restarting a pond after the winter - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 02:41 AM Thread Starter
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Location: englewood, co
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restarting a pond after the winter

my moms keeps a 70 gallon pond with a few goldies running for most of the year but the winter months. we are here in colorado

its within 3 weeks or so til it can get going again. i need a project soon as cabin fever is driving me nuts. i am thinking about going over and getting it going for her as her health makes it hard on her doing that.

the thing is always pretty disgusting when it gets uncovered and wreaks to high hell. she's never done too much other than fill it up and put the pump back in. after its ran for a few weeks the fish go in. she does keep some water lilies and mini cat tails in it as well.

should i scoop out all the stuff in it and rinse it all out til its just the gravel or should i just leave it be for the most part.

i think the goal as well this year is to try letting it run through the winter. i don't know about a good way to heat the water in a pond situation if it isn't going to be outrageous expensive
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 02:55 AM
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Just give everything a good rinse and add the fish. A small air pump with an air stone should leave you a nice size hole on the ice surface for the winter months..
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 04:08 AM
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I've been keeping goldfish in an 800 gallon outdoor pond a few miles north of you since 1995.
I would definitely scoop out the muck, but I would not rinse everything out. I never ever rinse out the pond.
70 gallons is going to be too small to get through one of our winters. Even with an air pump going something that small will freeze solid during the really cold times. While I do use an air pump to keep a hole in the ice most of the winter in my 4 foot deep pond, I had to use the pond heater when the temperatures got down to -14 and stayed under 0 for days. A pond heater is too heavy duty for such a small pond. Maybe a bird bath heater would work. We tried a low wattage pond heater once and it couldn't keep up with the below zero temps.

I'm way far away from 3 weeks before doing anything with my pond other than making sure a hole is in the ice. The pond temperature will be quite cold until sometime in late May.

2 2.5s, 3 10s, 2 20s, 1 29. Low light, low tech. Ponds

Last edited by twentypoundtabby; 02-26-2014 at 04:11 AM. Reason: typo
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 04:53 AM
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Part of the problem in the early spring is this:
The nitrifying bacteria are slow growing in the cold. The fish start producing ammonia before the bacteria get going. But the ammonia removing bacteria can get going pretty well, so ammonia is not usually the problem. The nitrite removing bacteria are much slower, and it is very common for fish coming out of winter to show Brown Blood Disease from nitrite in the water. (Google it)
Best way to prevent this:
Add nitrifying bacteria that contains Nitrospira species of bacteria.
Add plants that are actively growing, even in the cold.
Do not feed the fish high protein foods when it is cold.

Go with twentypoundtabby's suggestions about heating (or not) a smaller pond in that climate. Probably much safer to bring the fish in, perhaps overwinter them in a garage if that is the best you can do.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for tips. stick with bringing them in for the winter and draining it. Just wait a while still to start it up which is fine. Nice that a fellow Coloradan chimed in.

The fish did get brought in and I am letting them live in my 55 keeping it cycled. I had to restart it up after a columaris outbreak killed my firemouths. I want to do a nice planted tank and til I can get my lighting upgraded can't really start on it. Can't decide on stock for it either

I think they are going to live with me in the winter from now on which is fine. I need a 4th tank going lol. I never really like goldfish but for whatever reason they have grown on me.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-26-2014, 11:47 PM
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I have around 2400G outdoor pond...been a hard winter in MI (other places as well I know) and I can't wait until the pond is back in action.

If my pond was only 70G and I could winter the fish inside, I would definitely drain it in the fall and clean it up. Leaving that stagnant water...and covering it with no gas exchange (assuming it freezes over) will produce the bile you describe seeing each spring. This would save you a lot of work in the spring.

The top layer of my pond is frozen all winter and I just have to make sure a hole is through the ice for gas exchange, doesn't even have to be a big hole. I winter a couple Koi, Shubunkin, and some large 8"+ "feeder" comets in my pond so gas exchange is crucial. The comets are actually from the previous owners and are several years old.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-27-2014, 01:37 AM Thread Starter
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well it gets drained about 90 percent or so and left to dry out. then it gets a board put over it. so its never really sealed off which is what is probably going to get done this year with how nasty it gets. my mom does a pretty huge Christmas display and some of the stuff gets put on top where it is.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2014, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Add nitrifying bacteria that contains Nitrospira species of bacteria.
This is a very interesting piece of information.

