Ten Commandments of Pond Maintenance Courtesy of Tom Malone

1. You don't need any chemicals--ever.

2. If you have some plants in the pond, you don't need to (in fact, shouldn't) feed fish more than once a week - and even then only as much as they actively eat for about a 5-minute period.

3. You almost never have to drain, clean and re-fill a pond - maybe once every 5-7 years. If, however, you happen to have a lot of debris, like leaves, etc., falling into the pond during the course of the year, you may want to get into the pond in fall (before it's too, too cold to do this) and just scoop up some of that extra gunk by hand to minimize the oxygen depletion of the water (from the decomposition process). This job is not for the feint of heart.

4. To reduce algae, try to cover about 70% of the pond surface with plant life of any sort. Water lilies are good. Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce are also good, fast-growing floating plants. They (Hyacinth and Lettuce) may spread so fast that you need to pull a few handfuls out from time to time (for the compost pile) so that they don't cover the whole surface.

5. Once the temperature of the water (not the air) drops below 55 degrees, stop feeding the fish completely. Don't resume feeding them in spring until the water temperature rises above 55 degrees.

6. Once cold fall weather comes, cut back potted plants to 3" nubs and let them just sit on the bottom of the pond until you bring them back up (and maybe divide some of them) for spring. Submerged plants like Anacharis/Elodea can just stay submerged. Floaters should be removed and composted if you have a compost pile.

7. You may want to put a net over your pond during fall/winter (whenever you cut back your plants) because you don't want a lot of leaves falling into the pond and rotting. As a year-round thing, you should skim leaves, etc. off the surface of the pond for the same reason. Too much rotting organic debris is probably the worst thing for a pond.

8. Most of what fish eat they get from the stuff growing on plants, sides of the pond, and any other surfaces available to them.

9. I would never put a net on a pond to keep birds away. I think having birds eat from your pond is a cool contribution to the ecosystem. (That's assuming, of course, that you're not investing in expensive Koi or something.)

10. If mosquitoes are a problem, you can stock your pond with mosquito-larvae-eating minnows and/or toss in Mosquito Dunks (available at Home Depot) which are harmless to fish and plants but which release a good bacteria that prevents mosquito larvae from developing.


The garage cat Sweet Pea visits the pond often, but she never uses it as a Sushi Bar.

This information reposted from the notes section of Margaret Downey's facebook, where she is currently most active.