Summer Pond Maintenance Guide
Switch to a high-protein growth formula fish food as your water temperature rises into the 60's F from the late spring into the early summer. When the hot months of summer roll around, mid-late summer, switch to a summer staple formula food that is easy for the fish to digest in the heat and provides color enhancement
- Continue to test water for ammonia and nitrite as well as pH weekly using a quality test kit. The pH should be remain between 6.0 and 8.0. If the pH is outside these parameters, use appropriate PH adjustment products and follow the directions carefully. A quick change in pH can be harmful or fatal to your fish so change it slowly (0.1 point per day). Make sure you check pH at the same time of day since pH normally fluctuates through normal diurnal cycles.
- Fish gasping at the surface of the water usually indicates a problem with water quality. In most cases, its low oxygen, but can be caused by improper pH or other toxins. The first thing to do is try to increase the oxygen level. This can be achieved by ensuring your waterfall/fountain runs 24 hours a day, adding submerged/oxygenating plants, or adding an air pump or in-pond fountain with an aerating head. Usually this is sufficient. If the fish still gasp at the surface, try reducing moderate levels of toxicity by removing 1/3 of the water and replacing it using gathered rain water or water from a garden hose sprayed through the air to remove chlorine/chloramines from the public water system. A dechlorinator may be required depending on water quality. Never replace more than 1/3 of the water at a time as this may cause drastic swings in pH and/or temperature, of which could prove even more detrimental or fatal to fish.
- Be vigilant about predators that visit your pond. Netting, electronic fencing, predator deterrents, imitation snakes, owls and other decoys. Remember, predators are smart, so if you use a decoy, you need to move it around the pond to new positions so predators don't become accustomed to its presence or see through its ruse. A watchful dog works very effectively. Some pond owners report their dogs bonding with pond fish and protecting them from certain, perceivable danger.
- Remove spent flowers, yellowing foliage, and excess foliage from overgrown plants.
- Fertilize water lilies and other marginal plants with an aquatic plant fertilizer-follow directions with care.
- Plant tropical water lilies and other tropical plants when the water temperature remains above 70 F.
- Divide overgrown water lilies and other aquatic plants that produce lots of leaves but few flowers. Give excess plants to friends or take them to a plant swap.
- Add new border, shallow & water/bog plants, submerged/oxygenating plants and floating pond plants.
- Weed regularly and remove over exuberant floating pond plants. Maintain coverage of 60% to 75% of the water surface to help keep algae blooms at bay. Do not exceed 75% coverage if you have fish as this interferes with the gas exchanges that take place on the surface of the water.
- If insect pests appear on aquatic plants, avoid using insecticides. It's virtually impossible to avoid getting these chemicals into the water. Instead, pick off pest or blast them off using cold water from the garden hose. Remove and dispose of thoroughly infested or diseased plants.
- Monitor water flow rate from waterfall, fountain, statuary or filter. If this flow reduces, chances are there is problem such as your filter needs to be cleaned or replaced, kinked tubing, clog in pump intake or water line. Keep water recirculating 24 hours a day through a biological filter as this maintains a high oxygen concentration in the water. This becomes even more vital when water temperature rises and fish are more active.
- Top off pond water weekly. Water evaporation accounts for the loss of up to an inch of water per week. This can be automated by using an auto fill valve. If your pond consistently loses more than this, look for a leak. The most common place for this is at the waterfall or other feature outside the pond. Then begin checking the pond walls and bottom for leaks.
- Keep algae under control naturally using routine pond maintenance bacteria, submerged/oxygenating plants, floating pond plants and barley. Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce work well by absorbing nutrients from the water so efficiently that they starve algae to death. They also block the sun light from reaching the algae on the bottom of the pond. Another option is to use a properly sized UV clarifier. This will turn green water clear in a matter of a couple of days. Manually remove filamentous algae.
- Clean the pump intake, filter, skimmer, and light lenses as needed for efficient operation.