Do you know a good place to buy a culture? Or can you just add a little live soil to the filter material during the winter and hope for the best?
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-26-2014, 06:45 PM
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We pretty much ignore ours until the water hits the upper 50s. Then the pumps get hooked back up, waterfall gets started back up, UV etc. We are in Michigan so our winters aren't all that much different. We've never done anything different then that. You could probably get away with keeping the goldfish in the pond. Just throw in a heater to keep a hole in the ice, we use a bubbler too. Then we just keep the lights on in the Koi Pond shed to make sure the circuit breaker doesn't trip. We have Koi, Pool Comets, even a few of your standard goldfish up there and they all do fine.

If you do a huge cleaning right before you close the pond up it makes it easier. I.e put fresh barley in to clear up any extra algae, pull out all of the leaves at the bottom and you should be good.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2014, 01:56 AM Thread Starter
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i never thought of barley for algae. that's a good tip. probably about a wek or so from filling it back up so the fish can go back in towards the end of april. definitely going to clean all the accumulated crud out of it.

i was talking with my mom, letting her know that her fish were still okay and she wants to look for a deal on a roll of liner. so next spring i'll be probably digging out a new pond around 300-400 gallons for her which will be pretty cool. so probably won't be trying to keep it going through the winter after all. time will only tell of course.

i think she has become more envious of her neighbors koi pond that's 4 ft deep, huge, and pretty cool.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-31-2014, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by smooth_cannibal View Post
i never thought of barley for algae. that's a good tip. probably about a wek or so from filling it back up so the fish can go back in towards the end of april. definitely going to clean all the accumulated crud out of it.

i was talking with my mom, letting her know that her fish were still okay and she wants to look for a deal on a roll of liner. so next spring i'll be probably digging out a new pond around 300-400 gallons for her which will be pretty cool. so probably won't be trying to keep it going through the winter after all. time will only tell of course.

i think she has become more envious of her neighbors koi pond that's 4 ft deep, huge, and pretty cool.
Yeah I think ours is somewhere around the 4-5ft range. To be honest it's more work, but at the same time, you don't have to drain the pond every winter and move the fish too. We dug ours at the same time as our pool was put in though. We just asked the guy with the backhoe if he could dig it out for us real quick. He did it in about 5 minutes. We cheated . If I stand in the pond I can just about see out of it, and I'm only 5 feet tall :P. We did just throw away a bunch of liner last summer. Was taking up so much space, got it at a bargin...can't remember from who though.

Just a quick note, if the water is 50degrees it can take some time for the barley to start up, but around 60 degrees it only takes about a week or 2. It's cool how it creates hydrogen peroxide in small amounts to kill the algae. Our water is so crystal clear. Doesn't effect any of the floating plants we have either.

Here is an interesting article about it
The truth about Barley Balls Fact not Fiction

