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Winter Guide to Pond Maintenance

Posted by on Feb 08 2018


There are a few things to bear in mind this winter when it comes to your garden pond. The last thing you want is to discover that your pond has died – along with the fish inside it – due to poor cold-season pond maintenance. Don’t worry, however, we at CD Aquatics have the information you’ll need to consider this winter. From freezing ponds, to feeding fish and everything else you need to know in order to keep your pond healthy and your fish happy until the warm weather returns.  

Frozen surface

The first thing you need to consider is freezing temperatures causing the surface of your pond to freeze over. If this happens, toxic gases can become trapped beneath the surface with no way out, which can cause your pond fish to become ill or die. These gases can also cause the ecology to change, resulting in an imbalance that is harmful to fish and plant life.

Instead of allowing this to happen, you should ensure that the pond doesn’t completely freeze over. If it does, be sure NOT to break the ice. This can cause further issues when the shockwave is sent throughout the pond. Instead, you should use a floating de-icer/ pond heater or floating ice preventer to stop the pond from freezing over and/or unfreeze the frozen parts of the ice more carefully. If your pond doesn’t completely freeze, your fish should be fine. Some will hibernate at the bottom, where they will be warmer. The pond won’t freeze completely if the water is moving, so use of your pump may help. That means the use of a pond pump can come in handy. However, this will be to your discretion and depend on your type of pond fish.

Another way to keep your pond from freezing is to cover it. This will only work if you have no pond fish, though. You can cover your pond with wood (with added insulation from leaves or a tarp), or an enclosure of some sort. This will keep it warm enough for it to stay thriving and be ready for spring once it arrives.

Pond Plants

With lowering temperatures, your pond plants will often begin to wither and die. If you allow your plants to die and remain in the pond, they will then decompose and effect the ecology within the pond. But don’t worry, there are ways around this. You can lower the plants to sit below the ice zone, minimising their chances of dying. Just like fish, the pond plant can be safe lower in the pond where it is warmer.

Another method to consider is replanting the pond plants. Relocating your pond plants for the winter months is a great way to keep ones that are close to your heart. You can either take them inside as house plants, or replant them in the garden somewhere. It would depend on how cold your city gets in the winter, because if the temperatures are severe, then opting for the house plant idea would be best.

However, the best thing to do may be to just replace your plants. Take them out during winter so that they won’t harm the pond, then buy new plants come spring. It’s simple and could save you from the extra winter pond maintenance. Plus, you can enjoy redecorating your pond anew with the new season.

Fallen Leaves

As you know, when autumn hits, the leaves start to fall from the trees. If you have trees over or near your pond, that means that these falling leaves can land inside the pond. This is not good for your pond. Even something as small as a dead leaf can cause the ecology of your pond to change, which can be bad for the fish. Instead, you can invest in a net to put over the pond to catch the leaves; then you can remove the leaves every day.

Don’t rely on your pond skimmer to remove the leaves for you – they are not made for large maintenance tasks like this. They can become clogged up if they are left to remove so many things from the pond.

Any plants that do die in the pond should be removed immediately so that they don’t pollute the water.

Feeding Fish

Some fish are good at withstanding freezing temperatures in your pond – these are koi, goldfish and sturgeon (Coldwater fish). However, others may not be. Some pond fish hibernate at the bottom of the tank, but generally they will eat less than usual or not at all. Their metabolism will slow down so they will need less food. If they have been well-fed over the other seasons, then they will be just fine. Feeding only 2-3 times a week when the temperature drops so low is the best option for your pond fish, as uneaten food can cause issues in the pond. Keep an eye on the pond and the fish, and if they seem to not eat at all, take the food out and reduce feeding even further until spring.  

Equipment Use

Turn off your UV steriliser during winter, as it won’t be needed and can become damaged if left on. Whether to leave your pond pump on or not will be down to your discretion, but there are benefits to leaving it on. Keeping the water flow in the pond can prevent it from freezing. Do reduce the circulation in your water however, and reducing or eliminating use of skimmers and bottom drains can help. Turn the pump down, too, to reduce movement. This is one way to keep the biological filters alive but it won’t affect the pond’s layering.

Winter pond maintenance doesn’t have to make you shiver, instead all you have to do is follow this guide and trust in CD Aquatics. If you need any more information, then don’t hesitate to contact our team. And of course, browse our products to help you prepare for winter. 

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