Learn our best tips for a successful Spring pond opening that will lead to crystal clear water, help in avoiding common mistakes, and save you money with a natural approach to pond maintenance. Get your gloves out for removing pond debris, take a deep breath, and remember to be gentle to reduce the stress on your fish and pond inhabitants.
Table of Contents – How To Open Pond in the Spring (6 Pro Tips For Pond Start-Up)
- Clean Out Debris From Pond
- Measure Proper Water Flow and Ensure Mechanics are Working
- Supplement Nitrifying Bacteria to Improve Biological Filter
- Evaluate Koi Fish Health
- Test Your Parameters Consistently
- Add Floating Plants and Enjoy Your Pond
- How To Clean Pond for Spring Opening Details
We recently conducted an interview with pond aquaculture expert Christian Shostle who gave us his pro tips for successfully opening your pond the right way after a long winter. There are 6 main concepts for your grand opening that we have outlined in this article including cleaning debris, adding beneficial bacteria, and evaluating your Koi fish.
Start Spring in Your Pond Off Right This Year!
For starters, if you closed your pond down correctly in the fall/winter than you should have a much easier time controlling nuisance algae like string algae and removing muck. If you find yourself with an excess amount of sludge, slime, and stinky materials keep this guide in mind when wrapping up your pond at the end of the season.
If your water is uncharacteristically green, you might want to read our guide on how to prevent new pond syndrome.
One of the most common mistakes you can make is to feed your fish too much. As the weather warms up, so does their appetite, but you risk shocking the pond system with an ammonia spike that could kill your fish. Only time can truly balance your water, so take a deep breath and let nature take it’s course for about 2 months.
Opening Pond for Spring – 6 Pro Tips to Remember!
Throughout the process remember to be gentle – fish immune systems are still low from the harsh winter. Everything will increase gradually including fish activity, water temperatures, and the amount you are feeding. Follow these 6 tips in chronological order to properly open your pond for the season while causing the least stress on your fish and pond inhabitants.
1. Clean Out Debris From Pond
This is very important.
In fact it’s so important that we’ve included an entirely separate section in this blog post devoted to the subject at the end. Cleaning up is sometimes messy, and if not done properly at the end of last season, you could be dealing with a toxic mess (figure of speech: unless you have blue green algae in your pond).
When cleaning, make sure you vacuum the bottom, take care of leaves, pull out the decaying plants, and give your pots a scrub. While cleaning out the pots this is a great time to add Lily and plant fertilizing tabs to stimulate their growth.
Using pond plants for algae control is a great natural approach, but too many plants and debris can lead to extra nuisance algae.
2. Begin Water Filtration and Re-Install Pump or Skimmer
When starting to cycle your pond you will want to check if pond aerators are 100% open and functioning. Check that all the mechanics are working with proper flow and if you have a waterfall, double check that nothing is stuck in the impeller. Keep in mind that air stones can remain off until water temperatures reach 73 + degrees.
If you live in an area where your pond can dip below 40 degrees during winter, be sure to only activate your pump or skimmer once your water reaches back over the 50 degree mark. For warmer climates, you may have been running pumps and skimmers all winter. If so, continue use of these tools as necessary.
The two most important preparatory steps for Spring are cleaning out any debris in the pond and ensuring properly functioning filtration.
3. Supplement Nitrifying Bacteria to Improve Your Biological Filter
Get that bio filter churning by adding nitrifying bacteria to your pond. 65 degrees is the optimal temperature for the bacteria to help your bio filter come back to life, don’t add in algaecides as they can add more toxins that are dangerous to your inhabitants. Remember mother nature needs time to balance your water and patience will be your best friend.
Our pond expert recommends you use Microbe-Lift PBL for Beneficial Bacteria as an additive for your pond. Your costs can range from $10.50 to $250 for nitrifying bacteria, plus he has confirmed it works great with Nualgi Ponds to keep your water crystal clear! It is important to recognize the power of maintaining a natural biological filter as part of your Spring pond opening.
4. Evaluate Koi Fish Health
Overfeeding and feeding too early in the season are two of the most common and costly mistakes made by hobbyists!
The health of your fish contribute to the overall health of your pond. Make sure your fish are clear of any ulcers or white/cloudy eyes/patches of skin. Don’t stress if they seem unhealthy, adding medication to your pond this early will not be the quick fix you’re expecting.
