While many of us embrace the summer heat after a long, cold winter and get excited to spend time outdoors with our gardens and backyard ponds, the heat can actually pose some problems for our fish. The biggest threat to the fish in your pond during the hot summer months is lack of oxygen.
When oxygen levels are too low pond fish become stressed, which increases their chances of catching a disease or infection. Additionally, the beneficial bacteria that live in your filter depend on a certain amount of oxygen in the water to flourish and successfully complete their role of converting ammonia to nitrites and nitrates by utilizing the dissolved oxygen in your pond. Low oxygen levels end up suppressing the beneficial bacteria, allowing ammonia levels to increase to potentially dangerous levels.
You may be thinking plants = oxygen, so more plants mean more oxygen for your fish and filter. But the submerged aquatic plants in your pond can actually do both harm and good. During the daytime hours your green plants produce that much-needed oxygen. But at night, these oxygen pumping plants actually consume oxygen and take away the limited supply of oxygen in the water from your fish. This is why the majority of fish deaths occur early in the morning. Because of this, it is best to measure your oxygen levels first thing in the morning.
As soon as your water temperature gets above 90 degrees you can pretty much guarantee your fish are stressed. Do everything you can to keep the temperatures below that by adding plants for some shade. During extreme heatwaves you should also feed your fish less and aim for feedings to be during cooler times of day, such as early morning or later in the evening. To help get your fish through hot summer weather you will probably need to add some electronics.
Pond Pumps: Pond pumps aerate the pond and circulate water through the filtration system. A pump will promote evaporation which will have an additional cooling effect.
Air Pumps: A pond air pump offers supplemental aeration for fish ponds for a healthier aquatic environment. Ponds with heavy fish loads benefit from increased aeration during the hot summer months, because warmer pond water doesn’t retain oxygen as well as cooler water does.
Pond Filters: With the excess debris that your pond accumulates during the summer, a pond filter is a must to keep things clean.
Pond Skimmers: Similar to a pond filter, pond skimmers collect debris and dirt from the surface of the water, keeping your pond clean.
Keep an eye on your pond fish this summer to ensure their safety and well-being. Be on the lookout for parasites and other infections that fish are more susceptible to in the warmer months. Utilize the proper electronics to keep your pond aerated and full of oxygen for your fish and try to keep your pond shaded if possible. Then, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor!