Every New Pond Owner Should Know This

Page Summary: Click image right for UK pond products. In pond keeping like everything else in life some things matter more than others. Koi or goldfish are subject to daily stresses just as we are but on a different level (at least there are no herons waiting around the corner to eat us). Pond keeping is about understanding some very basic principles of water quality control with specific reference to maintaining a health aquatic environment for fish be they koi or goldfish. If you understand these basic pond water quality principles its highly unlikely your koi or goldfish pond will experience serious problems and you will get a lifetime of enjoyment from your pond fish be they exotic koi, goldfish and/or aquatic plants. Always buy the best equipment and food you can afford. Do not add chemicals to a pond unless you know exactly what youre doing. Do NOT overfeed and ALWAYS use high quality fish food. Teach yourself more about pond keeping

The Tell-Tale Signs of an Overstocked Pond

There’s no questioning the fact that pond keeping requires hours of hard work, dedication and passion, not to mention a considerable financial investment. It’s hard to believe that any koi or goldfish keeper could move house considering the time devoted to constructing and maintaining their pond, but it’s a fact of life - even pond owners move.

What this essentially means is that new home owners could also become new pond owners, and might very well be oblivious to the ins and outs of koi and gold fish keeping. You may find yourself in this predicament, and perhaps you’re undecided as to whether you’ll even keep the pond.

What should you do? Well, with some basic knowledge and a bit of determination, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t find koi and fish keeping entirely rewarding and enjoyable. Here are 10 things every new pond owner should know:

Resist the Urge to Empty Pond: You may look at the pond you’ve inherited and wonder whether anything could possibly live in it – the answer is more often than not ‘yes’. As tempting as it may be to empty the fish pond and refill it with tap water, you should resist this urge at all costs.

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While it may not be obvious, your pond contains an array of beneficial bacteria which are priceless in terms of pond maintenance. New ponds have to wait for beneficial bacteria to multiply and work their magic, so preserving your pond’s existing diversity puts you ahead of the game

Test Water Quality One of the first things you want to do as a new pond owner is test whether the water quality is suitable for koi or smaller fish. Purchase a few test kits and use the following results as a guideline:

  • pH: between 7.5 and 8.5
  • Ammonia: 0
  • Nitrite: 0
  • Nitrate: less than 50ppm, but ideally less than 25ppm

Ponds work on a seasonal cycle, so the results will depend on what time of the year you test the pond water. In winter when koi and goldfish are inactive, ammonia and nitrate levels will most likely be zero, but during the spring and summer months, you may need to take corrective measures.

DIY Maintenance: When you begin maintenance on your garden pond, you will need to tackle any silt that has settled on the bottom. The best option is to hire a pond vacuum from an aquatic store and make a thorough effort to remove the silt which, if left, will become a source of nutrients for algae.

As a new pond owner, another thing you will need to check for is leaks. The water level can drop due to leaks or evaporation. Filling the pond and observing the water level for a day or two will soon help you to establish whether there is a leak. If your pond has a worn-in tidemark at its current level, then you’ll probably locate the leak somewhere above the mark.

There are three main types of garden pond: a liner pond, a preformed pond and a concrete pond. While preformed and concrete ponds shouldn’t present many problems, a liner pond’s liner will need to be checked to see whether it is intact, as sun exposure over the years may have caused it to become brittle. This is an indicator that it will soon need to be replaced.

Filter Inspection

Depending on what time of the year you inherit your pond and its koi or gold fish inhabitants, the filter may or may not be running. If it is winter and the pump is not running, you should take this window of opportunity to give the brushes, foams and existing media a thorough clean. Once again, you want to preserve any matured beneficial bacteria, so make use of buckets of pond water to do the cleaning. If your filter is up and running, do not clean it out completely, but rather clean individual parts over time to maintain its diversity.

While getting acquainted with your pond’s filtration system, check that the UVc and filter is adequate for the volume of water. If you are intent on specifically keeping koi fish and the depth of your pond is suitable in this regard, you may have to look at improving your filtration system with a gravity-fed filter, which has distinctive filter chambers. Another option is to use a manufactured multi-chamber unit for your existing pump-fed filter.

