Guide to garden ponds

Buying & equipment

A fascinating underwater world

The watery ecosystem that springs up around a garden pond provides a unique point of interest in any garden.

After all, ponds are not just decorative features: they bring nature up close in a fascinating way. Every pond is a unique world full of interest: a whole range of plants, fish with intriguing behaviour in a range of different sizes, colours and shapes, and birds and other animals attracted by the water. Ponds also offer the ideal habitat for some of our rarer native animals and plants and make a valuable contribution toward preserving these species and the wider ecosystem. 

Building a garden pond

There are a number of simple but attractive options for building a garden pond: most garden owners either use a pond liner to create their own design or simply install a preformed pond, which are now available in quite large sizes.

Technical equipment

In addition to the pond itself, it is important to have the right equipment, especially if you are planning on keeping fish. If you are, the most essential requirement is a high-performance filter with sufficient capacity for the size of the pond and the number of fish. An aerator can provide additional oxygen in the pond if required. And various technical solutions are available for keeping at least part of the pond ice-free in winter, which makes it easier for your fish to survive the colder months.

When you have first set up your pond and put the plants in place, you should leave it a few weeks to reach a natural biological equilibrium. During this period, test the water values at regular intervals. Once the values have stabilised, you are ready to introduce your first fish.

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Pond maintenance

Regular pond maintenance is required to support and stabilise the ecological balance created through the interactions of fish, plants, micro-organisms and water. You should restrict all maintenance and cleaning work to the minimum required and carry it out carefully.

Life in and around the pond is influenced by seasonal changes. As a result, the maintenance required will also change at different times of year. 

Spring – the beginning of the pond season

Spring sees the pond awaken with new life. Pond plants begin to grow and fish become increasingly active.
 
Tasks:

  • Test the water values and carry out a partial water change or other adjustments if required
  • Clean and check the pond filter
  • From March onwards, start to introduce new aquatic plants if desired
  • Inhibit the first flush of algae growth by increasing the amount of shade, changing the water or introducing plants that absorb high levels of nutrients such as frogbit and water soldiers

Summer – your pond in full bloom

During the summer months, your pond will reveal its true splendour. Many aquatic plants will burst into bloom and your fish will begin to spawn.
 
Tasks:

  • Cut back faded pond plants
  • Remove duckweed from the water if you notice any 
  • Replace evaporated water with water that has been properly prepared and heated to pond temperature 
  • Clean the pond filter from time to time and check the water values on a regular basis

Autumn – preparing for the winter rest

During autumn, fish and plants start preparing for the upcoming winter months. The water beings to cool and the flowers on the pond plants die down. 
 
Tasks:

  • Remove fallen foliage and dead plant material from the water. It may be beneficial to place a net over the pond 
  • Switch off the pumps for waterfalls and fountains, then clean them and place them into storage
  • Clean the pond filter
  • Cut back plants

Winter – the pond at rest

The life in your garden pond takes a rest from November to March. Fish metabolism slows significantly: they live at the bottom of the pond and do not feed. You should keep pond maintenance to a minimum during winter to avoid disturbing your fish and other animals. A device for keeping part of the pond free of ice will maintain the vital exchange of gas between the water and the surrounding air.

Diet

In the wild, fish usually live in large bodies of water that contain an adequate amount of food. The food naturally available in the limited space of a garden pond is not, however, enough to meet their requirements. Pond fish therefore need to receive a high-quality food that provides all the required nutrients without polluting the water in the pond.

Species-appropriate food and its properties in water

Each species of pond fish lives in a certain region of the water, which is also where it eats its food. To reach all the fish in your pond, the food may therefore need to sink, float or remain suspended in the water. The scent of the food is also important as fish find it using their sensitive olfactory organs. 

Food must preserve the ecological balance in your pond

A balanced diet is essential for ensuring your fish remain healthy and for maintaining the ecological balance in your pond. The food must not contaminate the water with superfluous nutrients as this would lead to an increase in algae formation, a deterioration in water values and, ultimately, make your fish more susceptible to diseases. You therefore require energy-controlled food that can be optimally digested by your fish. The diet provided must also account for the increased energy needs during spring and autumn.
 
The Vitakraft range contains nutrient-controlled whole foods for the period from spring to autumn. All food types contain our special multivitamin complex and stable vitamin C to boost natural defences. 

Restore lost energy in spring

In spring, you can start to feed your fish using Vitakraft pond food once the risk of frost has passed and the water temperature has reached 9 °C. Start off with small amounts for the first few days, increasing gradually after this. During the harsh winter months, your fish will have been using their internal energy reserves to survive. It is therefore recommended to supplement your feeding with high-energy Vitakraft Pond Food Energy . This will enable your fish to stabilise their weakened immune systems and provides vital nutrients for the upcoming spawning season.

Nutrient-controlled food in summer

During summer, you should provide your fish with food that is low in nutrients as they have access to a relatively energy-rich supply of natural food. Food that is too high in nutrients could contaminate the water. Vitakraft pond fish food is nutrient-controlled and high in fibre to promote proper digestion. This ensures that nutrients are absorbed into your fish's bodies and prevents your pond from becoming contaminated. 

Build up energy reserves in autumn

During autumn, life in and around the pond starts to slow down. Pond fish do not have much time remaining to "fatten up" with the energy reserves they will need for the harsh winter months ahead. As soon as the water temperature falls below 9 °C, fish stop eating. During the winter months, they enter a form of hibernation on the bottom of the pond and survive on their energy reserves. To ensure that your fish make it through this period, you should provide them with Vitakraft Pond Food Energy during autumn.

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