BDR Spring/Summer Checklist
Spring is finally here & after all that cold weather,
lets get that awesome water feature back in business.
SPRING POND START-UP
As your garden pond begins to awake in the spring you will need to carry out a few routine chores to maintain water quality and encourage the good health of plants and aquatic life. Follow these simple steps to spruce up your pond so that it’s all set for the warm summer months ahead.
CHECK THE WATER QUALITY
The number one determination for a healthy pond is water quality. High pH levels indicate the probability of lime leaching into the water, creating an atmosphere that is unsuitable for your plants and that can be fatal to your fish. A suitable pH ranges between 7.0-8.0 but fish and plants will usually adapt if those numbers vary by a few margins (6.6-8.2). These levels can fluctuate dramatically as temperatures change so it is best to test in the morning before the sun begins to warm the pond water. Nitrites and ammonia levels can also be detrimental to fish. Ideally, these readings should be zero. Both nitrites and ammonia are caused by pond waste
and can be eliminated using an efficient biological filter. We carry TEST KITS for these potential problems and recommend that you use them on a regular basis to insure good water quality in your pond. If you followed our guidelines and cleaned your pond last fall, you’re already ahead in the spring. If not, you have a little work to do. The muck in the pond bottom can harbor and grow organisms that will pollute the water. These organisms will rapidly react to warming temperatures and need to be removed. If left unattended they will cause illness and disease that could be fatal to your fish. This organic matter also acts as a fertilizer to feed algae blooms, causing green water. We recommend that you DO NOT DRAIN THE POND unless the sludge is several inches deep. If your pond has been maintained, it has established an ecosystem that is balanced. If you change the water, you upset nature’s balance and invite all sorts of problems including algae, sick fish and unhealthy plants. With a SKIMMER NET, remove any leaves, sticks, muck, and debris from the pond before it has a chance to work its summer mischief. Remove the debris a little at a time (if you stir up large amounts of sludge, you will release gases that can be deadly to fish and harmful to plants). If sludge remains in the pond that cannot easily be removed with the skimmer net, add SPRING CLEANER with SLUDGE-AWAY. These products contain natural bacteria that dissolve remaining decaying organic matter and are totally safe for plants and fish. String or “hairy” algae can also occur during the summer months if excessive debris remains in the bottom of the pond. It can also colonize around your plants if rotting foliage, roots, or stems are not removed. The decomposition of these materials is the only thing that feeds string algae. NOTE: A small amount of hair algae is a beneficial occurrence on the walls of your pond: it should not be removed entirely. If you have a continuing growth of algae after cleaning the pond, you may add BARLEY STRAW PELLETS which will clear the pond and prevent future outbreaks. You may also consider using ALGAWAY, a product which will break down both string algae and green water so that it can be readily picked-up by your filtration system. You may also consider GRANDULAR ALGAECIDE control to instantly break down algae on waterfalls and/or streambeds. We recommend that you DO NOT use algaecides in your pond as this will also kill or severely harm your plants and fish.
CHECK THE WATER LEVEL
Take a critical look around your pond. Inspect your pond edges for any rocks or edging material that may have shifted during winter freeze that may cause leaking or unleveled areas. If your pond’s water level is low, add water that’s been de-chlorinated so it’s safe for fish and plants. It is better to add no more than 10% new water at one time. New water should be neutralized in a separate container before adding it your pond.
CHECK THE PUMP AND FILTER SYSTEM
Check your pump to make sure that it is thoroughly cleaned and running properly. Also inspect the lines running from your pump, checking for any rocks or covering that may have shifted during the winter that would prevent good water flow. If the filter material looks worn or dirty and does not clean up well, replace it with new media. When water temperature is maintaining above 50 degrees, you need to add dry seed bacteria, or liquid bacteria, to your biological filter core. Repeating the scheduled monthly dose of these products will provide sustained biological activity in your pond. Again, if string algae growth appears before then, give your pond a spring boost with BARLEY PELLETS or ALGAWAY mentioned above. If you have a skimmer and biological waterfall system, replace the lava rock each spring. Thoroughly clean and / or replace filter mats before adding new bacteria.
