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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Prepare your pond, fish for fall

Consider these helpful hints this month to get the most out of your pond, while preparing your fish for fall.

Fall is a very beautiful beautiful time of year, my favorite by far. The sun hangs a bit lower in the sky, softening its brilliance. The dog days of summer are over, the climate becomes milder, and the evenings express hints of the crisp fall weather that is yet to come. Meanwhile, the pennant race begins to heat up!

Throughout this month your tropical water lilies will continue blasting fragrant flowers well into October, while your hardy water lilies will start to slow down, saving energy in preparation for their winter slumber.

Many of your marginal aquatic plants will get a second wind when we get past the intense summer heat, while several of the cooler weather aquatic plants such as golden buttons and water cress may show signs of awakening.

This time of year in Southern California your ponds will maintain water temperatures in the high 60's to low 70's. Use this temperate weather to your advantage by pumping up your fish with the last of your high protein summer food to prepare them for their winter slumber.

I'm a firm believer that you get tenfold what you give; therefore, get 100 percent out of your pond in October by performing these 10 simple, yet affordable tasks this month to reap the all the rewards your pond has to offer:

1. Stock Up on Wheat Germ Food

This month you will want to use up the last of your high protein growth formula fish food, and stock up on carbohydrate-based, wheat germ fish food, unless you have some left over in your freezer from spring.

As the water temperature drops into the low 60's, you will want to feed a quality fish food with the main ingredient of wheat germ for easy digestion.

2. Use a Pond Thermometer

If you don't have a pond thermometer, get one! If you have one, clean it up, and get into the routine of regularly checking your pond's water temperature.

You will want to know when your pond's temperature drops below 60 degrees. As the water temperature cools, you will want to accordingly adjust your fish feeding regime.

When the water temperature drops and holds to below 50 degrees, discontinue feeding your fish, both Koi and goldfish, until next spring when it maintains 50 degrees or above.

This concept is difficult to grasp; however, if you maintain your water quality, and your fish have been fed properly over the summer, your finny friends will welcome the winter slumber, especially because we have such mild winter weather in our area.

3. Check Your Scarecrow Motion Sensor Device

Egrets and blue herons, which I refer to as the T. rex of water gardens, may have not bothered your fish recently, but that may be because the water temperatures and fish metabolisms have been at their peaks for months due to the summer heat.

As the water temperature cools, so will the metabolism of your fish. This means their reflex movements will become slower, making them easier prey for their predators.

To help protect these pets, which provide so much tranquility to you year round, be sure you have a working Scarecrow motion sensor device for every 100 square feet of surface area in your water feature. Install fresh nine volt batteries in your Scarecrows.

4. Trim Trees

One of the most overlooked, proactive and preventative actions you can take to maintain a healthy pond is to prune deciduous trees in close proximity to your water feature.

Consult horticulture books, plant nurseries, Master Gardeners or members of the Redlands Horticultural & Improvement Society to determine the best pruning time and method. Do not top your ornamental trees; only fruit trees can handle being topped without damaging the tree's integrity and structural well-being.

Keeping leaves out of your water feature will help control nutrients in your pond, and save you time and money spent maintaining your pond.

5. Add Beneficial Bacteria

At this time of the year, when your pond's beneficial bacteria starts to slow down, it always is a good idea to super charge your pond with a mighty dose of beneficial pond bacteria.

Dose your pond with up to 10 times your regular dose to consume as much organic debris as possible in your pond and filtration systems. Be liberal with your inoculations this month, as you can't overdose your pond with beneficial bacteria.

6. Prepare for String Algae

Established ecosystem ponds, which are properly maintained over the summer, are absolutely, undeniably carefree with little to no string algae problems. However, as the water temperature cools and nutrient levels are high, conditions for string algae are at their peak.

This is the time to stock up on your preferred water treatment product for controlling string algae in your pond. At the first signs of string algae, if treated properly, the hairy nuisance should not be an issue.

7. Stop Fertilizing Water Lilies

Water lilies are the jewels of the most avid water gardeners' ponds. From the common, hardy water lily to the rare, and usually expensive, tropical water lily, you will find both fragrance and stunning beauty in the blossoms that adorn our ponds.

The serious water lily addict will figure out that by fertilizing this elegant aquatic plant you will be rewarded with more intense blooms more frequently. Use aquatic fertilizer tablets designed for water gardens to achieve the best results, throughout the summer months. However, September is the month that fertilization should stop!

This month, your water lilies will come to the end of their growing season and start to shut down, preparing for dormancy for the approaching winter months. If you continue to fertilize now, the only thing that will benefit from your efforts will be string algae! AURGH!

