Spring Pond Start-Up

Pond Start Up - Marquis Gardens

As spring approaches and the ice on your pond begins to thaw, take some time to do a walk around your pond to see if there are any repairs that may need to be done before you get your pond running for the new season.

Is there any damage to the hosing or liner?

Have any of the rocks shifted over winter?

9 Easy Steps to Start Your Pond This Spring!

Once the water temperature has reached 0 C (32 F) or over, the following pond start-up tasks can be performed

Step 1

Remove any Pond Netting that may have been placed over the ponds surface to prevent leaves from dropping in or to discourage predators over winter.

Pond Netting

Step 2

You can begin adding Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria, which can be added at any temperature above 32°F (0°C). This will work to fast track both cleaning and balancing your pond system. You may also soak your filter media with beneficial bacteria to give it a head start.

Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria

Step 3

If your fish have been over-wintered in the pond (zone 6 or below, one area of your pond should be a minimum of 42-48” deep) you can now remove and store the Pond Heater; however, be sure that the surface of your pond will not freeze over entirely once you remove the heater.

Pond Heater
Once the water temperature has reached 10 C (50 F) or over, the following pond start-up tasks can be performed

Step 4

Use a Skimming Net to slowly skim the bottom of the pond for any debris that may have settled over winter (i.e. leaves and sludge). Try not to disturb the fish by stirring up the pond too much, as they are at a delicate stage in the spring.

Step 5

Continue adding beneficial bacteria weekly to your pond system.

Step 6

Filters (Pressurized Filters/Gravity fed Filters, UVs) and pumps (Solids Handling/Skimmer Pumps) can be re-introduced into the pond. Ensure they are working properly and cleaned out prior to installing (easier to have them cleaned prior to storing)

Step 7

Aeration can be moved from the ledges or midway points of your pond to the deeper areas.

Step 8

Lilies can be brought up to the more shallow areas of the pond to kick start their growth (this is not mandatory). Marginals can be re-potted if necessary. All plants can be fertilized at this time.


Step 9

Begin feeding fish again once your water temperature has reached a consistent 50°F (10°C). Be sure not to feed fish prior to this, as they are unable to digest the food in cooler temperatures. Use a cold water food in the spring and fall as it is easier to digest for the fish.

cold water food

Frequently Asked Questions for Opening your Pond in the Spring

When Should I Start up my Pond?

If you live in an area where your pond freezes in the winter and the fish go dormant, it is best to wait until 0° C to add cold water bacteria and closer to 10° C to turn on pumps and filtration

Should I Change my UV Bulb?

Many people will change their UV bulbs at the beginning of each spring – this will ensure bulbs are working at their optimal strength. The maximum length we recommend for any UV bulb is 2 years (used seasonally). Even if the light is still showing that it is working at the end of 2 years, it will not be working to its full potential.

Is it too Early to start Feeding my Fish? They look Hungry!

The surface of your pond will begin to warm up in the spring as the ice melts and the sun shines. The surface water becomes warmer than the water deeper in your pond, causing the fish to come to the surface, however this does not mean they are hungry or in need of food necessarily. Koi and Pond Fish are unable to digest food properly in cold temperatures and can become sick. It is best to wait until 10°C water temperature and start with a cold water food that is easier for fish to digest in cold temperatures.

Do I have to Remove the Leaves and Debris from my Pond in the Spring?

It is very important to remove the rotting debris from your pond in the spring because as it breaks down in the water, your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels will increase dramatically, putting your fish at risk as well as becoming a feeding ground for algae growth.

When Should I use Barley?

Barley is great to use in early spring! Barley helps to reduce algae growth – particularly string algae. Barley works by slowly breaking down, becoming active and forming hydrogen peroxide in small doses that effectively work to inhibit the growth of algae.

Apply close to the surface of the pond where sunlight is available, oxygen must also be present for barley to work to the best of its ability. Best to use barley early spring – mid-summer (not as effective in fall) as it generally takes 6-8 weeks to see results.

Why is my Water Brown every Spring?

To start, there are two different types of brown water:

  1. Murky Brown Water
  2. Tea-Stained Brown Water

Murky brown water occurs when fine debris in your pond has not settled or is so fine that your filter pads are unable to filter out the debris. Murky water is difficult to see through and you will likely be unable to see to the bottom of your pond. The best solution to this is to use a flocculent or rapid clear product, which should help clump the fine debris together and clear up your water within 24 hours.

Tea-Stained water is very common in the spring and occurs when the tannins from old leaves in your pond begin to stain the water brown. This water is usually quite clear though brown stained. The best way to remove tea-stained water is to use Activated Carbon.

Should I Empty my Pond Water in the Spring?

Many people are frightened by the look of their ponds early spring. Their once clean, filtered water, now appears to be full of algae and debris. Over the fall and winter months, debris, like leaves, enter our ponds and our filtration is removed resulting in water that appears less than desirable. Most ponds, however; would benefit from keeping the same water! If you are able to net out the large debris and have your filter begin working on the water quality, this will be less of a disturbance to your pond. The only time we would recommend a full pond empty is if the waste or sludge in the pond is so heavy that you are unable to manually remove it with a net (think 12" of debris or more). By not emptying your pond fully, you will be able to retain seasoned water.

Why is my Pond still Frozen and the Weather is Warm?

Air temperature and water temperature are two different things. In the spring the air temperature will warm quite quickly, but water temperature will take longer to reach the same temperature. You may notice during our first warm spell that your pond is still frozen and that is because your pond water has not had a chance to warm up yet! Water requires consistent warmth to defrost fully. Also, if your pond gets a lot of shade, it will take longer to defrost than a pond in full sun.

When can I add pond Plants to my Pond?

Just because the weather is warm does not necessarily mean that the water is warm enough to add pond plants! Lilies in your pond will begin to sprout mid-late spring with consistent warm weather and lots of sun - this is similar for the marginal plants that are hardy and come back every spring.

Floating plants, like hyacinth and water lettuce, depend heavily on water temperature - usually water temperatures around 12°C will be OK, however it is important to see what the temperature is where you purchase them from – if the retail store keeps them in 20°C water in the early spring, the plants will have a difficult time acclimating to the water change in your pond if it is at 12°C.

When can I Vacuum out my Pond?

The nice thing about pond vacuums is that they disturb plants and fish very little – this is key for the spring as fish are at their weakest and prefer not to be disturbed. Wait until all of the surface ice has melted from your pond and until your fish are moving around before vacuuming. A Pond Vacuum will allow you to clean out your pond earlier than any other form of cleaning.

What should I do with my Pond Aerator in the Spring?

During the winter months, your pond aeration discs are generally sitting on a shelf or raised from the bottom of the pond – this is to prevent cold air from disturbing the dormant fish. Once spring rolls around, the air discs can be moved back down to the deepest parts of the pond to ensure the air is diffusing best and providing the most amount of oxygen to your pond possible.