I Bought a House with a Pond. Now What?

So you found the right house, in the right neighborhood, with the right number of bedrooms and all the right stores and restaurants nearby. You sign all the papers, and finally started taking in this perfect new property.

Then you look out your back window … and remember there’s a pond back there you have to somehow keep running, and maybe some fish that suddenly depend on you for survival.

Now what?

Moving into a house with a pond can feel overwhelming if you’ve never cared for a water feature. But don’t fret – your pond will actually require very little maintenance after you solve any problems you’ve inherited from the previous homeowner. Once you’ve done that, you can look forward to decades of relaxing next to your flowing waterfall and taking in the sights of beautiful fish.

Below, we’ll walk you through six steps to evaluate your pond’s condition, keep fish happy and, if necessary, make changes that will keep future maintenance to a minimum.

At a Glance: 6 Steps to Maintain a Pond on Your Property

A Quick Science Lesson Before We Get Started

We’re going to talk a lot about your pond’s nitrogen cycle as we walk through what you need to do with your new pond.

So what is that? And why does it matter?

The nitrogen cycle is a series of natural chemical processes that happen in ponds, manmade or in nature.

Here’s how it works:

  • Organic debris (leaves, fish waste, etc.) break down in the pond, creating toxic ammonia.
  • Beneficial bacteria, a lot of which live in your biological filter, break down this ammonia and convert it into nitrites.
  • Nitrites will feed green-water algae if left unchecked. In a well-filtered and well-maintain pond, though, other kinds of beneficial bacteria keep the algae away by converting nitrites into nitrates.
  • Nitrates will feed two things in your pond: plants and string algae. Keeping a wide variety of plants in your pond will keep string algae at a minimum.

Here’s what you need to take away from all that:

  1. Beneficial bacteria – and the biological filtration that helps them thrive – keep your fish happy and prevent water from turning green.
  2. Plants keep string algae at a minimum.

It sounds complicated, but knowing a little about this process will help you understand why your pond’s set up the way it is, and help you work with nature to solve any problems.

1. Figure Out Some Basics about Your Pond

  • How big is your pond?
    Knowing your pond’s dimensions is crucial for figuring out equipment sizes and water treatment dosage. To figure out how many gallons of water is in your pond, use this formula: Length (ft.) x Width (ft.) x Average Depth (ft.) x 7.48. Ponds usually have a kind of funky shape, so just try to get a rough estimate with your measurements.
  • Are there fish?
    Do you see anything swimming around in there? If so, you’ll need to take care of them (don’t worry; it’s super easy).
  • Is your pond pre-formed or lined?
    Is the bottom of the pond lined with a flexible rubber liner, or is it a rigid plastic tub? Rubber-lined ponds are better in just about every way: more durable, easier to filter and, ultimately, easier to care for. If you have a pre-formed pond, you may want to consider a renovation once you get settled into your new home.
  • Do you need to test your water?
    This is one of the most common questions we receive from new pond owners – and the answer is usually no. If everything looks good and your fish look happy and healthy, there’s no need to test for anything. If you have concerns, though, you can test the water fairly easily with an at-home kit or, if you live near York, PA, bring a water sample to Splash for us to test it for you for free. We’ll typically test the water’s pH, as well as for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. (If you have concerns about chlorine/chloramines – which are common in municipal water and will kill fish – we recommend immediately treating the pond with a double dose of Pond Detoxifier.)

2. Identify Pond Equipment

Where is Your Pump?

The pump is the heart of your pond’s recirculation system. In an Ecosystem Pond like the ones we design at Splash (more on that later), the pump sits inside the skimmer box for easy access. In other ponds, it might be at the bottom of the pond.

When you find the pump, make sure it’s running and doesn’t appear clogged with debris. If something doesn’t seem to be working right – or if the pump’s in a hard-to-access location – you might want to consider making some changes. Check out our Improvement Tips below to learn more.

pump placement

What Kind of Filtration Do You Have?

Pond filtration comes in two forms: biological and physical/mechanical. Both are crucial to keeping your water clear.

