Routine maintenance can keep your water feature clean and clear and its inhabitants happy and healthy. Improper upkeep can result in murky water, imbalance, and risk the health of any fish or plant life. Depending on the type of water feature you have, your routine maintenance can vary based on the season.
Routine Seasonal Maintenance
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Ponds & Waterfalls
For most aquatic life, but specifically, fish, it is important to have a close eye on how warm or cold the water is. Water temperature takes a long time to heat or cool compared to the air, so a thermometer is vital to determine the proper temperature for the health and safety of your pond.
How deep or shallow your pond is will also determine the water temperature. Light decreases exponentially with depth in the water column so the sun can heat a greater proportion of the water in a shallow pond rather than in a deep pond. This means the shallow pond can warm up faster and to a higher temperature. Therefore, the air temperature may be cold, but the lower layers of water remain warmer. This serves an important function for the survival of aquatic life during different seasons.
The key to a thriving water garden and keeping your pond healthy is maintenance. Throughout the year there are a few key steps that need to be taken to ensure your pond environment remains healthy.
- At a water temperature of 40°F, test it for high ammonia and nitrites. If you notice higher levels, perform a 25%-50% water change to help correct it. When re-filling the pond with tap water, consider using a Chlorine Remover to remove any harsh chemicals. Begin adding other necessary water treatments, like beneficial bacteria. Place the pump back in your pond; run for a few hours while checking on performance, ensuring there are no leaks.
- At a water temperature of 60°F, you can add tropical plants. If necessary, perform a 50% water change. Always use Chlorine Remover when introducing tap water to your pond.
- If using an aerator during the winter, leave it in the pond to continue oxygenating the water all season.
- At a water temperature of 72°F, begin fertilizing plants. Inspect and re-establish plants. Plants that have been sitting on the bottom can now be cleaned up and placed accordingly throughout the pond.
- Any time you clean your pond, disturb the filter, or clean a filter pad, give it a shot of Pond Cleaner Tablets to boost the growth of beneficial bacteria.
- Keep the water moving constantly with an aerator, spitter, nozzle kit, or waterfall. Sufficient aeration does not only create a well-oxygenated and healthy environment, but also prevent mosquitoes from nesting on the surface of the water.
- At a water temperature of 72°F, clear out as much debris as possible, divide and repot plants. Replace 50% of the water in your pond and use a Chlorine Remover to remove harmful toxins from the tap water. A good rule to follow is executing the partial water change before the water temperature goes below 60°F.
- At a water temperature of 60°F, dispose of or bring in tropical plants, and install pond netting.
- Cleaning your pond is one of the most crucial steps in winterizing your water garden and should be done before the water temperature falls below 50°F.
- At a water temperature of 50°F, trim and move hardy lilies to deeper water.
- At a water temperature of 40°F or below, remove your pump and install an aerator and/or deicer. Leaving the pump running in cold temperatures will lower the deep-water temperatures, causing potentially fatal stress to fish.
- When temperatures have begun to cool, be sure to add a beneficial bacteria to your pond.
- Drain, remove and store anything that has glass or plastic inside, such as your ultraviolet clarifier, pressurized filter, and all-in-one filter. Keep them in a bucket of water in your garage, basement, or other indoor areas that will not allow the water to freeze.
- Once your pond is shut down for the winter and the surface freezes, it is important to keep an eye on your pond. Make sure a section of the ice is open, move away any debris, and monitor your fish for any signs of illness.
- If your pond surface freezes with your fish inside, do not break the ice. Thaw a whole with warm water to keep fish safe from the shock of breaking the ice with force.
Even though there may not be any living inhabitants, your fountain needs a little care during each season, depending on the weather conditions.
- If you have winterized your fountain now is the chance to move it back outdoors and get it running. Wipe it down with a cloth and some water to remove any dirt and buildup that collected during winter storage. Clean your pump in a bucket of fresh water and scrub it gently with a clean sponge, cloth, or toothbrush.
- During the summer, there are three main focuses for fountain care: evaporation, algae, and mosquitoes. If the water levels drop too low in the fountain, it can damage the fountain pump. Keep an eye on your fountain and add more water as needed. The hot weather speeds up natural evaporation, but low water shut-off pumps automatically turn off when the water levels drop too low to avoid any pump damage.
- Fall leaves can enter the fountain and cause damage to the fountain pump. It’s important to scoop out the debris daily if your fountain starts to collect leaves. Ideally, if your fountain is small enough to move, place it in a spot farther away from trees that will shed their leaves.
- If you live in a warm climate where it does not snow or gets icy, you can keep your fountain running all year long.
- In colder climates, you may need to winterize your fountain as the season begins to change. Move your fountain inside before temperatures drop, and ice starts to form.
- During the winter, your fountain should ideally winterize indoors to protect it from snow and ice.
- Large fountains can winterize outside, removing the fountain pump and tubing and keeping them indoors until spring. Protect your outdoor fountain from snow by covering it with a fountain cover or tarp, routinely brushing off snow buildup whenever possible. If you do not have a cover, place towels in the tiers and basin of the fountain to absorb the water to prevent it from entering the fountain and freezing.
- Small fountains can be moved indoors and used all year round, but please be aware of any small splashes while running fountains inside.