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If I run my aeration all winter, do I need to do anything special? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: If I run my aeration all winter, do I need to do anything special?

Q: If I run my aeration all winter, do I need to do anything special?

Jay – Gretna, NE

A: Running your aeration system through the winter is an excellent idea. Aeration helps to break down leaves and debris that make their way into your pond or lake, making cleaning and maintenance easier come spring. The water movement creates a hole in the ice, which allows for gas exchange and keeps water open and available for visiting wildlife. Aeration also circulates the water column, infusing it with oxygen for your fish and plants.

We highly recommend running aeration all year long—except if you plan on doing winter activities on your pond, like figure skating, ice fishing or playing ice hockey. The constant friction created by the water movement weakens the ice that forms, and that could be downright dangerous.

So if you plan to run your aeration system through the winter, here are three winter tasks to add to your to-do list:

  1. Move your plates into shallower water. Following your aerator manual’s recommendations, move the plates from the deepest areas of your pond to shallower areas. This will give your hibernating fish a warmer place to hunker down when the water temperatures get especially chilly. When the plates are closer to the surface, they will also help to keep a hole open in the ice.
  2. Check the aerator regularly throughout the winter. After a heavy snow or a storm, head out to the pond and inspect your aeration unit. Remove accumulated snow around it, particularly any that’s blocking the air discharge vent. If you lost power during a storm, check your GFCI; you may have to reset it.
  3. Be smart and safe. When your aerator is on during the winter, the ice that forms can be thin and uneven, so make sure you keep safety equipment out by your pond. A Life Ring or life vest, rope, blankets and a first aid kit are critical items to have on hand that can save someone’s life.

If you have more questions about running your aerator during the wintertime or need help with your system, contact one of our Pond Guys or Gals or post a comment on our blog page.

Pond Talk: What kinds of differences do you notice in your pond in the spring as a result of running your aeration system in the winter?

Be Prepared for Any Winter Scenario - Taylor Made 20 Inch Life Rings

I thought fish were dormant during the winter. So why do people ice fish? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I thought fish were dormant during the winter. So why do people ice fish?

Q: I thought fish were dormant during the winter. So why do people ice fish?

Keith – Commerce, MI

A: Not all fish go dormant in the winter. Some fish species, like trout, bluegill, perch and crappies, will happily bite despite the ice! There’s no reason to limit yourself to open-water fishing. With some gear and some know-how, you can sport fish or catch your dinner all year-long.

THE GEAR

Whether you plan to cast a line your own ice-covered lake or angle in a favorite fishing spot in your area, you will need some basic equipment. Here’s a quick list of expert-recommended must-have items:

  • Clothing: Water- and wind-resistant clothing is a necessity on the ice—particularly if you’re fishing in an area with biting winds and bitter cold. Make sure you have a warm hat, like a wool beanie, to cover your noggin, along with a warm parka with a hood. Dress in several thin layers, wear gloves, pull on some insulated rubber boots, and consider wearing some ice cleats to safely walk on the slippery stuff.
  • Shelter/Windbreak: In addition to wearing the right type of clothing, a shelter or windbreak will keep those cold winds at bay. It doesn’t have to be complicated: a frame with plastic, canvas or cardboard will do just fine. But there are some pretty upscale options for those who want to ice fish in style (while watching the big game on satellite TV!).
  • Hole-Drilling Tools: To get to the fish, you need a way to plow through the ice. Tools like a spud bar, or a pipe or a pole with a blade will allow you to cut through a 1-foot-thick sheet of ice. If you’re dealing with a thicker layer, consider investing in a 8-inch hand-driven or power auger with a spiral or spoon blade. It’ll slice through the ice like butter.
  • Tackle and Bait: Of course, you’ll also need tackle and bait. The kind of fishing equipment you use will depend on the type of fish you’re hoping to hook. Choose accordingly.

THE KNOW-HOW

With all your gear ready, the next step is to find the fish! As any angler will attest, this is an art in and of itself, particularly if you’ve never fished a particular lake before. A hydrographic map and portable depth finder can help you find fishes’ preferred hiding spots, and a fish finder or underwater camera can help you see them swimming about. So many gadgets, so little time …

If you plan to ice fish your own pond or lake, figure out where the game likes to congregate and plan to cast your line there. If you don’t have an established habitat yet, create one before the ice covers your pond by installing some Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres. When these 6-inch-diameter spheres are outfitted with 26 individual ½-inch PVC pipes, they create 5½ feet of coverage for fish to hide within—and a spot where you can successfully get a bite.

