As reports come in from
Ponders, several people lost some of their larger fish
during this long, harsh winter. Many fish died because
the ponds froze over and they suffocated to death. With
hopes that spring is finally here and the memories of
snow behind us, it is time to open our ponds and prepare
them for warmer weather.
As the days get longer and
the sun warms the air we begin to see activity in our
ponds. The fish become more active and our plants emerge
from their dormancy. We should begin to see new growth
on plants such as marsh marigolds. I have also seen
little leaves forming on my hardy water lilies and water
irises rising up above the water reaching for the sun.
Its time to return your pumps
to the water after careful inspection of them and your
hoses. You can give your biological filters a spring
boost by inoculating them with beneficial bacteria available
from garden suppliers. Many people have asked me what
I use. Even those I do not like to endorse any business
or product, this is a product that is highly used by
many Ponders. I use a product called Microbe-Lift. This
is not a chemical. It is harmless to humans, animals,
fish and plants. Microbe-Lift helps to jump start your
pond and maintains a healthy immune system for your
fish. Make sure you are using the correct Microbe-lift
for your water temperature. More information can be
attained from their web site at: www.microbelift.com.
You can test the water to assure that ammonia has not
built up over the winter months. If you have high levels
of ammonia, a 25% water exchange at this time should
reduce the risk to your fish. If you have chlorine in
the water, you will need to treat it. Be patient if
you notice string algae or green water. Once your pond
has established a balance this will disappear.
This is also the time to
remove your plants and trim or pinch the old growth
and all yellowing leaves off. Divide and repot these
plants. Give tadpoles, dragonfly larvae and other pond
inhabitantâ€™s time to escape before
placing the trimmings on a compost pile. You can fertilize
your plants at this time with fish-safe fertilizer pellets
to help give the plants a jump-start on the season.
While you are in the pond removing your plants, this
is also the time to remove all leaves and debris that
may have blown in during the winter. I use my fine-mesh,
long-handled swimming pool skimmer net for this job.
The removal of this debris will remove potential sources
of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates from your water, which
is also toxic to fish. Place your plants at their appropriate
depths or set in shallow water to encourage quicker
growth and then placing them at the depth you want them
My fish (which happens to
be Koi) are coming up to the surface looking for food
every time I walk out there. You should not feed your
fish food until the water temperature reaches 50 degrees
F. Someone forgot to tell the fish this. I like to start
them out with something like plain ole Cheerios or something
that can be easily digested. Wheat-germ-based floating
pellets are a good source of food for your fish at this
time. Feed them in the morning so that they have ample
time to digest their food before the night turns cool.
Keep a watch for parasites and disease in your fish.
Enjoy the spring weather
and kiss winter Good-bye.
Jennings (pond Lady) President,
Mid-Michigan Pond & Water Garden Club
Advanced MSU Master Gardener