Pond Care !
Even warm-climate ponds require some seasonal maintenance.
Winter, regardless of whether you live in northern or southern climates, brings a
general slowing down of the pond. The fish aren’t as active, the plants go dormant,
and in freezing climates – the water stops moving as well. Both climate regions bring
their own special challenges when it comes to over-wintering water gardens. Listed
below are some general steps you can take to make sure your pond emerges in
spring looking great!
Pondering in the South
Although you may continue to see some hardy water lily blooms through the winter,
you should have stopped fertilizing your water lilies and cleaned out any dead
vegetation and spent leaves. Depending on the specific southern locality, any
tropicals should be taken out and placed in a container of water (a 5-gal bucket
works great) and stored in the garage. Cutting back the marginals will help the
plants get through the couple of months dormancy winter brings.
The most common question asked is, “What do I do with my fish in the winter?” Well
now, the usual answer is, “Nothing, ” though, while the temperatures are around
freezing, you might want to consider these tips to help protect your beautiful koi and
goldfish from these cold snaps. Stop feeding them when the water temperature
reaches the mid-50’s (F°) and they are no longer active. This is the time of year when
the fish may actually look forward to winter – just in time for a nice long nap.
Pump and Filter System
Winter does not shut us down here in the south – our pumps run 24/7/365. It is
important to keep your skimmer free of any debris and inspect your pump to ensure
that it’s operating properly. Leaving the pump on throughout the winter allows the
release of gases, and maintains sufficient oxygen levels. Also remove any netting
that your pond may have required during the large leaf accumulation in fall.
Pondering in the North
When the surface of your water garden turns to ice, there are two things to think of
concerning safety of your fish.First, it’s important to keep a hole open in the ice. This
prevents the buildup of gasses that could harm your fish. These gasses develop as
the fish waste and any plant debris decomposes. The important factor is water
oxygenation. Although your fish are sleeping their way through winter, oxygenated
water is still vital to their survival through the winter.
Both of these goals can be achieved a couple of different ways. The required
preparations do not consume a lot of time, and certainly don’t threaten to take over
your weekend. If you prefer to leave the project to someone else, most pond
installers can usually be hired to do it for you. But if you’re up for getting your hands
dirty, here are a few things that you’ll want to take into consideration when
preparing for winter.
Running Your Waterfall
If you chose to keep your waterfall running through the winter, you’ll be rewarded
with some extraordinary, natural ice sculptures and winter scenes .Winter also
brings some unique considerations that you’ll need to keep your eye on.
A pump and waterfall that circulates at least 2000 gallons of water per hour is
sufficient to keep a hole open in the ice, as well as oxygenation of the water. Keep
an eye on long or slow-moving streams and areas around the waterfall. In these
areas, it’s easy for ice dams to form, diverting water over the liner. It’s important to
watch for this, especially on extremely cold days. If you find an ice dam that’s
diverting water over the edge of the liner, it’s best to turn off the pump. If you chisel
the ice buildup away, chances are it will form again in the same spot and be the
source of continuous frustration.
Surprisingly, even during the winter, the water continues to evaporate and
therefore needs to be topped off so that your pump continues to function properly.
If you make the extra effort to keep your falls running throughout the winter, you’ll
see the most beautiful ice formations and patterns around the falls and stream beds.
Shutting It Down – The Considerations Many people choose to shut down their pond
for the winter because they don’t want to worry about ice dams or pay for the cost to
run a larger pump. If you chose to shut down your waterfall for the winter, you’ll
need to replicate the effects of the waterfall in order keep the water oxygenated and
a hole open in the ice.
A pump that circulates at least 150 gallons per hour can be placed in your pond
below, but close to, the water’s surface. By allowing it to bubble about one inch
above the surface, the agitation will keep a hole in the ice and oxygenate the water
until the air temperature drops below 10° F.
If the air temperature stays below 10° F for extended periods, you’ll need to add a
floating heater in order to maintain the opening in the ice. Most heaters are
equipped with a thermostat that, when set at the proper temperature, switches the
heater on only when needed. Note, a floating heater alone will not oxygenate the
water, and therefore can be deadly to your fish.
Winter, wherever you live, is a time for Mother Nature and her “family” to change the
scenery a bit.Whether it’s a frozen, white, wintry scene, or just a rest from the heat
of the southern sun, adapting to these changes will ensure that your water garden
and its fish are healthy all year long.