LMP’s Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist
Now that the weather is warming up, algae cells and invasive weeds that were resting over Winter will come back with a vengeance. Getting your pond in top shape at the start of the season will help reduce the risk of this. Read on to discover our top tips for the ultimate Spring clean and scroll to the bottom for a downloadable checklist to use at home!
STEP ONE: CLEANING AROUND YOUR POND
While the rest of your yard isn’t technically part of your aquatic ecosystem, the condition it is in can have a pretty big impact on the health of your pond.
It’s easy to slack off during Winter when near freezing temperatures and rain storms make your yard the last place you want to be, but now the weather is warming back up, it’s time to get out there and do some yard maintenance. Anything that’s found its way into your yard will eventually end up in your pond and you don’t want all the work you’re about to do getting your water pristine to be ruined by a simple gust of wind. The best way to avoid this happening is by starting any big clean in the surrounding areas, rather than jumping straight into your pond.
By removing any leaves or other debris from the immediate vicinity of your water you can minimise the impact that external factors have on your aquatic ecosystem. This not only benefits you short term, but will also make your future maintenance easier as anything that does find it’s way into your pond will add to your nutrient load which in turn can fuel outbreaks of algae and other nasties due to excess.
This step shouldn’t require too much effort and in most cases, you’ll just need to rake up loose organic matter and trim back any plants that could drop leaves or branches into your water. You can also sweep any pathways or hard ground areas near your pond for best aesthetic effects. This may seem a little excessive when working out your game plan but you’ll be surprised by just how much of a difference it can make if this hasn’t previously been part of your Spring cleaning or standard maintenance ritual. Plus it’s a great excuse to get back into your garden and make sure all your terrestrial plants are happy and healthy as well.
STEP TWO: CHECK ON AND CLEAN OUT YOUR FILTER / PUMP
Most of the pumping and filtration options that we stock require very little effort on your part to keep them nice but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely set and forget. All fixtures of your pond should be checked over regularly to ensure best performance and results.
Before you inspect any electrical appliances, especially those associated with water, you need to ensure that there is no power connected to any part of the unit or surrounding area. We’re aware that this is common sense but those with more advanced set ups may have multiple power sources leading to their application so it’s worth double checking that everything is switched off before you start working on anything.
The best place to start is simply by inspecting the outer casing of your pump, filter and any other appliances you use for your pond. At this stage we’re just checking for any visible damage that may affect the operation of your unit. Most problems with the outer casing will likely be minor aesthetic issues but it is better to be safe than sorry as there is a chance that damage could run deeper than surface level.
Once you’re happy with your inspection of the outside of your devices, it’s time to open them up and make sure they’re not dirty or clogged. Remove any debris that may have found itself lodged inside and clean your filter media as well as any other internal mechanisms that may have become fouled since you last checked.
Hot Tip: We’ve got an easy to follow guide for cleaning your biological filter and most pumps will be fairly happy with a wipe over (and diaphragm change if recommended by the manufacturer) unless there is obvious build up.
STEP THREE: GET RID OF ANY WEEDS THAT HAVE MOVED IN AND SORT OUT YOUR PLANTS
Before you get stuck right into fully cleaning everything and getting ready for the warmer months, you’re going to want to remove any weeds that have moved in over Winter. Now is also a good time to trim back any pond plants that you do want, but have overgrown their designated area.
Just remember to actually remove foliage rather than cutting it and allowing it to settle in your pond or simply treating it with a herbicidal agent, otherwise you’ll end up with a mass of organic material just rotting away waiting to support an algae bloom. A good way to make sure this step is done well is by skimming your pond after you have removed all larger items of debris. This will ensure that smaller particles get caught before they can settle at the bottom of your pond and contribute to excess nutrient levels.
STEP FOUR: REMOVE SLUDGE AND SEDIMENT
Over time, sludge can build up at the bottom of your pond. Although it’s actually mostly water, this nutrient rich sediment can cause some pretty serious issues for your pond.
Your most effective tool against sludge is manual removal. This is preferably done at the same time as your partial water change as removal by hand will generally stir up a fair bit of grossness that you don’t want floating around in your water.
If you’re looking for an easier way to do this, consider making use of an aquatic vacuum such as the Matala Muck Buster Pond Vacuum. These types of units effectively suck up sludge without making too much mess in your water while also allowing you to utilise the waste water and sediment that they process and spit out as high nutrient pond water fertiliser for your garden. Removing sludge with a vacuum can also help reduce the amount of stress placed on your fish by the process.
STEP FIVE: BOOST YOUR WATER LEVEL AND BIOLOGICALS
Now you’ve gotten any sludge out and removed the amount of water that you’re looking to change, it’s time to bring your levels back up to where you want them and ensure that your fishy friends have plenty of room to move. You don’t, however, just want to drop a hose in and fill her straight back up.
Chlorine and other chemicals present in tap water can be highly detrimental to fish so it’s a good idea to slowly drip water back in and provide a biological boost for your ecosystem while doing so. Setting your hose to a trickle ensures that there are no massive changes to water conditions during re-filling and adding in some biological treatments can help ensure that balance is maintained in your ecosystem. You should also consider the use of a water conditioner and/or fish de-stressor, especially if you will be filling your pond back up at a faster rate.
Please note that it is not recommended to change any more than 25% of your water at any one time unless your fish or ecosystem as a whole are experiencing health issues.
STEP SIX: FISH CHECK
Warmer weather plus weakened immune systems in your fishy friends can create the perfect storm for parasites and disease so now is the time to make sure your community is happy and healthy.
Check your fish over to make sure there’s nothing obviously wrong and keep an eye on how they behave over the coming weeks. They should be getting their energy back and starting to eat more again so if any of your fishy friends aren’t perking up, it could be a good idea to move them to a hospital tank and give them some special attention to make sure that nothing is seriously wrong.
Now is also a good time to assess their diet and make sure that all members of your little community are having their needs met to help avoid malnutrition and future losses.
STEP SEVEN: WATER TEST
While not absolutely necessary, this step can help you ensure that your ecosystem is balanced and your fish are safe. Simply purchase an at home test kit to make sure factors such as your ammonia and pH levels are within a safe range or call in an expert if you’re not confident testing yourself.
STEP EIGHT: MAP OUT THE COMING YEAR
Now you’ve gotten your pond nice and clean, it’s a good idea to sit down and think about what you want it to look like over the coming twelve months.
This step will pan out differently for everyone but now that your pond is nice and clean and your fish are happily swimming around again, it’s a good time to sit down and have a think about any changes you want to make to your pond over the coming year.
Spring is the ideal time to add any new fish or plants to your pond and if you’re looking to make any general improvements or structural alterations, it’s best to get these out of the way before another punishing Aussie summer arrives.
Even if you’re not looking to make any major changes, now is a good time to work out your maintenance schedule for the next twelve months. Regularly maintaining your pond will not only make your Spring clean easier next year but it will also improve your water quality and fish health so it should not be overlooked.