Nothing can transform a landscape like a water feature. Whether it’s a dramatic waterfall or a quiet pond, the sound of moving water can provide a soothing aura to your yard. If you’re thinking of adding a water feature to your yard, Oasis can design and install the perfect waterfall, koi pond, fountain or garden waterway for your location.
For people who love fish, there is always the fear that their lack of knowledge about winterization could result in death for all the fish life in the ponds. It need not be so. With a little care and precaution, you can ensure your pond survives the winter without any fish casualties.
Having Ponds During Winter
Normally fish ponds are filled with koi and goldfish, whose metabolism is regulated by the temperature of the water. Hence, when the temperature falls below 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (℉), the fish no longer wish to feed since they cannot digest food. If you continue to feed them anyway (and they do sometime eat), the fish would die due to indigestion and related health problems. Even when they come to the surface, when the water temperature is in the vicinity of 45℉, you need to feed the fish 20 percent or less of the amount you normally fed them during summer. Stop feeding altogether if the food remains uneaten. This excess food would otherwise sink and deposit on the bottom of the pond where it would decompose and add to the nutrient content of the pond water.
How do you ensure your fish pond stays healthy in the winter?
The following steps help ensure your pond is winter-ready:
- Remove all the organic matter (leaves, excess food, bog, etc.) deposited in the pond during the summer. You may use a coarse net for this purpose. It is a good idea to place a net over the pond to prevent other matter falling into it.
- Clear the sludge at the bottom of the pond. Decomposition of organic matter invites and nurtures the growth of bacteria, which are deadly for your fish. Left neglected, these bacteria might attack the fish, making them ill and even killing them. Parasites too might become a major reason for concern in such conditions. Use a fine net to remove the debris that has settled at the bottom.
- Provide pure water. When you remove the waste matter from the water, you stir it enough to make it unlivable for the fish. For that reason it’s best to remove 30 to 50 percent of the water, to ensure the water quality will sustain the fish life in your pond. Also, be careful about the water you pour into your pond. It should not contain any amount of chlorine as this will kill your fish. You can remove the chlorine either by filtering it, or by letting it settle for 24 to 30 hours before using it. If you don’t remove the chlorine, you will kill both your fish and plants with your winterization process.
- Add sea salt to your fish ponds. Sea salt is an important addition to the pond during winter months as it provides the necessary electrolytes to your fish. It also protects them from any fungi, bacteria or parasites that exist in the water by forming a protective overcoat on their bodies. When adding sea salt to the water, it’s important that the salt doesn’t have any additives, such as rust inhibitors. If it does, the salt would harm the fish instead of helping them. For best winterization of your fish ponds, keep the salt levels at 2 to 3 percent. To keep a close tab on the amount of salt dissolved in the water, use salinity monitors. Be sure to keep a close watch on ammonia levels as well; a build-up would kill your plants.
- Keep your pond at least 30-inches deep. That is the very minimum. However, for best results, give it a depth of about 5 feet. During winter, koi and other fish like to dive deep and semi-hibernate until the spring. Deeper water will keep them safe and healthy. If your koi fish are large and you cannot increase the depth of your pond to at least 3 or 4 feet, bring your fish indoors for the winter. If the winter is severe and the fish pond freezes over, you will have to maintain an opening over the pond to ensure continuous gas exchange. Without the opening, the oxygen would soon be depleted and your fish and plants would die.
- Cover the pond with netting. This step is especially important if the winter is not severe. Koi fish are jumpers. With the water cleared of debris, the fish might be tempted to take a few jumps and then die on the sides of the pool. A fine net over the pond prevents this from happening, and keeps foreign matter from getting into the pond. With these simple winterization measures, you will ensure your fish pond can sustain your fish until spring without any trouble.