Caring for your pond in extreme weather
In a perfect world, the sun is always shining, and there's a cool breeze, so you can spend all your free time outdoors by your pond, enjoying nature. However, depending on where you live, your pond may be subject to severe weather conditions, from droughts to hurricanes, during certain times of the year. Whether your water levels quickly drop from hot weather and lack of rain or nearly overflowing from an intense downpour, learn how to care for your pond in extreme weather.
While ponds may seem like an overindulgence during a drought, they can be an essential freshwater source for wildlife. As long as you use water treatments that are safe for wildlife, having a pond in a drought-prone area can be helpful to your local environment.
One of the main issues with ponds in droughts is water restrictions. You may not be able to refill your pond as the water levels drop. The lower the water levels get, the quicker it will heat up from the sunlight, causing oxygen levels to drop and algae blooms to occur. If you cannot refill your pond and the water levels drop, smartpond® pond pumps have adjustable flow control.
The water needs to circulate, but if the flow is too strong on your water features due to the lower water levels, it can cause the water to become cloudy from stirring up the sediment at the bottom of the pond. Pond pumps need to have water running through them. If the pumps run "dry" (without enough water), it can cause damage.
If you know a big storm is coming, there are a few ways you can prepare your pond to minimize water quality issues and fish stress. Fish can often tell when a storm is coming and will start to show signs of stress ahead of time.
When a storm is in the forecast, you can avoid feeding your fish directly before or after. They will likely not eat anyway due to stress, and the uneaten food will sink to the bottom of the pond and cause buildup and excess nutrients.
If a lot of rain is forecasted, you can drain some water from your pond, using the pump to discharge. This can help to avoid overflowing. When water levels rise too much, fish can accidentally escape. Runoff from rain can also cause a nutrient overload in the pond and lead to poor water quality and feed algae blooms.
Compared to a severe storm, hurricanes typically last longer and cause greater damage, but you have more warning. Always remove and secure any fountains, chairs, outdoor furniture, or anything the wind could blow into your pond before a hurricane.
If a storm is particularly bad and you're not evacuating, you can temporarily move your fish inside to a temporary holding tank. Relocating your fish is a good idea if the rainfall will cause your yard to flood and possibly displace your fish.
If you're evacuating from the hurricane, it's possible to bring your fish with you, depending on their size. One of the main issues is aeration. When relocating or evacuating with your fish, it's vital to have an aerator in the water to ensure enough oxygen.
All electrical pond equipment should be properly grounded to avoid any issues from flooding or power surges. A generator can keep your aerators and filtration systems running during a power outage (especially after a storm).
Water test: After heavy rainfall, test your water to check the chemistry of your pond. Even if the water looks clear, there may be high levels of contaminants due to runoff that can harm your fish and cause water quality issues. You may need to do a water change or use water treatments.
Pond Netting: Adding a pond net can help prevent larger debris from entering your pond during a storm.
Add sandbags or bricks: It's always a good idea to build your pond on higher ground to naturally avoid runoff and overflow. You can add a "curb" of brick or landscape rocks around your pond to give it an edge. Also, you can divert stormwater into a different area by digging a channel.
Waterflow drain: If your pond is on higher ground, you can add an overflow drain to prevent water levels from reaching a certain height.
Post-Storm Water Draining: If you need to use your pump to discharge water from your pond after the storm, try to take water from the top of the pond rather than the bottom. The water closest to the top right after the storm will likely have the most contaminants and debris.
Filtration: After a big storm, filtration will be extra important. Manually remove any debris and make sure the filtration systems are running at full capacity. You can clean and change filter pads and use a water treatment that has beneficial bacteria, like Sludge Remover.
Preparing your pond for severe weather is crucial, whether it's a stretch of warm weather and no rain to an endless downpour with dangerous winds. In drought areas, the main issue is refilling your pond and not letting the water levels drop too low. The less water there is in the pond, the quicker it will warm up and hold less oxygen. During rainy weather in hurricanes or storms, too much rain can cause the pond to overflow or storm runoff to enter the pond and contaminate the water. Knowing what to do in each situation will help keep your fish safe and your pond clear during severe weather.