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If I can’t use bacteria, how can I defend my pond while the water is cold? | Ponds & Lakes Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

If I can’t use bacteria, how can I defend my pond while the water is cold?
Mary – Hudson, CO

It is not uncommon for ponds to get a little out of control as the temperatures begin to drop in the late fall and early spring. As water temperatures decrease, your pond crosses a balancing point where your bacteria and algaecides can no longer remain effective enough to fight off excess nutrients and cold temperature plant growth. Customers tend to let their guard down at the end of the season as they venture indoors for the winter.

Pond dye is an effective year-round treatment that works flawlessly in the winter giving your pond a unique look even as it ices over. Algae and plants can still grow at the bottom of the pond in cold temperatures and they are continually exposed to sunlight even if there is a layer of ice on the pond. There are multiple shades of dye available to pond owners. Pond Logic® offers pond dye in a decorative Nature’s Blue™, natural blue-green Twilight Blue™, or reflective Black DyeMond™, so you can achieve a unique color that fits your particular setting. You can learn more about choosing the best pond color in our Pond Dye Blog.

Organic matter will continue to decay during the winter, and run off from melting snow and rain will contribute to an increase in phosphate levels which encourages algae growth. Using a water conditioner like Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ will continue to bind these phosphates rendering them useless to weeds and algae as well as introduce trace minerals into the water column which promote a healthier fish population. EcoBoost™ also enhances the natural bacteria found in your pond increasing their productivity when they are active.

Both EcoBoost™ and pond dye are considered “proactive” pond care treatments as they are designed to create a balanced ecosystem and prevent problems like algae growth or turbid water. You can save yourself a lot of work and money on difficult spring start ups or late season algae blooms by continuing to use these types of pond care products throughout the year even after your bacteria and herbicides are packed away for the winter.

POND TALK: Pond owners sometimes use pond dye in the winter to create unique ice colorations. Share your winter pond art pictures and stories with other pond guys and gals.

Season Long Pond Care

12 Responses

  1. Dan, Don’t know how rural an area you are in. Your problem could be mink and not heron. I know of a fellow here in central NY (zone 4) that lost all his fish to mink two winters ago.TR

  2. I have used the pond dye, but then I lose the benefit of seeing my fish, of which is the whole purpose of my Koi pond. I run an areator, of which this is the first winter for it. I assume by your article I shoud add chemical treatment to prevent algae and sludge, but you offer so many types it is hard for me to pick.


  3. Sorry for your lost, I had my pond net from first day I have built.
    Rooben from AU

  4. I’m glad I read this article, I was about to remove my net for the winter and was unaware that these birds stayed year round, Thanks for the tip.

  5. I live in Northern Nevada and we have blue herons all year round coming around to eat what they can get. These birds are very aggressive and will stop at nothing to get their bellys full of fish if they can. I’ve lost over a dozen fish to these creepy birds over the past 2 years – nothing scares them away, not even the dogs. Once they find a stocked pond, they remember it and seem to just keep doing what they do. I was getting ready to use my BB gun on them til my neighbor told me there is a $500 fine for killing them. I have spent over that amount on my fish alone. When I see them in the pond with only their legs sticking out i know they are trying to spear my fish so I go out with a stick and try to whack them, they just fly away, go sit on a branch and wait for me to leave. Then they come back. Don’t know what the solution is…..

    • Sandy,

      I totally agree with you about the determination of the heron. They can fly over your pond and see your colorful Koi or Goldfish from overhead. Once they know that they have found a food source, they will continue to come back. If they are feeding their young, they will have an even greater need for food.

      Pond netting that is suspended several inches above the pond surface will prevent the heron from attacking the fish. The net would need to be taut, so that it doesn’t fall into the pond. Not very attractive, however this makes it very difficult for the heron to get to the fish.

      Heron Decoys can be effective based on the fact that the herons are territorial. Not recommended during mating season as the predators could actually attract other herons. Heron decoys need to be moved on a regular basis, once a week, to simulate a real bird.

      You can design your pond in such a way, that you make it much more difficult for the herons to access your pond. They don’t land in the pond, but stalk toward the water. So putting a fishing line perimeter about 12-18 inches about the ground will help to prevent the heron from reaching your pond. Keep in mind to keep the line back from the pond so the heron cannot just lean over it to reach the fish.

      Aquatic Plants help to deter the herons as well. Floating plants and lilies will give the fish a hiding place under the leaves and Bog or Marginal plants will provide a physical barrier. If the pond sides are steeper and the water is 8-12 inches below the edge of the pond it will further make it difficult for the herons to access your fish.

  6. I too have to net my pond all year long because of the herons. I lost my favorite fan-tail koi to one. While I haven’t seen the herons lately ( we live in the burbs of Chicago and i assume that the herons have flown south), i am not taking any chances.

  7. I don not believer a heron would take fish that big and that many no way the heron is a predator for sure but he cannot eat that many fish and that size no way, they have to eat the fish head first because of the dorcil fin would rip out its throat you would see some fish laying on the edge of the pond, but a big blue would maybe eat 6-8 but no way that many and not that big their choice size would be about 8-10 inch fish something or somebody got your fish a heron no way



    • Our blue heron stay all winter long in Indiana and will eat small birds too if they can’t get to your fish. We have to net our pond all year around because of the heron. it’s not attractive but we still have fish. 😦
      Sorry to hear about your fish.

    • Dan, Don’t know how rural an area you are in. Your problem could be mink and not heron. I know of a fellow here in central NY (zone 4) that lost all his fish to mink two winters ago.TR

    • Daniel, we had the same problem. Once a heron finds you pond it will continue to return when you least expect it!. We purchased bird netting from Lowes at about $7 a net and covered the pond with it securing with tent stakes. This works well and you can bearly see the netting. Our surviving fish have stopped cowering at movement after a year!

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