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I am bringing my fish inside for the winter. What do I need? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I am bringing my fish inside for the winter. What do I need?

Q: I am bringing my fish inside for the winter. What do I need?

Carol – Afton, MN

A: In last week’s blog, we talked about how deep your pond needs to be to overwinter your fish outdoors. As promised, this week we’ll talk about what to do if your pond is less than 18 inches deep or you think your temperatures are too cold outside for your finned friends.

Bring ‘m Inside!
Do you have a pole barn? A garage? A basement? An unused outbuilding? These places make perfect indoor places to overwinter your fish. Koi and goldfish begin their wintertime dormancy at about 45 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s best to choose a space that hovers at about this temperature or below.

The Gear
To prepare your fishes’ winter home, you’ll need some special supplies, including:

  • Stock Tank or Holding Tank: This will be your indoor pond area. Because your fish will be dormant they won’t need a huge pond to live in, so you can get away with smaller quarters. Choose a tank that’s sized appropriately for the number and size of your fish. To make the transition easier, use a siphon to fill the holding tank with water from your pond.
  • Pond Netting: The close quarters might surprise your fish and they could try to make a jump for it, so make sure you cover the tank with The Pond Guy® Premium Pond Netting and secure it with bungee cords or other tie-downs. That will keep them safe and secure.
  • Aeration System: Just as you aerate your water garden, you’ll need to aerate your holding tank to keep the water oxygenated. An energy-efficient PondAir™ Aeration Kit will work in setups up to 2,000 gallons; a KoiAir™ Aeration System will work in larger setups with more fish.
  • Filter: If your region is warmer, you might consider adding a ClearSolution™ Filtration System (for setups less than 1,200 gallons) or AllClear™ Pressurized Filter (for larger setups) to keep your water clear and your fish healthy.

Wintertime Chores
Caring for your fish in their indoor digs is similar to what you do when they’re outside. Because the living quarters are cramped, check your water parameters with a test kit once a week or so to ensure the water quality is safe. Also, check you water levels and add water as needed, and keep an eye on the equipment to make sure it’s working properly.

Other than that, your fish should be just fine through the winter. Once spring rolls around and water temperatures warm up, they’ll be ready to stretch their fins!

Pond Talk: If you overwinter your fish indoors, what kind of setup do you have?

Keep Your Pond Oxygenated All Winter - Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kit

My pond is 18 inches deep. Can I overwinter my fish in my water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My pond is 18 inches deep. Can I overwinter my fish in my water garden?

Q: My pond is 18 inches deep. Can I overwinter my fish in my water garden?

Jessica – Hope Valley, RI

A: Great news! Unless you live in an extremely frigid climate, your pond is at the minimum depth required for overwintering fish in a pond. Though 24 inches or deeper is better, 18 inches should give your finned friends enough room to ride out the cold temperatures—as long as you keep a hole open in the ice.

Freezing winter temperatures will create a solid layer of ice on your pond’s surface. Below the ice sheet, decaying vegetation and organic matter release harmful gases, like ammonia, which can build up and kill your fish. A hole in the ice will allow for gas exchange. The oxygen will enter the pond, the gases will escape, and your fish will stay happy and healthy while they’re hibernating.

To keep that hole open, here’s what you’ll need based on your zone:

  • Occasional Below-Freezing Temps: For temperature zones that get the occasional below-freezing day or low nighttime temperatures, use an adjustable air stone aerator, like the Airmax® PondAir™ (up to 2,000 gallons) or Airmax® KoiAir™ (up to 16,000 gallons). One of these units will infuse your pond with oxygen while remaining quiet and cost-effective.
  • Long Stretches of Freezing Temps: For temperature zones that see long stretches of freezing temperatures, we recommend these options, below, based on how many gallons your pond holds. The aerator-deicer combo will give your smaller water garden the one-two punch it needs to vent harmful gases and keep your fish safe, while the more powerful KoiAir will sufficiently aerate larger ponds:

Is your pond not quite 18 inches deep? Be sure to check back next week for an article on bringing your pond fish inside for the winter!

Pond Talk: What do you do to ensure your finned pals stay happy through the winter?

Keep Your Fish Safe This Winter - Airmax® PondAir™ and Thermo-Pond Combos

My fish hang out near my waterfall during hot days. Do I have enough aeration in my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My fish hang out near my waterfall during hot days. Do I have enough aeration in my pond?

Q: My fish hang out near my waterfall during hot days. Do I have enough aeration in my pond?

Amanda – Rowlett, TX

A: On hot days, who wouldn’t want to hang out near a waterfall! For humans, the water pouring into the pond cools and hydrates the air; for fish, that action acts as a giant aeration system, infusing oxygen into the water beneath the waterfall.

