Posted on April 6, 2013 by thepondguy
Q: How do I know it is OK to put my fish back into the outdoor pond?
Ronnie – Salt Lake City, UT
A: This time of year, most of us are suffering with some cabin fever—including your pond fish. After being cooped up all winter long in a temporary indoor aquarium or tub, they’re ready to swim back to their spacious outdoor home.
But before you relocate your fish, you have some work to do first. The best time to return them to the pond is several weeks after you’ve done all the necessary chores to prepare for their homecoming. To make things easy, check out our four-step checklist:
- Spring Cleaning: First, clean out your dormant pond. Remove any debris that has settled over the past few months, and perform a thorough spring cleanout to remove winter buildup. This will give your finned friends a nice place to come home to—and minimize algae growth in the spring.
- Jump Start Filtration: About a month before you plan to return your fish to the pond, start your filtration system and let it run without fish. Turn on your mechanical filter and seed your filter pads with beneficial bacteria, such as Microbe-Lift® PL Gel, to speed the colony’s growth (but first make sure the water temperature is above 55° Fahrenheit with your pond thermometer). Keep in mind that in the spring, a filter can take four to six weeks to become established, so adding fish without adequate filtration established can result in quick algae formation.
- Test Your Water: While your pond is cycling, periodically check your water chemistry with a API® Pond Master Test Kit to ensure the pond water is balanced and pH, ammonia and nitrate levels are safe for fish.
- Acclimate Fish: The final step before re-homing your fish is to help them get used to the pond’s water temperature, which will likely be colder than their winter housing. Carry your fish out in a bucket and slowly add water from the pond to the bucket at 10- to 15-minute intervals, using your pond thermometer to check the water temperature as you go. This shock-prevention technique will allow them to adjust slowly—and safely—to their outdoor digs.
Your fish may become stressed during the indoor-to-outdoor transition, but you can keep it to a minimum by preparing their home and making sure they’re as healthy as possible in advance of their relocation. Have fun moving!
Pond Talk: Do you notice a change in your fishes’ behavior when they transition from indoors to outdoors?
Filed under: Fish Population, Koi & Goldfish, Pond Cleanouts, Seasonal Care, Spring Cleanout, Spring Start-Up, Water Gardens & Features, Water Quality Issues | Tagged: acclimate your fish, acclimating koi, ammonia, ammonia levels, master test kit, nitrite levels, ph, pH levels, PL gel, pond thermometer, thermometer | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 7, 2010 by thepondguy
Explaining the Nitrogen Cycle
We’ve Got Good Chemistry
Today we trade in our waders for lab coats as we discuss your pond’s nitrogen cycle. While many of us find it hard to stay awake for science lectures, we promise this one will save you time and money and give you the upper hand in the fight against algae and fish kills. The nitrogen cycle is present in all water gardens and is truly a great thing when in balance. As plant matter decays and fish produce waste, ammonia is released into the water. The bacteria in your pond naturally break this ammonia down into nitrites and then down into nitrates. Plants, including algae, feed off of these nitrates, which in turn die and decompose or are eaten by fish and the process repeats itself. Having too many fish in your water garden or an abundance of decomposing organic debris can dramatically increase the amount of ammonia in your pond and, in turn, can harm your fish or turn the water body into an all you can eat buffet for unwanted algae.
Put Your Water Garden to the Test
Different types of test kits are available for purchase that will allow you to measure nitrite levels and ammonia levels. Kits like our API® Pond Master Test Kit let you measure nitrites and ammonia and pH all in one package. Regularly testing the water quality of your pond will give you the ability to locate potential problems and adjust accordingly before they become a danger to your plants or fish. Your ammonia and nitrite levels should ideally be at 0 with a pH level between 6.5 and 8.5.
Are You Unbalanced!?
So you know why it is important to achieve balance in your pond, you know how to test for it, but how do you go about achieving balance? A great, natural way to combat high nitrate levels in your pond is by incorporating some aquatic plants. Plants like Water Hyacinth filter the contents of the water, helping to create a clean, clear pond. Furthermore, providing adequate filtration is key in maintaining a balanced water body. Pay attention to your fish load. The more fish available to produce waste, the more filtration will be needed to break down the resulting ammonia. A good rule of thumb is to figure one fish per ten square feet of water surface. Adding beneficial bacteria such as Nature’s Defense® will further help to break down organic debris and fish waste. Using natural products and methods like those listed above will reduce your dependency on algaecides and other chemicals to fight algae blooms.
POND TALK: What products do you use to control your water gardens nitrate levels?
Filed under: Spring Start-Up, Water Gardens & Features, Water Quality Issues | Tagged: ammonia levels, Nature's Defense, nitrite levels, pH levels, test kit, water hyacinth, Water Testing | 1 Comment »