As the weather warms up, the water temperature will rise and the pond life that has been dormant during the winter hibernation will start to wake up and become active. If you have a biological filter this will also spring into action. Toads and newts will return to your pond after hibernating in your adjoining garden, compost heap or hedgerow. Frogs will visit your pond at night to spawn. They lay their spawn in clumps whereas toads lay their spawn in long ribbons which wrap around pond plants. Newts tend to breed later than frogs and toads. Insects start to hatch and ducks will have been nesting since mid. February.
Looking After your Pond Plants
There should be fresh shoots of new growth by mid. April and it is beneficial to remove any dead vegetation to let light onto the new shoots. Now is the time to split and divide marginal plants, if this was not done in the autumn. They will thank you for this and reward you later in the summer. It is also the time to put new plants into your pond if you feel that there are not sufficient. For example, if your pond is in direct sunlight, approximately one third of the water should be covered with plants such as water lilies to give shade and to prevent the water from turning green. Remember, however, that although water lilies give excellent shade, they do not like to be sprayed with water, so don’t plant them too close to fountains or cascades.
Feeding Your Fish
When plants die back in winter, fish lie low in a dormant state on the bottom of your pond. We understand that you are all dying to see your fish again, but if they become active in the spring before the plants have formed sufficient cover, they can be vulnerable, so don’t encourage them too soon. Cold water may be lower in nutrients, but it is high in oxygen, so your fish will be all right. Also, zooplankton (tiny marine animals) thrive in cold water, so these will keep your fish happy. As a general rule, you can gradually start feeding your fish again once the water has reached 50 degrees F. For more information on keeping your fish pond healthy please use this link.
Spring Clean Time
Spring is the time to tidy up, but do resist the urge to be too tidy, a natural pond should not be pristine and Aquaplancton needs a certain amount of organic matter to work on. Don’t fall into the trap of cleaning your pond out manually and never, ever pressure wash, it is a daunting task and it can upset the natural balance of your pond for at best several months and at worst several years. Instead, use Aquaplancton which eats up to six inches of mud in six months. As a general rule, the less you do manually to a pond the better. Admittedly if your pond has sprung a leak you have no alternative, but otherwise, just remove any branches, twigs or dead foliage. If you netted your pond you can now remove the netting, but do sweep up any remaining leaves from the surrounding area and, if your pond is bordered by a lawn, do leave a patch of grass near to your pond un-mown, it will make a perfect habitat for newts, frogs and butterflies.
Re-filling Your Pond
If you have been forced to drain your pond to repair a leak, be aware that any sludge you remove can be toxic and never use tap water to top it up unless it has been dechlorinated. Better still, save a bucketful of your pond water before you drain it, or use rain water, or a combination of all three. All rain water is acidic to a greater or lesser extent, so do check the pH and, if it is on the acidic side, a small dose of Aquaplancton will neutralise it immediately and help to restore the natural balance. Snails would also be a good addition at this point, but only use Ramshorn snails, as they are the best scavengers.