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My pond froze over. How do I get it open again? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A


Q: My pond froze over. How do I get it open again?

Q: My pond froze over. How do I get it open again?

Janet – Minneapolis, MN

A:  Brrrr. Jack Frost, Elsa and the rest of the cold-weather crew sure have been busy lately, haven’t they? Despite the use of a de-icer, aeration system and other ice-prevention tactics, long bouts of frigid temperatures and wind-whipped nights can cause ponds to freeze over. And that’s not good news for your fish.

So what can you do? When considering your hibernating finned pals, time is critical. Too long without an open area in the ice for gas exchange could mean dangerous conditions for your koi, goldfish and other pond fish.

Overnight, No Problem

If the pond has been frozen over since last night, your fish should be just fine. Cold, windy nights often cause extra layers of ice to form on the pond’s surface. If your de-icer and aeration are on and functioning properly, some of the ice should melt on its own. Meanwhile, your fish will have plenty of dissolved oxygen in the water to tide them over.

A Week or More, Get Busy

If it’s been a week or longer with no hole in the ice, it’s time to take some action. Without a hole, ammonia and other noxious gases are unable to escape into the atmosphere, and your fish will have no access to fresh oxygen. Here’s what to do when ice overtakes your pond.

  1. Melt It: First, melt a hole back open in the ice by pouring a bucket of hot water onto the frozen stuff near your de-icer or aerator’s airstones. Do not drill through the ice or bang on it with a hammer as this will stress your fish, which are probably already stressed out.
  2. Systems Check: Once a hole is open, check to be sure your de-icer and aeration systems are still running and functioning properly. If not, repair the damage or replace the unit altogether. The PondAir™ & Thermo-Pond Combo, which is an all-in-one aerator and de-icer, works to keep a vent open in ponds up to 2,000 gallons. See the video below for tips on installing the PondAir™ & Thermo-Pond De-Icer Combo.
  3. Reposition Airstones: Finally, if your airstones are positioned at the bottom of your pond, relocate them. Put them in a shallower area that’s closer to the water surface. This will create more movement – and that means a bigger hole.

Should frigid temperatures and a solid ice sheet persist, take a daily trip to your pond to check on the gas exchange hole. Your aerator and de-icer should do the trick, but be ready to melt through the ice if needed.

Pond Talk: How often does your pond freeze over in the winter?

Vent Ponds Up To 2,000 Gallons - PondAir™ &;amp Thermo-Pond 3.0 De-Icer Combo

3 Responses

  1. I live in the east side of Wisconsin by lake Michigan. I have my pond 5 winters now. All I ever use is aeration, it always freezes over, never lost a fish. The pond is lined with stone I do not know if that makes a different or not.

  2. We have a 3000 gallon pond in north central South Dakota and ours has stayed open with very little ice at all. We have 4500 watts of heaters, aeration going, and we keep our pump and waterfall going. Even when were were at -10 for a few days in a row we were never more than 25% frozen over.

  3. JANET, IF YOU HAVE A POND IN YOUR BACK YARD & NOT A LAKE, ONE,,THEN PUSH YOUR DEICER WITH A BROOM TO THE MIDDLE,
    THEN TURN IT ON,,IT WILL EAT THROUGH!! MINE IS 25 X 19.
    DEEP END 5-FT.,SHALLOW END 18-IN. IT WILL TAKE TIME PENDING ON HOW MANY WATTS YOURS IS. MY DEICER IS
    1750 WATTS. I HAVE 3,000 GALLON POND!! NOISE WILL KILL THE FISH!! MAKE SURE YOUR POWER SUPPLY IS WORKING!!

    ALSO DON’T FEED THE FISH IN THE WINTER. THEY CAN NOT DIGEST FOOD AT THAT TIME!!! THEY ARE NOT ACTIVE!! THEY WILL BREATH THROUGH THE HOLE!!!

    GOOD LUCK – GREG JOHNSON

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