Koi Ponds: Springtime. Is Your Pond Ready?
Page Summary: Its a strange person who does not welcome the change of seasons from winter to spring. From dark to light, from cold to warm, bare trees and ground to bright green foliage and spring flowers... the spring season heralds these changes. Goldfish, koi and a whole variety of pond creatures also react dramatically to longer daylight hours as well as increasing temperatures. It is a combination of daylight hours and temperature change that tells the koi or goldfish in your pond that times are about to change... so get ready for action.
Coping with the seasons that affect your koi and goldfish ponds
Whether you live in an area with a mild climate that scarcely changes with the seasons, or one that has extreme changes four times a year, there is a pattern every growing garden and fish pond will naturally follow. In spring everything will launch to life, as the trees blossom and plants begin a new spurt of growth. Presuming your pond is well balanced, in summer it will flourish as plants around it flower and continue to grow. In autumn, growth in and around the pond will begin to slow down. Deciduous trees will shed their leaves and annual flowers will die off. Then in winter, plants will generally stop growing altogether and your koi and goldfish will become inactive and idle.
So what can you do to ensure your fish are happy in their ponds all year round?
During the cold winter months (or not so cold if you are lucky enough to life in a tropical climate), the water will have been at its natural clearest.
Fish eat little (if anything) in winter, and they are sluggish and quiet. So unless you are digging around in the pond, there's nothing that's likely to stir up silt and soil from the bottom of the pool.
Because it isn't sunny and hot, the conditions for algae are also at their worst.
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Testing pond water can in itself become an intriguing and interesting hobby. Get a reliable test kit however.
Nevertheless, during the winter months, water quality can deteriorate if leaves and other organic debris is allowed to accumulate and rot in the water. What also happens is that nutrient levels rise in the water. You won't see these nutrients, but as soon as everything bursts back into life in early spring, they will help to fuel the growth of early algae bloom. If decomposing matter is left in the pond, this will reduce the oxygen content in the water and your koi and goldfish will ultimately suffer.
There are several ways that you can control or prevent inevitable debris from getting into a pond. The most obvious is to cover the pond with a net. That's a bit like closing the pond for winter – which is what people in cold climates frequently do to their ponds and swimming pools. Alternatively you can remove large bits of debris before it sinks to the bottom and starts to rot, and/or you can use a pond vac and remove whatever has sunk to the bottom that way. If you are going to vacuum then do so before the weather warms up, while the water is clear. Normally it's only necessary to do this once
It isn't always easy to predict when spring will arrive. Often it warms up and then gets instantly cold, confusing humans, fish and plants. Even fruit trees are sometimes conned into thinking it's time to bud, only to be faced with another icy spell that kills their early growth. However this shouldn't bother you, because at least you'll be ahead of your game.
In any case, as spring approaches, the water in your pond will slowly begin to warm. A good rule of thumb is to wait until it is about 10 degrees C before you do a thorough clean. This is also a good time to test the pond water to make sure the pH to ensure the water is slightly alkaline. Also check for unwanted nitrates and ammonia, as well as much needed oxygen.
This is also the time to check your pump and filter and to replace any parts that are not working 100%. Even if everything is working well, clean the outside of the pump and make sure that all strainers and filter mechanisms are cleared of any muck that might have accumulated in them. If there is any sludge or residue in the filter, as soon as you start up the pump again it's going to pollute your pond water.
If you are using a UV clarifier (UVC), you should replace the bulb. Even if it is still working, the bulb should be replaced annually, and early spring is a good time to do it.
Of course spring is also the time to start feeding your fish again. You can do this when the temperature is constantly around 8 to 10 degrees C. But remember they have been in hibernation and you will need to start with small quantities of low-protein food. While koi (and goldfish for that matter) won't usually eat more than they need, any excess food in the water will negate all your efforts to get it clean and healthy for summer.*****
Dont stress over pond pH and Testing Koi Pond pH
I will make a few very important points here which should be taken very seriously by anyone contemplating measuring pH in a koi pond and then TAKING ACTION based upon the measured result from testing the koi ponds water. If you test do it reliably... Interpet lead this pond water testing field of the koi keeping hobby
- pH of koi pond water will vary depending on time of day measurement is taken and especially if plants are in the pond. This means if you take a pH at 9am it will not be the same as a pH taken at 6pm. This single piece of information therefore must never be the information relied upon to make fundamental decisions
- pH is notoriously difficult to measure even in a laboratory with sophisticated instruments let alone in a koipond or fish pond using a piece of litmus type paper or a vial with coloured scales on it.
- If you must measure pond pH and this is a great part of the hobby then take the pond pH at the same time every day and plot the result on a graph. So now what youre looking for is not a single pondwater result but rather a pH trend in the pond water that you can use to sensibly consider a pH strategy.
- Very high pH in a koi pond is a serious threat to the well being of koi when levels reach about 9.5 because at this pH level ammonia which is a natural metabolic product of the koi and its existence becomes extremely poisonous
- It would be extremely rare for a koi pond to reach dangerous pH levels but could well occur in koi ponds with serious algae problems