Valueaquatics Preparing your pond for hibernation

If the fish hibernate in the pond, you can prevent complete freeze-over by leaving pond filters running or fountain and filter pumps, respectively, this will help keep part of the surface free from ice. Do not break the ice under any circumstances!
Water movement keeps part of the pond ice-free. Only turn off filters and water falls/fountains if the weather turns exceptionally cold.

It has been shown that ponds where the surface freezes over come to no harm and can be beneficial. The fish will be hibernating in the bottom of the pond and less active.

Feeding your fish should be stopped by now as the temperatures are dipping.

Even if they come to the surface on fine sunny days refrain from feeding as the fish will be using there fat reserves and will be unable to digest any food that they will eat. This then rots in their stomachs, the gases build up and the fish looks very fat and round, this will kill the fish.


Pond plant fertilizer from Tetra

It is not only the fish in the pod that need looking after but the plants as well. They take a lot of nourishment from the fish waste as part of the normal pond cycle, but like your house plants require some added missing elements. These are known as trace elements because the plants only require them in very small amounts. The problem with some pond fertilizers is that they contain phosphates and nitrates which will also feed algae’s.

So Tetra has formulated a pond plant fertilizer Plantamin which contains iron and the other trace elements that are essential for the lush growth of pond plants.

Plantamin is easy to apply simply add 50ml of Plantamin for every 1000 litres or 220gallons of pond water. Treat at this dose at the start of the pond season and then at a half dose every 2-3 weeks after that.

Valueaquatics offer Tetra Pond Plantamin in a handy 250ml size container.


Tetra Pond Quick Test 5-in-1 Strips

ValueAquatics Blog

Tetra Pond Quick Test 5-in-1 Strips

This test kit is extremely easy to use just take out a test strip dip in the pond water let it stand for a minute and simply read off the comparison colour chart. Obviously read the instruction for the correct times, but generally that is all there is to it.

I use this kit as a good quick guide to check the pond water quality but if a test or tests show any abnormality I check with a wet chemical test which is more accurate.

I check my water parameters every two to four weeks. Always do water checks around mid day not first thing in the morning as you will get unreliable readings, as the biology of the pond is just getting going again fro the night time close down. As bacteria, algae, plants and fish etc. sleep or are less active at night giving off different chemical reactions/changes to the pond.

If your pond is new I would recommend testing the water every 3 or four days until the water comes into the correct parameters.

The test strips test for pH, KH Calcium hardness, GH General Hardness, NO3 Nitrate and NO2 Nitrite.

The tests can be split into two types for better understanding Chemical and biological tests.

The chemical tests we include here are pH, KH, GH and Oxygen because the levels are caused by chemical reactions in the pond and some as other biological reactions or processes.

The pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of the pond water. For goldfish and Koi the pH should read between 8.0 and 8.5 no lower than 7.0(neutral). The water should be slightly alkaline which is best for Goldfish and Koi. A new pond may start off at 6.5 to 7.0 unless your tap water is hard then it will probably be ideal in the 8.0-8.5 range. As the water matures the pH will usually come in to the correct parameters.

The KH measures the amount of soluble carbonate/bicarbonate ions that are a buffer to maintain a steady pH. A medium to high KH shows that the pH is less likely to change and is what we are looking for.

The GH shows the general hardness of the pond water, generally those of the calcium and Magnesium ions.

The GH should be medium to high to match the natural conditions preferred by Goldfish and Koi.

The Oxygen ( O2 )which is this case is the dissolved oxygen in the water. The oxygen dissolves in the water and is easily replenished by and air pump and diffuser stone. If you have a waterfall usually you will not require an air pump, though if you have a large number of fish or larger fish it would be advisable.

The warmer the water the less oxygen will be dissolved in it, and if a pond is excessively planted may suffer from oxygen depletion at night as due to the plants respiration.

