So many of our clients ask us, can our fish really stay in the pond all winter? And the answer is yes! Your fish can, and actually should stay in your frozen winter pond! We have outlined all the things you will need to do this fall, to keep your pond pets safe in their home over the winter.
The “Hole” Story:
Your finned friends will do just fine in two feet of water as long as you keep a hole in the ice to allow for gas exchange and re-circulate the water for oxygenation. Any debris left in the pond over the winter will continue to decompose and produce gases that can be harmful to fish. If your pump moves at least 2000 gallons of water per hour, you can run your waterfall throughout the winter. This will keep holes open in the ice as well as help oxygenate the water. When you run your waterfall during the winter, Mother Nature makes extraordinary, natural ice sculptures that result in some especially beautiful winter scenes. Some caution must be taken with ponds that have long or slow-moving streams. Ice dams can form and divert the water over the side of the liner, so if you choose to keep your waterfall running, be extra vigilant.
To successfully over-winter fish, your pond must be at least 750 gallons and a section must be 2’ deep. As our geographical area experiences long periods of sub-zero weather, you may consider adding a floating de-icer in order to maintain a hole in the ice. Aquascape’s ’300W De-icer’ has a built-in thermostat which will draw current only as required.
A floating heater alone will not oxygenate the water. Large fish, and/or fish in heavily stocked ponds, require water to be actively oxygenated using an aerator in order to guarantee their survival. Ensure you use an aerator that is rated to withstand our Canadian winters; we recommend Aquascape’s Pond Air PRO 60. Place the aerator’s airstone approximately 12 inches below the water line, to achieve the best bubbling action at the surface, and to help prevent ice formation.
Safely maintain your de-icing equipment by preventing snow from piling too high on the frozen pond surface. Keep the aerator’s compressor pump sheltered from too much snow and ice build up by placing it under a deck or simply by covering it with a board and brick. Building a berm with snow or burlap bags to create a wind barrier for your de-icer is a good idea; this way its heat is not dissipated by the cold wind. Placing the de-icer directly over or near the aerator gives the best results for keeping a hole in the ice open all winter long.
Fall Health and Nutrition:
When the water temperature falls below 15°C, the metabolism and digestion of your fish begins to slow down. Aquascape’s Premium Cold Water Fish Food is scientifically formulated to properly nourish your fish during these lower temperatures.
Fall is the time to make sure that you are generously feeding your fish. They need plenty of food now so they can store excess nutrients to help get them through the winter months. Now, this is not a license to overfeed your fish! The usual rule still applies … only feed them what they can eat in three to five minutes. Just make sure you’re feeding them regularly.
You may want to consider using Aquascape Pond Fish Vitamin Treat to help your finned friends bulk up even more for the long winter slumber. These worm-shaped treats includes nutrients, lipids and garlic as a control for internal and external parasites.
Continue to feed your fish Aquascape’s Premium Cold Water Fish Food as long as they are active and the daytime water temperature is at least 10°C. Be sure to stop feeding your fish when water temperature consistently falls below 10°C for more than a few days. At temperatures below 10°C their metabolism and overall activity slows down while they prepare for hibernation.
Taking a little time and effort to prepare your pond this fall not only helps your fish survive their winter siesta, but makes your spring fish care much easier. Be sure to follow these guidelines so you can experience the greatest joy from your pond pets when spring rolls around once again.