Pump Inspection

It’s important to establish whether your pond’s pump is in working condition – a task that is virtually impossible by merely looking at its external appearance. To gather information about your pump’s state, you can perform what is known as a simple service. This merely involves removing and stripping down the pre-filter so that you can see whether the impellor is spinning without restraint.

During the simple service, when the pump is out of the water, it’s a good idea good idea to switch the power on momentarily to check whether the pump works. You shouldn’t switch it on while it is in the water, as this could churn up silt which has settled on the pond bottom, causing undesirable consequences for the koi or goldfish inhabitants.

If you find that the pump is broken, the best course of action to follow is to take it to an aquatic dealer who will be able to replace it with one of a similar size.

Aeration Devices:

Depending on whether you inherited a garden pond or a koi pond with your new home, you might have also received diffusers or an air pump. Aeration is a primary concern if you are looking to keep a considerable amount of koi. What you need to think about before purchasing a device is the depth of your pond, as the air pump will need to be big enough to pump air to the bottom of the pond. Air domes are particularly effective aeration devices, requiring significantly less than if you had to make use of air stones.

While addressing aeration, you may also want to take note of the UVc which will be in line with the pump and filter. It works with the filter to prevent green water, and the UV bulb will need to be replaced every spring to ensure that it continues to work effectively.

Electrical Supply and Connections

Being a new pond owner, you should take the necessary precautions that you would as a new home owner and inspect the junction and switch boxes to make certain that they are watertight and undamaged. As you will inevitably have an electrician visit your new home to make small changes, have him take a look at your pond’s power supply and electrical connections.

Plants

Any pond plants will in all likelihood need to be re-potted just before spring – but ensure that you do any re-potting after the silt has been removed from the pond bottom. What re-potting entails is simply moving the plants to baskets that have been filled with aquatic soil, and then adding a top cover of gravel. They can also be pruned if necessary. What’s most important is that the plants are positioned in such a way that they provide shade to the deepest parts of the pond and its shelves, thereby offering protection to your koi or gold fish.

Caring for Your Fish

After you’ve addressed the abovementioned pond-keeping duties, you can finally turn your focus to the fish. It’s understandable that as a new pond owner, you would want to immediately catch a glimpse of the fish inhabiting your newfound aquatic wonderland – but you are not advised to stir up your pond with any object to see what surfaces. It is much better to wait until spring when koi slowly emerge from their winter hibernation.

Once the water temperature begins to rise above 8 degrees Celsius, you can begin to offer your fish small amounts of good quality food. If you arrive at your new home in the winter months, you won’t have to feed them, as they will still be in hibernation.

It’s also best to be modest when adding new fish, as you definitely do not want to endure the hassles that accompany overstocking your pond. You may discover that there are a few goldfish or koi already living in the pond, and perhaps the few that you already have are sufficient to begin with.

Of course, if you really want a dedicated koi pond, you may have to replace your existing one. A dedicated koi pond should ideally be 4-5 feet deep and have a volume of at least 2000 gallons. However, it is advisable that you work with the pond you have while learning the art of pond-keeping. Koi are an expensive hobby, so it’s best that you make any rooky mistakes with your existing pond.

Must-Have Items

If you’re a new pond owner and you’re toying with the idea of whether to delve into the world of fish-keeping, it is certainly advisable that you go through a spring and a summer with your new pond. Don’t make any hasty decisions with regards to filling the pond, as many an avid fish keeper has discovered their passion for koi and goldfish through inheriting a pond.

In some cases, a new house may come with a neglected, murky pond that will need a full supply of equipment to get it up and running. If you want to make your shopping list, here are the items that you will need to get started:

  • An underlay and a pond liner
  • A power supply
  • A submersible pump
  • Filter/UVc
  • Koi, gold fish or a selection of pond fish
  • Pond plants
  • Net, food, water test kits and conditioners

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