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How do I prepare my fish for winter? Do I need to bring them inside? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

Allow harmful gases to escape by adding a diffuser.

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: How do I prepare my fish for winter? Do I need to bring them inside? – Liz in Michigan

A: As the temperatures fall, we may be pulling out our winter coats and goulashes, but your fish don’t need them at all! In fact, pond fish, like koi and goldfish, do quite well in a pond over the winter – even if it freezes over – as long as your pond is at least 18 inches deep (though we recommend 24 inches to be certain the fish don’t turn into popsicles). The fish will go into their annual torpor, or dormancy, and will require little more than clean, oxygen-rich water to survive.

To ensure they get that life-sustaining oxygen, you will need to do four things:

1. Remove debris from the pond. In the fall, before ice forms, give your pond or water feature a good cleaning. Rake out debris, trim dead leaves off plants, net floating leaves and remove as much detritus as possible so very little will be decomposing – and releasing harmful gasses – through the cold months.

2. Add some beneficial bacteria. Also in the fall, you may want to add some beneficial bacteria, like Pond Logic®’s Seasonal Defense®. It accelerates the decomposition of leaves, scum and sediment that builds up during the fall and winter months. In the spring, it replenishes winter bacteria loss, jump starts the filter and breaks down unwanted waste, making your pond water ready for a clean spring and summer.

3. Install an aerator or air stone. Colder water holds more oxygen than warmer water, but you’ll still want to inject air into the pond during the winter months, especially if your pond freezes over. One or two air stones or a diffuser placed in a shallow part of your pond will be enough to aerate the water and keep a small hole in the ice, which will allow harmful gasses to escape and oxygen to enter.

4. Hook up a heater. If you live in a frigid area where the ice on your pond builds to an inch or more, you can use a floating heater or de-icer, like the Thermo Pond, that melts through the ice. Again, it’s critical to keep an open hole in the ice to allow for gas exchange.

In most cases, your fish will be just fine through the winter months. When the water warms, you can begin feeding them again and enjoying them for yet another year!

POND TALK: How do you prepare your fish for winter?

How do I prevent my pond from clouding up when it rains? – Pond & Lake Q & A

If your pond looks cloudy like this, then this article is for you!

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: How do I prevent my pond from clouding up when it rains? – Dave in Missouri

A; When the skies cloud up and the rain starts to fall, it’s almost a guarantee that your farm pond or lake will cloud up, too. Muddy runoff, along with nutrients like grass clippings, twigs, trees, livestock waste, yard and farm fertilizers drain into the water, feeding the dreaded algae and triggering a bloom. Before you know it, your pristine pond turns into a cloudy green mess.

With some preventative steps, however, this can be avoided. Try these tips to keep your pond clean and clear when the rain starts falling:

Install a pond-wide aeration system: By churning and roiling the water in your lake with a Pond Aeration System, the sediment and debris disperses throughout the water column, allowing the beneficial bacteria, like those found in PondClear®, to consume it and get rid of it. The aeration system also breathes life-giving oxygen into the water, which your fish and pond inhabitants will appreciate!

Create a fertilizer-free ring around the pond: Sure, some fertilizer may make its way into your pond, especially if it’s on a farm or near livestock, but if you establish a perimeter around the pond that you leave fertilizer-free, it will cut down on the nutrient load going into the water and feeding the algae. You can also try using organic or low-phosphorus fertilizers.

Boost your beneficial bacteria: When you know rainfall is in the forecast, add some natural beneficial bacteria, in anticipation of the storm. The bacteria will become established and ready to gobble through nitrates, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond and naturally improving the water clarity.

Don’t despair when the skies turn stormy. With some planning, you can have a pristine pond all year long despite what the weather forecaster predicts!

POND TALK: What do you do to prevent cloudy water in your pond or lake when it rains?

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