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 PondStuff!- MacArthur Water Gardens Monthly Newsletter . Great Stuff For Your Pond! 
November 2003 
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Most of us have already prepared our gardens for winter by pulling up faded annuals, mulching perennial beds and raking up fallen leaves. Autumn clean-up comes almost instinctively to seasoned gardeners.

But what about the water garden? Is your pond ready for winter? Even the most successful water gardeners sometimes wonder if the pond will "make it " through the winter. Well stop worrying. Let's recap the important steps necessary to over-winter the pond and discuss how it relates to a beautiful water garden next spring. -- See article at right -->

in this issue
  • Overwintering Pond Fish
  • Caring for Aquatic Plants During Winter
  • Let Nature Take It's Course?
  • Wildlife in Winter Ponds
  • Product Review - The Aquabead Filter

  • Caring for Aquatic Plants During Winter
    Long after the impatiens have been pulled out, water gardeners are still hoping for that last lily bloom. For some reason, we want to squeeze every leaf, bud and blossom out of our aquatic plants before winter.

    Unfortunately, cold weather often comes before we've trimmed the cattails or pruned the lilies. Wait too long and all those beautiful leaves will fall off and rot in the water. Trim bog and marsh plants such as papyrus, taro and cattails, before frost hits.

    Pull out the hardy water lilies and trim off all the leaves. Yes, even that last bud! Put all the potted plants into the deepest area of the pond to prevent freeze damage. Tropical lilies won't survive the winter and are often treated as annuals, discarded in autumn.

    Some water gardeners have saved tropical lilies by storing them in peat moss. Trim off the leaves and roots and cover the rhizomes in a tray of damp (not wet) peat moss. The peat moss has antiseptic properties and helps inhibit rotting of the rhizome.

    Read on... »

    Let Nature Take It's Course?
    All summer long, you've enjoyed the tranquility of the water garden-beautiful foliage, sounds of trickling water and colorful fish eagerly awaiting a handful of food.

    The water garden didn't get that way by itself. You added the right kinds of plants and fish to create a balanced ecosystem. The water gardens we create look beautiful and sustain life because we follow nature's rules. It's the same during the winter months.

    Despite all outward appearances, the pond is active even when the water is cold or even frozen. Dead leaves, algae, insects and solid fish waste that have accumulated over the summer slowly break down during the winter months.

    This natural decomposition uses oxygen and produces small amounts of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas that normally never reaches a harmful level. Few water gardeners realize that the pond must be balanced in winter too. Fish, frogs and other aquatic life are especially sensitive to poor water quality in winter.

    Full Story »

    Wildlife in Winter Ponds
    This may seem contradictory, but you may want to leave a little bit of debris in the pond when preparing it for winter.

    While some water gardeners net out the fish, completely drain the water and scrub out the pond, refilling it with fresh water. Frogs, tadpoles, snails and microscopic pond life need to burrow down into mud and leaves to survive the winter. So, some debris can be good.

    Fish also hibernate on the bottom, settling in around a bed of leaves and mud. We usually recommend removing about 90% of the leaves and silt that has accumulated over the summer, but this is subjective and depends on the amount of wildlife in and around the pond.

    Leave the rest as "bedding material." You'll be amazed at the diversity of pond life that emerges in spring. But keep in mind that tree leaves will continually blow into the pond as long as the water isn't frozen, so we do recommend covering the pond with bird netting.

    More On This... »

    Product Review - The Aquabead Filter
    Even though it's drawing closer and closer to winter in most parts of the country, it's still warm and sunny here in Florida and in many parts of the country. And I just can't wait to rave about the new pond filter I just installed on my 3000 gallong KOI pond!

    We finished the pond last month, but it quickly started to turn murky and a little green. Even though I didnt have a filter on the pond yet, I really wanted to bring my prized Israeli KOI down from Virginia where we used to be. With the hurricanes up along the Mid- Eastern states last month, a few of them had died from a 4 day power loss - so it was time to bring them down to their new home in Florida.

    With 5 new KOI in the pond, most of them over 14" and eating like crazy, the pond really started to get a little dirty. So, my friend Gary Cryer at GC Tek suggested I put one of his Aquabead biological filtration systems on the pond. I've been in the pond business for almost ten years now, and have seen lots of filters come and go, but I was really impressed with what he sent me.

    We decided to go with an Aquabead 4.25 filter, a Zapp- Pure stainless steel UV sterilizer, and a 1/3 Hp Dragon pump. With 2 bottom drains in the pond leading directly to the pump, I thought it would clear it pretty fast - but I was amazed to find that I could almost see to the bottom of the pond THE VERY NEXT DAY. And 24 hours later, you could almost read the date off a quarter all the way at the bottom of the pond!

    Click on the link below to see some pictures, and for a more in depth review.

    << Have a Pond? We'd Love to See It! -- You Can Send in Pictures of Your Backyard Paradise to Us at: Maybe we'll post is in the upcoming 'Pond of the Week' section of our newsletter >>

    Click Here To See the Photos »

    Overwintering Pond Fish
    The metabolism of koi and goldfish is controlled primarily by water temperature. As the water cools, pond fish require less protein in their diet. When koi and goldfish are fed high-protein food in cool water, the excess protein is excreted as ammonia from the gills. The microscopic organisms that make up the biological filter (and consume ammonia) also slow down in cooler water.

    Improper seasonal feeding can lead to a build-up of toxic ammonia, which stresses fish and reduces their winter survivability. When the water temperature drops to approximately 65 F, start feeding with wheat germ or special Spring/Autumn fish food, as we've mentioned.

    This type of fish food is better suited for the dietary requirements of pond fish in cool water and won't pollute the water with excess ammonia. Some water gardeners continue to feed their fish until they no longer come to the surface but usually recommend that you stop feeding your pond fish when the water temperature falls below 50 F.

    There is no need to worry about "frozen fish" if a section of the pond is at least 18 inches deep. Pond fish will seek the deepest part of the pond and over- winter there until the water warms in the spring. If your pond is less than 18 inches deep, the fish may freeze during a harsh winter. Check with your local pond supplier if you live in an area with harsh winters.

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