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 begin to fall. Is your pond prepared for the change in
season? Now is the time to start thinking about autumn pond maintenance.
Are you prepared to transition your pond for 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
leaf netting, skimmer nets, fall fish food, feeding thermometers,
autumn bacteria, aerators and pond de-icers
for all ponds, large or small.
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
their ability to digest food. Once the water temperature drops consistently
below 60 degrees you should feed only two or three times a week. At
these lower temperatures, it will take 2 to 3 days for them to digest food.
Feeding a cold weather wheat germ formula during this period improves
digestion. We carry a number of excellent food choices for this time of year
Tetra Pond Spring and Autumn Diet
Microbe-Lift’s Cold
Weather Food
-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
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
-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