The Best Christmas Gift Ever....for your Fish!

- by Brian J. Horst

Sales Associate

Talking about winter already? I know it is hard to believe. But living in reality, the time is NOW for Pond Winterization, unless of course you won’t mind the headaches that are bound to come your way. But why deal with the headaches, when a bit of prepping will take you miles on your way this coming winter and spring.

The question, Why? is a fair one to ask when it comes to preparing for the cold winter months. I will share a couple of pertinent reasons for this winterization process.

1. The first and foremost reason is to ensure thriving living spaces for the aquatic life in your pond, primarily that of your fish. You certainly don’t want to take the risk of losing your trophy 14” koi that you have cared for these past 7 years. And at the least, you want to make sure he has a comfortable winter under the ice.

2. The second reason for pond winterization is to maintain your pond’s healthy ecosystem. You have worked hard all summer keeping beneficial bacteria colonizing in your water garden. Now that winter is around the corner, do you want to take 2 steps backward in the 3 steps forward you made this summer? And a major plus in this is that come spring, with maintaining your pond’s ecosystem this winter, you will be able to have an easy spring cleanout.

Now with those 2 primary reasons for winterizing your pond, let’s take a look at a checklist to help you on your way.

Winter-Ready Checklist

3. Clear out as many of the leaves and other debris or organic material in your pond. As leaves and other debris decompose in-house, the biological balance(ecosystem) will be upset. An excellent way to prevent leaves getting into your pond in the first place during the autumn season is to spread a pond net over your pond to catch the falling leaves. If you are too late for this, a long-handled pond net will help you scoop them out.

4. Cut back your hardy aquatic plants, including your lilies and marginals. This will reduce bio-decomposition in your pond as well. Allow some grasses to remain standing for winter appeal.

5. Remove tropical plants from the pond. You may treat them as annuals and discard them or move them indoors and treat them as houseplants.

6. When water temperatures reach 60° F, switch to a low temperature fish food. This food has wheat germ as a part of its ingredients and is designed to help your fish digest their food more easily when their metabolism switches to a lower gear in the cold water. When the temperatures reach 50° F, stop feeding your fish altogether.

7. When water temperatures drop to the 55-50° F range, add AquaMed’s Arctic Blend Beneficial Bacteria. This will help to maintain excellent water conditions throughout the entire winter, even when your pond is coated with ice. It will also reduce the work of your pond’s spring clean-out.

8. Decide if you are going to run the waterfall throughout the winter or shut down the pond. A winter waterfall can provide some beautiful ice sculptures, but you must be on the lookout for ice dams that could cause your pond to lose water over the edge.

    9. If you decide to shut the pond down, do the following:

         ♦ Remove the pump and store it in a bucket of water in a frost-free location.

         ♦ Remove the skimmer mats and brushes. Clean and store them in a dry location.

         ♦ Drain the biofalls filter by opening the check valve.

         ♦ Remove the biofalls filter mats and biomedia. Clean and store them in a dry location.

         ♦ Before the pond water freezes, place a de-icer in your pond to keep a hole opened in the ice for toxic gases to escape. Also install an Aquascape aerator to add oxygen to the water for your fish and beneficial bacteria. Both a de-icer and an aerator work together to allow for proper gas exchange.

Enjoy your pond this winter as you watch amazing ice formations happen before your eyes! And remember, if you take these steps this autumn, you will continue loving your pond like never before come spring!