Winter Pond Preparation
by: Randy Walker
It won’t be much longer and we will be feeling the chill of autumn. The leaves will be changing color and starting to fall. Is your pond prepared for this change in season? Now is the time to start thinking about autumn pond maintenance. Are you prepared to transition your pond into the cooler weather ahead? Do you have all the supplies you will need? Pickering Valley Feed and Farm Store is here and ready to assist you in making the transition from summer to autumn an easy one. We carry all the products you could need to prepare your pond, big or small, for the coming winter months. Here are some tips that will help keep your pond clean, healthy, and make your spring clean up easier.
-Keep and eye on water temperature
As the water temperature drops, we should be feeding our fish less. Their metabolism slows as well as their ability to digest food. Once the water temperature drops consistently below 60 degrees you should switvh to a cold weather food and feed only two or three times a week. At these lower temperatures, it will take 2 to 3 days for them to digest food, and feeding a cold weather wheat germ formula will help to aid in this slowed digestion. We carry 3 great choices for your fall fish diet, these are Blue Ridge Cool Water Wheat, Microbe Lift Cold Weather, and Tetra Spring & Fall Diet.
During the summer your fish have been building up fat reserves to help them through the cold winter months. When the water temperature drops consistently below 50 degrees, you should stop feeding all together until spring when the water temperature remains above 50.
-Trim back aquatic plants
Most hardy marginal plants and hardy water lilies will dye off once cold weather sets in. Remove all leaves and move marginal plants from the shelf to a deeper portion of the pond. These should spring back to life next spring. Most people treat tropical aquatic plants as annuals but some have success in wintering them over indoors as house plants. In any case, they need to be removed from the pond.
-Start cold weather with a clean pond.
Starting with a clean pond in the fall results in healthier fish, and less work opening your pond next spring. You can remove fallen leaves and other organic material from the bottom of your pond using a skimmer net. However, many pond owners quickly realize that removing leaves can become a tedious and seemingly unending task, especially if there are several large trees on the property. The best way to maximize leaf-removing efforts is to prevent leaves from falling into the pond in the first place. Pond netting, draped over the entire pond, provides a protective screen that keeps the majority of leaf litter and debris out of the pond. Placing a net over your pond in autumn will aid in keeping leaves out. Remember that decomposing leaves and other organic matter reduces the amount of oxygen in your pond. Pickering Valley Feed offers a variety of leaf netting for any size pond.
-Add fall bacteria
Use Microbe-lift Autumn/Winter Prep to provide sustained biological activity in water temperatures even less than 55 degrees. Reduce buildup of dead leaves and organic sediment with Microbe-lifts Sludge Away.
-Shut down pumps and filters.
When water temperatures are consistently below 50 degrees you should remove pumps. Your fish’s metabolism has slowed to a point where filtration is not needed and oxygen requirements are reduced. Circulating water when your pond is covered in ice will super chill the water making it more difficult for your fish to survive the winter, not to mention, water at the bottom of the pond being denser will also be warmer. This is why you will see your fish hanging around on the bottom of the pond during the winter months.
-Storing pumps over the winter.
Store you pump indoors in a bucket of water or leave in the pond in the deep section where it will not freeze. Doing so will prevent the seals from drying out and will prolong the life of your pump. If you have a U.V. Clarifier, disconnect it and bring it indoors. There is a quartz sleeve that protects the bulb and electrical components which could freeze and crack if left exposed to the winter temperatures. These units are not inexpensive and worth the extra effort to assure their longevity.
-Maintain a hole in the ice.
Organic material decomposing in a pond will produce gases that if trapped under the ice will become toxic to fish and other aquatic life. A floating pond de-icer will keep a hole in the ice sufficient to allow these gases to escape. Using an aerator with the exit port mounted a few inches below the water surface will also maintain a hole by causing turbulence at the surface. Do not circulate the water from the