Putting your pond to bed for winter doesn’t need to be an arduous process. Sure, it’s sad to say goodbye to your finned friends for a few months, but following a few simple tips will ensure that your fish joyfully greet you again in the spring.
1. Install pond netting
Putting a pond net over your water feature before leaves start falling from trees is the easiest way to contain and manage leaf control. Once all the leaves have fallen, simply roll up the net, discard the leaves, and put the net away until the next time it’s needed.
2. Remove leaves and debris
If you didn’t install netting, you’ll probably have a build up of leaves and debris that need to be removed. A long-handled pond net makes an easy job of scooping the debris from the bottom of the pond. If you leave the debris on the bottom of the pond, it will decay over the winter and you’ll experience a bigger mess to face in the spring.
3. Clean the skimmer basket
Check the skimmer basket every few days and remove any debris. Once all the leaves have fallen, you won’t need to check it as frequently.
4. Trim dead or dying foliage
Trimming dead foliage helps remove excessive organic debris that would otherwise decompose in the water. Cut back hardy marginal plants and leave them in the pond. Remove tropical plants and add them to your compost pile.
5. Prepare waterlilies for winter
Trim hardy waterlilies to two inches above the crown and move them to a deep part of the pond, preferably two feet deep or more. Tropical waterlilies can be added to your compost pile. You can try to over-winter them inside the house with a grow light, but they may not survive.
6. Add cold water bacteria
Add Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria to help keep pond water clean and clear. Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria contains concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria designed to work in water temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Regular use of Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria will help maintain water quality and clarity, as well as dramatically reduce spring maintenance by digesting debris that may accumulate over the winter months.
7. If you leave your pond running
Operating your pond and waterfalls during the winter will provide beautiful ice formations for you to enjoy throughout the frosty season. Keep in mind, there will be a bit of maintenance required this time of year, such as topping off the pond due to evaporation. Also, you’ll need to make sure ice formations don’t create dams that can cause unnecessary water loss over the edge of the stream. During extreme cold snaps, the surface of your pond might completely freeze over, even with the waterfall running. Keep a hole in the ice with an aerator or in-pond pump. You might need to add a pond de-icer in times of brutally cold weather, but otherwise an aerator will prove sufficient.
8. If you shut down the pond
Many homeowners in northern climes choose to shut down the pond for the winter months. If you choose this option, remember to:
Remove the pump from your pond and store it in a warm place like the garage or the basement. Protection from the cold lengthens the life of your pump.
Drain the water out of the plumbing. This prevents standing water from freezing and expanding, potentially cracking the pipes that connect your filtration system.
Remove and clean the filter media and spray them thoroughly with a garden hose. Store them in the garage or the basement along with the pump.
Oxygenate the water by placing a small re-circulating pump, such as the AquaForce® on the top shelf of your pond. Oxygenating the water is not only for the sake of your fish, but it also helps keep a hole open in the ice when the surface of your pond starts freezing. This hole allows harmful gasses to escape, and oxygen to get in.
If it gets really cold where you live, you may consider adding the Aquascape 300 Watt Pond De-Icer. At extremely low temperatures, the oxygenation of the water may not be sufficient to keep a hole open in the ice.
9. Ensure healthy fish before winter
A well-balanced diet creates healthy, happy fish. You want to make sure your fish are in good condition before they go into hibernation. When the water temperature falls below 60 degrees, the metabolism and digestion of your fish begins to slow down. Aquascape Premium Cold Water Fish Food Pellets is scientifically formulated to properly nourish your fish during these lower temperatures. Be sure to stop feeding your fish when water temperature falls below 50 degrees.
Taking a little time and effort to prepare your pond for winter not only helps your fish survive their winter slumber, but makes your spring maintenance much easier. Be sure to follow these winter guidelines so you can experience the greatest joy from your pond when spring rolls around once again.