Winter is sometimes a hard time for pond enthusiasts. You miss the tropical paradise that your fish and waterlilies provide for you during the summer months. As you stare at the snow and ice outside, it’s easy to fall into winter pond paranoia – wondering about your fish. Avoid unnecessary worries by arming yourself with a bit of knowledge so you can relax and enjoy the upcoming holiday season.
When you live in the northern part of the country, you know that your pond will be covered by a thick layer of ice for two to three months. After a couple of days of not being able to see your fish, you can’t help but wonder what you’re finned friends are thinking and doing under that ice. You know enough to keep an open hole in the ice for gas exchange, but it doesn’t provide you with a window to see if they’re okay.
Mystery Under the Ice
What’s really going on under that layer of ice, anyway? Are your fish resting comfortably? Are they right side up? Are you the only pond owner who gets freaked out by this disconnect from your fish? Short of sticking your head through the ice into the cold water, you simply want reassurance that your fish are okay.
Truth be told, what’s going on under there may be a direct result of how, or even if, you did anything to prepare your pond before the cold weather set in. A couple of different scenarios could be unfolding, depending on what actions you took.
If the pond has an abundance of debris on the bottom, it’s likely that there is a fair amount of parasite activity going on. Despite the cold water, parasites don’t sleep or become inactive. Instead, they thrive and multiply, and continue to have a party in the muck and debris on the bottom of your pond, unaffected by the low temperatures.
Eventually, the parasites will begin munching on your fish, who will be oblivious to this until the temperature begins to warm up. This is why you might see all the flashing and jumping in the spring as your fish attempt to dislodge the parasites. If the bottom of your pond is relatively clean, your fish are more than likely resting comfortably and peacefully.
Another unwanted and potentially devastating scenario can easily be avoided if you know when to stop feeding your fish. Follow our tried-and-true routine for cold weather fish care:
When the water temperature is steadily between 55- and 60-degrees Fahrenheit, feed your fish only once a day with Aquascape Premium Cold Water Fish Food Pellets (it’s low in protein and easy to digest). When the temperature drops below 55 degrees, stop feeding them altogether.
Even if it warms up for a few days, don’t start feeding them again. Any food that doesn’t get eliminated from the fish’s system before their metabolism slows down will putrefy and possibly kill them. Even if it doesn’t kill them, the dying nitrifying bacteria in the filter won’t be able to handle the waste load and will result in an ammonia spike that could be lethal to your fish. In the spring you’ll be left wondering what killed your fish because you won’t see any outward signs of illness.
It’s still early enough in the season to make preparations for the coldest months ahead. Use a pond net to skim debris and try to collect as many leaves and sticks off the bottom of the pond as possible. You can also download our free Winter Pond Care e-book for additional help and information.
When in Doubt call PONTZ to the Rescue! This project consisted of the removal of an existing pond that the homeowner attempted to build himself. Once realizing it was more than he could handle, he decided to call in the pros. Once on site we removed the existing work that had been done and started from scratch. We re-excavated the existing hole and started our normal process from there. We built the pond with the existing rock that was already on site and installed an epic Aquascape ecosystem pond. Check out the epic project in the project video below.
Check out this epic Fountain and Waterfall installation of a dual stream pondless waterfall with fountainscape accents. This Waterfall features customized patio bowl with added spillways and fire bowl insert as well Scalloped and Rippled urns both complete with fire kit as well. Constructed mostly of weathered limestone with some stacked slate accents this feature is a one of a kind custom creation that you need in your life. ???
This Project included a pond waterfall renovation consisting of completely dismantling the waterfall area and rebuilding it with new updated appearance and some larger boulders. Check out the video and pictures of the project below.
This project included renovating an old pond into a new custom creation by the Pontz boys. We began this project by dismantling the existing water feature and set aside the existing components and rock to be reused in the new pond. After removal of the existing pond we excavated a new shape and installed a new pond liner and underlayment. After lining the pond we installed the existing skimmer and biofalls as well as the pond pump and plumbing. The pond was then rocked in using the existing stone as well as some additional larger rocks we brought in from off site. New gravel was placed on all horizontal surfaces to protect the liner and finish off the proper ecosystem pond. Per usual the customers couldn’t have been happier with the final results. Check out the video and pictures below!
Turn that frown upside down with a sweet backyard pond facelift. This project included transforming an existing pond into one properly functioning Aquascape ecosystem pond complete with skimmer and biofalls filtration system, pump, plumbing, waterfalls and complete liner coverage with new boulders and gravel. What a transformation one day can make. If you’d like to transform your backyard water garden into a beautiful new pond. give us a call today!
