Your pond is more than a pond, it’s also the place your koi and goldfish call home, and every home requires a little upkeep. Most hobbyists know the basics that they need to keep their pond up and running: a filter, skimmer, and pump to name a few. However, pond upkeep requires more than simply keeping things running.
Ensuring your pond environment stays pristine requires continuous maintenance, and there are a few supplies that can help make that job a bit easier. Below is our list of 8 maintenance supplies every pond keeper should have.
Water Test Kit
A healthy pond starts with healthy water, which is why having a water test kit on hand is essential. Just because the water looks clean doesn’t mean it is clean. Water test kits allow you to monitor the levels of invisible toxins and pollutants in your pond.
Water test kits are widely available at most pond, pet, and garden stores, and they usually cost around $25. It doesn’t necessarily matter which type of water test kit you purchase, so long as it measures ammonia, nitrite, and pH levels. While many of the solutions in different brands of test kits are similar, each manufacturer provides different reading cards with color charts for measuring ideal levels of pollutants. To make things easier, we recommend purchasing a kit designed specifically for pond water.
Dissolved Oxygen Meter
Fish need oxygen to survive. Without adequate oxygenation, your koi and goldfish are more likely to get sick. Many pond keepers increase oxygen levels by adding an aerator, fountain, or spitter to their pond. However, even after adding an aeration device, monitoring dissolved oxygen (DO) levels will allow you to make sure your fish are receiving enough oxygen.
The simplest and most effective way to monitor dissolved oxygen in your pond is with a DO meter. DO meters contain a probe that, when inserted in your pond water, measures the dissolved oxygen levels and displays the levels on the meter. Though these meters can be a bit pricey (low-end meters start around $100), investing in a quality dissolved oxygen meter can help ensure that your pond environment is safe and healthy for your fish.
The temperature of your pond plays a vital role in how you care for your fish. Because koi and goldfish are cold-blooded creatures, their body temperature is regulated by the temperature of the water around them. Water temperature impacts the overall health of your fish and monitoring it will help you determine when you need to adjust your feeding schedule or when you might need to add more shade to your pond.
To monitor water temperature, you’ll need a pond thermometer. In deeper ponds, the temperature at the surface of the water may differ significantly from the temperature towards the bottom of the pond. For this reason, it’s a smart idea to invest in both a floating and submersible thermometer to monitor different depths. Averaging the readings from the two thermometers will give you a good idea of the overall temperatures in your pond.
Netting is vital for every koi keeper. Different types of nets serve different maintenance purposes. Consider purchasing a skimmer net, sock net, and net pond cover.
Skimmer nets help keep your pond clean. Some pieces of debris are too large to be caught by your pond skimmer. This debris can breakdown and pollute your pond, which will harm water quality. A skimmer net allows you to manually remove things like sticks, leaves, or uneaten food and keep your pond water pristine. A net with an extendable handle is the best choice, as it will help you get to those hard-to-reach areas of your pond.
Sock nets are similar to skimmer nets but serve a different purpose. Occasionally, you may need to move your fish, and sock nets make this task a bit easier. These nets are made from fine, soft material that is gentle on your fish and allows you to easily scoop them for transfer.
A net pond cover helps keep fish in your pond and keep debris and predators out. These nets cover the entire surface of your pond, which can be especially useful for keeping leaves and other debris out of your pond during storms or in the fall. If you’re having trouble with predators, a net cover will keep those unwanted visitors from snatching your fish. Or, if your fish have been a bit stressed and jumpy, netting will ensure that they don’t accidentally jump out of your pond.
While not technically a gadget, gloves definitely make cleaning filters, skimmers, and performing other pond maintenance tasks a little bit more bearable. Having your hands submerged in water or sludge can be quite unpleasant, especially in chillier temperatures. A sturdy pair of waterproof gloves will help protect your hands and arms from getting wet or dirty while working in or around your pond.
Chlorine is added to most tap water to get rid of bacteria, viruses, and protozoans. While the presence of chlorine in tap water isn’t dangerous for humans, it can cause a lot of problems for your koi and goldfish. The first problem is that when water with chlorine is added to your pond, it will kill both good and bad bacteria, which includes beneficial bacteria that are essential to biological filtration. The second issue is that chlorine is extremely toxic to fish. It only takes a small amount to cause burns and damage the gills and scales of your fish.
To prevent exposure to chlorine, any tap water that is added to your pond must be dechlorinated. The most common way to do this is by using a water conditioner, which will allow you to neutralize any harmful chemicals present in the water before they damage your pond ecosystem. It’s a smart idea to always have a bottle on hand for when you need to perform water changes.
Though it may not be considered an essential maintenance item, a pond vacuum is definitely a helpful one. Dirt and sludge can quickly build-up at the bottom of your pond. While it is possible to remove it manually using a net and your hands, it can be a messy and time-consuming job. A pond vacuum will allow you to suck up all the gunk in your pond without getting yourself messy or having to drain your pond. They can be a bit pricey, but the time you’ll save cleaning your pond is often worth the investment.
Algae aren’t harmful to your fish, but too much of them can create sludge build-up, which can lead to reduced oxygen levels in your pond. Free-floating algae that cause green water is the most common algae issue in koi ponds. The best way to eradicate this problem is by using a UV sterilizer or clarifier, which will destroy algae at the cellular level.
UV clarifiers come combined with some pond filters, but they can also be purchased as a separate unit that attaches to your pump. This treatment is completely safe for your fish and even has a few health benefits. Aside from getting rid of algae, UV light can also kill microorganisms and free-swimming bacteria and viruses that can make your fish sick.
While koi and goldfish can be fairly low-maintenance pets, it’s vital that their environment stays clean. Performing regular maintenance tasks, with the assistance of these helpful gadgets, will ensure that your fish live long and healthy lives.