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Do I Have to Take My Koi Out of My Water Garden for Winter? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of a Water Garden in the Winter with a Bubbler Aeration System.

Q: Do I have to take my koi and goldfish out of my water garden for the winter? – Barbara of Massachusetts

A: No you don’t actually. They are many water garden owners who leave their koi and goldfish in their water garden throughout the winter season with no issues whatsoever. There are really only two things that you need to do to make sure your water garden is fit to allow fish to winter over:

Does your water garden have a depth of at least 18″?:
This is very important. There are places in the US alone where water freezing depths can easily be around 18″ to 24″. I suggest a minimum of 18″ of depth to be safe, but I am more inclined to recommend 24″ just to be double safe. We want to make sure our fish friends don’t become icicles. In either instance, it’s also extremely important to make sure we keep a hole open in the ice during these cold times, which leads me to the second thing.

Keeping an open hole in the ice during the winter:
During the winter, when the ice forms a solid layer across on the surface of your water garden, there are toxic gases, caused by decaying vegetation or organics, that can build up underneath the ice. This build up can become so toxic underneath the ice that it can kill all of the fish in the water garden. The best thing to do in this situation is to keep a hole open in the ice to allow for these gases to escape. This is actually very easy to accomplish. Using a pond heater/de-icer, such as a Pond Saucer or ThermoPond, is a great way to keep a hole open in the ice. Another way to keep a hole open in the ice would be to use a small bubbler aerator. These will not only keep a hole open in the ice, but will also add oxygen as well! Bubbler aerators can be used all year to keep oxygen levels high.

5 Responses

  1. Jackie Zucco,

    Hey Jackie, As for when to put the pond heater out there, I would say, depending on your climate, it would be okay to put it out there towards the 1st couple weeks in December and you would be good to go. You could put it out there early using what they call a ThermoCube to help save on electricity. This device is temperature sensitive. It will automatically turn on the pond heater when the temperature is 35 degrees and turns it off at 45 degrees. Its really handy for this type of situation.

    Thanks for your comment!

  2. […] Water Garden Post Do I Have to Take My Koi Out of My Water Garden for Winter? – Water Garden Q & A – Week Ending N… […]

  3. Tammy,

    I would put the heater in the water garden itself. The point of the heater is to keep a hole open in the ice to allow toxic gases to escape and protect the fish.

    As for your filtering system, what kind of filtering system do you have? If you have a skimmer and the pumps sits inside of it, then as long as the pump is pushing more than 2,000 gallons per hour and the skimmer stays full of water, you should be fine.

    If you have a different type of filtering system, like a pressurized filter, usually it is best to take them out for the winter.

    Hope this helps!

  4. Would you suggest that I put my heater IN where the pump is at (filtering system) so that the pump doesn’t freeze or should I put the heater right out side where the water goes INTO the filtering system?

  5. I live in Ohio and have purchased one of your pond heaters. When should I install this in my pond? I still have my filter box running and have cleaned all excess leaves out of the pond, so it is clear for the winter freeze. Just unsure of when to install the heater. Should I also leave my filter box running all winter with the pond heater???? Thanks. Jackie Zucco

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