The Pond Planet Do’s and Don’ts of Winter Care
As the winter months drag in, there are a whole new set of rules that you need to follow for taking care of your pond. So, whether you’re a newbie that’s just gotten your pond started or a seasoned pond professional, brush up on our top do’s and don’ts of winter pond care today to find out exactly what you should and should not do. For more tips and advice, don’t forget to read our comprehensive winter pond care guide online now.
DON’T Bang on the Ice
If you weren’t already aware, it is important to have a hole at the top of your pond to allow for harmful gasses to escape. However, you should never bang on the ice to create a hole if the pond ices over in the winter. The resulting sound waves caused by banging on the ice can be extremely harmful to fish. Instead, use a kettle full of boiling water to pour over a portion of the ice so that it can melt a hole steadily.
DO Change Your Fishes’ Diet
Before the temperature starts falling, you should prepare your fish for their winter diet. Pond fish are cold-blooded animals, and so their body temperature and behaviours are controlled by their surroundings. Winter temperatures will slow down your fishes’ appetite and metabolism, so they will struggle to digest their food easily in the colder months and this can lead to constipation in your fish. Transition your fish in and out of winter with wheatgerm pellets, which are low in protein and therefore more easily digestible.
Top Tip: Stop feeding your fish once the water temperature drops below around 5°C!
DON’T Forget Water Treatments
Remember, water treatments for your pond are not just for warm weather. Arguably, controlling water quality is even a more important part of your pond maintenance in winter than any other time of year. You can prevent build-ups of debris that collects during the winter through the application of a quality fall/winter bacteria blend added to the pond once a month. This will ensure healthy and happy fish through the winter months.
DO Cover Your Pond in Winter
If you have found yourself asking the question ‘should I cover my pond in winter?’, then the answer is yes. If you don’t already, you should begin using a pond net in Autumn in order to catch falling leaves and make future pond maintenance an easier process. When winter comes around, the pond net will act as a protective barrier for your fish. The winter brings with it a lack of vegetation in your pond that leaves your fish exposed to predators, so a pond net is their only protection. Just remember to fasten the net tightly so that it doesn’t sag into the water and allow for debris to rot in contact with the water surface.
DON’T Let Your Fish Freeze
It goes without saying that you don’t want your fish to freeze in the winter months, so to stop this from happening proper aeration is key. Without the creation of a small hole in your pond surface, your fish will freeze. Some species of goldfish are able to withstand freezing, but most fish can not tolerate it, especially not koi fish as it is particularly lethal for them. The larger your koi fish, the more oxygen they need to survive, so ensure you have a quality bubbler pump or air stones to prevent fishing.
DO Protect Your Plants
Lower temperatures not only have an effect on your fish but also on your plants. When Autumn begins, trim back and prune your plants to remove any dead stems and leaves. This prevents decay from entering the pond water during the wintertime. You should also remove non-hardy aquatic plants, such as Water Hyacinths, and move them indoors to prevent frost. Hardy plants can be moved deeper into the pond to prevent their roots from freezing.
DON’T Forget to Shut Down Water Pipes Properly
If you have a waterfall or feature in your pond, then you need to make sure that you shut it down properly for winter if you want it to be back up and running in spring. When you shut your water features down, ensure that you remove the pump and keep it stored in a bucket of water, as well as blow out the pipe and cap with a cleanout plug at each end. This prevents pipes from bursting from leftover water freezing inside.
DO Clean Your Pond Before the Temperature Drops
Make sure that you clean your pond before temperatures drop below 10°C. This ensures your fish will still be active and therefore less likely to sustain an injury during cleaning. Fish out fallen leaves using a net, before removing sludge and organic debris using treatments and a pond vacuum.