Wiosna w oczku wodnym. Springtime in ponds. Start-up after winter, and preparation for the coming season.

In order for a natural or ornamental pond to fully present its beauty in spring and summer, it is best to start taking care of it immediately after winter. When the water temperature reaches 8-10° C, you can be sure that you can start.
However, small shallow water reservoirs require special attention because, the smaller the pond is, the more difficult it is to achieve biological equilibrium. Some of the maintenance work is best carried out before the growing season begins. First of all, immediately after the ice melts, any creatures that did not survive the winter (fish, frogs, etc.) should be removed from the reservoir. As the temperature rises these carcasses will decompose very quickly, resulting in water poisoning. When preparing a natural or ornamental pond for the season, it is worth bearing in mind a few critical issues.
Checking for leakage, and possibly repairing or improving the pond liners
Is the tank tight and is everything in its place? First of all, check the condition of the liner, improve the sloped stones and gravel, and the capillary barrier because ice action can displace the gravel and stones and other decorative elements. It is also worth making sure that the membrane sealing the pond basin is well masked and does not protrude above the water surface or above the ground surrounding the pond. In winter, the membrane often buckles as the water volume changes. Both frost and subsidence can cause leaks in both plastic and concrete linings. Leaks may be nearly invisible and resemble scratches, therefore the basin should be inspected very carefully – water will seep into the ground even through such “scratches”. After sealing the pond, it is worth checking that it is properly seated in the ground to reduce the risk of future cracking. Elastic membranes used for lining ponds can also become damaged. To perform repairs first lower the water level, then dry each area to be repaired, then clean it, and then finally seal it with the appropriate patching materials and methods. In the event that the liner is badly worn, or has too many leaks, replacement is recommended.

Water parameters and their effects on organisms

Is the water clear, odorless, and are its basic parameters normal?

Autumn and winter are an extremely difficult times for a water reservoir because the levels of nutrients rises from surface waters, fallen leaves, and other sources. Additionally, inflows of soft water during these periods leads to a decrease in the carbonate hardness (CH) of the water, and thus to a change in its most important parameters. From such a situation it is easy to get to typical spring problems, primarily algae invasions/blooms. The self-cleaning mechanisms of ecological processes only work properly in sufficiently hard and buffered pond water. The proper parameter are: pH – from 7.4 to 8.4, carbonate hardness (CH) – above 5.5°, phosphate content – below 0.030 mg/l, and nitrite content – less than 0.3 mg/l. Fluctuations in the pH value are particularly inadvisable, as they contribute to a sharp decline in species diversity in the pond, and to the reduction of the greatest enemy of algae – zooplankton. In such a situation, a massive growth of algae is inevitable. It is best to test the most important water parameters after winter and use the appropriate ecological products to rebalance critical deviations from the norm. In order to obtain reliable results, it is recommended to test twice: once in the morning, and then 12 hours later in the evening. For this purpose, you can use an easy-to-use basic testing kit (drop test), or deliver a water sample to our company. If the nitrite content exceeds: 0.3 mg/l, then 30% of the pond water must be replaced with fresh water (preferably tap water), and if in excess of 0.7 mg/l, replace more than 60% of the water, and if in excess of 1.0 mg/l a complete water change is recommended. In any case, the newly added water must be treated with PondStarter to create a compatible pond water biotope. As a result of this treatment, harmful substances (such as chlorine and heavy metals) will be bound and neutralized. Next, it is worth stabilizing the most important water parameters with PondStabil; this product will adjust the pH value and increase the carbonate hardness (CH) to create the ideal conditions for plants and all the inhabitants of the pond. Finally, it is a good idea to use a natural algae suppressant like AlgoStopper, and to apply the EcoGerm Ponds microbial mixture, which contains a high concentration of beneficial bacteria to help maintain the biological balance in the pond. If the phosphate level is too high, you can apply the PhosSorb mixture that is safe for microorganisms. PhosBinder, can also be used in places where water flows, (in filters, at pump outlets, in streams, or at the bottom of waterfalls), as a mineral adsorbent of phosphorus compounds and heavy metals. These products will reduce unwanted compounds in the water over the long term. However, while the use of the products mentioned above is not necessary when the most important water parameters are normal, after most winters these water parameters will need to be adjusted in large reservoirs.
Activating organisms in ponds
Is the average water temperature in the pond above 8° C? If so, you can help to activate organisms in the water. Under natural conditions, it takes 6-8 weeks to restore the bacterial flora that play an important role in the process of water self-purification after winter. The use of bacterial mixtures shortens this process to one week. One of these products is EcoGerm Starter, which contains very high concentrations of specially selected bacterial strains that break down organic residues and support the self-cleaning processes of water. Thanks to these bacteria you can recreate the biological conditions in ponds in natural way. EcoGerm Starter is especially recommended for reservoirs with a filter system, a UVC lamp, and a filter pump – if the water has reached a temperature of at least 8° C, the filter can be started by applying a bacterial starter to it. In ponds that do not have a filtration system, the EcoGerm Ponds mixture is perfect; it contains selected microorganisms with various modes of action and enhanced with barley straw extract. Thanks to these various modes of action, EcoGerm Ponds naturally and microbiologically cleans and cares for the pond, increasing its biological potential to decompose organic water pollutants. It is important to remember that UVC lamp should be turned off during the application of microbiological preparations, and should only be turned on again after at least 48 hours have passed.

