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We’ve had a pretty hard winter. What can I expect when the ice finally melts? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We’ve had a pretty hard winter. What can I expect when the ice finally melts?

Q: We’ve had a pretty hard winter. What can I expect when the ice finally melts?

Kevin – Downers Grove, IL

A: Yep, this has indeed been a long, cold winter for much of the country. We’ve shivered through frigid temperatures, shoveled and slogged through snow banks, and watched our ponds and lakes freeze over.

Unfortunately, that could mean trouble for your fish.

When the ice on your pond finally melts this spring, you might discover that your fish and other aquatic life haven’t survived the season. These winter fish kills occur when the ice prevents gas exchange and reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Michigan DNR fish production manager Gary Whelan says that shallow lakes, ponds and streams are particularly vulnerable to winterkill.

“Winterkill begins with distressed fish gasping for air at holes in the ice and often ends with large numbers of dead fish that bloat as the water warms in early spring,” he explains. “Dead fish and other aquatic life may appear fuzzy because of secondary infection by fungus, but the fungus was not the cause of death. The fish actually suffocated from a lack of dissolved oxygen from decaying plants and other dead aquatic animals under the ice.”

You can’t bring your fish back to life, but you can prevent winterkill from happening in the future by aerating your pond year-round with an Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System. Here’s how it works:

  • It reduces the amount of decomposing debris in the pond, encouraging the colonization of beneficial aerobic bacteria, which prevents muck and nutrient accumulation and maintains clear water.
  • It keeps an air hole open in the ice, allowing harmful gases to escape while delivering fresh oxygen to your fish.
  • It pumps even more fresh oxygen into the water via diffusers that sit on the bottom of the pond.

A little pond preparation can go a long way, especially when it comes to unknown variables like weather. Let’s hope next winter is milder than this one was!

Pond Talk: Have you experienced a winterkill in your pond or lake before?

Airmax(r) Aeration is Easy to Install - Airmax(r) Pond Series(t)

Be Aware of Oxygen Levels When Treating for an Abundance of Algae – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of Filamentous Algae in a Pond

Q: My pond was almost completely covered in algae earlier this month. With the advice of a local store, I treated my pond with an algaecide. Needless to say I suffered a terrible loss! What killed all of my fish? – Marie of Florida

A: More then likely your fish loss was due to oxygen depletion. It is very rare that an EPA registered “Aquatic Approved” chemical will cause a fish kill.

What causes oxygen depletion?
After a chemical application, algae and aquatic vegetation start to die and begin to decompose. The decomposition process requires great amounts of oxygen and can sometimes, like in Marie’s case, be harmful to fish. The chance of oxygen depletion is much greater when a pond is not maintained on a regular basis or when water temperatures are at their warmest such as the dog days of Summer. The warmer the water, the less oxygen it can retain.

How to treat your pond and keep your fish safe:
We recommend that you treat your pond in sections. The generally rule of the thumb is to split your treatment in to 3 parts or thirds. Treat 1/3 of your pond starting from shoreline working your way towards the middle. Allowing 5-7 days between treatments will greatly reduce, if not completely eliminate the chance of fish kill.

NOTE: Always follow the label rates on the container!

Reduce Oxygen Demand with an AIRMAX AERATION SYSTEM! Airmax Aeration adds oxygen to your pond reducing fish kills, while improving the overall health of your pond and fish.

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