Physical filters remove large debris from the pond, including leaves, fish waste and pollen. Biological filters, on the other hand, are filled with special kinds of media with lots of nooks and crannies where beneficial bacteria can colonize. These bacteria play a crucial role in keeping your water clear and healthy.

Pond builders add these two kinds of filtration in a number of ways. Below are some common types of filters:

 

POND SKIMMER

Skimmers sit buried along the edge of the pond, letting water flow in through an opening in the front. Skimmers provide physical filtration by removing about 90 percent of the leaves, sticks and other large debris that enters the pond. Often used in conjunction with a BioFalls.

BIOFALLS

BioFalls filters sit at the top of the waterfall. Water flows in through the bottom of the filter and up through filter mats and other special media – usually plastic BioBalls or lava rock – before spilling out at the top of the waterfall. BioFalls are used primarily for biological filtration. Often used in conjunction with a skimmer.

PRESSURE FILTER

Pressure filters are often buried next to the pond. They offer physical and biological filtration by passing water through different kinds of filter media with help from a submerged pond pump. Many pressure filters also come equipped with a UV Clarifier, a lightbulb-type device that kills the kind of suspended algae that turns water green. While having biological and physical filtration in a single unit sounds convenient, we usually prefer a BioFalls/skimmer combination for the most effective and low-maintenance filtration. (See more below).

submersible low-res

SUBMERSIBLE FILTER

Like pressure filters, submersible filters offer physical and biological filtration by passing water through filter media. We generally don’t use these kinds of filters, though, because they’re not as effective as a skimmer/BioFalls combo, and significantly more difficult to clean (unless you’re into Scuba diving).

BOTTOM DRAIN

Some ponds have “drains” at the very bottom of the pond that pull water into a filtration system. Contrary to what some pond builders believe, you actually don’t need a bottom drain – in fact, we don’t use them in our pond builds at all because, like submersible pumps and filters, their location at the bottom of the pond makes them a pain to maintain. If your pond doesn’t have a bottom drain, or if it does and you decide you don’t like it, a skimmer and regular doses of beneficial bacteria/sludge cleaner will keep the pond plenty clean – and make maintenance a lot easier.

What Kind of Pond Filtration is Best?

We’ve found that having a pond skimmer on one end of the pond and a BioFalls at the other provides the best filtration, keeping water crystal-clear without UVs or harsh chemicals.

The skimmer removes 80 to 90 percent of the debris that enters the water, pulling leaves, twigs, pollens and fish waste into a basket you can easily empty without diving to the bottom of the pond. The skimmer also houses your pump in an easy-to-access location.

With most of the debris whisked into the skimmer basket, the biofilter is free to do its work of giving beneficial bacteria a place to grow and thrive.

Buying a filter that claims to offer physical and biological filtration in one unit sounds tempting – but these filters are often inefficient because each cleaning wipes out crucial beneficial bacteria. With a skimmer/BioFalls setup, you can empty the skimmer as often as needed, and leave the bacteria-rich BioFalls untouched except for a single annual cleaning.

If your pond already has a skimmer and BioFalls, fantastic! If not, they’re relatively easy to install if you have a rubber-lined pond.

Other Pond Equipment:

Aside from the pump or filters, your pond might also have the following equipment:

Koi Pond Aerator

AERATOR

Fish need good gas exchange in the pond to keep them happy and healthy – and aerators help that happen. In summer, they add an extra boost of oxygen to warm water, which has a hard time holding oxygen. In winter, they help keep a hole in pond ice, break the surface tension and remove carbon dioxide to keep fish happy.

96030 autodoser

AUTOMATIC DOSING SYSTEM

An Automatic Dosing System adds regular doses of water treatment – mostly beneficial bacteria – into the pond so that you don’t have to do it by hand. If your pond has one, it will be somewhere next to the pond. If the system was made by Aquascape, you can find instructions and water treatments for your system here.

UV CLARIFIER

UV clarifiers use a lightbulb-like glass tube to kill the kind of algae that turn pond water green. They’re often included in pressure filters, or you might have one as a standalone unit. While UVs aren’t necessary if you have good filtration, they can be helpful tools if your pond already has one installed and you don’t mind periodically replacing the bulb.

