Spring Start-Up

Spring Cleanup

Tools Needed
  • Shop-Vac
  • Plastic Shovel
  • Broom
  • Pump and Discharge Hose
  • Hose with Spray Nozzle
  • Thermometer
  • Water Treatments - Dechlorination
  • Holding Tank for Fish
  • Wet Newspaper for Plants

Now! Before the temperatures rise, with slight cloud cover and some moisture.

Step 1

Drain pond using your recirculating pump or an alternate sump pump. Fill a holding tank for the fish approximately 2/3 full with some of the pond water and discard the rest into the garden.
Remove fish and plants as water level drops.
**Cover plants with wet newspaper and mist as needed so they do not dry out. (More Details Below)
**Once the fish are in the holding tank, acclimate them to the tap water slowly by running the hose slowly into the holding tank while cleaning the pond. (More Details Below)

Step 2

Use shop-vac or broom and shovel to remove sludge at bottom of the pond. Spray sides of pond and waterfall with pressure to remove dirt and algae. Do not scrub or use soaps or cleaners.
**Leave some algae on sides for fish to feed off of when they are returned to pond.

Step 3

Refill pond. It is important to add de-chlorinator to water from municipal water supplies—your town can change the way they treat water at any time, and some of the newer treatments are deadly to fish if not removed from pond water. Other beneficial bacteria can be added to the water if temperatures are over 50°F.

Step 4

Start pump, filters, UV sterilizers, etc., to get water recirculating. Run the pumps and filter continuously throughout the season to ensure the biological activity in the filter thrives and fish get enough oxygen, especially during evenings.

Step 5

Return fish and plants to the pond. The water from the holding tank can be pumped back into the pond if it is not too dirty.
**If temperature in new water is greater than 10° difference from old water, float fish in bags to adjust fish gradually.

To find the gallons in a pond:
Length x Width x Depth x 7.48 = Gallons in a Rectangle
Multiply this number by 80% to figure for curves and shelves to get gallons in the pond.

For a circle:
3.14 x (1/2 Diameter x 1/2 Diameter) x Depth x 7.48 = Gallons in a Circle
(There are 7.48 gallons of water per cubic foot.)

If you are filling your pond or replacing the entire pond volume, you can calculate the pond volume by reading your water meter before starting and after finishing.
The difference will be the gallons in your pond, provided no other water was used during this time.


Spring is the best time to re-pot or divide most aquatic plants. Avoid harsh disruptions to the roots of early flowering plants such as Irises, as it may preclude this year’s blooms. Hardy plants can be returned to their places in the pond after cleaning. Some may need to be divided or transplanted. When you transplant and divide aquatic plants, you should use heavy garden soil rather than the commercial potting soils (they tend to be very light and make a mess in your pond). A plastic or clay pot will do. Line the bottom of the pot with newspaper to prevent the soil from running through the holes. Cover the top with sand or stone to keep the soil from floating out the top. This is also a good time to fertilize your plants with Pondtabbs Aquatic Plant Fertilizer. Water plants thoroughly before putting them in the pond. Tropical plants can be done the same way; however, they should be held inside until the danger of frost has passed (Mid May – Late May).


As the temperature rises, fish are becoming more active. Keep a check on the temperature of the water. When the temperature reaches 50°F, you can begin feeding. Only feed them what they will eat in five minutes. Gradually work them up to their normal feeding schedule as the temperatures rise. Spring is a good time to medicate the pond if you notice any signs of infection on your fish. Weak fish may benefit from medicated fish food for 10-14 days.

The following guidelines will help to get your pond started as the temperatures begin to rise.
Temperature Guidelines


The most useful tool you can have for guiding you through your pond’s life cycle.

Pond Water Conditioner & Fish Conditioner

Essential to remove and neutralize chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals. Replace slime coat on fish.
Stress Coat, Pond Detox+

Start-Up Bacteria

To be used to seed biological filters and start up the ecosystem in your pond. Start after water temperature has reached 50°F for 5-7 days. Shut down UV sterilizer during application.
Microbe-Lift PL, Easy Pro All Season, Pure+ Filter Gel

Enzyme Bacteria

Helps to break down organic sludge that is missing in the cleaning or builds up throughout the season to keep the pond healthy.
Sludge Remover Bacteria, Aqua Defend, Pond Zyme, Muck Digester Tabs, Microbe-Lift Spring & Summer

Water Clarifier

To help clear water clouded by dirt and debris. Should be used with a mechanical filter.
Water Clarifier, Aqua Defend, Simply Clear

Filter Media

It is best to change filter media in the spring before beneficial bacteria get started. Also, change skimmer pads.
Lava Rock, Polyester Matting, Bio Balls

UV Sterilizer

It is best to bring in old light to be sure of model when buying new bulbs. Good idea to change washer and gaskets when you replace bulb. Be sure to check for leaks before turning the light back on.


To be used for moving fish and skimming debris.

Algae Control

Ponds often experience an algae bloom in the spring before plants are introduced and the ecosystem is established.
Rock and Waterfall Clearner, Algaefix, Microbial Algae Clean, Barley, Phosphate Remover

Fish Health Care

Parasites and bacteria are active in water temperatures between 45°-55°F; however, fish immune systems do not become active until temperatures rise over 50°F. Parasites can be more effectively controlled in water temperatures over 60°F.
Melafix, Pimafix, Terminate, ParaMax, Pond Salt, MediMax, Parasite Treatment

Fish Food

When water temperatures are above 45°F for a full week, you can start feeding them leafy vegetables and soaked grains (Cheerios). Start feeding sparingly (every 2-3 days) with cool water food when the water temperatures stay over 50°F.
Tetra Spring & Fall, Blue Ridge Cool Water, Blue Ridge Probiotic Food

Plant Fertilizer

Although plants do not utilize fertilizer until the water has warmed up, it is most convenient to fertilize at the time of re-potting.

New Pots

Line pots that have holes in the bottom with newspaper.

Soil, Sand, or Stone

Use a heavy aquatic soil or organic garden dirt to plant aquatics in. Cover newly planted soil with sand or stone so soil does not cloud water. Water plants thoroughly before putting in the pond.

Water Test Kits

Maintain good water quality. Check for pH (7.0-7.5 is ideal), nitrites (0 is ideal), and ammonia (0 is ideal).

Silk Aquatic Plants

For those that cannot wait until May for the real ones.


For early spring color around the pond.

Remember that when you are adding any water treatment to your pond, it is important to add the correct dosage based on the number of gallons in the pond.
Do not over-treat the pond by adding too much or using more than one product at a time.

Contact us today with any questions you may have about setting up your water garden in the spring.