SAFETY TIPS

Safety is critical when ice fishing. As fun and relaxing as the sport may be, it can be dangerous when these basic safety tips aren’t followed:

  1. Ensure the ice is at least 3 to 6 inches thick to walk on, at least 7 inches thick to drive on with a car, and 10 inches thick to drive on with a truck. The thicker, the better!
  2. Avoid areas of cracked ice and listen carefully for loud booms or cracking sounds, which could indicate the ice is shifting.
  3. Never fish alone.
  4. If you bring pets or children with you, supervise them at all times and keep your dog on a leash.
  5. Have safety equipment, like a Life Ring or life vest, rope, blankets and a first aid kit, on hand in case of emergency.
  6. When you’re finished, mark or cover your hole with a branch to prevent anyone from stepping into your hole.

Pond Talk: If you ice fish, what’s your favorite part of the hobby?

Create a Winter Habitat for Game Fish - Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres

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

Do pond weeds stop growing during the winter months? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Do pond weeds stop growing during the winter months?

Q: Do pond weeds stop growing during the winter months?

Allen – Marcola, OR

A: Unfortunately, it’s tough to give you a definitive answer. The growth pattern of aquatic weeds and algae really depend on where a particular pond or lake is located. Weed growth in a Florida pond, for instance, will be different from weed growth in a Minnesota pond!

In general, however, you can expect to see different pond weeds pop up at different times of year based on environmental temperature, just like the weeds in your lawn. If your pond or lake freezes over, the perennial weeds will typically die back in the winter and re-emerge in the spring. Some plants, however, will continue to grow throughout the cold season, though at a much slower rate than you’d see in the warmer summer months.

Trouble surfaces when water temperatures drop to the point where your algaecides and herbicides become ineffective – but the weeds continue to grow. Algae Defense®, for example, stops working when the water is below 60° Fahrenheit, and the beneficial bacteria in PondClear™ slow down to almost a stop when temps fall below 50°F.

So what can you do?

When the chemicals and bacteria are no longer working for the winter, it’s time to turn to Pond Logic® Pond Dye. An effective year-round treatment, Pond Dye shades the water and reduces the amount of sunlight reaching the weeds and algae growing at the bottom of your lake. Less sunlight means fewer weeds, regardless of the temperature or time of year.

Pond Logic® Pond Dye comes in two formulations: Easy-to-use packets and quarts of concentrated liquid. To use the packets, which come in Nature’s Blue™ and Black DyeMond™, simply toss several in water at various locations around your pond or lake. The packet will dissolve and the dye will disperse throughout the water. To use the concentrated liquid, which comes in Nature’s Blue™, Twilight Blue™ and Black DyeMond™, pour the dye in several spots along the pond’s edge. There’s no mixing required.

If wintertime weeds are taking over your pond, consider adding Pond Dye. Not only will it shade your water and hinder weed growth, but it will also add to the aesthetics of your landscape.

Pond Talk: Do you battle weed growth year-round where you live?

Shade and Protect Your Pond Year Round - Pond Logic® Pond Dye Packets

When do I stop using my ClearPAC® products for the season? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When do I stop using my ClearPAC® products for the season?

Q: When do I stop using my ClearPAC® products for the season?

Brenda – Martinsburg

A: An incredibly handy product, Pond Logic® ClearPAC® and ClearPac® PLUS come packaged with everything you need to keep your pond or lake clean and clear all season long, including Algae Defense®, PondClear™, MuckAway™ (in PLUS only), EcoBoost™ and Nature’s Blue™ Pond Dye. Each component has different usage recommendations. Here’s what you need to know about using each one in the fall and wintertime:

Algae Defense®: You can stop using this algae killer when the water dips below 60° Fahrenheit. Though you might see green growth during the winter, the active ingredients in Algae Defense® are ineffective at lower temperatures.

PondClear™ & MuckAway™: The beneficial bacteria that make up PondClear™ and MuckAway™ won’t work well when the water temperatures are lower than 50°F. Save the little muck and debris munchers for spring when the sun has warmed your pond or lake.

EcoBoost™: Formulated to bind suspended organics, EcoBoost™ helps to clear water, enhances beneficial bacteria and provides trace minerals to fish. It has no temperature restrictions, so it can be used all year round!

