How you prepare your pond will depend on what you intend your pond to be. While there are a great variety of different possible ponds, we’ll cover the most popular types here, and your own preparation may contain elements of each type.
The “natural” or “wildlife” pond needs little preparation. In fact the less you do the better! Mother Nature is an excellent aquarist and she will ensure a healthy balance for your pond and its surrounding conditions. However, in order to give her a helping hand, it’s best to avoid all non-native fish, which means no goldfish or koi.
A pump is great for providing water movement but a filter will be unnecessary. The key to a really successful wildlife pond is plenty of oxygenating plants; these are the true pond filters and when planted in sufficient numbers at the start of the season, they will keep your pond clear all year round. Be careful when adding water lilies however, these can quickly spread and overwhelm other aquatic plants. Native wildlife will quickly colonise your pond, but if you want to give it a head-start, then take a trip to your local river and bring back a small bucket of water. That little bit of “pond dipping” will introduce essential microbes and bacteria, not to mention eggs and larvae from both fish and invertebrates.
Next is the “mixed goldfish pond”. As the temperature begins to increase you will start to notice a subsequent increase in the activity of your fish. You may or may not have been feeding them a wheatgerm-based winter food, and this can continue assuming your fish are actually eating it.
Once the water temperature of your pond reaches 12C or above, however, you can transition your fish back onto their standard pond fish pellet or flake food. Ideally, you should have been running your pond pump and filter throughout the winter, so now is the time to service both. Ensure that you access the impeller in the pump and check for wear and tear. Clean any foams or biological media with pond water only, and change your UV bulb if you have one. However, this can wait until mid-March or April before being switched on.
Check all the pipe work and the pond liner/preform for cracks, cuts or damage. Remember - now is the perfect time for repairs and replacements, before the pond really gets going and plants explode into life, making leak location a difficult task. Once you have ensured that your pump and filter are in top working order, you are set for the season. Remember though, that for full summer success, it’s best not to overstock your pond.
Lastly, there is the “dedicated Koi pond”. Proper filter maintenance and pump servicing is key here, and we at Maidenhead Aquatics suggest that when koi are involved, you should always look to filter double the total amount of water in the pond. For example, a 5000L koi pond should have filtration rated to 10,000L for optimum koi growth, longevity, colour and water clarity. As above, check impellers, foams, filters and UV bulbs, and clean and replace them as needed.
Now would also be a good time to siphon the pond using a pond vacuum as there will be a good deal of waste and silt built up from the previous season. Cleaning this now will ensure that you don’t cause an unwanted algal bloom, as the sun is still low in the sky and algae will struggle to bloom greatly. There is no need for a water change beyond replacing any water lost through more thorough maintenance. You can also speak with the staff at your local Maidenhead Aquatic store for tips and advice on what biological starters and boosters can be used to get your pond off to a flying start this spring!