But that raises a valid question: If your fish spend a lot of time near the waterfall, does it mean they’re not getting enough oxygen? Yes, it’s possible. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your pond’s aeration situation.

Is It Getting Full Aeration?

If you’re running your waterfall 24 hours a day, your pond is likely getting full aeration. If your pond is more than 24 inches deep, however, and you have a skimmer/waterfall system in place, more aeration may be necessary. Why? Because the oxygenated water will circulate across the water surface, leaving the water at the bottom of the pond stagnant. Adding an aeration system will prevent stagnation by raising the bottom water to the surface.

Do You Have Many Plants?

Plants may release subsurface oxygen to the water during the day, but at night those plants take in oxygen, which means your fish may be gasping for air. If you have quite a few plants and your waterfall is off—and you experience an algae bloom—you should definitely think about adding some aeration.

Do You Have Many Fish?

The more fish in your pond, the more oxygen you’ll need—which means you’ll need more aeration. If your pond has a high fish population, consider adding some more aeration. For comparison, we recommend one 6- to 8-inch fish per 10 square feet of surface area.

How’s Your Muck Level?

Another clue that your pond is insufficiently aerated is the amount of muck that has accumulated at the bottom of your pond. When your pond is properly aerated, muck naturally breaks up thanks to the healthy and growing population of gunk-gobbling beneficial bacteria.

Low-Cost Aeration

If any of these scenarios apply to your pond, we recommend adding the energy-efficient Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration System for ponds up to 2,000 gallons or the Airmax® KoiAir™ Aeration System for ponds up to 16,000 gallons. They help to circulate the water and add valuable oxygen, providing the best possible environment for your fish.

Pond Talk: What do you do to ensure your finned friends get enough oxygen during the summer months?

Is It Safe To Shut My Pump Off Overnight To Save On Electricity Costs? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Is It Safe To Shut My Pump Off Overnight To Save On Electricity Costs?

Q: Is it safe to shut my pump off overnight to save on electricity costs?

Melissa – Telford, PA

A: Just about everyone is looking for ways to save money on their monthly bills – and you might think that turning off your pond’s pump every night is one way to stretch some of your hard-earned cash.

Think again!

Though most pumps do cost a nominal amount of money to run 24/7, if you shut yours down each night, you could be affecting your pond’s water quality and your fishes’ health, and that could cost you even more in the long run.

Check out these top four reasons why you should keep your pump pumping:

1. Efficiency: Pond pump manufacturers understand that water gardeners are concerned about operating costs, so many of the designs on the market today are energy efficient and consume relatively little electricity. Pumps that used to cost $100 a month or more to run have been replaced by models that cost as little as $12 a month. Now that’s some serious savings!

2. Filtration: In order for your filtration system to function properly, it needs moving water flowing through it – so if your pump is off, your water’s not moving or being filtered, and that could do some damage to your pond’s inhabitants. Plus, if all the water drains out of your filter, you could wind up with a loss of the beneficial bacteria that live on the media inside.

3. Settled Debris: Moving water helps to keep debris suspended in the water column and pulled through the skimmer and filter for efficient removal. But if the pump is turned off, that debris will settle to the bottom of the pond and build up, creating a dense food source for nuisances like algae.

4. Oxygen Depletion: Still, quiet water – even just during the overnight hours – means that fewer water molecules are circulating and making contact with oxygen-rich air at the pond’s surface. The stagnant water will be unable to release dangerous gases, like ammonia, and absorb life-giving oxygen. Moving water, however, ensures those molecules keep churning and exchanging bad gases for good.

If you still feel like you should shut down your pump each night, at least keep an aerator, like the Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration System, running to keep the water circulating. The PondAir™ systems consume even less electricity than pumps – costing only pennies per month.

Pond Talk: Do you keep your pump running 24/7? Why or why not?

Airmax® PondAir™ - Breathe Life Into Your Pond

I Know That Floating Plants Help Shade My Pond, But What Do Submerged Plants Do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I know that floating plants help shade my pond, but what do submerged plants do?

Q: I know that floating plants help shade my pond, but what do submerged plants do?

Donnita – Palos Park, IL

A: Got plants? If you’re like most pond hobbyists, you probably have plenty of growing and blooming greenery surrounding your water garden – but what about sub-surface varieties? Underwater plants, like hornwort, and red stemmed parrots feather, offer great benefits to your water feature and its inhabitants, including:

Filtration: Underwater plants naturally filter your water. How? Plants, with their copious amounts of surface area on their leaves, stems and roots, absorb nitrates and fish waste – which is actually fertilizer to them. The result is a body of water that’s cleaner and clearer, thanks to Mother Nature’s nitrogen cycle.

