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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)

Why Are My Fish Trying to Jump Out of My Water Garden? – Water Garden Q & A

Koi jumping out of the water.

Q: My fish are jumping out of my water garden. Is there any reason for this? How do I get them to stop? – Several Customers

A: Fish will jump out of the water for what seems to be no reason at all, but sometimes that isn’t the truth. One reason for this jumping is lethal ammonia levels. As fish excrete waste, ammonia levels begin to rise and if sufficient nitrifying bacteria are not present within your filter to breakdown this ammonia, it can become extremely deadly for fish. Constant high levels of ammonia will cause burns on the fish’s gills, thus causing them to want to jump out of the water to escape the pain. If your fish are jumping out of the pond, immediately test for high ammonia levels using an ammonia test kit. Doing a 20% to 25% water change as well as adding beneficial bacteria will help to bring ammonia levels down.

Another possible reason, is low oxygen levels. Usually the fish will seem to gasp for air on the water’s surface but they have been known to also jump out of the water as well. Use an oxygen test kit to test for proper oxygen levels and make sure during the warmer months of the year you have an aeration system running in your water garden. Another cause of low oxygen levels is after using an algaecide to kill off algae. When algae dies it takes oxygen from the water. If there is an abundance of algae and all of it is killed off in one treatment, there is a possibility for the oxygen levels to get extremely low. Doing a 20% to 25% water change is a quick short-term fix to get fresher, oxygenized water into the water garden.

As the above happens, the stress level of the fish can rise, it is always a good idea to add pond salt to your water garden. Pond salt will help the fish calm down as well as help to protect them against common fish diseases.

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