Adding a water garden with fish to your backyard has been a growing trend over the past couple decades. Water gardens allow you to create a tranquil, quiet place right in your backyard. They’re also a great way to add beauty to your Southern California property.
By adding fish to your pond, you’re able to bring a piece of nature to your home. After a long day at work or during the weekend, you can go into your backyard, sit by your koi pond and enjoy the scenery. Another fun feature is that over time, koi fish will begin to recognize you, which makes feeding time fun for the whole family.
As with all ponds, fish ponds require some effort to keep them clean and healthy. There’s a common misconception that fish pond maintenance is time-consuming and difficult, but this isn’t the case. By following these 9 fish pond maintenance tips, you’ll be able to keep the work to a minimum, allowing you to spend more time enjoying your beautiful water garden.
1. Clean the Skimmer Once a Week
Much like with a swimming pool, your pond’s skimmer removes unwanted debris, such as leaves and grass, before it sinks to the bottom. You’ll want to clean out the skimmer basket and filter pads once a week to avoid blockages.
During certain times of the year, such as in the fall when lots of leaves are falling, you may need to do this more frequently. It’s very important to remove organic debris such as mulch and leaves because if they’re left in the pond and start to decompose, it will cause more algae to grow.
2. Control Algae Outbursts
Between winter and spring, the weather goes from cold to warm fairly quickly. When this happens, you may experience a bloom of algae in your pond. If you notice this happening, don’t stress. Instead, use an algae buster treatment in your pond to help control these sudden outbursts.
3. Clean the Biological Filter Every 3-9 Months
A biological filter uses beneficial bacteria to eliminate algae, fish waste, and decomposing plant parts from your pond. Because you want your biological filter to retain as much of the beneficial bacteria as possible, you don’t need to clean it as frequently. You’ll want to wait until water flow declines to clean the filter, which may mean you wait anywhere from three to nine months between cleanings.
4. Add Beneficial Bacteria Approximately Once Per Month
Biological filters naturally consume the nutrients in the water and starve algae to keep it from growing. This is done by adding beneficial bacteria to your pond. You can either do this by hand once a month, or have an automatic system installed that adds it on a timed schedule, usually once per month.
5. Do an Annual Pond Cleanout
Make it a habit to completely clean out your pond once a year. This allows you to get a good, deep clean of your pond so it stays beautiful year-round.
An annual pond clean-out typically includes:
- Emptying the pond
- Putting your fish into a container
- Cleaning the filters
- Removing leaves and debris
- Cleaning algae from the rocks
- Pressure washing the entire pond
- Refilling the pond with new, non-chlorinated water
- Adding beneficial bacteria and other treatments as needed
- Safely re-introducing fish into the pond
6. Trim Your Plants as Needed
Water gardens are often surrounded by trees, plants and grasses – all of which will need to be trimmed from time to time. This is mostly for aesthetic purposes, but you also don’t want your plants to block your water garden or for extra leaves, grass and mulch to fall into your pond.
7. Take Care of Your Fish
Koi fish are gentle creatures, and they’re a great addition to water gardens, especially if you have children. When they’re well taken care of, koi fish thrive in ponds. One of the best ways to ensure they remain healthy is to make sure fish are properly fed.
To estimate how much food your koi can eat, feed them for five minutes. If you notice there’s still food left after that time, it’s a sign that five minutes of feeding is too long. When koi take in more food than they need, it results in more waste, which can hurt water quality.
When feeding your fish by hand, be patient, as it will take time for the fish to notice you. Make it a habit to feed from the same spot every time, and don’t just leave the food in the water and walk away. If you let them see you, your fish will begin to recognize you over time.
8. Maintain a Proper Level of Water
To avoid worrying about refilling your pond manually every time water levels get low, add an autofill system to your pond. Much like with a swimming pool, a float valve will sit on top of your pond, and when water levels drop 1-2 inches, the pond will automatically refill itself. One less thing you have to worry about when maintaining your fish pond.
If you do manually add chlorinated water to your pond for any reason, it’s critical that you add a dechlorinator so the water doesn’t hurt the fish. This is where an automatic refill system comes in handy, since it will automatically add smaller amounts of more water when levels get low, and you won’t have to worry about adding in dechlorinator.
There may also be times where excessive rains cause your pond to overflow. You can use a bucket or a hose to siphon off the level if you think it’s too high.
9. Winterizing Your Pond?
If you’ve lived in other areas of the country, such as the Northeast, Northwest, or Midwest, and had a pond in your backyard, you’re likely familiar with the steps needed to prepare your pond for the cold weather.
However, an added bonus is that in Southern California, you won’t need to worry about winterizing your pond since temperatures typically don’t get so low to cause winter freezing.
Finding Help with Maintaining a Koi Pond in Southern California
The biggest mistake you can make when maintaining a fish pond is to neglect routine maintenance and only attend to them once they become out of control.
Water gardens don’t require much maintenance. In fact, it only takes about 10 minutes per week to ensure your pond and fish are healthy, but it’s important that you keep up with maintenance tasks throughout the year.
If you’ve fallen behind on your routine maintenance, or if you’re still unsure of how to take care of your pond, the team at California Waterscapes can help. We have experience installing and maintaining a wide variety of water features, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you have about the best ways to maintain a koi pond.
At California Waterscapes, we offer fish pond maintenance and a variety of other services for water features. To learn more about how we can help you with your next pond project, check out our gallery and contact us today for a free quote.