March (or whenever the water becomes a liquid and seems likely to stay that way) is the time to invest in some of that “Spring Fever” in your pond. After checking the connections to your filter, turn on the pump and add the first dose of beneficial bacteria to the water.
Make a general observation of the fish and plants to ascertain their health and vigor. After the inspection, grab a dredging net (Nycon Net Co. calls it a “B-10 Fish Net” but no one I know uses it for fish) and attack the accumulated debris in the open bottom of my pond. Ten minutes later you will have a wheelbarrow full of “Muck” which is great organic fertilizer. The pump and filter will quickly take care of the remaining, now stirred up, sediment. This is one major advantage of a good external “black box” filter and pump system.
If there is No Stone in the Bottom of your pond
For those of you who have shelves or “shallows” that are lined with river stone a great way to “clean up” those stoned areas, assuming that you have an open (no stone and easy to dredge bottom) area is to use the tubing from your pump like an aquatic leaf blower. This will stir up all kinds of debris. Your pump and external filter will take some and the rest will settle to the pond bottom to await your “B-10″ net.
Please don’t use the garden hose – that chlorinated water will destroy zillions of beneficial bacteria.
If you have rocks on the Bottom of your pond
If your entire pond is lined with stone a different approach is essential. That system must be pumped out, pressure washed and then refilled. Its always After such a cleaning, take special precautions to re-establish your water quality and a healthy pond ecology. This preceding applies only to ponds that have stone on the bottom of their pond.
As weather permits and the spring progresses
- Test the water quality (pH, Ammonia & Nitrite)
- Feed the fish with a special Spring/Autumn (low temperature) food
- Take an hour to raise the plants onto their shelves and pedestals and give them a dose of fertilizer in the process
- Possibly repeat the dredging and clean the filter if much debris had been left around the plants
- Repeat the addition of bacteria and add some micronutrients for the plants and for the fish. (Snow and rain usually has diluted my healthy pond water.)
- Add some submerged oxygenating plants and Japanese Trap Door Snails.
- When water temps reach 55 & 60 degrees respectively, the fish can be fed with summer fish food and water hyacinths can be added.