Here we have outlined some key maintenance tips for your pond in January.
January. The start of a new year, new resolutions, and really cold weather. You might start the gym or aim to see friends and family more. But the one thing you should try to do is to watch your pond. There isn’t much to do in January, but there are still a few things that can make your fish more comfortable.
• Raise your pump from the bottom of the pond on a shelf or on top of a few bricks. This ensures that the deeper levels of the pond are undisturbed. This is where your fish will hibernate throughout the winter period and they shouldn’t be disturbed, else this could cause fish problems.
• You should also consider removing excess equipment to service them. In the cold, wintery weather you can remove any UV clarifiers and filters on your pond, as algae is unlikely to develop, and your fish will produce less waste than they would normally produce in warmer weathers. After removing UV clarifiers and filters, make sure to clean them thoroughly and store in a dry location. These can be reinstalled at the end of February and your pump moved to the bottom of the pond.
• You should take care to prevent your pond from freezing over. This means you may want to invest in a pond heater; this will keep a portion of your pond free from ice to prevent toxic gases from building up below the surface of the pond.
• By keeping a portion of your pond clear, you will be allowing wildlife a chance at bathing or drinking. If you are struggling to prevent your pond freezing over, you could always leave a small, shallow bowl of water out for wildlife.
• If you use barley straw, put this into your pond in the middle of February.
• Be careful with your water changes. Try to avoid water changes in the winter period; the water you put into the pond will likely be cold and this could disturb your fish. Colder water can also hold more dangerous chemicals and may increase toxicity in the pond as well. Try to use a good dechlorinator, like the PondXpert Tap Tonic and leave any new water in a bucket over night to let it reach room temperature.
• In addition to the above, you should aim to test your pond on a fortnightly or monthly basis. If your pond, and its inhabitants, are not experiencing any problems, then you should test monthly. Regular testing allows you to monitor the chemicals in the pond and you can prevent problems before they begin to impact your fish. Either the Tetra Pond Test 6-in-1 or the Blagdon Pond Health Test Kit can be used to monitor your pond’s chemical levels.
• Use a skimmer net to remove leaves and other surface debris.
• Visually check your pond for signs of water loss. Water loss is not necessarily caused by a faulty liner; it can be caused by loose connections between your equipment, a partially frozen waterfall or feature, wildlife drinking and bathing in your pond, and plant life consuming water. If you think your pond is leaking, try pouring a glass of milk into your pond. It is completely harmless to your pond and it will be drawn to the location of the fault.
• Resolve to clean your filter on a weekly or fortnightly basis throughout the year. We know it’s tough, but regular maintenance can increase the lifespan of your equipment and improve the levels of filtration within your pond.
• In a mild winter, fish will continue to feed. Make sure you’re using low-temperature food to avoid problems in the spring.
• Be on the look out for spawning amphibians; check for signs that wildlife have visited your ponds, particularly if there are any eggs near your pond. Furthermore, try to make sure that any pond netting doesn't trap wildlife in your pond.
• When the temperature drops, your fish will become lethargic; this is nothing to worry about and you may even see fish lying on their sides. If you are worried, continue to monitor your fish and test your water.
• Cut back any decaying marginal plants in February; this allows new shoots to grow in time for Spring.
• While plants can photosynthesise under a layer of ice, try to keep any water above the plants free from ice to keep the conditions healthy for the plant.
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