Essential Secrets to Small Pond Maintenance

Beautiful small pond

Ponds look great in the first few days after installation. However, your water garden loses its appeal once algae growth sets in. You can prevent this with regular pond maintenance.

Let’s review some small pond maintenance tips to keep your garden pond looking great all year.

Maintain a Healthy Fish Population

You need to keep an eye on the fish population in your pond. You should only have ten inches of fish for every 100 gallons of water. Excessive fish waste alters your pond’s water quality. If you currently have too many fish, discuss finding some of them a new home with your pond contractor.

Pay Attention When Feeding Fish

You don’t need to feed your fish once per day. Most pond fish will only eat in a short 3-5-minute window. The leftover food will sink to the bottom of the pond and decay, encouraging algae growth. By paying attention to the quantity of fish food you dish out daily, you can keep a lid on your fish food spending.

Choose the Right Pump Size and Maintain It

An essential aspect of small pond maintenance requires you to circulate the water volume in your pond at least once an hour. 

You need the right pump size to achieve this circulation frequency. Keep a close eye on the pump’s flow. Watch for debris blockage and make sure the water flow doesn’t exceed the pump’s flow specifications.

Clean the Pond

Starting to clean a pond as part of small pond maintenance

Fish waste, ignored fish food, and decaying debris accumulate quickly in any pond, making it harder to control algae. Cleaning the pond provides the best way to avoid a spike in ammonia levels. You should clean the pond once a year. You can clean the pond once every three years if you prevent leaf accumulation and plant debris decay and reduce fish food wastage.

Aerate the Pond

Aeration plays an integral role in the small-pond maintenance process. Pond water contains a specific amount of oxygen. If the water remains stagnant for too long, the oxygen will flow to the surface, leaving the bottom of the water without adequate oxygen.

Low oxygen levels cause fish death if ignored long enough. Aerating the water prevents this from happening by maintaining the oxygen supply in the bottom layer of the pond.

Aeration also makes an excellent way to control algae growth and limit the amount of decomposing matter building up along the bottom of the pond. An increase in the decomposing matter will further hasten the reduction in oxygen levels and cause unpleasant odors.

The bottom diffuser approach refers to one of the most effective methods of pond aeration. It’s also an effective way to avoid “winterkill,” where fish die after the top layer of the pond freezes. However, surface aeration will also work for ponds less than six feet deep.

Rake the Pond Frequently

Raking your pond allows you to eliminate debris and algae. A good tip includes raking your pond weekly. Removing dead leaves, twigs, and other debris on the pond surface will take a few minutes. Depending on the size of your small pond, you can also complete the task without using a rake.

Add More Plants

Plants in koi pond

Aquatic plants like water lilies thrive off the excess nutrients that encourage algae growth. Ideally, you should have 40-60% of the water surface area covered or shaded by these plants. They keep the water temperature cooler and provide shade for the aquatic fauna in the summer.

Some of these plants also improve your pond’s oxygen supply.

Make an effort to maintain the plant population whenever the numbers start dwindling. Discuss with a pond expert to find the best plants for your pond. Other than water lily, they may recommend pickerel plant, horsetail reed, water lettuce, and more.

Add Some Color

A lack of improvement in the appearance of the water after your best efforts at small pond maintenance is frustrating. Are you wondering what else you need to do to get your pond looking as aesthetically appealing as the others around you? Add some color to the water.

Colorants feature the same dye found in food. Therefore, they prove safe for the aquatic life in your pond, as well as humans and livestock. However, you need to make sure you buy food-grade and veterinarian-approved dye.

Apart from improving the color of your pond, colorants can also lower the water temperature and reduce oxygen loss from the water. The darker-colored water will also keep your fish safer from predators. Combined with other small pond maintenance tips covered here, adding colorant to your water can give you a healthier pond.

Wear protective gear to keep the concentrated dye from staining your skin and clothing.

Add Some Beneficial Bacteria

Adding some “good” bacteria to your pond can help keep the sludge from building up. The bacteria will break down the organic material, thus improving water quality and clarity. Add packs of bacteria once a month to keep the water clean and healthy.

Follow the directions on the bacteria packs. Most packs come with recommendations on how many packs to use per gallon of water in the pond. However, you won’t find any downside to overtreating the water with bacteria. Be sure to choose products approved by veterinarians.

Pay Attention to the Water Level

Your pond’s water level will drop quickly in the summer, reducing the oxygen in the water. It’s important to monitor the water level during the hottest periods of the year. You should keep the pond three-quarters full all year.

You may need to refill every week to maintain that level during the peak of summer.

Too Busy? Embrace Expert Small Pond Maintenance

At Charlotte Backyard Ponds, we have years of experience in pond maintenance and management. Our team can offer foundation and aeration services, aquatic weed management, fish population control, and more. We have several maintenance plans to keep your backyard looking great all year.

Call Charlotte Backyard Ponds (704) 228-3435 or fill out our contact form here to discuss all small pond maintenance concerns in Charlotte, NC.