IONIZER

Ionizers release copper ions into the water through a probe, creating conditions that string algae don’t like. Like UV clarifiers, they’re not necessary if you have good filtration (plus lots of plants to pull algae-feeding nutrients from the water), but they can be nice to have. If your pond already has one, you’ll need to replace the probe as it wears down (every one to three years).

3: Stock Up on Pond Supplies

You’ll need some basic supplies to keep your pond happy and healthy. 

Here’s what we recommend to get started:

This water treatment removes chlorine, chloramines and other fish-toxic elements often found in hose water. While you don’t need to add it every time you top off the pond, it’s crucial to have on-hand for those days when you forget to turn off the hose (something even the best of us have done …) You’ll also need Pond Detox any time you clean the pond or do major water changes.

Regular doses of Beneficial Bacteria prevent the water from turning green. If your pond has an autodoser, use the Maintain for Ponds Autodoser Pouch, which includes a blend of Beneficial Bacteria. If your pond doesn’t have an autodoser, use Pond Starter Bacteria to start, then switch to regular or cold water Beneficial Bacteria when the bottle’s done. Pond Starter Bacteria can also be used in addition to the Maintain Autodoser Pouch to help prevent green water as the pond’s ecosystem gets established.

Probiotic Fish Food helps your fish fight off opportunistic infections. Start your new pets with this formula to make sure everyone is happy and healthy, then switch to Color-Enhancing Fish Food to help their colors pop.

Feeding your fish when the water temperature is below 50 degrees could cause them serious harm. Use a Pond Thermometer to keep track of when to start and stop feedings for the season. You’ll also need this information to help you pick the most effective fish food and water treatments.

Your built-in skimmer will remove most unwanted debris from the pond, but having a net on-hand is always helpful in case you need to get something your skimmer missed or if you need to move your fish.

Koi Pond AeratorFish need good gas exchange in the pond to keep them happy and healthy. Aerators add an extra boost of oxygen to the pond in summer, when the hot water has a hard time holding oxygen. In winter, they help keep a hole in pond ice, break the surface tension and remove carbon dioxide to keep fish happy. 

Most of your plants will pull all the nutrients they need right out of the water. Waterlilies and lotus, however, need an extra boost to product big, beautiful flowers. Add two tablets per month May-September to each waterlily in your pond if possible, and three tablets per month to each lotus. See our section on plant care to learn more.

Click one of the buttons below to add all of these items to your cart in our Online Store, and enjoy a 10% discount as a token of our appreciation.

You can also edit the contents of the cart to fit your specific needs.

4: Take Care of Fish

Feeding Koi Fish

Does your pond have fish? If so, congratulations! Your fish will not only make great companions, but they’ll also offer natural protection against nuisance insects.

Pond fish are some of the easiest pets you’ll ever own. Here are some basic tips to help get started on their care:

Feeding

When the water temperature is consistently above 55 degrees (usually mid-spring through early fall):

  • How Often: Most pond owners feed their fish about once a day during the warm months.
  • What Should They Eat?: Floating food pellets made specifically for pond fish. We like Aquascape’s Color-Enhancing Fish Food Pellets for most fish, or Blue Ridge’s Probiotic Formula for fish that are adjusting to a new season or otherwise under stress (i.e. sick or recently moved).
  • How Much Should They Eat?: Feed your fish about as much they’ll eat in a three-minute period. Uneaten food in the pond will rot and decrease water quality.
  • Do I Actually Need to Feed Them?: Yes. While pond fish can survive for awhile by snacking on plants and bugs in the pond, most kinds – especially koi – need supplemental food during the warm months to stay healthy. That being said, don’t worry if you miss a few days every so often.

