A healthy pond is an enjoyable pond. A well-balanced pond tends to take care of itself but there is basic maintenance required throughout the year. We all know about cleaning filters, servicing pumps and fertilizing plants in the spring and summer but pond owners often neglect their pond once the weather turns cold. Here are some basic tips for how to maintain your pond this winter.
In the fall, two things are key to the health of your pond; you must trim back your plants and net your pond to keep debris from settling at the bottom of the pond. Decomposing debris over the winter can lead to a build-up of toxic gasses in the pond which can kill your fish.
In the fall your fish will feed heavily to bulk up to survive the winter. When the water temperatures drop into the sixties switch your fish food to a cold water fish food. When the water drops below fifty stop feeding your fish. Fish can not digest food at this temperature. Their metabolism slows allowing them to survive through the winter. In the spring when water temperatures remain above 50 degrees you can start feeding the fish again.
The key to having your fish survive the winter is to always have an opening in the ice so toxic gasses can escape.
In more moderate climates simply keeping your waterfall running is enough to keep the ice open. Running the waterfall in the winter will give you beautiful, ever-changing ice formations that the water will run underneath. You do have to be vigilant to make sure that the water running across the top of the ice does not get diverted out of the pond causing the water level to drop and potentially burning up your pump.
In more severe climates you may have to shut your waterfall down. If that’s the case you need to have an alternative way to keep the ice open. An aerator pad placed on the top shelf of the pond may be enough to keep the ice open. Do not place the aerator on the bottom of the pond as this can cause the different thermal layers in the pond to mix which will hyper-cool your pond and kill your fish. A de-icer is another way to keep the ice open. A de-icer will not heat the water in the pond but will keep an opening in the ice to allow for exchange of gasses.
A properly installed and maintained pond will give you four seasons of beauty and serenity.