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     Pond Tips
 Tips for Opening the Pond

Opening the Pond...

We all know when the water warms up the fish start looking for something.  We probably have gone out to purchase the cold weather koi food by now too, haven't we?  Well, there are some things we need to take care of before the feeding begins.

 

  • Do the spring cleaning- a thorough cleaning- get all the gunk out of the filter, off the bottom, from between the rocks.  Wash it out, vacuum it or pull it with your hands.  What I do with mine is to hose it down into the pond where the bottom drain and filter will remove it.  However, if you don't have a bottom drain or (God forbid!) filter, you are better off using a vacuum.  There are manual pump action vacuums which are quite reasonable to purchase.  There are vacuums that are motorized and do everything but the dishes for you.  But get something!  In certain areas of my stream where leaves collect I find it easy to remove them with a net by swirling the water.  Also, when raking leaves from the garden, be sure to get those that are stuffed in and around the pond.

  • Get a new test kit- test kit reagents can become ineffective after one season, so pick up a new one.  Then test the water to see where you stand.  We don't care about the color or how clear the water is yet, just how toxic it is or isn't.   If you have access to a Cornell Cooperative Extension facility, have your water tested professionally.  They will give a much more sophisticated review for the first time, and then you can follow up with weekly testing.

  • Keep records-  it is important to record when you do water tests, what the results were, and what you may have added to the pond—and when.  If your fish become sick later on, you may need to track back to see if something went wrong and it will be there in your records.  

  • Check the plumbing and pond for leaks.  Walk around the perimeter looking for damp spots that might indicate an overflowing low spot or a leaky pipe.  Winter freeze damage will show up in the thaw.

  • Check the pump.   If needed, replace the existing one with a more cost-effective new pump.

  • Water Change- do a 30-50% water change now.  In case there were any over-wintering parasites, you will remove many of the problems with a water change.  It helps charge the fishes' immune system to add new water.  Always use dechlorinator when adding water to the pond, or spray the water above the pond to removed chlorine.  If chloramine has been added to your water supply, you can test your tap water, after dechlorinating, for ammonia, and the presence of ammonia will tell you chloramines are in the water.

  • Add Bacteria- one of the slowest to re-establish in the pond is the bacterial colonization.  So, help it with a bacterial additive.  You will be feeding the fish and need bacteria for the filter.   Otherwise, you will be putting the fish at risk for high ammonia and nitrite levels.

  • Check the fish for behavior or sores- we don't want to ignore any problems now.  The fish immune system is not performing well until the temperatures warm up, so if there are problems now, they will only get worse before it gets better.  Learn to use a microscope!  Learn how to do a scraping for parasites before you start dumping treatment chemicals into the pond.  It will only stress the fish more to subject them to unnecessary chemicals.

  • Practice patience.   The water will clear up.  The fish will be fine.  If you did your homework, all is well in "koi world"…  

-- by Carolyn Weise


 

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