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Preparing a pond for the Spring begins in the Fall

pond with snow and birds
There is nothing quite so charming as your own pond! A lovely place that’s quiet and peaceful, where you can feel close to nature just by stepping out your own back door.

But if your pond was one you installed yourself rather than a natural feature of your home, you need to take care of it every year.

Keep in mind that the fish in your pond may not survive the winter if you’re not proactive about caring for them. During the course of the year any pond will accumulate dirt and organic material such as leaves, twigs, grass and fish waste. If this debris isn’t cleared away, it produces and releases toxic gases. This, in turn, reduces the level of oxygen in the water. After you remove the debris, replace the filtration system with an aeration kit and deicers to keep the oxygen level as high as possible. This will also provide ventilation and circulation throughout the cold months.

Here’s a brief checklist to help you keep your pond clean, healthy and fully functional whatever the winter may bring.

1. Once All the Leaves Have Fallen — Begin the Winterization Process

Any organic material that falls into your pond and starts to rot – twigs, leaves and dead plants – will reduce your pond’s oxygen level and put your fish at risk. After you remove all the loose leaves and similar debris with a hand net, you might follow up with a vacuum like Clear Vac to clean the pond as effectively as possible.

2. Take Out Your Pump and Filter

Clean them thoroughly and put them into dry storage. If your pond has waterfalls and skimmers, disconnect the pump and check valve to make sure the water is fully drained from the plumbing and waterfall. If you have an in-pond infiltration system or filters containing UV or ion clarifiers, disconnect them from the plumbing and drain out the water.

3. Install Nets Tightly Over Pond.

This is to prevent new leaves and debris from getting in. Keep the netting very tight to prevent it from dipping into the water where fish could be entangled in it. Later, it should be removed to prevent snow from pushing netting into the water.
4. Make Sure to Scrub the Filters, Media and Pump
  1. Media
Wash all the filter media pads and bio balls in your skimmer, waterfall box, pressurized filter and/or the in-pond filter. If you’re not storing the media inside for the winter, tuck it in the waterfall box or skimmer. Check to see if any of the media looks torn or just worn and note to replace them when you set up the pond in the spring.
  1. UV Clarifiers
If you have a UV clarifier, disassemble it and wipe the quartz sleeve with a soft cloth and a descaler like white vinegar or D-Scale. Since the effectiveness of a UV bulb degrades over time, it should be replaced every season. You can add this item to your spring-to-do list or replace it now.
  1. Pump
Clear it of any excess debris and inspect it carefully for any wear and tear like worn impellers. Then place it in a bucket of clear water to prevent the seals in the pump from drying out during storage. Keep the pump, in-pond filters and UV clarifiers in your basement or any other place warm enough to keep them from freezing.

5. Preparing Your Aquatic Plants and Other Living Things

As temperatures drop, plants will naturally approach a dormant state. To prepare the plants for winter prune the dead foliage just above the soil. If they’re potted, move the pots to the bottom of the pond to protect the roots from freezing. Tropical water lilies, floating plants and other temperature sensitive varieties should be discarded or brought indoors.

6. Install an Aeration Kit and Deicer

It’s important to keep a hole open in the ice during the winter months. Otherwise, harmful gases could become trapped under the ice and diminish available oxygen necessary for a healthy pond.

To ensure a healthy oxygen level, install an aeration kit in the shallow area of your pond. If you already have an aerator, relocate air stones or diffusers to the shallowest part of the pond. This will allow the fish to gather in an undisturbed area at the bottom of the pond. You might also consider installing a pond heater to keep the hole in the ice from freezing over.

7. Start Feeding Your Fish Wheat Germ Fish Food

Wheatgerm is easier for fish to digest in cold weather. Limit your feedings to three times per week and give your fish only as much as they can consume within a five minute period. Once the water temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, stop feeding your fish until the spring.

8. Add Seasonal Defense to Your Pond to Keep Bacteria Down

Even the most careful cleaning can’t keep some debris from remaining in your pond. The beneficial cold weather bacteria in this product will break down any leftover debris through the colder part of the season. Start using it as soon as the temperature falls below 40 degrees F.

If you need any further help or advice about caring for your pond, please don’t hesitate to call me at 847-912-6319. I’m always happy to help in any way I can.



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