When the water temperature is below 55 degrees (usually late fall through early spring):

  • Fish enter a semi-dormant state called torpor in winter. During this time, they do not need to eat – and throwing food in the pond could actually make them sick. Do not feed fish when the water temperature is below 55 degrees.
  • In fall, switch to Cold Water Fish Food, and gradually decrease feedings as the temperatures drop. This will help fish transition into torpor.
  • In spring, gradually re-introduce food when water temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees. Start with Cold Water Fish Food, or use a Probiotic Formula to help fish fight off early-spring pathogens.

Aeration

Koi Pond AeratorFish need good gas exchange in the pond to keep them happy and healthy. For this reason, we recommend using an aerator year-round.

In summer, aerators help keep fish breathing when the warm water has a hard time holding oxygen. In winter, they help keep a hole in pond ice, breaking the surface tension and removing carbon dioxide.

While a running waterfall will do some of this work, we recommend adding an aerator – and letting it run year-round – for the most peace of mind.

Winter Fish Care

As we mentioned earlier, pond fish enter a semi-dormant state called torpor in winter. During this time, their bodies’ systems slow to a crawl, letting them survive cold temperatures.

This biological system means your koi and goldfish will survive the winter outside without issue, provided they have plenty of oxygen in the form of an aerator or running waterfall, and the pond is deep enough to not freeze solid (usually at least 18 inches deep).

Lots of first-time pond owners ask us if they need to use a pond heater in winter. The short answer: no.

A true pond heater would raise the overall temperature of the water, which we don’t want because it would prevent fish from going into torpor.

When most people talk “heaters,”  they actually mean de-icers: floating devices that stay just warm enough to keep a hole open in any ice immediately around them. De-icers are nice to have if you want additional peace of mind, but they’re not necessary if your aerator is doing a good job of keeping a hole open in the ice.

If you choose to use a de-icer, run it in addition to – and not instead of – an aerator. Simply position the de-icer directly over top of the aeration diffuser.

More Fish Care Tips

Wondering what kinds of fish are in your pond? Have a question about a specific health issue? Worried about predators?

The Fish Care section of our Learning Center has tons of information about anything you could possibly want to know about your fish. Check it out here.

You can also check out our Ultimate Guide to Pond Fish Care for a comprehensive look at how we keep our fish happy and healthy.

We also host an annual Pond Fish & Plants class at our retail store in York, PA. See the schedule here.

5. Perform Some Basic Pond Maintenance

Beneficial Bacteria

So now you have this beautiful pond in your yard with happy, healthy fish …what’s next?

All Ponds: Add Beneficial Bacteria

No matter how big your pond is or what state it’s in, your first step toward keeping water crystal-clear is to add beneficial bacteria.

When organic debris breaks down in the pond, it produces toxic ammonia. Some types of beneficial bacteria consume this ammonia and convert it into nitrites. Other bacteria then convert those nitrites into nitrates, which feed your pond plants.

Without enough beneficial bacteria in the pond, nitrites run amuck – stressing your fish and, most significantly, providing food for microscopic algae. Single-cell algae will quickly take over the pond and and turn your water pea soup green.

Adding supplemental doses of beneficial bacteria to the pond will starve single-cell algae – leaving your water clear without expensive water treatments or potentially dangerous algaecides.

Treat your pond per the instructions on the bottle once a week for regular maintenance, or two to three times a week if you have green water. If needed, you can safely double the dosage without harm to fish or plants.

If your pond is green when you start treatment, you might need to wait up to a month for the bacteria to do its work. If green water persists after that time, look into upgrading your biological filtration. (See more below).

Other Routine Pond Maintenance

Aside from adding beneficial bacteria, maintenance for your pond will usually involve cleaning physical filters, caring for plants and – depending on the state of the pond when you move in – resolving any algae issues.

Click the “+” signs below to find care instructions relevant to your situation:

If your pond has a skimmer and BioFalls, your life as a pond owner is going to be pretty easy.

Skimmers and BioFalls make up the foundation of what we call Ecosystem Ponds: a type of pond design that works with nature to keep water crystal-clear and fish happy and healthy.

All you need to do to keep your ecosystem balanced – aside from feeding fish and adding regular doses of bacteria – is empty the skimmer basket as-needed. You should not clean your biofilter except for during a once-a-year pond clean-out.

