Now that winter is approaching, your pond is changing. Life is starting to respond to the lower temperatures, shorter daylight hours, and lower availability of food. Plants grow less, and fish dive deeper and become less active. It can be tough for life.
During winter, however, the unique conditions mean that you have to pay special attention to your pond and provide essential maintenance.
When Icy, Create An Opening For CO2 To Escape
During the winter months, nighttime temperatures regularly drop below zero. Often, ponds will freeze over, presenting a potential hazard to fish and other life, because the CO2 they emit cannot escape the water. If your pond freezes over, make a reasonably large hole in the ice (to prevent re-freezing) to allow excess CO2 to escape back into the environment.
How do you create the hole?
The easiest way is to pour warm water onto the ice from a jug or kettle and slowly melt through that way. Experts warn again directly hacking through the ice, as the vibrations from this can be damaging to fish.
It’s also possible to install pond heaters, available from various manufacturers, which keep pond temperatures above freezing during cold winter nights. Heaters are popular with those who use their ponds to farm fish. Finally, you can use aeration stones to keep water continuously moving, again preventing it from freezing.
Should You Feed Your Fish?
Feeding your fish in winter is unlikely to have many benefits and could cause harm. During winter, when the weather gets cold, fish lower their body temperature and become less active. They do this to preserve energy while there’s less food around. Fish, therefore, don’t tend to eat as much, even if you make food available. All that extra food, therefore, will stay in the water and could lead to greater algae growth come the spring.
If you do still want to feed your fish, use sinking feed instead. Sinking feed will find its way to the bottom of your pond, close to where fish tend to stay as the weather gets cold.
Keep Your Filter Running
Some pond owners believe, due to the changing conditions and the risk of ice, that they need to shut their filters off during winter. The problem with this, however, is that it causes the loss of essential bacteria colonies within the filter itself, harming the pond’s ecosystem.
To prevent this from happening, keep your filter switched on and move it to a location where it is unlikely to freeze, such as deep in the pond. You can turn down your filter rate during the winter because fish are less metabolically active and produce less waste.
Prevent Cracking And Use Netting
Fibreglass ponds, if not adequately supported, can collapse under the weight of water, leading to cracking and leaking. Ensure that your pond is supported.
Also, consider placing netting over the top of your pond. Netting helps to stop leaves from entering the water that could give off potentially damaging byproducts as they decompose which could harm the pond’s ecosystem.