When evaluating your fish do not net and put in a bowl. Their immune systems are still low until they’ve eaten for three weeks or the water hits 68 degrees. While cleaning/evaluating try not to jar the fish, they won’t move around much at first and are delicate.
Pro tip: Feed with medicated food, antibiotic floating food will be better than sinking food.
Contact Cali Koi – Los Angeles Koi Specialist for unique recipe.
Remember to let the pond cycle naturally rather than adding a lot of chemicals. If it’s later in the season and you are still having sludge, add in digesting bacteria. Fish will be picking around and could eat your other bacteria, so wait until later.
5. Test Your Parameters Consistently
- Temperature: 65 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for your biological filter to flourish. Generally, keep your pond in the 64-73 degrees Fahrenheit range as consistently as possible. Waterfalls, aerators, and additional shading will help keep your pond cool heading into Spring and Summer.
- pH: Keep your pH as close to the ideal 7.3-7.7 range as possible, depending on what type of fish you’re keeping in your pond. Monitoring your pH levels will tell you when to feed (adds ammonia), add nitrates (decreases ammonia), or add salt (decreases nitrates). For more information on how ammonia affects your pond visit this informational guide from the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center.
- kH: Aim to keep your kH (Carbonate Hardness) levels as high as possible. Having high kH levels will significantly increase the effectiveness of your filter, and is a very necessary quality of your pond during this initial cycling period. We recommend using air stones, which drive off CO2 and increase your water hardiness.
In general, if any of these levels are not working out to your satisfaction, it may be worth your time to try a 25% water change to cycle out the water. Be sure that the water you are adding is of equal or very similar temperature to the water currently in your pond. If the water is coming from your home faucet, remember to de-chlorinate before adding.
6. Add Floating Plants and Enjoy Your Pond
Wait until 69 degrees to add in your tropical plants. At this point your pots will now be flourishing from the pellets you added and the water will now be completing it’s cycle. The lilies will come back on their own and now it is your time to get a drink while watching those Koi circle the pond.
As with any hobby it is important to remember why you are involved in the first place. Doing maintenance on your pond is directly tied to a zen lifestyle that is reinforced by ancient cultures in Japan.
If you do not smile while working in your beautiful backyard sanctuary, than it is about time to hire a pond maintenance company or teach your children to clean the water this time of year. If only dogs had opposable thumbs…
With the help of Nualgi Ponds to keep your water clear you can spend more time enjoying your sanctuary and less time maintaining it. This breakthrough nanotechnology product not only keeps your water clear but it even naturally produces extra food for your fish!
When you supplement your regular maintenance with Nualgi Ponds, you will reduce nuisance algae growth, feed your fish less, and improve water quality while bringing balance to the natural food chain.
Spring Pond Opening & Start-Up: Details & How To Clean Out Debris
Spring cleaning for your pond can be one of the most rewarding actions you can take for your pond heading into the hot months of the year. The extent to which you renew the status of your pond will directly correlate to how healthy your fish are, how long your pond will last, and how much you will enjoy your pond sanctuary. Learn more about care in the summer in our Summer Pond Care Guide.
For information on Winter Pond preparation check out our Winter Pond Care Guide!
We found these great examples of cleaning your pond for the spring – Pond Cleaning Time Lapse Video and this University of Nebraska – Lincoln Spring Cleaning Video.
Debris Prevention During Winter
The easiest way to prevent excess debris cleanup during Spring is to install pond netting to catch leaves, dirt, and any other excess debris that would otherwise fall into your pool. Trimming pond plants near or around the pond will also help to decrease debris buildup.
Pond vacuums can be a great tool for removing excess debris from the surface of your pond, as well as saving the extra work of removing plants or fish during cleanup. If you choose to use a vacuum, you must choose between a hose-powered vacuum and a plug-in powered vacuum depending on the severity and size of your problem.
The only downsides of using a vacuum are the inconsistency of the products as discussed on many pond blogs, as well as the obvious price implications.
Full Pond Renewal for Spring Clean Out & Start-Up
The best way to prepare your pond for the Spring and for the long-term future is by performing a complete water, plant, and fish displacement for a full cleaning. This includes removing all sludge from the bottom of the pond, power washing and soaking rocks, full water replacement, and complete tool cleaning.
While performing this task may take additional time, calculations, and effort, it will help maintain your pond in the long run especially if performed once per year around Spring time.
We hope this pond maintenance resource was helpful, good luck and happy ponding!