Preparing your Pond for Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night is filled with dazzling displays and roaring fires, but have you considered its impact on your pond? Dive into my comprehensive guide, filled with precautionary steps and post-Bonfire Night care to ensure your pond remains an oasis amidst the celebrations.

Article photo with the text 'BONFIRE NIGHT - How will it affect my Pond?'
Learn how to prepare and protect your garden pond during Bonfire Night

Table of Contents

As dawn's first light brushed across my garden, the remains of Bonfire Night celebrations lingered in the brisk morning air. While I relished the spectacle of fireworks lighting up the night sky and the fiery rockets soaring into the heavens, the next morning told a different story. To my astonishment, a few of those rockets had met their watery demise in my very own pond!

The splashes of colourful paper casings floated atop the water surface, a stark contrast to the serene lily pads and darting fish below. A moment of panic struck me: What if I hadn’t discovered them in time? The impacts could've been disastrous for my aquatic haven. But it wasn’t all gloom. Like all things in life, there's always a silver lining – a learning moment.

For every pond owner, Bonfire Night isn’t just about fireworks and festivities; it's about ensuring our tranquil water sanctuaries remain unharmed amidst the revelry.

Pond Netting: A Shield Against Stray Rockets

Photo of pond netting stretched over a garden pond
Ensure your pond netting is taught, well secured and if possible flame proof!

You might think, "Why didn’t you use a pond netting in the first place?" And you'd be right. Pond netting is a brilliant solution, not just against stray fireworks but also to prevent leaves and other debris from finding their way into our ponds. Especially during autumn, when the trees are shedding their leaves.

However, there’s an important caveat. Fireworks and their ember remnants are, as the name suggests, fiery. The risk of pond netting catching fire or sustaining damage is real. So, while netting serves as a wonderful protector for our ponds, during Bonfire Night, one needs to approach with caution.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Check Material: Opt for netting made of fire-resistant material. While no netting can be completely fireproof, some materials provide better resistance than others.
  2. Positioning: Ensure the pond netting is taut and well-secured, minimizing the chances of sagging or catching stray sparks.
  3. Post-Celebration Inspection: Always inspect your netting the next morning. Look out for any signs of burns or damage. Even minor damages can compromise the netting's effectiveness in the future.
If you concerned about your pond netting 'burning' or 'melting', I highly suggest spraying your pond netting and surrounding pond area with water. This will help prevent any fires in and around your pond.

Ensuring your Pond Fish & Wildlife are Safe

Photo of a ledge to place inside a pond where fish can hide
Adding caves and other areas where your pond fish can hide during the fireworks display will ensure your fish and other aquatic life feel safe!

The aquatic residents of your pond, primarily the fish, can be startled by the loud noises of the fireworks. The sudden change in their environment, especially with falling debris, can be stressful.

  1. Keep a Routine: As much as possible, try not to deviate from the feeding and care routine for your fish during this time.
  2. Provide Shelter: Make sure there are enough plants and other hiding spots for the fish to seek refuge.
  3. Check the Water Quality: Post-celebration, ensure the water pH, oxygen levels, and clarity are optimal. If unsure, visit the help section for advice.
  4. Filters: A clean filter ensures a healthy pond. Check your filters for blockages and ensure they're running efficiently.
  5. Pond Wildlife: The wildlife in and around your pond can also be affected. From frogs to birds, ensure they have a safe environment during the festivities.
A pond which is well maintained will ensure your fish are in the best health they can possibly be. Healthy fish will ensure 'if' they get spooked are resilliant enough to survive a few nights of upset.

Bonfires - Protecting your Pond from Stray Flames

Photo of a Bonfire with large golden flames
Always ensure there is a reasonable amount of distance between your pond and any bonfires. 

A roaring bonfire, the comforting scent of woodsmoke, and the gentle crackle of flames are intrinsic to the Bonfire Night experience. While these fires light up our nights and warm our souls, they pose a tangible risk to our beloved garden ponds if not properly managed.

When placing a bonfire, especially in proximity to a pond, it's vital to consider the radiant heat and the chance of stray embers. These little fire sprites, while mesmerising, can wreak havoc if they land on sensitive parts of your pond setup.

