. Make sure any fertilizers added have enough separation from your pond to not runoff into your pond at the first spring shower. You will need to wait until the weather is in the 60s and 70s before replanting any tropical plants.

Reopening your pond can be a relaxing and cathartic experience. You’ve been waiting a long time to put on the gardening clothes and get to work! Cleaning and making sure you pond is in tiptop shape can help make the seasonal transitions easier. Your fish will soon be swimming with full-energy and greeting you each morning again. Your yard will be vibrant and alive as plants bloom and trees regain their leaves. You will once again be able to retreat to your peaceful oasis, crack open a good book, soak up some vitamin D, and listen to the beautiful sounds of running water and relax.

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