Cleaning sediment and algae out of ponds

Sludge cleaning

Have the fish woken up from their winter lethargy? If so, it is worth cleaning out the layer of silt and leaves lying on the bottom the pond. Mud is made of: organic debris, fish food, dead algae, and aquatic plants deposited on the bottom. On the one hand, it causes the reservoir to become shallower, and on the other – it promotes the growth of algae, and the gases generated in the putrefactive processes may lead to water poisoning and fish death. Spring is the perfect time to clear silt from the pond bottom. In the case of small water reservoirs, it is worth repeating this activity every year, large ponds should be desludged once every few years. Sludge can be removed with a dirty water pump or a aquatic vacuum cleaner (the Fango 2000 or Torpedo from Rössle both work well). Mechanical removal of silt, however, affects the deeper layers of sediment and releases harmful ammonia, so it is worth helping with natural products that will effectively decompose long-term silt and bottom sediments, for example, the previously mentioned EcoGerm Ponds. The effectiveness of these products can be enhanced by first using AlgoSplit which contains active oxygen to limit algae while simultaneously promoting rapid multiplication of beneficial bacteria.
Is it spring and the sun is shining more and more, but the trees growing around the pond have not sprouted leaves yet? This is the best time to protect the water reservoir against algae blooms by eliminating algae while it is in the earliest stage of development. Controlling algae later can be very burdensome, especially during massive growth periods and blooms. The most persistent types are: suspension algae, cyanobacteria, and thread algae; these not only reduce the aesthetics of the pond, but also drastically reduce its condition. In addition, the metabolic poisons of cyanobacteria can lead to allergies, asthma, eczema, and even severe nerve damage in humans. To prevent algae growth in early spring, remove rotting plants and fish food debris from the water, and trim last year’s withered shoots and plant stems. Then, it is worthwhile to use special biological products, which on the one hand destroy algae and inhibit their growth in the long term, and on the other – are safe for plants, fish, and other creatures living in the pond. If the algae levels are slightly above the norm after winter, AlgoStopper will cope with them perfectly, by using the actions of humic compounds, condensed barley straw extract, and other natural ingredients. If the pond is heavily polluted with algae, PondClarin should also be used in addition to AlgoStopper – PondClarin is a safe natural flocculant based on humic compounds and condensed tree bark extracts. The previously described EcoGerm Ponds bacterial mixture also works perfectly in combination with PondClarin and AlgoStopper. AlgoSplit is most effective in the fight against thread algae, as it eliminates even the most stubborn thread algae within 24 hours. This agent, by supplying large amounts of oxygen to the water, also supports the work of beneficial microorganisms responsible for the decomposition of sediment, dead algae, and silt. All the products mentioned above not only fight various species of algae, but also protect the water reservoir against their re-growth. It is worth adding that the problem with algae in ponds is directly proportional to the concentration of phosphates, which are their main nutrient. The increased growth of algae must be expected when a phosphorus concentration of 0.030 mg/l – which produces one mg of phosphate per liter of water – can produce up to 0.83 kg of algae! Phosphates, unfortunately, cannot be filtered well and cannot be reduced mechanically. Chemical precipitation, or binding processes, are the most effective removal methods. The following are perfect for this purpose: PhosBinder sachets – a set of three filter cartridges containing specially selected minerals, BioChalix – a mineral adsorbent of phosphorus compounds, as well as the fast acting binding agent for free phosphates – PhosSorb. Regular use of bacterial mixtures such as EcoGerm Standard is also an effective and natural way to reduce the level of phosphates in the water.

Fish and plants


Has the water temperature reached 10-12° C? If so, you can start feeding the fish. However, you need to be sure that the fish have woken up from their winter lethargy, otherwise uneaten food will become a nutrient for algae when it sinks to the bottom. Noon is best time to feed animals, and the amount of food shouldn’t be more than what can be eaten within 5-10 minutes – this initial small amount should gradually increase as the water temperature rises. Fish that have overwintered in an aquarium can be transferred back into the pond when the water is warm enough to minimize the risk of thermal shock, usually at the end of spring or in early summer. It is also import to emphasize that fish can only be returned to the pond after the spring care work has been carried out and two additional weeks have passed; this gives time for the water parameters to stabilize. Additionally, fish weakened after winter are more susceptible to various diseases. So, fish should be more closely monitored, and treatment for any conditions should be quickly administered.
Have you already trimmed the reeds and cattails to just above the water level, and have the dried parts of aquatic plants been removed? If so, it’s time for replanting, and new planting. Planting is best done in early spring, i.e. around March-April, remembering, however, that tropical species sensitive to low temperatures should not be planted until after May 15.
Water plants should be planted in special openwork baskets lined with jute, or in fabric pots intended for aquatic plants, in order to facilitate subsequent care. It is worth noting that for cultivating aquatic plants ordinary garden soil and regular fertilizers containing phosphorus compounds should not be used – the phosphorous will lead to algae blooms. We recommend our fertilizer, PondFerr, especially when fertilizing fish ponds. Less invasive and less demanding plants can be planted directly in the gravel. Also, new plants should be obtained only from hydro-botanic or ecological crops; this eliminates the risk of contaminating the pond water with harmful substances and nutrients. After winter plants should be thinned and separated, especially when they are root-bound, or have grown too large for their containers. While doing this, it is worthwhile to remove dead parts of the roots and old leaves, and then cover these cuts with powdered charcoal. The plants separated during this process should be replanted according to species specific guidelines, and most often should be in separate baskets filled with BioKalonit or BioLava substrate. Appropriate plant care, especially during the spring startup period, will make the pond fully showcase its beauty, and will be a beautiful and biologically balanced garden throughout the season.