The coming of Easter means it’s time for things to wake up in the spring garden and this month sees sunny days win over cold nights. In response, fish and aquatic wildlife become more active and plants start growing and flowering. With the current shenanigans taking place, it’s good to know that the water garden can absorb all the time you can give it.
Garden centres will re-open fully in Scotland on Easter Monday however you can beat the rush as our stores are open for the entirety of the Easter Weekend.
As water warms and fish start to look for food, clean and reinstate pumps, filters and ultraviolet clarifiers. Make sure stagnant water is flushed from equipment before use to avoid problems with water quality.
Replace ultraviolet lamps. Although they continue to emit light, lamps will age rapidly and be less effective at killing algae after a season’s use. Take note of the wattage of your lamp or remove it and take it to your local store to ensure you get the right replacement. Old bulbs may still glow but are far less effective and cost as much to run.
Add a bio-starter to your system to give filter bacteria a boost after the winter. When the fishes start to produce waste you’ll need the right friendly bacteria to break down pollutants. A product such as Pure or a Pond Bomb will get the season off to a flying start.
Add spring colour and nectar for wildlife as early-flowering plants such as Calthas and Primulas arrive in store.
Start tackling algae before growth starts to take off by adding barley straw pouches, phosphate controllers and additional submerged plants.
Congested clumps of marginals and hungry lilies can be re-potted now. Lilies in particular are hungry plants and the more vigorous varieties (unlike the slower-growing and correspondingly more expensive pygmies) need regular controlling and feeding
Add fertiliser tablets or liquids to boost pond plant growth for plants that don’t get repotted into fresh compost.
New fish can now be added to garden ponds providing care is taken over acclimatising them. Traditionally new additions are floated in their bags to allow temperatures to equalise but to avoid any further shock, add the fishes together with their transport water to a clean bucket, before gently adding water from the pond over the course of around twenty minutes. Keep containers covered to prevent fish from jumping out.
Check your water quality before adding any new pets and consider using an antiparasite treatment to safeguard against any latent disease problems which may be present in established ponds. Like us, fish have an immune system which is challenged by stresses such as moving home or a change of diet and this is when they may fall victim to ailments.
Start feeding your fishes regularly with a diet designed for low temperature use. Fishes living in well-established ponds may well be able to forage for much of their daily needs but will welcome a tasty hand out and this will encourage them to remain tame.
Test kits are the mark of a committed fishkeeper. They can make a huge difference to the success of your aquarium but beware expiry dates and readings that seem to be good to be true. A mature tank should have undetectable ammonia or nitrite levels but a zero reading for nitrate is often the sign of a faulty or expired test kit.
Check your cabinet. Melamine can often swell from a build up of moisture, check the weight-bearing components of your stand are up to the job. If you have an AquaOak cabinet, relax and enjoy the sturdiness of solid wood.
Save a goldfish. Normal fish-shaped goldfish varieties will thrive in a pond. If you know any trapped in a small tank (or worse still a goldfish bowl) then start work on an escape plan. There may be digging involved but a long life outside awaits and even fish that have been in aquaria for years will soon adjust and thrive. The more delicate fancy goldfish types such as moors, orandas and fantails are best kept inside over the winter but will enjoy spending the warmer months outside in a spacious filtered water feature, providing that they are protected from predators.
Research a fish. We’re big fans of people finding out as much as they can about a new fish before they buy it. Not only does this save fish from being placed in too small an aquarium, it makes you more aware of what that fish prefers (hard or soft water, plant cover, strong water movement etc.)
Test your water. Knowledge is power – don’t wait for a fish to look sick before looking for problems
Feed your plants for best results, you wouldn’t plant a rose in a bucket of gravel and expect it to thrive and aquarium plants are no different. Using a properly formulated aquarium plant food can help your aquatic greenery fight algae by reducing nitrates and phosphates. Surprising as it seems, adding fertiliser to your aquarium can therefore help reduce algae growth in your aquarium.