The Garden Pond in Spring
Spring shows itself when the bulbs begin to appear and the fishes in the pond begin to stir, rising to the surface and moving in search of food. You can start to feed them but give only a very little at a time; use the floating pellets so that you can be sure that no more are given than the fishes can eat in five minutes or so. The first flowers of theshould be blooming, usually palustris (the Marsh Marigold) in both single and double forms. The water should be making growth, sending up shoots through the water. Frogs and other amphibians will begin to mate and spread their spawn in the shallow parts of the pond.
As the fishes have used up most of their reserves of nutrition they have little resistance to disease, particularly fungus infections. They need to be nurtured until their energy increases, and then their food should be supplemented with minced earthworms and scraps of meat and vegetables. Give the fishes as much as they will eat to bring them up to good condition ready for breeding.
Sometimes the decaying vegetation and the plant growth of the oxygenators and other aquatics that died back during the winter make the water coloured, sometimes black and at other times cloudy. This is more likely to happen in small ponds where there has been a prolificgrowth. The decaying matter should be removed where possible, and a partial water change is often necessary.
There are two basic methods of changing the water. The easiest is to allow the fresh water to trickle in from a hosepipe and the excess water to overflow the edge of the pond very gently; this is fine where the surroundingis quick-draining and the water will not cause any hazard. The alternative is to drain half the water out of the pond into a soakaway or drain by using a pump and hose. Once the pond is down to half full the hose can be attached to the tap and adjusted to give a gentle trickle. If your tap water is highly chlorinated, get a de-chlorinator from your aquarist suppliers, to make the water more palatable for the fishes.
The trickle action will give the water time to adjust to the surrounding temperature.
While the pool is at a low ebb, it is wise to take out and check the plant life. Baskets can be raised, and where the plants are too rampant divide and replant them. Replace weak plants, and remove those that are too vigorous and tall, putting smaller-growing varieties in their place.
Equipment removed in the autumn can be checked and put back into the pond. Examine everything for wear, and the cables for chafing or cracking, replacing where necessary. Check the connections to make sure that they are secure. Grease the pins on plugs to ensure a good contact, and service pumps and lights if they require it. Check light bulbs and replace any that do not work. Clean out the filter, and see that the impeller on the pump is working freely; then start the pump working for a short while to make sure that everything is in order for the summer. After the danger of frost has passed, the pool heater can be removed and stored for the summer. Clean netting of old leaves, and restretch it to keep off herons and cats; make sure that the edges are well secured as these predators have been known to lift a loose end and enjoy a free meal of fish in comparative freedom.
When feeding plants around the perimeter of the pond, take care to prevent any spillage of fertilizer into the water, as it will encourage algae. It is better to use a natural organic food such as well-rotted manure or a liquid feed based on seaweed rather than a excess nitrates in the soil that can seep into the pond water.