Bonfire x Pond Checklist

  • Check Wind Direction before lighting your bonfire
  • Douse the surrounding pond area with water to prevent any fires around your pond.
  • If possible place barriers between your pond and the bonfire.
Check the wind direction before lighting your bonfire. Raging flames will quote easily destroy your pond netting / pipes / liner if not kept control.

Electrical Equipment

Close up photo of an outdoor pond electrical junction box
Any electrical cables / junction boxes that power your pond should be well away from any fire / flames.

Ponds often require various electrical devices to keep them running smoothly, such as pumps, UV lamps, and filters. These gadgets, while durable, aren't typically designed to withstand direct exposure to high heat or open flames.

  • Positioning: Always ensure a good distance between your bonfire and any electrical outlets or devices associated with your pond. The heat can damage the equipment or, worse, melt any plastic parts, rendering them useless.
  • Protection: For added safety, shield your devices using fire-resistant barriers during the festivities. If feasible, consider temporarily unplugging and moving portable devices away from the bonfire's vicinity.

Pond Liners

Photo of a pond liner with a blue net and goldfish.
Pond Liners if exposed to high heat will become weak and cause tears and ultimately leaks if not correctly shielded from flames/heat.

One of the most vulnerable components of a pond, liners play a critical role in holding everything together – quite literally! Stray embers or excessive heat can damage or melt these liners, leading to leaks.

  • Shielding: Consider using temporary fire-resistant tarps or barriers to protect your pond's liner, especially if your bonfire is relatively close. Remember, even a small ember can cause a significant amount of damage if it lands on a susceptible spot.
Trim any excess pond liner which is exposed around your pond to prevent any melting or damage from your bonfire / fireworks.

Will Bonfire Smoke affect my Pond's Water Quality?

Black and White photo of bonfire smoke
Bonfire Smoke particles will settile on the surface of your pond which will eventually settle

Smoke isn't just a by-product of burnt wood. It contains a complex mixture of gases, fine particles, and potential pollutants. When this smoke comes in contact with the surface of your pond, a few things happen:

  1. Particles Settle: The fine particles present in smoke can settle on the water's surface and eventually sink, contributing to the sediment at the bottom of the pond. This added layer can disrupt the normal behavior of bottom-dwelling creatures and even suffocate beneficial bacteria and organisms that keep the sediment healthy.
  2. Gaseous Exchange: Some of the gases in smoke can dissolve in water, potentially changing its pH or introducing harmful substances.
  3. Blocking Out Sunlight: A thick blanket of smoke can reduce sunlight penetration. While this might be temporary, prolonged periods can affect the photosynthesis process in aquatic plants, leading to reduced oxygen levels.
If you're concerned that bonfire / firework smoke has lowered the quality of your pond water be sure to regularly check the quality using some Pond Water Quality Test Kits.

Preventing Smoke Impact on Ponds

While it's almost impossible to prevent smoke from a bonfire entirely, there are a few steps you can take to minimize its effect if your hosting a bonfire in your garden:

  • Bonfire Placement: Position your bonfire as far away from your pond as possible. Consider the usual wind direction and place the fire so that smoke is carried away from the pond.
  • Use Dry, Clean Wood: Wet or 'green' wood tends to produce more smoke. Using dry, untreated wood reduces the amount of smoke and the potential pollutants released.
  • Aerate Your Pond: Ensure your pond is well aerated. Aerators or pond pumps can help circulate water and maintain oxygen levels, especially if the smoke has reduced sunlight penetration.

Will loud fireworks affect my Fish or my Ponds Wildlife?

Photo of fireworks across the United Kingdom
Not only will your fish be affected by 'loud' fireworks - but any local wildlife that frequest your garden pond.

Water is an excellent conductor of sound. In fact, sound travels nearly four times faster in water than in air. This means that any loud noise above the surface, like that of a firework, can create significant underwater disturbances.


