The temperatures are dropping and your pond is covered in a beautiful icy glaze. You no longer have to worry about algae creeping into your serene pondscape, and your fish are nestled in for a nice winter’s nap.
But your pond ecosystem still needs a little help to make it through the subfreezing weather.
You need to consider two critical factors when preparing your pond for winter:
- Protecting your pipes, pumps and plumbing
- Keeping your fish happy and healthy
Pumps and Plumbing: Although we love to see and hear our waterfalls all year long, for the most peace of mind we recommend disconnecting the check valve to drain the pipe. Store the check valve in a dry place, and store the pump in water. To increase longevity of the pump, plug it in and run it occasionally throughout the winter; once a week is usually sufficient.
Happy Fish: In the winter, koi and goldfish enter a semi-dormant state called torpor. It’s not quite hibernation, and they are still living and breathing. While they do not need food when water temperatures are below 55 degrees, they are still exhaling gases that we need to get out of the pond. Disturbing the water surface with a waterfall or a pond aerator as the temperatures drop below freezing is critical for fish health so those gases don’t get stuck under ice.
In case of extreme cold, a pond deicer placed on top of the aerators will help to maintain a hole in the ice. A deicer is a kind of heater that keeps the area around it warm enough to create a hole in the ice. It does not affect the overall temperature of your pond, keeping your fish in their semi-dormant state.