Check out the amazing video of this transformation below
When fall comes knocking at the door, many people breathe a sigh of relief with the arrival of cooler temperatures and less muggy days. Autumn is a beautiful season for enjoying your pond or waterfall, but there are a few things that need your attention to ensure your fish and plants return in a healthy state next spring.
When the leaves begin to fall, many of them will end up in your pond. Even if tree is several feet away, the wind will eventually pick them up and deposit them on the surface of your pond. If not removed by you or the skimmer, those leaves will sink to the bottom of the pond and start to decompose and create toxic gases. This can harm your fish during winter and cause water quality issues come spring time. Be sure to net your pond to make the task of leaf control much easier! You’ll thank yourself when the weather warms up once again.
Do you have a pond thermometer? Now is a wise time to invest in one. During the fall season, feed your fish a steady diet of Aquascape Premium Cold Water Fish Food. You can safely feed your fish until the water temperature drops below 50 degrees, at which point you need to cease giving them food. When water temperature dips below 50, your fishes’ metabolism starts to slow down and they no longer digest food properly. Don’t worry. They won’t starve since they’ll go into hibernation for the winter.
At this time, dying foliage of your aquatic plants should be removed. You don’t want spent flowers and leaves dropping into the pond and decaying. Hardy water lilies should be cut back to just a couple inches above the crown. If your hardy lilies are potted, move them to the deepest part of the pond to over-winter. Tropical water lilies won’t survive the winter and should be treated like annuals. Remove them from the pond altogether.
Taking just a few minutes to perform these pond chores will result in healthier water and fish for next year’s pond season!
You’ve got the water, you’ve got the plants, you’ve got the fish, but something just doesn’t seem right in your aquatic paradise. Something seems to be missing … something that made every childhood vision of a lily pad complete. What natural ecosystem would be complete without frogs and other amphibians?
Well, besides being just plain cute, there’s a valid reason why you would want frogs and other amphibians visiting your pond every year. They play important roles in the ecosystem – in fact, the number of amphibians in your pond can be a good indicator of the health of your pond. Ecologists are constantly monitoring the frog population to make sure everything is running smoothly in nature.
Say So-Long To Harmful Insects
Amphibians are instrumental in keeping the undesirable insect population to a minimum. This is certainly a good thing for your neighboring garden, but also for those lazy summer nights when you want to sit on your deck and not have to worry about pesky bugs bothering you and your guests. Frogs and toads will keep the mosquito population in your yard at bay, and will also help with other annoying garden pests. Amphibians can be very handy when it comes to keeping slugs and rodents away as well. And what about those earwigs? Well, you can kiss them goodbye (if you want to get that close to them) because a toad can eat over 1,000 earwigs each summer!
Having these wonderful animals around reduces the need for harmful pesticides that conflict with Mother Nature! In fact, if you do decide to lure these wonderful creatures to your pond, it would be wise to stay away from fertilizers or pesticides that might harm them.
Almost any expert will admit that water attracts amphibians such as frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts. Mostly, they flock to water because they need a place to breed and lay their eggs. Since tadpoles need water to live, it seems only natural that a pond is a great place to raise a frog or toad family.
Tadpoles and fish can be a deadly combination though, because those tadpoles can be a great snack for your Koi. Water features are often built with a place where the eggs can hatch and mature out of the reach of the hungry Koi. Something like a small, upper pond separated by the main pond with a stream, would do the trick. Just make sure that the force of the waterfall doesn’t push the eggs and tadpoles over the edge toward your fish and mechanical filtration system. The force of the pump inside the skimmer could pull your tadpoles straight into it. While tadpoles have been known to make it through the pump unharmed, it can be a wild, shocking ride for them.
Certain species of salamanders also need water in which to breed and raise their young (referred to as larvae). So, come breeding time, you may see these salamanders by your pond as well.
Newts spend half of their lives in water and then, as adults, retreat to land. These part-time pond inhabitants have an interesting way of caring for their unborn. When the eggs are laid, the female wraps each sticky-coated egg in a leaf or other similar material using her hind legs. With as many as 600 eggs per year, it may take her as many as two months to produce her annual clutch.
Doing A Little More
Amphibians are complex and need a little more than water to make your pond their permanent home.
Boggy Areas: Biologists suggest a boggy area full of native grasses and ferns to keep them safe and happy in your yard. Local wetlands are great places to check out when looking to mimic the right environment for your little visitors.
Aquatic plants: Plants are very important because they provide food and shelter for both tadpoles and adults, and a breeding site for adults. Additionally, the native grasses planted beside your pond will grow to be tall and flowing, providing excellent shelter for your aquatic creatures. If you let areas of your garden grow wild, it will also provide a shady place for amphibians to relax and cool off.