Check out our Ecosystem Pond Guide to learn more.

How to Clean a PondIf your pond doesn’t have a skimmer and BioFalls, you’ll need to identify what kind of filtration you have and look up the manufacturer’s instructions. Cleaning usually involves removing muck periodically from the pump and filter to keep everything running smoothly. Some systems – like pressure filters – have built-in cleaning modes that will do most of the work for you with a press of a button.

Clean as gently as possible to avoid wiping out the beneficial bacteria colonies that help keep water clear. That means avoiding harsh cleaning chemicals, pressure washers or too-frequent cleanings.

You can minimize the amount you need to clean by regularly clearing leaves and other debris from the pond with a skimming net. (Or by installing a pond skimmer).

Most plants in your pond will pull all the nutrients they need directly out of the water. Waterlilies and lotus, though, need a little extra help to produce big, beautiful blooms.

Fertilize your lilies and lotus about once per month from May until September. (If you bought your lily from Splash, you can wait until one month after your purchase to fertilize your plant for the first time).

We use two tabs of fertilizer in each of our one-gallon waterlily pots, and three tabs in each of our lotus pots. Simply press the tabs into the soil near the base of the plant.

Looking to add some plants to your pond? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Aquatic Plants.

Spring Pond Clean-OutWe usually recommend cleaning your pond every one to three years depending on the quality of the filtration and how well it’s been maintained. If you have a lot of muck build-up on the bottom of the pond, or if the previous owners neglected regular maintenance, a pond clean-out might be the easiest way to get your pond looking the way you want it.

Remember: If your pond has built-up muck or green water because of poor filtration, or if it’s overloaded with fish, a clean-out won’t fix your problems. You’ll need to upgrade your equipment to see permanent results.

Cleaning the pond means carefully moving fish to a temporary container, draining the pond and rinsing out built-up debris. Check out our full Pond Clean-Out Guide here, or reach out to Splash to have our team do the work for you.

String algae is green, slimy gunk that you can pick up with your hands. It usually clings to rocks and waterfalls. You’ll always have some amount of string algae in your pond. It’s a normal, expected, and beneficial part of the ecosystem. 

If the string algae seems excessive, though, you can take some steps to minimize it.

The easiest way to keep string algae at bay is to add more plants to your pond. String algae eat nitrates – a nutrient that naturally comes into the pond when beneficial bacteria do their work.

Plants also eat nitrates. Each type of plant you add to your pond will take in a different kind of nitrate – i.e. a red leaf will absorb one type, a green leaf another. The more and wider variety of plants you add to your pond, the fewer nutrients are left to feed string algae.

Because plants help starve string algae, you might see an uptick during times of year when plants are dormant. This is completely normal and will usually go away on its own once plants start blooming again.

If you have an especially stubborn case of string algae, we do have some other options – like contact powders, barley straw extract and ionizers – that will do the trick. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Clear Water to learn more.

Pond water turns green when single-cell algae run amuck. Unlike string algae, this kind of algae is too small to grab with your hands and will instead turn your water pea-soup green.

Single-cell algae thrive on nitrites, a byproduct of ammonia breaking down in the pond. Beneficial Bacteria eat these same nitrites. When you add beneficial bacteria, you remove the algae’s food and starve it – giving you clear water.

Keep up with regular weekly doses of Beneficial Bacteria year-round, switching to Arctic Blend or Cold Water formula in the winter. You can alternatively use the Maintain for Ponds pouch in an Automatic Dosing System when the outside temperature is above 40 degrees.

If regular maintenance doses of bacteria aren’t enough, try doubling the bacteria dosage and adding it to the pond two to three times a week until water is clear. And if that doesn’t work, you’ll probably need to upgrade your pond’s filtration system.

Beneficial Bacteria is completely safe for fish and plants. That makes it a much better choice than algaecides, which can kill pond life if not dosed carefully.

Keep in mind that green water isn’t uncommon in newly built or newly cleaned ponds where Beneficial Bacteria colonies are still establishing themselves (this is why we only recommend cleaning your bacteria-rich biofilter once a year). If you have green water because of one of these situations, try using Pond Starter Bacteria to help jump start the biological process.

