Spring Pond Concerns: Feeding the Fish & Water Loss

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With the spring comes new life and new considerations for your backyard pond! Can you start feeding the fish again? Are the spring chinooks causing water loss? Let’s talk about what you can do if you find yourself in these typical Colorado spring situations!

When To Feed The Fish

The Colorado spring has the fish thinking it’s time to eat! Feeding the fish in the spring when pond temperatures are fluctuating 10 degrees or more from daytime to nighttime can be a little tricky. 

Things to consider:

  • Is your pond primarily very sunny?
  • Are the fish very active?
  • Do you have low protein or winter-type food available?

If you answered yes to these questions you can feed them winter food very sparingly.

Feeding Temps for Backyard Gold Fish Pond

We highly recommend keeping an eye on the weather. When there is warm weather for more than a few days in a row and you are feeding them, remain aware of cold weather coming in. Don’t feed them for a couple of days before the cold weather to make sure they have processed all the food out of their systems. 

We also recommend that if you feed them when temperatures are low, you use cold water bacteria. As the temperatures rise the fish waste will provide nutrients that algae may take advantage of. 

Keep in mind, if you feed your fish just below or at 50 degrees you are doing this at your own risk!

Refer to the helpful chart above.

Kristi’s fish are in a fairly sunny backyard pond. They have been very active! She’s fed them just a little winter food the last week or so and did not feed them the last 2 days as she knew the temperatures would be dropping.

Backyard Gold Fish Pond

Is The Water Loss In Your Water Feature Due To The Wind?

Have you noticed the water level going down in your feature recently? Remember if you have a long stream, a high waterfall, or a bubbling rock, it could be the wind!

Splashing water can be blown out of the system in these high winds. Give it a few days for the wind to die down, and then see if you are still losing water. If you are, here is a handy guide on how to diagnose a leak.

Diagnosing Your Water Feature—Does It Have A Leak? 

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  • Turn off the waterfall for the day or 24 hours (Healthy fish will be okay for this short period of time).
  • Fill the pond to its normal, full level.
  • Measure the level of the water in the pond. Measuring is very important! And make sure to measure it from a point that is easy to reach. 
  • Check the water level roughly 24 hours later. Re-measure so you know exactly how many inches of water has been lost overnight. 

If the water level didn’t go down at all, the pond is holding water. Now, test the waterfall/stream. Read “Leak Test on The Waterfall Or Stream” below.

If the water did go down, the pond is losing water. Leave the pump off and let it continue to recede until it stops. If you have fish, make sure there is an aerator running. Don’t leave the pump off for more than a few days as the water may start to green up. 

Leak Test On The Waterfall Or Stream

Backyard pond & waterfall service

Do this test if you have first ruled out that the pond losing water.

  • Leave the pump on. 
  • Measure the level of the water in the pond. 
  • Measure it again in 24 hours. 
  • If the water level in the pond has gone down 1/2″ or more, there is a leak in the waterfall or stream. 

 

 

Now That It Has Been Established That There Is Water Loss, What Do I Do? 

Over 90% of all leaks are from a low liner or folds in the liner allowing water to escape. 

Exposing all the liner along the edge of the stream (or pond if the pond was losing water) is a good first step. Pull back the rocks and pull the liner up so that it is obvious water is not getting out. 

Do the same leak test again to confirm it is no longer losing water. Once that is confirmed, it can be re-edged. 

Re-edging

Re-edging can be difficult. Hiding the liner without causing folds that allow water loss, and making it look good can take some talent! 

What if the rocks have concrete between them or there is concrete over the liner? 

The freeze and thaw cycle here in Colorado almost ensures that concrete or mortar will eventually crack. If your system is experiencing water loss and there is mortar between the rocks or even concrete over the liner within the pond, it may have to be completely removed to locate the leak.

How do I know it’s not just Evaporation?

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Evaporation happens all year, and during the hot summer, it may take a little more water out of your system than normal. Are you wondering what is normal? 

In Colorado 1 to 3 inches of evaporation within a week is normal. It doesn’t matter how large or small the pond is, 1 to 3 inches of water loss in a week is evaporation. 

Leaks can be difficult to diagnose and fix. If you need help contact us and we will send an expert out!

Pro Tips:

If you think the pond needs to be cleaned, let us know as the schedule gets packed quickly! 

If you haven’t started using beneficial bacteria, start putting it in weekly now!

If your bacteria is liquid and was stored somewhere over the winter that it could freeze, go ahead and throw it out. Purchase dry powder bacteria as it stores better. 

If you’ve had liquid bacteria for more than a year, consider replacing it. Bacteria is live and if not used will lose potency over long periods of time.

How Else Can Colorado Pond Pros Help You?

We love our jobs and are excited to help you with your backyard pond installation, pond service, and repair! And as the pond experts, we have plenty of advice and info on landscaping as well. Contact us today for help tending to your pond or installing a new one!

Whether we’re talking about outdoor gold fish ponds, pondless waterfalls, cleanouts, renovations, leaks, or aquatic plants, we’ve got oodles of experience and enthusiasm to share! Just take a look at our blogs Topping Off the Pond: What to Keep In Mind, How Does Colorado Pond Pros Handle Bottom Drains? and High Winds and Your Backyard Water Feature.