Winter Prep for your Pond
Most people, unless they live in the deep south or southwest, enjoy the beauty of their pond throughout the spring and summer months. As back-to-school and football seasons approaches, so does cold weather. During the fall, you should begin to plan ahead and prepare your pond for the upcoming months and winter chill. Taking proper steps can ensure your pond is up and running quickly when the temperature starts to turn back around.
In fall months, most yards experience and increase in the amount of debris from leaves falling and chilly winds. The first step in preparing your pond for winter is to remove all of the debris that accumulates on both the top and bottom of the water. Leaving these items in your pond will cause a loss in oxygen that will affect your fish. Using skimmer nets, pond vacuums or even wading in the pond to remove all of the waste and muck.
Change up to 50% of the water in your pond after cleaning all debris. Be sure to do this maintenance before the temperature drops below 60 degrees for the best water conditions in the winter.
If your pond is surrounded by an area with a lot of debris, install pond netting over the top to prevent items from falling or setting on the top of the pond. For on-going maintenance, it’s easier to just remove the net vs. digging to the bottom for fallen debris in colder temperatures.
A few more things to remember…. First, purchase winter food for your fish. You’ll need to switch to a wheat germ based diet that is high in carbohydrates and lower in protein. Begin feeding the wheat germ diet when water temperatures fall below 65 degrees and stop feeding altogether when the water temp drops below 50 degrees. Trust me, they will beg and you will be tempted – but don’t do it! They won’t be able to digest the food and it will cause them harm. Secondly, the colder months can damage your filter equipment. Remove and place them into storage. Depending on your location, you may be able to keep your water pump or air pump running all winter long.
If you are located in an area that experiences freezing you will want to purchase a de-icer. De-icers keep a small area of the pond from freezing in order to facilitate gas exchange and prevent deadly carbon dioxide build-up. Lastly, do not ever break the ice on a pond. This will cause vibrations that could alarm your fish causing them to dart wildly and injure themselves.