Your pond is an outdoor living ecosystem and unless you live in a part of the country where old man winter doesn’t pay you an annual visit, you will have to prepare for changes in late fall and going into winter.
1. Leave it running. If you live where temps are mild, you can leave it running. You just need to add water to the basin as you will still have evaporation. Some people choose to run the waterfalls in the entire winter. Some caution must be taken with ponds that have long and slow-moving streams. Ice dams can form and divert the water over the side of the liner. On extremely cold days keep a watchful eye on the stream to be sure everything is running smooth.
2. Shut it down. You have two choices here:
a. If you have a check valve, disconnect the check valve from the pipe and then unplug the pump. You can leave the pump in the pond basin in warmer winter climates. Please make sure the water level is adequate to cover the pump.
b. Or remove the pump with the check valve attached from the basin. Store in water in a bucket in a frost free area.
Discontinue bacteria treatments when the water temperature reaches 50 to 55 degrees. When the temperatures are 35 to 50 degrees, you can use the Cold Water Bacteria. The main reason for using bacteria is to help increase the good bacteria count so the pond will stay in balance.
What do I do with my plants?
Cut back the marginals to just below the water level and cut the lilies to 3 inches above the rhizone. Throw the summer tropicals, such as Hyacinth, into your compost pile. Clean up debris as much as you can from the bottom of the pond. Remove as many of the leaves as you can by using a small rake. Stop fertilizing your plants. For those of you in the south, we recommend you remove your tropical lilies and store them in a water-filled container located in a place that won’t freeze. Then hope for the best. Any other tropical aquatics that you intend to over-winter indoors, should be removed and brought indoors.
Netting the Pond?
In early fall, it is recommended that you use pond netting if you have leaves or pine needles that will fall into the pond. If you do not net the pond, then any material that falls into the pond will have to decompose and as it decomposes, it will produce harmful gasses throughout the winter. Look at the various sizes and types of pond netting we carry on our store.
Some pond owners will leave the net on during the winter to protect their fish from predators.
When do I stop feeding my fish and what happens to them in the winter?
Stop feeding fish at water temperatures of 55 degrees. In the spring when water reaches about 55 degrees you can begin to feed them slowly at first. Fish cannot digest food late in the season and feeding late can be detrimental to their health.
Fish will hibernate in the winter. Your fish will do just fine in 2 feet of water as long as you keep a hole in the ice to allow for gas exchange to take place. They will rest on the bottom of the pond barely moving. In the beginning of the fall season, fish need aeration so you can continue to run your pumps. Then when water temperatures reach 25 degrees and the water begins to freeze you need to add a Deicer to your pond so a hole is keep in the water for toxic gasses to escape. Any debris left in the pond will continue to decompose and produce gasses that can be harmful to the fish.
Choices for Winterizing a Pond
1. Leave the pump running. Winters can be severe and if you live in a milder climate leaving the waterfall pump running will work for you. However, if you live where you have snowfall and below freezing temperatures, you might want to pull the waterfall pump, disconnect the check valve from the pipe and install a bubbler and a deicer to keep a hole in the ice for the fish. The purpose of the DeIcer is to make sure that the toxic gasses can escape from your pond.
Winter scenes are beautiful when you are running your waterfall. Please be aware that you will have to check your water level and the ice forms on the waterfall and ice dams can block the path for water to return to the pond. Just keep an eye on it.
2. Shut Down The Pond
You will want to disconnect and pull the pump out of the skimmer. Make sure the check valve is disconnected from the pipe that runs up to the waterfall. DO NOT just unplug your pump from the check valve leaving the check valve still attached to the pipe as this will leave water in the pipe and check valve. If these components freeze and it may crack the check valve and/or the pipe. Check valve can be left attached to the waterfall pump but not to the pipe. Put the pump in the frost free area in a bucket of water. The water will keep the seals moist. A Bubbler/aerator in the pond will keep a hole in the ice till about 25 degrees. If you have fish, at this point you will need to add the Heater/DeIcer to the pond which will keep a hole in the ice so the gasses can escape.
We recommend the AquaForce Pump and the 300 watt Heater/Deicer. Click on the product and it will take you to the page. Place the bubble so that the water bubbles about 1 inch above the surface. But once the water temps drops below 30 degrees F, the heater should kick in. Place these two items far enough apart to prevent the pump from moving heated water away from the heater. When water temps are above 30 degrees, your fish, especially koi, still need some aeration which provides oxygen for them.
TIP: If you shut down your pond here’s a little tip, we recommend you remove the filter mats, lava rocks and/or Bioballs from the Waterfall Box. Clean them and store them for the spring. Saves you time in the spring and the mats will last longer.
Call us at 877 780-1174 if you have any questions.