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Article 32: Pond System Resilience – Mitigation, by Jeff Richardson

Posted by Jeff Richardson on

Mitigation is a way to lessen the issue, not directly solve or bypass the issue.  This buys time – time to swap in replacement gear, time to get your fish moved, or time to correct the original issue.

Extra Oxygen: Your pond may have high dissolved oxygen content due to a raging waterfall or stream.  However, if you pump stops, your DO level may drop precipitously – especially in warm weather with a high fish load.  Having an aerator on hand could keep O2 levels from plummeting completely killing your pond life.  This device needs power to run and would not help in the event of a power outage.  However, copious amount of aquatic plants could supply some oxygen compared to water features without them.  If there is a way to disturb the water to keep it from sitting still will allow oxygen to mix at the surface.

Extra Water: If you have a leak that isn’t too drastic, you can leave a fill-valve or hose running.  This of course does not solve the issue, but could buy you time.  Beware however that depending on the nature of the leak, you could be providing more damaging water to a situation.  In the event of power outages or pump failures and you still have access to potable water, you can place a hose down a water feature or high enough above the pond surface to cause bubbles and turbulence.  This will allow some oxygen and surface movement.  In both cases, if this is utility water, remember you will need to add dechlorinator.  

Extra Power: Consider alternate and backup power.  Batteries, a generator or solar arrays are options.  Upon power loss, specified devices could operate on emergency power.  For a pump, figure out the smallest, most efficient GPH pump suited to “get by” through an outage, and size the battery bank on hours you need it to run.  The longer the battery time, the more expensive this becomes.  Note: A battery bank needs contained space, power to maintain charge, a qualified electrician to install it, and occasional maintenance.  If you have lots of sun, consider a solar bank and recharger too.  You could also place the emergency pump on a generator circuit.  Some people have a specified set of circuits or auxiliary outlets just for a generator (like lights or a refrigerator for instance).  If power is limited, consider just an aerator to keep oxygen available.

Extra Homes: Capturing and moving large fish, lots of fish or other pond critters is not easy.  If the pond system is damaged or failed, moving them elsewhere may be your only choice.  A quarantine or hospital tank, kiddy pool or even bags filled with their pond water (or cages) may be possible options.  Keep in mind that they may already be stressed from the disaster and netting or handling them will cause more.  Keep stress additives on-hand.  Another completely separate water feature OR even a partitioned off natural water feature (depending on the animal) might be something to have ready “in case”.  If serious conditions warrant, have plans and arrangements for relocation off premises – have this prearranged as during emergencies is NOT the time to make plans.  Ensure the temporary home is adequate for survival.

Spares and Backups: Keeping extra devices, components and supplies on-hand may seem like a costly solution, but if you run through your assessments versus the cost of losing fish, plants or equipment, it may be worthwhile.  Remember, during an emergency, you may not have the ability to be resupplied (inclement weather, natural disaster, house-bound, etc.).  Always keep a 2-3 week supply of simple items such as pond food, medicine, additives and such (watch expiration dates and always rotate your stock).  Include any items that you attrition over time for normal pond upkeep.  Consider having spare pumps, aerators, UV lamps, filter pads, etc. standing by (even if it has an undersized GPH compared to your mainline components).  This will allow you to swap one in during maintenance or failure.  Be ready.

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