> Find Bacteria Products at our Online Store

Want to know more about green water, or explore other options for fixing it? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Clear Water.

Leaking water? Clogged pump? Persistent predators?

Check out the Troubleshooting section of our Learning Center for solutions, or keep reading to see what kind of improvements you might be able to make to your pond’s design.

Special Seasonal Maintenance Tips

willoughby winter

SPRING

  • Turn the pump back on if it was turned off for the winter.
  • Clean out your pond if needed. You can do this yourself or hire Splash to do it for you.
  • Feed fish a cold water food or probiotic food to help them transition into warmer weather.
  • See more Spring Pond Care Tips

SUMMER

  • Add an aerator to keep water oxygenated.
  • Provide plenty of shade for fish with floating plants and/or fish caves.
  • Keep up with regular maintenance.
  • See more Summer Pond Care Tips

FALL

  • Install netting over the pond in early autumn to keep out falling leaves, if desired. Remove later in the season, ideally before first snowfall. You can install netting yourself or hire Splash to do it for you.
  • Switch to cold water fish food when the water temperature is between 55 and 65 degrees to help your fish transition into winter.
  • Switch to Cold Water or Arctic Blend Bacteria.
  • See more Fall Pond Care Tips

WINTER

  • Decide whether to keep your pond running or turn it off for the season – also know as winterizing.
  • Install an aerator.
  • Install a de-icer (optional).
  • If your pond surface ices over completely, carefully cut or melt a hole.
  • Do not feed fish when the water temperature is below 55 degrees.
  • See more Winter Pond Care Tips

6. Make Improvements

low res for landing page-23

After you’ve settled into your new home, made sure fish are taken care of and performed some routine maintenance, you might want to think about making upgrades to your pond.

How do you know if you need an upgrade?

  • If you don’t like the way the pond looks.
  • If you can’t see your pond from your window or deck.
  • If the water is always green or murky, despite regular doses of bacteria.
  • If fish seem overcrowded or unhealthy.
  • If the pond leaks.
  • If you have a rigid plastic pre-formed pond and want to switch to a larger/more durable lined pond.
  • If your filter and/or pump are submerged in the pond, and you want easier access to your equipment.

Ecosystem Ponds: The Best Pond Design

Ecosystem Pond Splash Supply Company York PA

Our team at Splash has been designing and building ponds for more than 30 years. In that time, we’ve learned a thing or two about making low-maintenance ponds.

In our experience, the best way to build a long-lasting, low-maintenance, beautiful water feature is to use what’s known as Ecosystem Pond Design.

Ecosystem Ponds work with nature to keep water crystal-clear and fish happy and healthy, without a lot of work on your part. 

Here’s a quick overview of how they work:

  • Fish-Safe EPDM Liner keeps water where it’s supposed to be: in your pond.  Heavy-duty Underlayment protects the liner.
  • A properly designed pond will include a Skimmer capable of removing 80 to 90 percent of the debris that gets into your pond. The skimmer pulls leaves, twigs, pollen, and fish waste into the basket you can easily empty. Your skimmer pulls and your waterfall pushes this debris. On larger systems, we’ll even use underwater jets to push debris from every corner of the pond. No need to go diving to the bottom of your pond to muck out debris and unclog your pump. Your Pump, the heart of the pond’s circulation system, is housed out of sight in the skimmer.
  • The job of your Biofilter is to keep your water crystal clear and your fish happy and healthy. After the skimmer removes large debris, the water flows up through the nooks and crannies in your biolfilter, where beneficial bacteria live in dense colonies. Beneficial bacteria and enzymes naturally remove ammonia and nitrites. Without nitrites, single-cell algae starve, so you never have to deal with green water. Our biofilters are efficient and require very little maintenance. The waterfall adds a vital dose of oxygen back into the ecosystem.
  • A Stepped-Shelf Design gives your family and pets a way to safely enter and exit the pond.
  • We incorporate Plant Shelves and pockets at the perfect depths to accommodate a wide range of aquatic plants. Shallow water plants love the 6- to 8-inch-deep perimeter shelf. Your waterlilies and lotus will love the 18-inch-deep shelf.
  • A thin layer of Gravel naturalizes the bottom of the pond, protects your liner from harmful sunlight, and gives beneficial bacteria another place to colonize.
  • Fish Caves give your fish a place to relax in the winter and get away from predators.