Permanent Shelter: A well-located rock pile can also lure toads, salamanders, and newts to your pond. They can be made out of, well, rocks … as well as bricks or broken concrete. The rock pile should receive both sun and shade, and where you put it depends largely on your climate. For example, if you live somewhere with hot summers, you’ll want to put the pile in a mostly shady spot.
A “Toad”ally Bright Idea!
Some frog and toad lovers suggest using a light to draw these adorable creatures to your pond at night. Some people put lights up in their yard to accentuate their evening landscape or to keep animals away. For frog and toad enthusiasts, the exact opposite is true. The light should be set no more than 3 feet above ground, and placed near the garden. Insects are attracted to the light, giving your toads and frogs a great place to feed at night.
If You Build It, They Will Come … And Stay
It is very important that your pond get the right amount of sunlight and shade for your new inhabitants. They need a little of both to keep their body temperatures in check. Since all of these animals love playing around in muck and debris, a perfectly manicured lawn is not their cup of tea. Letting your lawn grow a little longer than usual will give them a place hide from predators while traveling from pond to pond. Leaving some tree, shrub, and garden litter out so that they have something to burrow through will help keep them safe as well.
Safety Is Key
While they need damp conditions, some frogs can actually drown in water. Make sure that your pond has shelves, complete with rocks and gravel, so you don’t have steep edges. Remember, once they take a dip in the pond, you want to make sure they have a way out and steep edges can be deadly to them. A piece of driftwood hanging in a shallow portion of the pond can make a great dry resting spot for your favorite creatures too. And if you have a larger pond, a floating platform in the middle of the pond anchored to something is a great idea. Salamanders and newts are especially fond of cool, damp spots under logs.
Be cautious when handling these creatures. Some species of amphibians have poison in their skin glands, which can be harmful to you, your children, and your pets. Our touch can be a danger to them as well. The oils and lotions we have on our hands could be harmful to certain amphibians.
You Can’t Lead A Frog To Water
It’s great to want frogs, toads, and salamanders in your pond to complete an ecosystem, but you should be patient. Don’t go to a store and purchase these animals to put into your pond. In many places, it is illegal to release certain species into the wild because they are detrimental to native plants and animals. Chances are that they will not stay at your pond, and they may not survive in the wild. And by no means do we suggest that you go to a local pond or wetland and catch these animals to bring back to your pond, either – it’s not a good idea to remove them from their habitat because they will undoubtedly try to return to their place of origin and get killed along the way.
Creating A Winter Wonderland
In the winter, frogs are attracted to water and they will even over-winter in your pond. Now, one of the myths out there is that frogs need to be in water that is at least 6 feet deep in order to hibernate. Not true! As long as you have mud for them to burrow in, whether it is a deep plant pocket or a potted plant, they’ll be just fine. Make sure the pocket or pot is deep enough to keep them away from cold temperatures. If your pond is shelved, they’ll probably go for the pot or pocket on the deepest shelf.
So, how do they keep from freezing? Simple … they are ectotherms – regulating their body temperatures largely by exchanging heat with their surroundings. The soil in the plant pocket or pot keeps the frogs nice and warm throughout the winter.
As with fish, it is important to keep a hole open in the ice through the winter to allow harmful gases to escape and for oxygen to circulate. This can be done with a submerged re-circulating pump bubbling at the water’s surface, or combination of that and a floating de-icer, depending on just how cold it gets in your area. When spring comes, and it’s time for the spring cleanout, gently wake them from their winter slumber.
It’s always helpful to read up on any animals that you are trying to attract to your backyard paradise, so be sure to stop at the bookstore or library and pick up some materials. The more educated you are, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Get ready, because once you get these creatures in your yard, you’re never going to want to let go!
This EPIC Retirement Home Waterfall Project included installation of Pondless waterfall, and boulder retaining wall in the courtyard at Willow Valley Retirement Communities in Willow Street, PA. We began the project by removing a improperly installed block retaining wall (built by another contractor) as well as removal of some trees and shrubs throughout the courtyard. We then installed the new boulder retaining wall and Pondless Waterfall as well as new concrete pads for benches for the residence viewing pleasure of this amazing feature.
Check out the video below to see an overview of how this amazing project cam to life….
Like many things in life size doesn’t always matter. Check out this small backyard pondless waterfall that really packs a big punch. The small 6′ long pondless waterfall was recently installed next to an existing pool and finished off with some new landscaping. Just goes to show that a water feature of any size can make a huge impact on any property. If you don’t have a water feature yet are you even living life bro? give us a call today and introduce some tranquility into your outdoor living space.