Spring Pond Care and Transition

by DFS-Pet-Blog on June 17, 2010

May 2010 What A Mess

May 2010 What A Mess

**Guest post from Heath S.**

Spring weather arrived early in Northern Wisconsin this year, giving way to the mystery that would soon unveil as the ice on my pond slowly melted away. My fish spent the winter in a 300- gallon holding tank in the basement. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to do my fall cleaning of the pond before it froze over. I knew it was going to be a mess, and wow was I right.  I wasn’t able to remove any of the plants, or cut down the lily pads or even vacuum the bottom. The first freeze was a hard one and stayed cold from that point on until spring.

Well decked out in my Frogg Toggs®, armed with the Pond Vacuum XPV, nets, buckets and a lot of determination I took on nature’s challenge. I knew at this point I would have to completely drain the pond and basically start new. Fortunately, I did bring all of my filter material inside and used it all winter, keeping the beneficial bacteria colony active.

Anyone Want to Help?

Anyone Want to Help?

It took two full weekends to get the pond drained, cleaned and filled back up. I knew it would still be a few weeks before I could safely put the fish back into their summer home so I took advantage of the early start up and dosed the pond with salt, AlgaeFix®, Microbe-Lift Spring/Summer Cleaner and Water Repair® Neutralize for Ponds. With all of this added and a few weeks for the pond to cycle, I knew I should be in good shape.

The time had arrived for me to add the fish to the pond. Water temperature was close to 60 degrees by the middle of May. Pumps and aeration have been running for 3 weeks now. The water parameters all check out, in go the fish. A big issue for Koi transferring into different holding tanks and ponds is the tendency to try to jump out. Covering the pond with a pond net will help prevent this and keep predators such as eagles, king fishers and herons out of your pond. If a net is not available, lower your water level as much as possible until they are acclimated, a couple weeks should be enough time. This will help for the jumping but may offer less protection from predators.

Another often-overlooked factor is the lack of plant coverage. Koi burn easily without plant coverage or you can use something to cover them such as the Koi Kastle Pond Fish Shelter. I have a couple in my pond. I also float a Floating Pond Plant Fish Barrier that is used for the water hyacinth and parrots feather empty until the plants are in season. This gives them some shelter.

End of May 2010 Starting to take shape!

End of May 2010 Starting to take shape!

The spring transition went well aside of an unexpected snowstorm. The temperatures soared into the 80 and 90-degree range for a good part of the middle and end of May. Everything is growing fast and starting to look like a well cared for pond again. We suffered no fish loss. As a matter of fact, I had to thin out the population some or increase my pond size. As spring was here full force, we decided to help stock my in-laws pond.  Pond re-size for us next year.

If you winter your fish outdoors or put them into the pond too early in the spring, there are other dangers to be aware of. If the water temperatures stay low, don’t start feeding too early. With cooler temperatures, the bacteria populations are lower so there are higher swings in ammonia as sludge and debris break down. The immune system of your fish is also slow and leaves them vulnerable to parasitic attacks such as ick, lice, and anchor worms. Visible characteristics of a parasitic infection are often times noticed by your fish flashing or rubbing themselves against the sides or bottom of the pond, erratically swimming, jumping out of the water, clamped fins etc. If you are new to Koi keeping, a lot of the same infected characteristics will also be displayed with parameter swings such as water temperature and especially pH.

Spring is a great time of year to watch your pond transform but it is also the most trying time of year for your Koi. Keep a close eye on the fish and water parameters and welcome summer.  My next post will show the transition from spring into almost full summer bloom.
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