Even if you live in the city, adding a pond to your property can certainly improve the view and add some rural charm especially during the summer months. But what happens to it in the winter? Are there ways to maintain your pond to make sure it keeps its beauty for years to come? Can you keep fish in it year round? Let’s check out your options.
Pond Water Features
If a cold spell is on its way, you may worry about your water features, like fountains or pumps or other decorations. These can be expensive and difficult to replace. If a temporary dip below freezing temperatures is expected, try to keep these water features running in order to keep the necessary oxygen aerating the pond. In addition, the moving water will not freeze as fast as standing water, so you may be able to stave off a solid freeze, especially if a return to moderate temperatures is expected. However, if freezing temperatures are going to last a while, it is best to shut down the water features, drain the water from them, and remove the pumps. The pump will need to be submerged in water or you run the risk of having the seals dry out and crack, potentially damaging the pump beyond repair.
The same rule applies to the filter and the pump. Keep them on as long as possible to continue the oxygenation of the pond water. Like the water features externally mounted pumps or filters need to be drained carefully or internal cracking could result. Put in the effort now and you will be glad when spring comes that you don’t have to buy all new equipment.
Pond Decorations/Pond Accessories
Most people will simply take the extra time to take their pond decorations inside for the winter. Depending on what they are made of, the more they are out in the elements, the more of a chance there is for cracking due to temperature changes; breakage, due to weather events; or simple fading, from being in the sun.
Many people worry about their pond fish during the winter. Will they freeze to death? What will they eat? Will there be enough oxygen to maintain them? One thing you won’t need to worry about is feeding the fish. When the weather becomes very cold, they enter into a hibernation-like mode. During this mode, pond fish will stay at the bottom of the pond and actually stop eating and slow their respiration. Though their respiration may be slow, they still need oxygen. Be aware that a layer of snow on top of the ice can block the light from entering the pond, which will, in turn, prevent the photosynthesis of microscopic plants and subsequent oxygen production. In order to counter this, clean off the snow so the light can get through to the water. In addition, you should make a hole in the ice cover so the water can be properly aerated. Do not, however, make the hole with a hammer or a drill or any other blunt object; the reverberation in the water will cause stress to the fish and cause enough damage that they could be killed. Instead, take a pan of hot water and pour a bit on the ice near the edge of the pond until a small hole is made. You can also purchase a pond de-icer, an electrical device made solely for this purpose.
Keep in mind, too, that the larger the pond, the larger the reserve of oxygen will be, which means you may not need to aerate as much. On the other hand, you must be much more diligent if your pond is two or three feet deep, as there is much less area to hold oxygen. If you continue to make sure your pond water is aerated, when the spring thaw comes, your fish will still be alive and ready to enjoy the warmer weather.
One of the most important things to do to for winter maintenance of your pond is to clean out any leaves or debris that is in the pond before the first freeze. If decay of these items occurs, the water could become polluted and harmful gasses could be released. Oxygen is used as the decay occurs and the water can be depleted of oxygen. This becomes an issue if there are fish or other wildlife, such as frogs, living in the pond.