In order to use straw effectively, it is necessary to understand something of how the process works. When barley straw is put into water, it starts to rot and during this process a chemical is released which inhibits the growth of algae. Rotting is a microbial process and is temperature dependent, being faster in summer than in winter. As a general guide, it may take 6-8 weeks for straw to become active when water temperatures are below 50f but only 1-2 weeks when the water is above 68f. During this time, algal growth will continue unchecked. Once the straw has started to release the chemical, it will remain active until it has almost completely decomposed. The duration of this period varies with the temperature and the form in which the straw is applied and this will be discussed in more detail later. However, as a generalization, straw is likely to remain active for approximately six months, after which its activity gradually decreases.
When straw rots, chemicals in the cell walls decompose at different rates. Lignins are very persistent and are likely to remain and be released into the water as the other components decay. If there is plenty of oxygen available in the water, lignins can be oxidized to humic acids and other humic substances. These humic substances occur naturally in many waters and it has been shown that, when sunlight shines onto water which contains dissolved oxygen, in the presence of humic substances, hydrogen peroxide is formed. Low levels of peroxide are known to inhibit the growth of algae and experiments have shown that sustained low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can have a very similar effect on algae to that of straw. Peroxides are very reactive molecules and will only last in water for a short time. However, when humic substances are present, peroxides will be continuously generated whenever there is sufficient sunlight. The slow decomposition of the straw ensures that humic substances are always present to catalyze this reaction.
There are various factors which affect the performance of straw and which support this hypothesis. It is important to take these factors into account to ensure successful treatment of algal problems with straw.
1. Type of Straw - We have tested a range of barley straw varieties, including some grown organically; all these were active at the same level. The claim that organic barley is better than non –organic barley is unfounded and totally unrelated to any studies done by any scientifically proven institution, and in fact, claims of seeded or pre-activated barley are totally false. There is only one way for the barley to be activated, and it is described above, any other claim is simply put, an attempt to sell more product and try to convince someone that their product is better.
Do not use nylons or nylon socks or products that are packed in these. they will not allow enough water flow and you will get a horrid smell coming from your pond, Barely ball are supposed to float at about a half to 3/4 submerged point , do not sink the balls totally under water. They need sunlight and air and will not work well at all submerged to the bottom of the pond.The Nylons or very dangerous to fish and they will be come intangled in them. The spines of the fins and and will get trapped in the nylons. If you want to see a example of this take a old or new nylon sock stretch it out over a wire hoop made from a coat hanger to make a net and catch a fish that you dont care about, you will see a perfect example of how entangled they will become!
The consumer must make a educated decision as to who they are going to buy from , a honest seller of the product, or a seller that claims false things simply to make a bigger profit .
2. The anti-algal chemical - The chemical released by the straw does not kill algal cells already present but it prevents the growth of new algal cells. Thus algae which die will not be replaced when the straw is present and so the algal problem is controlled.
3. Speed of effect - Once the straw has become active, the time taken for control to become effective varies with the type of alga. Small, unicellular species which make the water appear green and turbid, usually disappear within 6-8 weeks of straw application. The larger filamentous algae, often known as blanket weeds, can survive for longer periods and may not be controlled adequately in the first season if the straw is added too late in the growing season when algal growth is dense. It is, therefore, preferable to add the straw very early in the spring before algal growth starts.
4. Production of the anti-algal activity - Activity is only produced if the straw is rotting under well oxygenated conditions. Usually, there is adequate dissolved oxygen in water to ensure that the chemical is produced by the straw. However, if the straw is applied in large compact masses such as bales, or to very sheltered and isolated areas of water, there will be insufficient water movement through the straw, which will progressively become anaerobic (without oxygen). Under these conditions, only the surface layers of the straw will produce the chemical and so the majority of the straw will have no useful effect.
5. Absorption and inactivation of the chemical - The chemical is very quickly absorbed by algae and is inactivated by mud. Therefore, in waters which have high algal populations and are turbid with suspended mud, it is necessary to add more straw than in clear waters.
6. Selective effect on algae - The chemical does not appear to have any effect on higher plants. In our experiments, we have seen that the suppression of dense algal growth has allowed flowering plants (macrophytes) to decolonize waters which were previously dominated by algae. In several shallow lakes where straw was used, algae were replaced by higher plants which suppressed the subsequent growth of algae, so eliminating the need for further straw treatments.
7. Effects on invertebrate animals and fish - There are no reports of harmful effects on invertebrates or fish except in a few instances where excessive amounts of straw were applied to small ponds and the water became deoxygenated. These excessive doses were at least 100 times the doses recommended in this post. In most instances, invertebrate populations increase substantially around the straw so providing a useful food source for fish. There is anecdotal evidence that, in fish farms and fisheries, straw treatments may be associated with improved gill function and fish health and vigor.
The claims that net balls hurt fish are unfounded, they claim that small fry can get trapped in them, the net openings are 2/16 to 3/16 of a inch, it could be said with the same idea that any plants with roots that hang down could trap fish too, but thats not reality , that is a seller trying to use scare tactics to convince you thier product is "safe" , and the other is not.
Again the ethics of this seller should be looked at , just as they should be looked at for claims of "pre seeded" barley that is "organic". If you have anything added to a product that is "organic" then it is not organic any more.
Know the seller that you deal with and look at the things they say about thier products, if they make claims like snake oil sales men would , then act according to what you know is right. Do not be lead down a path that does not exist and pay more for a product than you have to, because of claims that sound nice, but really have no merit what so ever
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