Should you run the pump or not this winter? We typically recommend shutting down the pump over the winter months sometime in late December, early January and restarting it in mid March to April. Although some customers enjoy running their pumps year round and get very cool ice sculptures from it, there are some concerns. The first is the chance of ice dams forming in the waterfall & creek. This can cause a water to leak from the pond and cause a significant water level drop. No one enjoys going out to try to refill the pond on a cold winter day when all the spigots are winterized. The second is the chilling effect on the fish. The fish are in the warmer bottom section of the pond and the pump circulation is reducing the water temperature for the fish.
When you turn off the pump, you should remove any check valve in the pond plumbing to release the water from the waterfall box and pond plumbing. Remove and thoroughly clean the pump and store in a frost free aera over the winter.
UV bulbs shoudl be removed and stored insided. Make sure it is entirely drained of all water and stored somewhere it will not get inadvertently broken.
External pond filters should be cleaned. Store inside or winterize them per the manufacturer’s directions.
Small pumps used for spitters should be disconnected and brought indoors. Free standing concrete fountains and birdbaths need to be covered for the winter to prevent them from cracking.
Decorative items such as floating islands and pond decor will last longer if stored indoors for the winter.
Pull any hardy marginal plants from the waterfall filter box and place them in the main pond to overwinter. Once the pump is pulled out for the winter, the waterfall box will empty of water and the plants will not overwinter if left in place in the box.
During the winter months, a hole must be maintained in the ice. As ice forms on the pond, toxic levels of gases from decaying organic matter can be trapped under the ice. This creates a toxic gas chamber for the fish.
A pond heater floats on the surface of the pond and creates an ice opening allowing the gases to passively escape. They typically have an internal thermometer and will turn on and off depending on the temperature of the water.
An aerator is an air pump that sits outside the pond. It must be protected from rain and snow. Typically placing them on a elevated surface and covering them with a cover rock works well to protect them from the elements. The aerator have air stones which are placed in the pond. They should not be placed in the deep section. Ideally they are in 6-12″ of water.
You can install these items when you install the netting so that you are all set in case cold weather arrrives unexpectedly with ice forming on the pond.
Before the tree leaves begin to fall, install a good quality pond net and tent over the entire pond surface of the pond, stream, and waterfall area. This will keep falling leaves out of the pond reducing your work in pulling out excess decaying leaves and prevent organic buildup of debris on the bottom of the pond. The more you can keep out in the fall, the easier your spring opening will be for you. Make sure the net hangs over the pond by at least 6 inches. This allows you to roll up the net at the edge and secure it with ground staples/pins. Be carefully not to stake the pins through the pond liner.
We like to keep up our netting off the surface of the pond using a pond tent. This helps the leaves to blow off the netting rather that weigh it down into the water where the leaves can tint the water brown.
We keep our netting on through the winter to protect the fish from predators like the blue heron.
Cold water bacteria like Seasonal Boost Package is formulated to work in cold water. The summer bacteria additions that you have been adding as well as the ingenious bacteria that have built up naturally during the summer will die off as the weather turns cold. Applying the winter prep bacteria helps with reducing organic build up on the pond’s bottom. This will help your ecosystem in the spring as the weather warms.
One of the important tasks for fall and winter maintenance is to clean out the debris, like leaves and muck, that has accumulated on the pond’s bottom. If this organic material is left in the pond over the winter months, it will release toxins into the water and create an unhealthy environment for the fish. Use a long handled net or pond vaccuum to remove the debris.
OK- I may be a day or two late for this post. We all knew that frost was coming, but well I procrastinated. You still have a chance to save those tropical marginals. Over the summer months, we let those beautiful plants filter our ponds by placing them in rocks, which allows them to keep our water clear. Typically, prior to the first frost, we will move those tropicals indoors to keep a bit of the ponds with us all winter long. We replant the pond plant into regular potting soil (You know the kind we would NEVER use in the pond!) in a decorative no hole container. The best places are in sunny location with a weekly dose of water. It does not need to be in standing water. Just keep the soil moist. Here are some of my favorite tropical pond plants to bring indoors: The ChiChi Bluebell plant, umbrella or papyrus plants, and of course don’t forget those hanging baskets and outdoor container plants!
Your pond looks great and one morning you wake up and it looks like a neighbor kid put laundry soap in your pond. What happened? Well, there is several reasons for the foam, but rarely and gratefully, it typically has nothing to do with the neighbor kid! The foam is due to extra protein in the water. Here are some common reasons for the foam on the pond.
1. Your fish may be spawning. During spawning, the females will lay eggs into the water while the male will fertilize them. All this reproductive activity may cause a temporary foaming and very active fish.
2. You are overfeeding your fish.
3. You have too many fish.
4. You have lots of organic debris and fish waste in the pond.
To eliminate the pond foam, you can use a pond defoamer. These products are safe for the pond, but it is only a temporary solution. Try to take care of the cause of the extra protein in the pond. You can back down or eliminate your fish feedings, reduce your fish population, or clean out the organic debris.
As the weather becomes cooler, you should switch to a wheat germ based fish food such as the Spring/Fall Monster Koi , Koi and goldfish food. This fall diet is easier to digest as they become less active in the cold weather. Gradually reduce the number of times you feed your fish per week.
You need to stop feeding all together when the water temperature is consistently below 50-55 degrees. We stop feeding the fish because the food can remain undigested in the colder temperatures making the fish sick. You may begin feeding the fish again in spring when the temperatures are above 50 degrees.