CHECK THE PLANTS
Marginal (shelf) Plants:
As with all perennial garden plants, your hardy aquatics plants will show new growth in the spring. When these appear, it will be time to remove them from the bottom of the pond. As you lift your marginal plants, remove any algae and trim off any dead stems and foliage. Fertilize with AQUATIC TABS plant fertilizer tablets (according to directions) and place them on the shelf edges of your pond. If your pond does not have built-in shelves, place the plants on something like a milk crate or upside-down plastic pot so the water depth is 1”-6” above the top of the pot. Bricks are also okay but do not use concrete blocks or products that may leach lime into your water. Marginal plants that were not re-potted in the fall and are out-growing their pots can be divided or up-potted at this time. Remember: you cannot use regular potting soil...it will float and make a horrible mess. We recommend specially blended POTTING MEDIA, pre-colonized with beneficial bacteria, which can be mixed with clay or used as-is. We also recommend “no holes” BDR POTS for all aquatic plants.
Lift water lilies from the pond. If they appear to be the slightest bit root-bound, you may divide them into two or more plants or up-pot the entire plant to a larger pot. If you decide to divide, hose the roots with water to expose the tubers. Slice the tuber into sections with a sharp knife. Three components are needed for a healthy lily cutting. You must have (1.) a section of healthy tuber with (2.) roots attached, and (3.) a growth tip where the new lily will sprout. Bury the roots in the potting media, exposing the tip top of the tuber and the growth tip above the soil. AQUATIC TABS fertilizer should be placed in the bottom of the pot at this time, according to label directions. You may leave the lilies on the pond shelf for a short time while you clean debris from the bottom of the pond but it is essential that you lower them to an 18” to 24” (no deeper) water depth for the growing season. If you are not one who enjoys “playing in the mud”, there are “time release” SPIKES available for ease of fertilizing during the entire growing season.
As you are netting debris from the bottom of your pond, you will probably net your submerged grasses (ANACHARIS)
if they are not potted. Clean them, removing dirt and algae, as well as any decayed portions, and re-anchor them in pots “no holes” BDR POTS of smooth pea gravel and place them in the bottom of the pond. If you choose not to pot them we can provide additional lead bands to weight them to the pond floor. Ponds generally require 1 bunch (5-7 sprigs) of anacharis for every 2 square feet of surface area. If your count is short, this should be the first thing you purchase in the spring.
CHECK YOUR FISH
Fish may be left in the pond during spring cleaning. Fish move rapidly out of your way and more often than not, the stress on the fish is less than removing them from the water. If you prefer to remove them, carefully place the fish in a large container of pond water (surface area is as much, or more, important than water depth). Remember to de-chlorinate any water you may have added to your pond before you re-introduce the fish. You may also want to “float your fish” when introducing them back into the pond, like you did the day you purchased them, as the water temperature in their holding area could vary from the pond temperature. Observe your fish closely for parasites or disease and treat as soon as possible, use B.S. DISEASE TREATMENT is a remedy that works against a wide variety of parasitic and bacterial diseases. POND SALT at the recommended level may also eradicate many parasites and promote a healthy slime coat. On cooler days, feed your fish only cold weather food, and begin using regular floating pellets as water temperatures remain above 55 degrees and the fish are active for the summer. If you netted your pond in the fall you may consider leaving it covering the surface to keep your fish safe from any predators until plant life resumes or is provided.
In the spring, you probably will see some algae bloom. As the water temperature rises, algae will begin to multiply and your pond will get a murky green look. Do not be alarmed—this is a natural part of the life cycle of a pond and if everything is well-maintained it should come into balance again within a week or two. Your bacterial products will help speed this process along. ULTRA-VIOLET LIGHTS are always a great solution for green water problems on a permanent basis but must conform to pond and pump size so consult us for details.