Maintaining & Troubleshooting Your Pond
Garden pond's can be very temperamental, especially in extreme weather conditions. Not keeping control of your pond's water balance, temperature and structure can be disastrous. There are things you can do to keep control of your pond by regular maintenance; however, there may be things you can't control and you need to know how to get your pond back to its balanced and tranquil state.
Basic Pond Maintenance:
- Test your water balance at regular intervals and correct as necessary. Control algae and know the difference between beneficial and destructive algae.
- Ensure your water temperature is constant. If it goes too high or too low, correct it immediately by adding water or using a pond heater, especially if you have fish. The key to this is to do it gradually and not shock the system.
- Keep the pond free of debris, including leaves and other rotting organic matter. Rotting leaves can create ammonia which can suck the life out of fish and plants.
- Check and clean the pond's filter religiously, especially in the high season.
- Keep predators away by using pond netting or other methods.
- Fix leaks immediately. If you have a pond liner, keep a pond repair kit on hand at all times.
- Remove all dead leaves from plants and prune shrubs from borders. Also, check for insect infestations, mildew issues and deal with them immediately.
- Put in a de-icer or pond heater in the winter. Float tennis balls in the pond during the winter to alleviate the pressure stress on the structure when the ice forms.
- Add mulch to delicate pond plants in the winter or bring them indoors.
Troubleshooting Your Pond:
- Green water usually means algae issues.
- Brown water can be caused by fish stirring up the mud, excrement and organic matter from the bottom of the pond. Algaecides do not work.
- Black water is usually toxic (unless black dye is used for a visual effect) and it means get in there and clean it out properly. Too much rotting organic material is your problem.
- Murky cream water can mean there are too many dead creatures. Get in there, get rid of the issue and be sure to clean out the filter.
- Oily water can mean that dying water lilies are to blame. Get them out before they die and if too late, as a remedy, float a J-cloth on the surface and remove quickly, then clean out your filter.
- See our page on water chemistry for too much acidity in your pond, etc.
- Temperature issues. You can buy an expensive, submergible water temperature gauge to monitor and correct the problem or you can check it yourself at regular intervals. If the temperature is too high, add cool water slowly and at intervals. Extreme temperatures are not good for the fish or the ecosystem. If the pond cools off too quickly use a pond heater, but again raise the temperature slowly.
- Leaking ponds. First, ensure the water is not dissipating due to evaporation.
- Use a pond repair kit for pond liners.
- For concrete ponds, use a concrete sealant and then rinse it repeatedly so the chemical doesn't permeate the water or add a pond liner and underlayment.
- Fiberglass ponds have repair kits.
- Your first line of defense is using pond netting to keep predators out of the pond, especially herons.
- Adding plastic pipes for the fish to hide is another option.
- Putting an effigy of a heron or a floating alligator head can be a deterrent.
- If you have raccoons, try and stay away from building a stepped side pond because raccoons like to fish.
- Try using a motion detector that squirts water at the predators.
- As a last hope use animal friendly traps.
With ponds and gardening in general, it can be a trial and error process. Keeping control by maintaining your pond regularly is really the key to any successful pond.