Now that spring is here, you’re probably noticing some changes in your pond – your fish are coming back to life and you may even be able to see some plant growth. Understanding the transition that your pond makes from winter into spring and summer is essential in maintaining a healthy pond ecosystem.
You may have just spent your weekend cleaning your pond – or having your pond contractor do it for you. Don’t be concerned if you experience new algae growth after your pond is cleaned. It’s normal this time of year as your pond is balancing itself.
You can, however, perform some simple, important steps that can make the difference between a balanced pond with minimal maintenance and a pond that requires unnecessary maintenance. Although bacteria and plants don’t start growing properly until water temperature reaches 55°F, there are still some simple steps you can take to maintain a trouble-free pond.
We recommend using SAB™ Stream and Pond Cleaner and EcoBlast™ granular algaecides early in the season. SAB contains a powerful phosphate binder to help maintain clear water and EcoBlast is an extremely effective algaecide. Both of these products can be used throughout the season, but they are especially effective helping maintain optimum water conditions until water warms up and the beneficial bacteria and aquatic plants have the opportunity to kick in.
Fertilizing pond plants is also an important step toward balancing your pond. Strong healthy plants quickly utilize excess nutrients. Aquascape has two fertilizers, one short-term and one long-term. For optimal results use both fertilizers. The short-term fertilizer will jump-start your plants in the spring and the long-term fertilizer will continue to feed your plants for one full year. You’ll have beautiful, vibrant plants that help balance your pond’s ecosystem.
Algae don’t mind cool water, but for the rest of your pond’s ecosystem, 55° F is kind of the magic number. The plants and bacteria don’t jump into action, in the battle of the green monster, until the water temperature reaches, and consistently stays, around 50° to 55° F. At this time they start growing and are then able to use up the excess nutrients that the algae would otherwise be feasting on. This is the reason for new spring algae blooms.
While growing, aquatic plants absorb a lot of the nutrients in the water, and this helps combat algae growth. Until they are actively growing, they have no use for the natural fertilizer lurking in the pond. But as they begin growing, they will start to out-compete the algae for nutrients, the algae will be starved, and the pond water becomes clearer. Another benefit that plants provide, particularly water lilies, is that they shade the surface of the water helping to keep the water cool, all while cutting down on the growth of string algae as well as green water.
Bacteria also need warmer water to begin growing and colonizing, helping to provide clear water quality as well as reducing maintenance. You can help jump-start the pond in the spring by adding supplemental bacteria such as Aquascape Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds, and providing it with a place to colonize. Since bacteria like lots of nooks and crannies, having rocks and gravel in the bottom of your pond helps provide surface area for bacteria to grow. A biological filter containing a filtration media like Aquascape BioBalls, with lots of surface area, provides optimum conditions for biological filtration in the smallest space possible. The more surface area available for bacteria to grow, the more efficient your biological filter.
Fish are also sensitive to water temperature, and as pond water warms up, you will see more activity, and be tempted to feed your fish. You’ve missed your fish all winter, but until the water temperature is consistently at 55° F, don’t feed them. Their metabolism is still in slow motion and they are unable to digest the food properly. If you do feed them and food cannot be digested, this can result in food starting to decay in the body of the fish, causing fish to become sick. When you do start feeding your fish, begin with small amounts of a quality fish food formulated for colder water temperature, such as Aquascape Premium Coldwater Fish Food Pellets for all pond fish.
You gotta have patience. If you’ve stocked your pond with a sufficient number of plants, the temperature’s just right, and you’ve started supplementing with Aquascape Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds, your pond will quickly balance. Beneficial bacteria need to be added to a consistent maintenance routine to obtain optimal results.