If you are brand new to owning a pond and don’t have a clue about the basics of one, read part 1 of my series in Koi Pond Maintenance for Beginners. If you already did that and want to know more, you’re at the right place! The three types of routine maintenance on a pond are pretty straightforward: daily, weekly, and monthly.
Daily pond maintenance is the most simple and relaxing. All you need to do is feed your fish! I’ve met people who’ve stated in a well-established ecosystem pond you never need to feed your koi or goldfish. While I’ve actually met people who have never fed their fish I would never recommend this as it can be detrimental to their health. I recommend reading this article from Dr. Johnson (a veterinarian with 30 years of koi experience) about what kind of food is best for your koi based on the ingredients label. When you feed your fish, make sure you feed no more than what they can consume in 5 minutes. Once per day is usually just fine. When you feed your fish you want to look for changes in behavior. Do they seem lethargic? Are any isolating away from the other fish? Do they seem to be swimming awkwardly? Lastly, you’ll want to look for any signs of ulcers or blemish on the fish. An ulcer is a sign of an infection. Usually, they have a parasite or bacteria infection. More on this topic in a future article. The only other thing I would do on a daily basis, is count your fish (if you can). Occasionally a fish will get sick and end up in the mechanical filter because they are too weak to swim against the current. If so, a hospital tank will need to be set up for this fish. I’ll write another article on this topic in the future.
Weekly maintenance on a koi or goldfish pond takes a little more time; but, is pretty simple. Most pond owners say they spend less time taking care of their pond every week than they did taking care of their former lawn! The most important weekly maintenance task is cleaning out the basket and / or filter pads in your mechanical filter. Most mechanical filters are set up as skimmer filters. They skim the surface of the water, catching any floating debris. This floating debris is caught in the basket so it can be easily removed by the pond owner. If this debris isn’t removed, it will break down in the water resulting in organic waste to build up in the pond causing issues with water quality and clarity. Ultimately, this will lead to a nasty pond that is unhealthy for the fish - and is unsightly!
Other typically recommended weekly maintenance includes dosing the pond with beneficial bacterias. Regular dosing of beneficial bacteria helps fight the growth of string algae, and floating algae in the pond. This is a concept known as competitive exclusion. If more good things (bacteria) are eating the available nutrients, then fewer bad things (algae) will be able to thrive. Additionally, some ponds have copper ionizers to help reduce string algae growth. These should be cleaned on a weekly basis. Using a box cutter, you can scrape off the oxidized copper so it can continue to work. Note, you want these ionizers on the lowest setting necessary because if they are left too high for too long, excess copper can build up in the pond and cause your fish to have health problems. Lastly, you’ll likely need to add water to your pond every 1 to 2 weeks. It is normal for a pond to lose 1 to 2 inches of water per week due to evaporation. Ponds with more powerful pumps and larger surface areas tend to lose more water than smaller ponds with weaker pumps.
Our final category for routine maintenance is monthly. This is perhaps the easiest task of them all. Monthly maintenance primarily involves taking care of your aquatic plants. Dying waterlily pads should be removed on a regular basis every 2 weeks or more. Many contractors, including Good Steward Ecoscapes, offer weekly maintenance packages and will remove dying waterlily pads. For pond owners who like to be less technical and use a more natural approach, it is a good idea to physically remove the string algae from your pond. This string algae uses up excess nitrates and phosphates in the water, when it is physically removed from the pond, those nitrates and phosphates are then permanently removed! Many pond owners will take this algae and put it in their compost bin.
Owning a pond is relaxing, and one of the most rewarding hobbies. The maintenance of simple, and many pond owners find it as a source of therapy. For owners not looking to maintain their ponds, we at Good Steward Ecoscapes offer maintenance services for a low-stress solution!