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
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,
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
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
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
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!