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POND CLEANING 101
FALL(Not Spring) is the best time of year to clean your pond. Not too cold, not too hot, and fish are at their strongest. Ponds and their inhabitants winter best when relatively clean- Bio-systems go dormant once water temperatures drop below 50 degrees. -In the spring, fish are weak, lean, and just beginning to 'wake up'. They are most susceptible to diseases caused by stress, parasites, and poor water quality because their immune systems shut down in the winter.
Make a plan and collect necessary tools and equipment for the job.
Collect and place all necessary tools and materials nearby. This will make a dirty job
go more quickly.
Here is a List of recommended tools and supplies
- Temporary Holding Tank for Fish & Old Pond Water
- Aeration Bubbler and screen for Temporary HoldingTank
- Grates or Net for FishTank, block or bricks to keep grating in place
- Sheets or Newspapers to keep out-of-water Lilies and submerged aquatics damp
- Pump (existing pond pump?) for removing water from the pond
- Pump screen and necessary adapters and hoses
- Hip Waders, Boots, Gloves
- Fish Net
- Dredge Net
- Buckets/Wheelbarrow/ Bags, etc. for Debris
- Hose with Spray End for rinsing pond edging and sides
- Scrubbies, Brushes
- Shop Vac and Old Broom to sweep muck toward it
- Water Garden Guide for depth/trimming reminders about plant care
- Plant Trimming Tools
- Dirty Dirt, and Pea Gravel or Sand to top off potted plants
- Dechlorinator (make sure you have more than enough!)
- Beneficial Bacteria
- KH and pH Test Kits
- Baking Soda
SETTING UP FISH CAMP
Step 1: Set up your fish holding tank close by, preferably in the shade near a GFCI protected outlet. Pump the clean top layer of water from your pond into the holding tank. If the water quality is good, try to save 25 - 50% of your pond volum. Test and start the bubbler in the fish holding tank.
Step 2: Begin removing the water and plants from your pond-
- If your water is clean, save as much as possible, using a large holding tank.
- If your water is dirty/weedy, save just enough for your fish holding tank.
As the water level falls, remove plants and plant supports, trimming/tidying pots and plants as you go. Use the water you are removing to water your garden.
Start with easy-to-reach marginals. Next, lilies, lily-like aquatics, and submerged aquatics from the deeper water- Remember to cover these plants to keep their leaves moist! Remove and store/compost/trash any tropical plants. Remove and hose down/scrub plant supports.
WAIT to remove fish until all plants and supports are gone and the water level is low. Lowering the water level will minimize trauma to you AND your fish!
Step 3: Carefully remove the fish, frogs, tads and other critters when the water is low (within 4-8 inches from the bottom- don’t forget to cover the holding tank with net/grating to prevent ‘jumpers’ & discourage predators.
Step 4: Now for the deep cleaning! Protect the Patina! Gently hose down the sides and shelves, keeping the short algae growth damp- it provides a happy place for microbes to live, and fish a tasty snack – AND – this algae out-competes single-celled green water algae. Dredge with a net to remove most of the debris, and Sweep/vacuum the muck from the bottom. Have a container close by to hold the debris. Use your hose with spray end to clean out the Shop Vac and filter between cleanings and to hose down plant supports and the sides of the pond.
Note: Many of the plants in your garden might enjoy the nutrient-rich muck from
the bottom. Pull the mulch away & pour directly at the base of your garden plants.
PUTTING IT ALL BACK TOGETHER
Step 5: Use your Water Garden Guide to figure total approximate gallons in the pond and begin filling the pond.
If you saved a substantial amt. of water with your fish, figure the total saved gallons, and remember to leave room for this water later.
Add dechlorinator for the amount of new water you will be adding. Gently replace plants at desired depths, starting with lilies, lily-like aquatics and submerged aquatics in deep water, then the marginal plants on upper shelves or supports.
Step 6: Test and treat the pond, and add beneficial bacteria.
Step 7: Add fish last. If you saved a lot of their water, add it at this time. If their water is undesirable, just add the fish and discard their water.
Step 8: Clean-Up and Put Away Tools & Equipment (clean Shop Vac, scrubbies, pumps, buckets, holding tanks etc…) and Tidy Up around the Pond.
Step 9: Sit Back and Enjoy – and give yourself a big pat on the back!!!
SEASON CARE FOR TROPICAL PLANTS
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