 The Biological tests are the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate as they are controlled by the pond life.Ammonia is the toxic waste from the pond life generally and is colourless and readily dissolved in the pond water. It can take two forms as free ammonia NH3 of the ammonium ion NH4+. Without going into the chemistry the NH4+ is less toxic but predominantly it takes the toxic NH3 route in alkaline water of a Koi pond. The level has to be kept at zero as it is so toxic to your fish.  

The Nitrite NO2 is toxic as well and is a biological bi product of the ammonia breakdown. It can be harder to control than the ammonia as the bacteria take longer to break it down.

The nitrite levels often run high in new ponds for longer periods. If allowed to become excessive the nitrite levels become inhibitory to the nitrite oxidising bacteria, so taking longer to reduce the level of nitrite. Even large water changes will do little to alleviate the problem.

It is the bacteria in the pond system that breaks down the nitrite to safer levels, so it takes time and the addition of Interpet Pond Bio Activator will be very beneficial to a new pond or one coming out of winter. Bio Activator is a chemical free natural solution to the problem.



Potting up your pond plants

Now is the time to start thinking of pond plants. If you have lilies pull them up and split any large overgrown plants. Simply knock them out of the old pot and split the thick roots into manageable bits, Pick the root with some new plant leaf growth and line a new pond plant pot/crate with hessian then half fill with pond plant compost, add the cutting and top up with more of the compost firming the cutting in. I then add a layer of cobble stones this stops the fish from pulling the plants out especially Koi. Then sit them in the shallows or ledges of the pond for a fortnight or until the new roots have gained a hold in the new compost, then place in their permanent position in the pond.

Pot up new plants in the same way and treat them the same way.

The Pond pots/crates come in a variety of shapes and sizes square, round, kidney shaped, deep or shallow pots.

Always line the crates with hessian this stops the pond compost from running out of the drainage holes and slots.

When using compost always use good pond compost like Blagdons Pond Plant Compost. Never use garden soil or house or garden plant composts as these may have added harmful chemicals in them like fertilisers and insecticides.

ValueAquatics carry a good range of crates and compost for your pond plants.



Pond Checks for the Start of the Pond Year

Now is the time to get your pond ready for the start of the pond year especially as this winter has been so long, Don’t wait till you switch on to find that something does not work.

Watch the weather forecasts and the pond water temperature when the last hard frosts are behind us and the water is above 50°F then you can start feeding Wheatgerm and as things warm up start feeding the usual normal fish foods.

Check your pond for pH, Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite levels, they may have crept up at this time, then check again after everything has been running for a fortnight.

Check your electrics, plugs and connections are all clean and free of cobwebs and other debris, if you have a meter check the fuses are all okay and make sure the fuses are all 3 amp not 13 amp unless stated in the equipment instruction manual. This could be a life saver, you would not believe the number of 13 amp fuses that I have come across in peoples aquatic appliances.

Pumps: Air pumps service and check the diaphragms are good and not holed or perished. The air line has not gone brittle and cracked or got itself kinked. Airstones replaced, I replace mine as a matter of Corse every year and keep the old ones as standbys after cleaning them.

Water pups: Service and clean them especially inside the impeller housing taking out any debris that may have got in there weed snails grit etc. Clean or replace any old foam that will have been standing there all winter.

The piping from the pump to filter check for any wear and tare also check the hose clips and connections.

UV clarifier the UV tubes should be changed every year as the UV drops off after about 6 months and will not be effective after that. While you are changing the UV source carefully take the quartz sleeve out and clean off any lime scale deposits and replace the rubber gaskets before putting it back together.

Filters: Leave the bio media in the bottom of the filter and only give the foams or brushes a clean in pond or rain water never tap water. 

Only clean the biological media in mid summer and by back flushing if your filter allows this, or by taking it out into a bucket and washing in pond water only wash out any thick sludge and solids that have accumulated then replace the media back into the filter. This only needs doing every two years.