Common Pond Emergencies and Their Solutions Part 1 – Weather
Did you know that weather changes can cause significant damage to your pond. Something as small as rain or a leaf can disrupt the chemical balance. Even temperature swings can cause the oxygen level to change upsetting the delicate eco system. Dealing with common pond emergencies is an important task in order to keep the ecosystem balanced and your pond fish alive. We have gathered for you some of the most frequent pond emergencies caused by the weather and their solutions.
Common Pond Emergencies and Their Solutions
What is turnover and how does it affect my pond?
Turnover is often an overseen and tricky pond emergency. The least amount of damage from a weak turnover is that your water may become somewhat cloudy for the next few days. However, the worst amount of damage is that it could kill all of your fish.
The pond’s turnover means that the waters from different levels will shift places due to raining, runoff or sudden temperature swings. If you have an un-oxygenated fish pond that has become layered it will allow turnover to happen.
Deep ponds or lakes usually have 3 layers of water, the first of which is the one with most oxygen, where the quantity of oxygen lowers with each level. The emergencies will cause these levels to mix, which will unlock a series of chemical reactions in the ponds water that will have the following effect:
- Unhelpful aerobic bacteria will accumulate and eat organic and decaying matters releasing poisonous gasses like ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulfide.
- These toxic gasses will sink to the lowest level of the water and poison your fish.
- The colony of aerobic bacteria will drown the fish, once they use up the oxygen left in the water, which will happen really quickly.
- Your pond will reek a very foul smell that will fill the surrounding area.
The turnover of a pond, water garden or a lake’s water is caused by the weather. It does require your serious attention whenever any of the emergency cases described below take place and is left unattended.
Sudden leaf fall can cause great damage to the chemical balance in your pond if not addressed quickly. Any decaying matter will unlock a series of reactions that cause high nitrate levels and dangerous quantities of the toxic gasses mentioned above, which as we know are very dangerous to fish.
There are different pond equipment and tools, which you can find in a pond supply store, that will prevent this from happening. However, you still need to do your maintenance chores and clean anything that was not removed.
Skimmers – Pond skimmers are very helpful when dealing with leafs and debris, but they are not enough on their own. They will clean the water’s surface to their capacity, but with sudden leaf fall, they are simply not efficient enough.
Nets – Netting your pond is not only a good way to protect your Koi and other pond fish from predators, but also to prevent too many leaves from falling in the pond’s water. Combined with skimmers they will significantly reduce the amount of foliage and debris in your pond.
Vacuums / Scoops – In case your pond was not equipped with a working skimmer or a net at the time of excessive leaf fall, you can clean up your pond by scooping and vacuuming all the leaves. Pond vacuums are very helpful for water changing as well.
After you are done cleaning the pond, check the water parameters to ensure they are not off and act accordingly to return your pond to its balanced state.
For areas with frequent rainfalls and sudden storms, especially urban ones where the rain is more toxic, it is important to check the water parameters and keep your pond balanced.
Rain runoff – The one big damage that can be caused by rain is if runoff waters end up in the fish pond. Runoff waters will cause the water’s temperature to drop down very quickly. They will not only increase the water’s quantity but ruin the water’s quality as well. This can endanger the entire ecosystem.
Heavy rain – In the case of expected heavy rain, you could avoid the overflow by removing some of the water before the storm hits. With unexpected ones, you would want to quickly decrease the water level by pumping out water.
When it is raining cats and dogs outside and there are no sign of it stopping, there are few things you can do that will save your pond and fish from further damage:
- Remove your Koi or other pond fish and place them in a quarantine tank inside.
- Make sure you pump out and remove enough water from the pond, to avoid an overflow and sinking of your garden.
- Once the heavy rain or storm is over, clean the pond from any fallen foliage and debris, test the water, and regulate the water level and chemical balance by adding the needed water treatments and new treated water.
- Return your fish back in the pond once the water is balanced.
Water temperature swings are often the cause for a turnover but also for series of other problems. Hot and cold temperatures have their impacts on the pond and the life in it. As you should probably know by now, Koi and fish, in general, can tolerate a particular temperature difference, however, they do not tolerate a sudden one. If the water temperature gets colder or warmer rapidly it will endanger the balance of the entire pond and may trigger unwanted chemical reactions.
Let’s take a look at what happens if, for instance, it is a very hot summer. You could, of course, use frost bags to cool off your pond, but under no circumstances are you to add a considerable amount of cold water in your warmed pond all at once. This may lead to severe damage to your fish population and your pond’s balance.
If it is really hot outside, the pond’s temperature will become higher and this will cause the water to evaporate, which would mean the water quantity will drop. If this is a drastic change and an excessive amount of the water evaporates from the pond, it will mean you will have to add new water to keep the water levels and temperature in check.
However, if you do that you will have to avoid all risks and pump the water in slowly so that you do not suddenly change the overall temperature of the pond or ruin the chemical balance. If you have to add a substantial amount of water to your pond, take the fish out in your quarantine tank, and only then proceed with refilling the pond and balancing it.
Low Temperatures and Frost
On the other hand, if the temperatures hit some unexpected lows and the pond becomes covered in ice you will face a series of difficulties, the main of which is your pond will be left without oxygen.
Water Cycling -Now, freezing can usually be prevented with constant water cycling. Like if you have a fountain or a submerged air pump that does not let the water be calm enough to freeze. However, any equipment that is out in the open can freeze or burn, therefore you will have to buy a new one. Unless you have covered or uninstalled this equipment and placed it in closed space (like your home, basement, garage).
Temperature control – If you control the pond’s temperature externally you could also prevent freezing, yet this is rarely a good option and is usually costly.
Ice & Snow Control – Having a de-icer or a cover for the pond in case of snow and winter debris is also a good idea. They will protect the pond from freezing and organic matter from decaying and unlocking a series of reactions you certainly do not want.
Intelligent design – This is something that the natural design plays a role in. Pond design has to be custom and compatable with the climate in your region. Usually, the well designed and deep enough pond will survive freezing since your Koi or other pond fish will have enough oxygenated water in the lower levels where they will be able to hibernate.
For more information on pond winterization read here :
How To Prepare Your Pond For The Winter
However, if you don’t have the time to take reasonable precautions and you wake up to a frozen pond, do not forcefully break the ice. The shockwaves created from this action are stronger in water and your fish will be in harm’s way. Instead, melt the ice using hot treated water, slowly pouring it directly over the ice. After you have de-iced your pond, proceed with taking the necessary steps to test and treat water if the conditions are not balanced.
The best water parameters for a balanced Koi Pond are avaliable here :
If you do not have the means to deal with a pond emergency, seek further consultation regarding pond maintenance, and feel free to reach out to us.