  1. Stress Indicators: Fish don't have the luxury of earplugs. Loud noises can stress them, causing a sudden, frantic darting motion or a hasty dive to the pond's bottom. Chronic exposure to loud sounds can weaken their immune system and make them more susceptible to diseases.
  2. Disrupted Communication: Many fish species rely on subtle sounds and vibrations to communicate, especially during spawning. Fireworks can disrupt these communications, leading to decreased breeding success.

Pond Wildlife

  1. Amphibians: Creatures like frogs and toads rely heavily on their sense of hearing. Loud noises can interfere with their mating calls and other essential communications. Some species might temporarily abandon the pond, which can expose them to predators or other dangers.
  2. Insects: Nocturnal insects around your pond, especially those drawn to water for breeding, can be disoriented by the sudden lights and sounds. This disruption can affect their nightly routines and even their reproductive cycles.

Minimising Firework Disturbance

Now, the big question: How do we balance our enjoyment of fireworks with the well-being of our pond's inhabitants?

  1. Limit the Noise: Opt for quieter fireworks. Many modern fireworks are designed to give a visual spectacle with reduced noise. These are not only fish-friendly but also preferred by many humans, especially those with noise sensitivities.
  2. Location Matters: If setting off fireworks at home, try to do so as far from the pond as possible. This can significantly reduce the intensity of the sound waves reaching the pond.
  3. Provide Shelter: Ensure there are plenty of hiding spots in the pond. Dense aquatic plants, caves, or specially designed fish shelters can provide refuge during loud events.
  4. Natural Barriers: Planting dense shrubbery or erecting a physical barrier around the pond can help dampen the noise.
  5. Post-Firework Checks: After the display, ensure you check on your pond. Look out for signs of stress among fish and any unusual behavior in other wildlife. This can be an indicator of how they handled the noise and if any changes are needed for future events.

Summary & Checklist

photo of somebody writing in a notebook with checkboxes
I've prepared a checklist below for before, during and after bonfire night

Bonfire Night, with its mesmerising display of fireworks and comforting bonfires, is a night of celebration and joy. However, amidst the festivities, it's vital for pond owners to be aware of the potential hazards that these events can pose to their beloved aquatic sanctuary. From the perils of smoke to the unsettling impact of loud fireworks on fish and pond wildlife, ensuring safety requires foresight, vigilance, and care. To help navigate through this dazzling yet potentially challenging night, here's a comprehensive checklist:

Before Bonfire Night:

  • Pond Positioning: Check the location of your bonfire and fireworks in relation to the pond. Ensure they're at a safe distance.
  • Water Quality: Test the pond's water parameters, making sure everything is stable before the event.
  • Netting: If you're using netting to protect your pond, ensure it's fire-resistant and taut to prevent sagging.
  • Equipment Check: Review all electrical equipment like pumps, UV lamps, and filters to ensure they're in working order and placed far from potential fire hazards.
  • Provide Shelter: Create or check existing hiding spots for fish and wildlife, like caves or dense aquatic plants.

During Bonfire Night:

  • Monitor Firework Impact: Keep an eye on the pond during the fireworks display. Watch for signs of distress or unusual behavior from the fish or wildlife.
  • Manage Smoke: Ensure the wind isn't directing smoke towards the pond. Adjust bonfire positioning if necessary.
  • Safety First: Have a fire extinguisher or hose ready, just in case. While it's crucial to protect your pond, remember to safeguard yourself and your property first.
  • Limit Noise: If possible, opt for quieter fireworks or reduce the number of loud ones.
  • Water it down: Spray your pond netting and surrounding area with water to make wild flames more difficult to damage your pond.

After Bonfire Night:

  • Inspect for Debris: The morning after, check the pond for any fireworks debris, burnt wood, or other foreign objects that might have landed in the water.
  • Water Quality Check: Test the water parameters again. Look for any significant changes in pH or other factors. Take corrective action if necessary.
  • Fish and Wildlife Health: Observe your fish and other pond inhabitants. Check for signs of stress or injury.
  • Equipment Review: Ensure all electrical devices are working correctly and haven't suffered any damage.
  • Review and Adjust: Reflect on the night. Were there any close calls? Make a note of changes you'd like to implement for next time.

I hope you have a great Bonfire Night, and remember stay safe and keep those Fish safe!