Equipment Fall/Winter Care
the water temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and leaves start
falling off trees it is definitely time to switch to cool weather food
cover the pond with protective netting.
Soon it will be time to look after the equipment such as filters and pumps
and get those ready for winter. Here is what to do:
In those areas where the pond water temperature will drop and stay below
48 - 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the pumps can be shut down in most cases about
one week after all feeding of the fish ceases (an exception are crowded
ponds, we will touch on that in another paragraph). The pumps should be
removed from the pond and thoroughly cleaned. Oil filled pumps need to be
stored in a bucket of pond or distilled water to prevent the seals and
gaskets from drying out. Magnetic and epoxy sealed pumps can be stored
Filters should be thoroughly cleaned, inspected for damage (especially the
UV light) and stored inside (basement or garage) to prevent freezing and
The pump may need to continue to run in ponds with heavy fish populations
(more than the generally recommended 1" of fish per 1 sq. foot of
surface area), to provide adequate oxygen during the winter. In this case
the pump should be placed on a plant shelf or on some bricks or rocks to
bring it within a few inches of the water surface, to prevent constant
circulation of the warmer water at the bottom of the pond where the fish
will hibernate. Do keep the pump low enough to prevent freezing.
ensure survival of the fish during the winter in northern ponds, some
minimum requirements must be met, now is the time to prepare.
The fish must
have sufficient oxygen
floating de-icer or leave a pump bubbling on a plant shelf to
keep an open area if the pond starts icing over.
much organic waste as possible (leaves, etc.) from the
pond bottom. Organic waste uses up valuable oxygen during
This is a
good time to thin out the fish population. Ponds are low in oxygen
during the winter if ice forms, and the problem is compounded if there
are too many fish.
important that the pond is deep enough so it does not freeze all the
way to the bottom, so the fish have some area where they can survive.
A place to
hide from predators is required as plant cover is gone in winter
months. Use sections of terra cotta pipe or flower pots turned
on their side in the bottom of the pond to provide the needed cover.
the Pond Pump Through the Winter?
This is a subject that elicits many different
opinions. Here are our experiences and thoughts on the subject:
temperature of the pond for the most part stays cold enough for the
fish to stay in hibernation AND the pond is not over-populated
(1" of fish per 1 sq. ft. of surface area), then the pump can be
If the pond
regularly warms enough (above 52 degrees Fahrenheit) that the fish
have to be fed then the filter needs to run and consequently the pump
is needed to power it. Caution: at these low temperatures
fish should be fed easily digestible, specially formulated fall/winter
If the pond
is over-populated then it is wise to leave the pump running to provide
enough oxygen for the fish population. In this case the pump should be
moved off the bottom of the pond (onto a plant shelf or on top of some
bricks) to prevent it from constantly circulating the warmer
water at the bottom of the pond where your fish are hibernating.
If the pump
is disconnected some provisions need to be made to allow carbon
monoxide to escape from the water and oxygen to enter. The pond must
not be allowed to freeze completely over for any length of time or
fish death will occur! A floating de-icer is perfect for this job,
since it kicks on when the pond starts freezing over and keeps a hole
open at all times.
A backyard pond
becomes a natural, ecological environment which attracts creatures other
than the fish we put in it. Birds, frogs, etc. need a place to winter.
Don't forget to hang some bird feeders, make a few small rock piles and
put some evergreen branches in protected places for these creatures to
hide. Just because we do not always see them does not mean they are not
Checklist for your Garden Pond and the Coming Winter
hardy perennials and move deep enough to protect the crowns from
aquatic plants into the house.
the digestive system of the fish slows down as the water cools. Switch
to an easily Digestible diet and reduce feeding.
for parasites and disease.
when the water cools below 50 degrees.
much debris from the bottom of the pond
as possible using a net/and or vacuum.
Check pH and
floating de-icer in the pond to insure adequate oxygen/carbon monoxide
exchange during freezing weather.
pond with a net to prevent leaves from contaminating the water when
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