Pond Dye: Pond Dye can also be used year-round to shade your pond or lake, and bring beauty and color to your landscape. If it’s too cold to dump the Pond Dye concentrated liquid in the water, try using our Pond Dye Packets. You simply drop the easy-to-use water-soluble packets in various spots in your lake and in a short time the color will diffuse throughout the water.

Hopefully this has “cleared up” when and how to use the products in ClearPAC™.

Pond Talk: What is your favorite product in the ClearPAC® or ClearPAC® PLUS?

Bind Phosphates and Suspended Organics - Pond Logic® EcoBoost™

Is pond dye worth using during the cold weather months? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Is pond dye worth using during the cold weather months?

Q: Is pond dye worth using during the cold weather months?

Larry – Roachdale, IN

A: Absolutely! Even during cold weather, Pond Logic® Pond Dye is worth using year-round in your pond or lake. Using Pond Dye benefits your pond in some significant ways, including:

  • Protecting your pond from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Even though the sun isn’t as strong in the wintertime, some UVs still get through – and they can fuel algae blooms that could affect your water quality. Pond dye shades the water and prevents those blooms from happening.
  • Tinting the water an attractive blue or black shade. Winterscapes can often benefit from a splash of color, and Pond Logic’s Pond Dyes provides just that without harming your fish and other pond inhabitants.
  • Beautifying your property. Pond Logic® Nature’s Blue™ Pond Dye, available in packets and by the quart, contrasts with green landscaping while Pond Logic® Black DyeMond™ Pond Dye, available in packets, creates a mirrored surface that reflects trees and surrounding rocks.

We offer three types of dye: Pond Dye Packets, Pond Dye by the quart as a liquid concentrate; and Pond Dye PLUS by the gallon.

Pond Dye can be used all year long. The packets are super easy to use – you just toss an unopened packet in several areas of your pond, and you’ll have rich color for at least a month without the mess. Two to four packets will treat a 1-acre pond.

The liquid concentrate – a cost-effective alternative to the packets – is easy to use, too. You simply pull on some gloves and pour the liquid dye along the shoreline, and the color will naturally disburse throughout the pond. One quart will color a 1-acre pond that’s 4 to 6 feet deep.

Pond Dye PLUS contains added beneficial bacteria, so it should only be used when water temperatures are above 50° Fahrenheit. Our advice: Wait until spring to use this product. For the time being, try some Pond Dye. It’s worth it!

Pond Talk: What have been your experiences with using pond dye in the winter?

Shade Your Pond in All Seasons - Pond Logic(r) Pond Dye Quarts

If I’m going to shut my aerator down for the winter, when should I do it? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: If I’m going to shut my aerator down for the winter, when should I do it?

Q: If I’m going to shut my aerator down for the winter, when should I do it?

Syd – Jackson, WY

A: Ice skating, hockey, curling, broomball, ice fishing—part of the joy of having your own pond or lake is all the wintertime sports that can be played on the ice. These frosty, fun activities are the main reason why folks shut down their aerator for the winter, as keeping one running will create a hole in the ice and make the ice sheet unstable.

If you plan to turn your lake into an ice rink this year, turn off, pull out and store your aerator before the ice begins to form. Why? Because if ice that forms on the water surface has been moving for even a short time, it can be porous and not suitable for skating. Even movement on one end of the lake and not the other can make the ice at the edges unsafe.

Here’s the shutdown process we recommend:

  1. Unplug and shut your aeration system down completely. It’s critical to do this before the ice starts to build on your pond’s or lake’s surface for the safety of those who will skate on the pond.
  2. Stow the cabinet and compressor away. Your airline and plate may stay in the pond, but the system’s cabinet and compressor should be stored indoors to keep dry and prevent condensation and rusting.
  3. Cover flex tube and airlines ends. Doing so will prevent debris from entering and plugging up the airlines.
  4. Have an emergency plan, just in case. While you’re prepping your lake for ice skating fun, now’s a good time to make sure you have water safety items available, too, like a Taylor Made Life Ring. If the ice breaks, a safety preserver like this can save someone’s life.

If you’re not using your pond for winter activities, keep your Airmax® Aeration System operating all season long so your fish will survive a winter fish kill caused by lack of oxygen. Don’t forget to move your diffuser plates out of the deepest water. This will give your finned friends a safe zone and prevent the super-cooling effect that happens in the chilled winter water.

Pond Talk: What are your favorite wintertime sports?

Be Prepared for any Pond Scenario - Taylor Made Life Rings

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