With signs of spring everywhere, it’s time to embrace the start of a new pond season before the warmth of Easter brings the traditional start of the outdoor season.  


  • Inspect hoses and connectors for possible leaks, typically on the outside of bends or joints.
  • Replace old seal rings and lamps of ultra-violet units. If you live in a hard water area, limescale build-up may also need attention.
  • Turn pumps back on – as things get milder, flow can be restored to filters. Make sure that any filters that have been overwintered are cleaned and drained before returning them to circulation as foul water can cause problems.
  • If conditions are mild, filtration can be reinstated but keep pumps high in the water column to avoid chilling if the weather turns cold. Make sure that any filters that have been overwintered are cleaned and drained before returning them to circulation as foul water can cause problems. Low temperatures and a lack of flow will have led to a die-off of filter bacteria, so add a bacterial booster or consider using a chemical filter resin such as zeolite while bacterial populations increase.
  • Start algae control measures – if you use a holistic algae controller such as barley straw or phosphate remover, consider adding these now before your algae start to grow. The early season lag to plant growth means that blanket weed and green water can steal a march before the competition starts in earnest.
  • Watch out for spawning amphibians and leave them to it. Frogs and toads pose little risk to healthy fish and the vast masses of spawn are their way of playing the odds – lots of things eat their young and our pond fish are high up on that list. For the very best of both worlds, consider adding a dedicated pond for frogs and newts – it needn’t be too large and you’ll be doing your bit to help these declining species. With tadpoles that already produce the skin secretions of their parents, toad tadpoles can thrive in ponds alongside fish and adults prefer to spawn in these ponds, where predatory insects such as dragonfly and beetle larvae are scarcer.
  • If mild weather continues both fish and filter bacteria will start to become hungry and active. Offer an easily-digested cold-weather food and add a bacterial starter to the pond to help kick-start the biological processes that make for reliable water quality
  • It’s a great time of year to add a new pond – plants are just appearing in-store and you have a whole season to watch things develop. Traditionally the rather mobile date of Easter is when we start to make pond fish available so time is on your side too!
  • Congested clumps of marginals and hungry lilies can be re-potted now. Lilies, in particular, are demanding and the more vigorous types (unlike the slower-growing and correspondingly more expensive pygmies) need regular controlling and feeding
  • Cut back any untrimmed marginals such as sedges before new growth makes things tricky, a flush of new leaves will rejuvenate the suddenly bare patches.


  • Check your flake food – if you’ve had a pot of dried food open for more than a couple of months, it may well be a bit short of vitamins. Check the sell-by date on the bottom while you’re at it and remember that although large pots of food may work out cheaper, nutrients tend to diminish over time and exposure to air and wet fingers will take its toll. Buy smaller pots that are likely to be used quickly for best results and consider storing bulk foods in the fridge or freezer if they’re likely to be used quickly.
  • After seeing some impressive performance in our trials, I’m a fan of the rather revolutionary Ocean Free Hydra units. As an old sceptic, I’m not going to say that they remove the need for water testing or regular partial water changes (perish the thought!) but their action seems to result in low nutrient levels and a controlling mechanism to the nitrate accumulation that has characterised aquarium keeping for longer than I can remember. With a noticeable effect on phosphates as well, I’d say they earn their keep on all of the many and varied freshwater and marine systems I’ve cast my critical eye over. Our tests revealed that Hydra filters are designed to maintain good water quality and prevent spikes of nitrogenous waste – something that isn’t evident when challenging these units with artificially high additions of ammonia that overwhelm them.
  • If the above sounds like I’m trying to sell you things then I understand, on the other hand, I’ve taken every opportunity to push the value of water changes for years and they’re practically free, so I don’t feel the slightest twinge of guilt. Even with the fanciest filtration or the poshest diet, the best fish keepers are those who spend the most time watching their pets and performing basic maintenance. Having worked with fish at the height of the 80’s when more people seemed more interested in the gadgets than the livestock, I can tell you this in all honesty.
  • If you’re a proud pet keeper you probably don’t need telling but take photos of your aquarium. These are an easy way of recording any changes and capturing your pets for future reference – not only that but you can send them into us and share your creations.
  • Add a little extra to your display by looking at lighting options. LEDs looks set to change the way aquaria are lit and give flexibility and versatility never seen before. Fancy a blue lamp to simulate a little moonlight? No problem. How about a colour-changing curtain of air bubbles to add some 70’s disco chic? Step right this way! Perhaps a white beam of light on that more demanding red-leafed plant in a sea of green? We’ve got the very thing.