Should I Turn Off My Pond Autodoser for the Winter?

Automatic dosing systems help keep your water clear and your fish happy and healthy during the warm months.

Come winter, though, you need to bring your autodoser inside to prevent freezing.


At a Glance: Do I Need to Shut Down My Autodoser in Winter?

  • Autodosers should not be run when temperatures are below 40 degrees.
  • Winterize your autodoser by moving the entire system to a frost-free place.
  • Use a pump bottle of Cold Water Bacteria until the weather is warm enough to put the autodoser back into commission.

Why Do I Need to Turn Off My Autodoser in Winter?

Automatic dosing systems – also known as autodosers – send a slow, constant trickle of liquid pond treatment into your pond or fountain via a tiny tube. This system ensures your water always has the right balance of bacteria and enzymes to prevent algae, muck and other problems.

Autodosers work great in the warm months. Once the temperatures drop below freezing, however, you need to bring them inside.

Why do you need to winterize your autodoser? That slow trickle of liquid that goes through the system’s tubing is not moving quickly enough to prevent it from freezing. If it does freeze, it could potentially damage the autodoser.

The autodosers we sell come equipped with an internal protection thermostat that shuts off the dosing pump at temperatures below 40 degrees. Trying to operate the autodoser below this temperature could void your warranty.

How to Winterize an Autodoser

Winterizing your autodoser is easy. Simply move the whole system into a warm garage or other area where it won’t freeze.

If you can’t remove the bottom canister for whatever reason, leave it in place and just move the top control panel and connected tubing. You can place a faux rock cover or other light object over the canister opening to prevent it from filling with snow.

Once you have your autodoser bundled up safely away from the cold, you’ll need to find another way to get all that good bacteria into your pond until spring (yes, algae outbreaks can happen in January). The best way to do that: a small pump bottle of Cold Water Bacteria.

Cold Water Bacteria is similar to the products you’ve been adding to your pond via the autodoser but is specially formulated to work in the winter months. Simply add a few pumps of bacteria once a week per the dosing instructions on the bottle. Cold Water Bacteria is completely safe for fish and plants.

How to Reinstall Your Autodoser in the Spring

Reinstalling your autodoser in the spring is easy. Just attach your water treatment pouch (you’ll probably want to start with Maintain for Ponds or Prevent for Fountains) and put everything back where it was. Turn it on, and you’re good to go.

Your autodoser’s instruction manual has more helpful tips for installation and maintenance. Don’t have your instruction manual? No worries. We’ve got you covered.

You can also reach out to us with any questions about your automatic dosing system or anything else going on with your pond. We’d be happy to help.

More Winter Pond Care Tips

Ecosystem Ponds are easy to care for and beautiful to look at any time of year.

Here are some more tips for keeping your backyard oasis running in top condition in the cold months:

Do I need to shut down the whole pond in winter?

If you need to turn off your autodoser for the winter, does that mean you have to turn off the whole pond?

It’s up to you.

If you like hearing your waterfalls year-round, you can keep them running. The water runs through your pipes fast enough to prevent the plumbing from freezing.

For the most peace of mind, however, we recommend winterizing your pond. With the pump off, you don’t have to worry as much about water loss or other issues.

Check out our Winterization Guide for step-by-step instructions.

Stop feeding fish



Your fish enter a semi-dormant state called torpor during cold weather. They don’t need to eat while in this state, so any food you give them will either sit in their bellies (bad for the fish) or sit in the bottom of the pond – bad for your water.

Stop feeding your fish when water temperatures are consistently below 55 degrees. You can ease your fish’s transition into and out of winter with Cold Water Fish Food. Check out our seasonal feeding guide for more information.

Aerate!

Your fish don’t eat in winter, but they do breathe.

Install an aerator to add some much-needed oxygen to your pond and to help keep a hole open in any ice that forms on the surface. An aerator is especially important if you decide to shut off your waterfalls for the season.

If your pond ices over, gently create a hole to let oxygen into the pond and bad gases out. Don’t use blunt force to break the ice; anything too jarring could injure your fish. Instead, place a deicer or pot of hot water on top of the ice to gently melt it. You can also – carefully – cut a hole with a rough-toothed saw.

Speaking of deicers …

Deicers are floating heaters that keep a small hole open in an otherwise iced-over pond. These heaters are small enough that they won’t raise the overall temperature of your pond, and their thermostatic controls ensure they’re only running when they need to be.

Deicers are a great addition to your winter pond care arsenal. With a deicer running, you know a hole will always stay open in your iced-over pond – even if your aerator fails.

Always use a deicer in addition to an aerator – not in place of one. If you can only afford one or the other, an aerator should be your first priority.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Pond Fish Care for more tips.