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Useful fish pond equipment and treatments

As with aquarium keeping, fish ponds can have their trials and tribulations but a well designed and maintained aquarium or fish pond can also bring a tremendous feeling of pride and also enjoyment when hours are spent observing your fish and being in the knowledge that you are doing the est that you can for them.

Keeping them at their best can be a lot of hard work, this was especially true when I first started fish keeping but with modern technology taking a forefront in this hobby, the tasks have become a lot easier with more equipment available and more treatments that are designed to prevent problems before they occur rather than dealing with situations after they occur. Some pieces of equipment are not vital but can be purchase date a later date once the pennies have built up after the initial outlay of setting up. Time will tell which items are more valuable to you and it doesn't take long to build up a nice inventory of items that help on a day to day basis with running your fish pond.

As mentioned above the items listed in this article, can be aids, some are vital but they are listed in no particular order and are purely as guidelines in helping you to choose which items are best for you.

Bacterial Starter Cultures

Filtration in a fish pond is essential but a brand new filter serves no purpose as it will not perform any action towards maintaining the water quality in the fish pond unless the filter media is host to beneficial bacteria that convert ammonia and nitrites into nitrates which are removed by partial water changes or they are mostly consumed by the plant life in the fish pond. The bacteria occurs naturally in water but at too low a level to become effective, adding bacterial cultures quickly colonises your fish pond filter so that the actual cycling process can be shortened dramatically meaning that you can stock your fish pond with fish a lot earlier than if you allowed the colonies to grow at a natural rate. This is particularly important at the start of every year as most fish pond keepers switch off their filters during the winter months which in turn kills off any bacteria that may have colonies during the warmer months. Due to the larger water volumes involved with fish ponds, the cultures are sold in larger quantities compared to aquarium starter cultures and are very easy to use. The bottles will be labelled with instructions as to when to add the culture and how much to add with each dose. They are readily available with all of the major manufacturers selling these in the aquatic market and at most of the top garden centres that have an aquatic section.

Water Testing Kits

There are two main types of water testing kits, they are available as strips that will give you instant results on all of the parameters or you can purchase the liquid test kits where each test is a separate item and performed separately to each other. But why is it important to test your water on a regular basis? In the early days of setting up your fish pond you need to know how far your cycle is progressing, the cycle needs to be complete before you add any fish so knowing that it is running correctly and nearing its end is beneficial to you. Parameters that you need to know are ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels during the cycle. Other tests that you need to perform are pH levels and I also like to test the KH of the water so that I know it has enough buffering power which will indirectly stabilise the pH level. I have found from experience that using the test strips is fine for a quick check but for more accurate results it is far better to invest in a liquid testing kit. Either system are easy to use and the results are usually read from a colour chart, all instructions are supplied with the kits but always make sure that the test kits are in date as they do have a defined shelf life, after this has expired, the results from the tests cannot be relied on to be accurate so the testing kit will need to be replaced.

Algae Control Treatments

Algae is the plague of many a fish keeper and is normally kept under control by regular pond maintenance but algal outbreaks do occur and can often catch us out, especially after a sudden warm spell in the weather which in turn can quickly raise the water temperature. Keeping a treatment to deal with algae is not essential but I do find it to be a handy back up if the worse does catch me out which occasionally happens, this is life and life is sent to test us!

Adding plants to the fish pond should starve the algae of nutrients but even these need a hand at times. The treatment is available at all good aquatic stores or garden centres and does not cost a fortune. If you are not keen on adding treatments to the water then an old and trusted method of dispelling the algae is barley straw. This is supplied in convenient bales that are simply thrown into the fish pond, oner bale should be able to cope with 1000 gallons of fish pond water and is very effective.

The treatments consist of bacteria that feed on the algae as it clumps and then drops in the water column, the filters then remove any particles left in suspension leaving you with crystal clear water. Unfortunately most fish ponds run at a high pH, this is beneficial to algae so if not kept in check, it can be a constant battle.

Fish Pond Vacuums

Hardware for your fish pond should always start with items that help out with the regular fish pond maintenance, this is why I always look to investing in a reliable fish pond vacuum to remove debris and sludge from the bottom of the fish pond. If your fish pond is shallow then the problem can be resolved a lot easier but for those of use with deeper fish ponds it used to be the case of draining the pond twice a year and then giving the liner a thorough clean. Nowadays the task of draining the fish pond is obsolete as the vacuums will suck out the sludge without draining the water so making life a lot easier. They are available in various sizes and all models will have the heads fitted to a telescopic pole thus making them suitable for most depths of fish ponds. The added bonus is that the sludge removed from the fish pond can be used as a fertiliser for your flower beds etc., this will in turn save you money on paying out for plant food throughout the year.

Fish Pond Skimmers

An often underrated piece of equipment that can prevent a lot of debris from settling at the bottom of the fish pond. As the name suggests they are mounted so that the inlet is level with the water surface and any scum or floating particles are dragged through and trapped inside the skimmer. Cleaning this equipment is simply a case of emptying out a basket that holds either fine nets or sponges ready to work again. Often they are built into the design of the fish pond so that they are hidden from view with an access point for maintenance and they help the filter a great deal in keeping the water quality high.

Fish nets/Skimmer nets

An obvious choice you may think but not always thought about. Periodically the fish may need to be removed from the fish pond either for treatment or just to be moved on, investing in a quality net is worth the money as they are robust and can easily take the weight of the fish out of water, keep the nets for sole use in the one fish pond, using equipment from one pond to another can transmit diseases to all of the areas where the nets are used, isolation is the key!

Skimmer nets are used to skim off fallen leaves etc. from the surface of the water and can also be used to remove foreign objects that may have fallen into the fish pond, if you are using a pond skimmer then the skimmer net will reduce the amount of large particles entering it thus reducing the work load on that piece of equipment as well.

Fish Pond Netting

To me, I could never do without fish pond netting stretched over the top of the fish pond. There are several reasons why I use netting, the main one being protection of the fish from predators. Where I live there are a lot of herons, the netting prevents them from getting their beaks into the fish pond and using my fish for snacks.

Netting will also prevent leaves from entering the water and I like to think of the safety aspect as well. Even though the fish pond has raised walls , netting over the top could be the difference between someone falling into the fish pond or not , heaven forbid!

The netting can be mounted on a fixed frame and secured, mine is simply stretched over the top of the fish pond and staked securely in the surrounding ground space.

I personally use all of the above as and when required, remember that a well maintained fish pond should be a successful fish pond with healthy and long lived live stock!