Getting a Koi Pond Ready for Spring Season

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Page Summary:  Winter is ending thank goodness. Were  all looking forward to spring including the koi and goldfish in your pond. Your pondfish will have been alerted to the approaching new year by two coincident factors: pond water temperature increases and longer daylight hours. These 2 factors combined are the key to everything that happens in the pond from now on until the cycle is repeated again. The well being of your pond for the year will be governed by your pond pump. your pond biofilter and your ability to control algae growth.

Koi pond: new activity

Just as we get our swimming pools ready for summer (or at least in South Africa), so too should we prepare our koi and goldfish ponds for the new season. Fish hibernate in winter and you won't have been feeding the fish. Plant life will have died back and there will have been little activity in or around your pond – particularly if you live in a region that experiences true winters, rather than a tropical country with relatively little seasonal change.

As spring approaches, and the first signs of new life are evident, it is time for you to take stock of your pond and assess whether you need to lend a helping hand to the pond and its myriad of creatures working together to sustain life.

The onset of spring

While it may seem that the seasons are distinct, it doesn't always happen that systematically. After all, how often have you seen buds on deciduous trees, and then suddenly it seems to be winter again? By the same token, in the long run the temperature of your pond water will increase gradually as spring approaches. It will usually continue to increase and then peak in mid-summer.

When it comes to koi, there are some critical temperature levels that you need to note:

  • 4 degrees C.
  • 6 degrees C.
  • 10 degrees C.

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Four degrees is a magical temperature in many ways. At the onset of winter, when the water falls below this temperature level, koi will move downwards to the bottom of the pool. The main reason for this is that 4 degrees C tallies with the maximum density of the water. So as the water gets even colder, it will become less dense and will rise. By moving to the base of the pond, the fish remain in the warmest environment possible.

With the onset of spring, the opposite happens. At the same time, bacteria in a biological filter will also become active, slowly multiplying.

The fish will begin to be considerably more active when the temperature reaches 6 degrees. But it is only when it gets to above 8 to 10 degrees that koi will start looking for food. Since they won't have been eating for a while, start off feeding them low protein food.

Check the equipment for your pond

Serious koi keepers will have a range of equipment to keep their ponds in ship shape. Those who only stock their ponds with smaller, less attractive (though still wonderfully appealing) goldfish aren't as likely to use ultra violet clarifiers (UVcs) or even filters. In this event a pump would only be used to move water... for a waterfall or fountain. Otherwise they won't have a pump either.

Here are some of the possible items of equipment you might need to check:

  • pump
  • filter
  • UVc
  • pipework
  • air pumps and diffusers
  • a pool cover or net
  • water test kits

If you removed the pump for winter, now is the time to put it back in the water. If not, bring it to the surface and give it a good clean. Also check that it is still working.

If you have maintained some water flow through the filter during winter, getting back into the swing of spring and summer will be easier. Otherwise you're going to have to wait longer for bacteria in the filter to colonise, just as you would if the pond was new.

A UVc must also be thoroughly cleaned. Check O-rings and the UV bulb.

If you closed down the pond system completely for winter, it is inevitable that some debris will have accumulated in the pipes. For this reason it is imperative to vacuum the pond very gently so that muck isn't thrust into the pond by the sheer pressure of the water. In fact it's a good idea to allow the first hundred or so litres of water to flow out into the garden, rather than into the pond.

You ought to have thoroughly cleaned air pumps and diffusers before the onset of winter. Check them and replace any parts that are worn, the diaphragm for example.

If you have a pool cover or net, one of the first things you will do at the onset of spring is to remove it. Make sure it is clean and dry before storing it for the summer months. If you are going to continue to use a net, to guard against predators, then simply clean it and make sure it doesn't need repairs.

Make sure your test kits are still within their "use by" date and that all reagents are intact. Replace whatever you need to before running the full gamut of tests that will ensure you have a beautifully clear koi pond full of healthy fish and bacteria-free water.


Don't stress over pond pH and Testing Koi Pond pH

Interpet Koi Pond Test Kit

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 pond's water. If you test do it reliably... Interpet lead this pond water testing field of the koi keeping hobby

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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 you're 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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

Articles about koi and fish pond care in winter

Pond Heaters. Heating koi ponds winter growth feeding benefits

Koi pond heating using gas electric in UK temperature control

Bringing fish and pond and water out of winter into spring

Koi goldfish pond covers over winter. How to look after pondfish

Over-wintering koi goldfish hibernation cold freezing water ice

Koi pond heating using gas electric in UK temperature control

Should I heat my new koi pond this winter. What temperature?

Temperature swings. Koi Goldfish Feeding & water temperature

To Feed or not to feed your pond fish or koi or goldfish

How Do I care For My Garden Fish Pond In Cold Winter

Frozen Koi Ponds & Fish Ponds. Ponds Freeze in Winter. Pond Care in Freezing Winter Weather

Interpet Koi Pond Test KitWhat the Does pH of Koi Pond Water Mean? Should I measure Pond pH