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I heard you can lose fish during the winter. How do I prevent a winter fish kill? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A


Q: I heard you can lose fish during the winter. How do I prevent a winter fish kill?

Q: I heard you can lose fish during the winter. How do I prevent a winter fish kill?

Jon – Little Suamico, WI

A: Imagine being cooped up all winter long in a room with no ventilation and no fresh air. Pretty claustrophobic, right? Now add the stench of decaying garbage and other waste buildup … it’s likely you wouldn’t last until spring.

It’s a similar situation with your fish.

In colder climates that freeze over the winter, decomposing vegetation and waste beneath the ice layer releases toxic gases that build up, displacing the oxygen that the fish need to survive. When that O2 is replaced with ammonia and other harmful gases, the result can be a winter fish kill.

So how to do you prevent this from happening? Aeration with an Airmax® Aeration System.

Open a Window!

An Airmax® Aeration System sized for your lake or pond moves the water below the frozen surface, which keeps an air hole open in the ice. This ventilation allows the harmful gases to escape while bringing in fresh oxygen for your fish. The aeration also injects oxygen into the water via the bubbles that come out of the diffuser or air stones.

Provide Year-Round Oxygen

For the health of your fish, we recommend you run an aeration system year-round—unless you plan to use the pond for winter activities, like ice skating or hockey, that require a solid and safe sheet of ice. In that case, follow the instructions in your product manual to safely turn off your system.

Create a Warm Zone

If you plan to run your system year-round, move the diffuser plates into shallower water during the winter months. This will allow your fish to hunker down in your pond’s warmer depth for the winter. It will also prevent the rare “super cooling” effect, in which the water temperature dips below freezing and over chills your fish.

Pond Talk: Have you ever experienced a winter fish kill? What changes did you make to prevent it from happening again?

Aerate Your Pond in All Seasons - Airmax® Deep Water Aeration

11 Responses

  1. MEL, THAT MEANS THAT THE HEIGHT WOULD BE ABOUT 3/8-1/2 OF AN INCH THEN ,,IS MY GUESS,AND THAT IS NOT TOO BAD.
    NOT LIKE A TITLE WAVE. .. MOMMA DUCK WILL NOT BOUNCE AROUND LIKE A CORK. SO WITH THE POND SIZE OF 25 X 19 THAT
    WOULD WORK OUT JUST FINE THEN !!! .. I TAKE IT !!

    A RIPPLE AFFECT !!! .. SO THE WATER JUST HAS MOTION !!!

    THANKS FOR YOUR HELP !!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL !!!

    YOUR PONDERING FRIEND — GREG JOHNSON

  2. I have a small pond about 1000 gallons. I leave the pump going in the winter for circulation and it keeps an air hole in the ice. My question is do you recommend continuing to feed the fish?

    • Hi Bruce – We do not recommend feeding fish when water temperatures are below 40°F. Most times, they will not come to feed even when water temps are below 45°F.

      • MEL , I USE 5 2 * THAT WAY I KNOW I AM SAFE ,I GUESS UP TO THE PERSON.
        YOU ARE RIGHT,,MEL,YOU CAN FEED THEN BELOW THAT ,,BUT I WOULD NOT JUST TO BE SURE !!! THAT WAY I KNOW THAT THE FISH HAVE EATEN IT ALONG WITH THE ALGAE. YES , IT WOULD BE UP TO THE PERSON, BUT WHAT EVER YOU DO, BE CAREFUL.

        IF YOUR FISH DO GET SICK USE MELAFIX BY POND CARE RIGHT AWAY. POND GUY HAS IT IN DIFFERENT AMOUNTS !!!

        I AM IN ILLINOIS AND THE WINTER IS THE TIME FOR PROBLEMS TO OCCUR ,, SO BE CAREFUL !!

        YOUR PONDERING FRIEND — GREG JOHNSON

  3. JON,THE KOI AIR 1 IS THE ONE THAT I AM LOOKING AT TO BUY.

    FIRST – YOU NEED AN OPEN HOLE FOR THEM TO BREATH FROM.
    THAT MEANS A DEICER. IN WIS. WATER GETS VERY COLD,SAME AS OURS. I LIVE IN ROCKFORD,, NORTHERN ILLINOIS.

    SECOND-YOU NEED AERATION, THAT IS WHERE THE KOI AIR 1
    COME INTO PLAY. I AM THINKING ABOUT GETTING IT FOR ALL YEAR ROUND USAGE. IT ONLY USES 17 WATTS A MONTH FOR ELECTRIC. IT IS LIKE A BIG AIR STONE. PUT A ROCK COVER OVER IT AND LEAVE IT ALONE. A 7 5 0 GPH PUMP USES 5 7 WATTS.
    I LEAVE A HOSE ON IT SO IT IS JUST UNDER THE WATER OR HALF
    WAY UNDER THEN YOU CAN SEE THE WATER MOVING.

    POND GUY’S CUSTOMER SERVICE REPS ARE VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE. THEY CAN HELP YOU ON THE SIZE THAT YOU NEED, ON EITHER AERATION PUMPS OR KOI AIR 1 OR 2.

    OH , BY THE WAY,, I HAVE NOT LOST ANY FISH,
    DOING IT THIS WAY !! MY ICE HAS BEEN 2-3 INCHES THICK,,
    THICK ENOUGH TO HOLD AN ADULT MALE FOX !!

    I N T H E M I D D L E , B Y T H E D E I C E R !!!

    J U S T T O G E T A D R I N K !!

    I HOPE THIS GIVES YOU AN IDEA !!!

    YOUR PONDERING FRIEND– GREG JOHNSON

  4. My pond is close enough to my house that it allowed me to put my aereator in the basement and insulate the air line to the pond. Now I have heated air entering the water in winter, and cool air in summer when the air conditioning is on in the house. All this with no added cost to supply heated/cooled air to the pond.

    • JOSEPH, I AM THINKING OF BUYING A KOI 1 AERATOR. YOUR IDEA
      SOUNDS GREAT,THANKS FOR SENDING IT. HOW DO YOU LIKE IT? IF I GET ONE WHAT PROBLEMS CAN I HAVE,, IF ANY ??
      I WANT TO PUT A REGULATOR ON IT,, CAN I ??

      I AM ALWAYS LOOKING FOR BETTER IDEAS,, THANKS !!

      YOUR PONDERING FRIEND — GREG JOHNSON

      • Hi Greg – We do not recommend using a regulator with the KoiAir system.

      • MEL, HOW MUCH AIR PRESSURE DO YOU GET WITH IT AS SIZE OF THE WAKE !!?? 3 INCHES OR , ..YES . DEPENDING ON HOW SHALLOW THE STONE IS PLACED !!!? LETS SAY 4 FT OF WATER,CAN YOU GIVE ME AN IDEA ?? I DON’T WHAT TO KNOCK OVER THE WATER LILIES. I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING BUT IF THERE WAS A WAY TO REGULATE IT THEN IT WOULD CORRECT IT’S SELF !!? IN STEAD OF FULL BAST,,
        THAT IS ALL I AM ASKING !!??
        MAYBE IT IS SET UP THAT WAY FOR FREEZING MEANS ,,DON’T KNOW !!! ??

        SEE WHAT YOU CAN COME UP WITH !!??

        YOUR PONDERING FRIEND — GREG J

      • The KoiAir™1 produces 0.8 CFM (cubic feet per minute). At 4′ depth, you can expect about 3′-5′ of wake.

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