8. Consider Aeration

Aerators are the most overlooked, inexpensive way to benefit your water feature year round. Not only does a good outdoor aerator add fantastic water circulation from the pond's top to bottom, it also looks great with the bubbles splashing at the water's surface.

During the winter, most pond owners reflect and record, in stone, the data collected over the past year's pond season. When the new season arrives, most pond owners refer to their notes and treat the new season just like the previous one.

What most pond owners fail to consider is that their Koi at the beginning of last year's pond season were substantially smaller. Of course, larger fish tend to need more food, which places more strain on your water quality.

An aerator easily can be installed into your existing pond and is well worth the time and investment. When you have a quality aerator on your pond everyone -- ranging from fish and plants to beneficial bacteria and you -- benefits.

9. Install Underwater Lighting

The days get shorter this month; therefore, much of the time you spend at home will be after dark. With the investment of just a few hundred dollars, you can double your enjoyment of your pond with the addition of underwater lighting.

Pond owners, who already have a low voltage, underwater lighting system, certainly agree with me that fish seem to kick things into overdrive in the evening, performing a wonderful aquatic ballet in and out of the underwater lighting system.

If you have such a system, then check the timer to ensure it is coming on at the time that best fits your schedule. Make sure that any rapid growth of aquatic plants over the summer haven't covered any lighting stations, and, of course, replace any burnt out bulbs.

To see how underwater lighting enhances and illuminates water gardens, attend the fifth annual "Moonlight Pond Tour for the Cure" charity event, hosted by Exotic Aquatics, from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6 and 7 in Redlands and neighboring communities.

Proceeds from this self-guided tour will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, along with other authorized non-profit organizations. Non-profits interested in selling tour tickets to benefit from the proceeds are welcome to contact Exotic Aquatics at 1-800-522-5043.

Tickets are $10 per person, with no charge for youth, ages 10 and younger. Tickets will be on sale, starting at month's end, in Redlands at: Exotic Aquatics' headquarters, 609 Amigos Drive, Unit One (week days); and Daryl's Pet Shop, 860 W. Redlands Blvd. (daily).

10. Attend a Koi Fish Seminar (This tip is a past date - Sorry! TPD)

Koi hobbyists, retails, contractors, and veterinarians and other health professionals are invited to a Koi health and disease seminar, hosted by Exotic Aquatics, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat., Sept. 23 at its headquarters.

Experts will cover Koi health and nutrition, including what to look for in buying and handling Koi, water quality and tank health, plus diagnose problems and prescribe treatments.

Exotic Aquatics will host a Koi wet lab from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sun., Sept. 24 at its headquarters. Guest speaker will be Vicki Vaughan, director of Aquatic Services at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and Director of KOILAB, a complete diagnostic service for fish.

Participants will learn how to biopsy fish and identify parasites under a microscope, administer anesthesia and inject antibiotics.

A microscope is highly recommended for the wet lab. You may bring your own, or pre-order the Pond RX 400x magnification through Exotic Aquatics for $139. Microscopes will be available the day of the wet lab for $189.

Seating is limited for either day of this annual weekend event sponsored by Exotic Aquatics, which also is known as The Pond Diggers. For more information, or to make a required reservation for either day, call 1-800-522-5043.


Eric Triplett owns Exotic Aquatics, recognized nationwide as one of the country's top pond and pondless waterfall construction companies. Triplett is a Certified Professional Pond Contractor and an authorized dealer for Russell Watergardens, specializing in the Hydro Vortex Biological Waterfall filter and a "Dry Hands Cleaning" Hydro Clean Skimmer. To reach The Pond Digger, call 1-800-522-5043; or visit the company's website at:


1,415 Posts
Amazing article, Thanks Pond Digger. As a resident of upstate NY, are there any special considerations or steps I shoud be making in preparation for consistant temperatures well below freezing? I have a small pond, about 400-500 gallons (appx 30" deep 6'x10') with a few small koi and a few comet goldfish.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
SKAustin said:
Amazing article, Thanks Pond Digger. As a resident of upstate NY, are there any special considerations or steps I shoud be making in preparation for consistant temperatures well below freezing? I have a small pond, about 400-500 gallons (appx 30" deep 6'x10') with a few small koi and a few comet goldfish.
Just be sure that the top of the pond doesn't ice over. That would mean serious trouble! A strong aerator should do the trick.

Watch the temp and stop feeding your wheat germ based food when the water temp is below 50. Extra inoculations of beneficial bacteria this month are in order and consider putting a net over the pond to keep out leaf debris and protect your fish from predators.

Good Luck,
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