Predator Protection: Sub-surface plants also give your fish and other pond critters places to hide when predators stalk or attack. Koi and goldfish will swim into the lush growth and hide out when a raccoon stops by the pond or a blue heron circles overhead. The greenery provides excellent camouflage for your finned friends.

Aesthetic Appeal: As popular as they may be, gravel-bottom ponds are boring. And they’re not very natural-looking either. Have you ever seen a wild pond or lake with no plants beneath the surface? Nope, didn’t think so. Ponds planted with below-the-waterline foliage create a more realistic-looking – and aesthetically pleasing – water feature, which is something most (if not all!) hobbyists hope to achieve.

Oxygen: Underwater plants are called “oxygenators” for a reason. They naturally produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis – and oxygen is one of the best things for your pond’s health and vitality. When submerged plants are used in combination with a sub-surface aeration system, you’ll wind up with cleaner water that truly supports your pond’s inhabitants.

Spawning Areas: The leaves, stems and root systems of underwater plants give your pond life safe places to spawn and lay their eggs. And when those tiny fry hatch, the plants provide protection, food and a comfy place to call home.

Submerged plants are easy to add to your water garden or fish pond. Simply fill planting baskets, like the Laguna Submersible Pond Planting Baskets, with planting media, add some oxygenators, and place the planted basket on the bottom of your pond or on a plant shelf on the side of your pond. The planting baskets allow the plant’s roots to branch out and find nourishment while containing it and preventing fish from nibbling on its root system.

Add some plants to your pond today. Your fish will thank you for them!

Pond Talk: Do you have submerged plants in your pond?

Create Oxygen For Your Plants - Hornwort Submerged Plants

What if my pond has aeration and it still freezes over? Will my fish be okay? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

What if my pond has aeration and it still freezes over? Will my fish be okay?

What if my pond has aeration and it still freezes over? Will my fish be okay?
Sue – Boston, MA

The reasons for aeration during the winter months are largely the same as they are during warmer weather. The oxygen provided by aeration is vital to the health of fish – all year ‘round. In the winter, aeration does double duty, both by introducing sufficient oxygen to the water, and by preventing the formation of ice that could contain harmful gases produced by leaves and other decaying material on the pond’s bottom. As long as the aerators keep some of the water from freezing, the fish in the pond will have sufficient oxygen to weather the cold.

If your aerator can’t keep up with the impact of a long cold snap, and the pond freezes entirely for a short time, your fish should be fine. Short term freezes shouldn’t pose a threat to a well maintained pond – and fish will have sufficient oxygen to survive the temporary freeze. During longer cold snaps, however, harmful gases can accumulate, and you may need to take measures to open the ice. To accomplish that task, it’s important to avoid the use of hammers, drills or other percussive tools. The effects of violent vibration can be harmful to fish. Instead, try applying buckets of hot water to melt vent holes.

To prevent freezing, we recommend the use of our Airmax® Aeration Systems. With the system installed, it’s wise to prepare for winter by situating stones throughout the pond. For an added measure of assurance, you may also want to suspend some stones closer to the surface to generate more surface-level water movement, while leaving the bottom of the pond still for fish.

Pond Talk: Have you had your pond freeze over even with the help of an aerator?

Airmax® Water Garden Aerations

Do I need to remove the UV in my pond for the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Do I need to remove the UV in my pond for the winter?

Do I need to remove the UV in my pond for the winter?
Andrew – Memphis, TN

Like a lot of people, UV components don’t tolerate cold very well. Unlike people (most people, anyhow), those components tend to crack when frozen. So, in the interest of avoiding unnecessary expense when you bring your pond back online in the spring, removing your UV for the winter months is a wise course of action.

In ponds where the UV is a component of the filter system, the same rule applies: it’s worthwhile to take the entire filter out for the winter. Fortunately, the task is pretty straightforward. When the time comes to shut the pond down for the year, the first step is to drain the water from the UV/filter and give them a thorough cleaning. Next, be sure to cap off the tubing ends with a plastic bag or a snug-fitting cap to keep debris from entering the system. Finally, place your filter components in dry storage to keep them in good shape for next season.

But wait! What about your fish? Even though you’re done with your pond for the season, they’re not going anywhere – and they’ll still need an adequate supply of oxygen to survive the winter. And nothing provides oxygen more reliably than our Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration System and our Airmax® KoiAir™ Aeration System. With the addition of one of these systems, you’ll ensure winter water circulation – and keep your pond water well oxygenated for the fish that make your water feature a three-season sight to behold.

Pond Talk: Do you have a UV filter in your pond that needs to be removed?

Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration System for Water Gardens