For many parts of the country, it’s getting to be that time of year again. Time to start thinking about getting your fish and plants ready for old man winter…
Every year, as the weather gets colder and we start heading into winter, many of our customers ask us how to prepare their ponds for winter. Pond owners should be aware of several simple things to do in preparing their ponds for colder months.
Fish and plants need very different things in the winter, but can be kept in top condition for the following season if the appropriate steps are taken (see related articles).
Fish should be fed less, floating annuals should be thrown out, potted hardy plants should be cut down and moved to the bottom of the pond, filters should be cleaned & drained, and pumps shut off.
Another good practice that we recommend is to do a partial pond cleaning and water change. It’s not necessary to drain the pond completely, but we recommend draining 25% – 50% of the water and net out or remove as much organic debris as possible (IE: leaves, plants, etc.)
The reason for this is because rotting leaves, dead plant material, and other organic wastes will give off toxic gasses as they decay during the winter. This can be especially dangerous if the pond is allowed to freeze over.
A thick layer of ice can easily form over the pond in sub-freezing temperatures, which can prevent these gasses from escaping from the pond. If allowed to build up, your fish will suffer. The most likely result will be a weakened immune system, and a more vulnerable fish you will have come spring time.
Anything you can do to reduce stress on your fish prior to and during winter, will pay off handsomely in the Spring. Your fish will be much more vibrant and healthy.
Another important reason not to let your pond ice-over is because the oxygen levels in the pond water can drop to dangerous levels. By keeping the pond surface from freezing over, or by at least keeping a 2′ – 3′ hole in the ice, you can eliminate or greatly reduce these dangers.
Oxygen levels should be maintained during winter if at all possible. If you have a standard aquarium air pump – plug it in outside and let it run all winter.
We also recommend maintaining your salt levels during winter. This keeps your fish’s slime coat strong, and immune systems strong all winter long!
About The Author
Brett Fogle is the owner of MacArthur Water Gardens and several pond-related websites including macarthurwatergardens.com and pond-filters-online.com. He also publishes a free monthly newsletter called PondStuff! with a reader circulation of over 9,000 pond owners. To sign up for the free newsletter and receive a complimentary ‘New Pond Owners Guide’ for joining, just visit MacArthur Water Gardens at our website.
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