Click here for our full guide to Ecosystem Ponds.

Where to Start

You can upgrade your pond to an ecosystem design all at once, or you can add elements piecemeal as you have the time and budget.

If you’re starting over from scratch …

If you know you want all the elements of an ecosystem pond – liner, underlayment, skimmer, biofilter, etc. – you might want to consider buying a kit that includes everything you need. Having the kit will save you significant time and money as compared to trying to pick out all the right pieces à la carte.

The kits we sell at Splash include the pump, skimmer, biofilter, liner, underlayment and all the other basics you need to get started. They start around $1,200 for a 8′ x 11′ pond, not including rock and gravel. (Local delivery is free.)

Visit us at Splash – 1298 Toronita St., York, PA – or give us a call if you’d like us to help you put together the best kit for you.

If you plan to renovate one piece at a time …

Maybe you don’t have the budget to buy a full pond kit all at once, or maybe you only want to make a few small changes to your pond.

In that case, you might want to take a more piecemeal approach to your pond improvements.

Here’s where we recommend starting:

  1. If you have a rigid pre-formed pond, swap it for one made of fish-safe EPDM liner and underlayment. Pre-formed ponds are prone to leaks, and prevent you from adding a good in-ground skimmer. If you must stick with pre-formed, you’ll need to use a floating skimmer.
  2. Add fish caves if your pond doesn’t have them built in. Anything that gives fish a safe place to hide from predators and get out of the sun will work.
    > Shop Fish Caves at our Online Store
  3. Install a skimmer. With less debris in your pond, you’ll see a near-instant improvement in your water quality. Click here for full skimmer installation instructions, as well as a comparison guide to help you pick the best skimmer for your situation. For the best filtration, go as big as your budget allows.
    > Shop Skimmers at our Online Store
  4. Replace the pump if your current one isn’t compatible with the skimmer.
    > Shop In-Skimmer Pumps at our Online Store
  5. Add a biofilter.
    > Shop BioFalls at our Online Store
  6. Add rocks and gravel. This addition will not only make your pond look more natural but also decrease maintenance by offering lots of nooks and crannies where beneficial bacteria can colonize. Learn more about the pros and cons of gravel here.

We’re always happy to help out if you need help during your pond renovation journey. Click here to contact our service team, or visit us at 1298 Toronita St. in York, PA.

We also offer lots of DIY classes throughout the year. Click here to view the schedule and get links to past recordings.

Taking Care of Fish During Renovations

Make sure to handle fish carefully during any renovations. Moving is extremely stressful for our finned friends, and even slight changes in water chemistry or temperature can prove fatal.

If you need to move your fish, use a container deep enough to maintain a more-or-less consistent temperature.  A large plastic storage container, empty swimming pool or pop-up koi tank (you can find them online) will usually do the job.

If possible, fill the tank with water from the pond. If you need to add hose water, treat it with a double dose of Pond Detoxifier before moving the fish. Gradually introduce the fish to the new tank, using the same acclimation techniques you would use for adding new fish to your pond. Do the same when introducing fish back into the pond after renovations.

You’ll also need an aerator (so the fish can breathe) and a net to cover the top of the tank (so the fish don’t jump out). Keep the tank out of direct sunlight, and don’t keep your fish there for more than a few hours.

Next Steps

Life as a pond owner means years of enjoying the sights and sounds of water, the companionship of beautiful fish, and lots of quality time outdoors.

Hopefully this guide has show you how easy it is to care for your new backyard oasis. If you want to make life even easier, and you live near York, PA, contact our Service Team to have us take care of your pond for you.

Want to learn more about your pond? Check out these other articles from our Learning Center: