In the cold winter months, ponds and water features are always high on our minds. A great number of people often forget that a pond still needs caring for during the months when snow and ice can cover the water layer.
Mistakes can happen when attending to your pond in the freezing months, and we would like to take this space to tell you the common mistakes and how to avoid them – especially if you have fish.
Don’t bang on the Ice!
A hole allowing harmful gasses to escape is something most pond owners understand they need to have. The mistake that people often do make concerning this is banging on the ice to make that hole.
What happens when you bang on the ice is sending sound waves rippling through the water which can be very harmful to your fish. A kinder way to make the hole is to use a de-icer to burn through the surface, or to simply pour a kettle load of boiling water to melt it. To keep that hole open, you should keep your pond air pump working constantly.
De-Icer’s and Pond Heaters.
As mentioned, de-icing your pond during the winter months is an essential part of pond maintenance, and you need to be sure that the de-icer is of good quality. Reassurance that the hole remains open throughout the winter season and that your fish are receiving a healthy environment until the Spring returns rely on the de-icer being durable. When the pond freezes over gasses given off the pond life and even decaying plant matter can build up under the surface. Not allowing for these gasses to be released can be ver harmfull to your fish which is why you only need a small portion of the pond de-iced,
Even though it may be tempting to leave your de-icer running all day every day, it is not a good idea. A lot of energy will be used by doing that which you will not want to pay out for during this season. Leaving your pond heater running should only be done if the hole begins to close up, and then it should only be on for a day or two before shutting it down again.
The exception to the rule is if you are going away for a winter break. With you not around to keep an eye on the hole, your fish will need that de-icer running, which will also act as a backup for your pump should it fail whilst you are away.
Waterfall pumps and pond treatments.
A waterfall pump is a great pond feature, but there are some steps to shutting it down for the winter. The most important thing to do is remove the pump and not leave it in an area of the pond that can freeze as this may cause damage to the outer casing of the pump.
Getting the water out of the pipes will prevent them from bursting when the water inside them would freeze causing the pipe to split. Even though the winter months freeze the top layer, water quality is still of vital importance during this season for pond maintenance. We recommend adding a good quality sludge remover to the water once a month which will help to break down any debris collected during the cold period, leading to happier and healthier fish.
Overfeeding your fish and using the wrong food.
Fish are the prime focus of your garden pond and some think that they need extra food to get them through. Unfortunately, this is bad advice as your fish will see their systems slow down during the winter and not be able to digest food properly.
Collected food will start to affect your pond quality and food will get lodged in the fish’s system and could kill them. Killing your fish is not an avenue any pond owner wants, so being cautious with feeding them is essential. You canot feed the same food you have been doing during the summer peiods. The summer foods are higher in protein and isnt as easily digested in the coolers moths. We recommend feeding the fish a Wheatgerm feed this time of year. It is usually lower in protein and is easily digested by the fish.
These come in a variety of shapes and sizes so make sure you pick the best size for your fish.
Not knowing the water temperature.
This is something a lot of people forget about. It is vital to know the water temperature in the the hight of winter. If you don’t know this you are unable to treat your pond with the best treatment and know when too change the food type you are feeding your fish. A pond thermometer is vital and are extremely cheap to buy.
Water testing and treating in winter.
It very easy to forget about your fish in winter but water testing is still something you need to do. Although your Ammonia and Nitrite levels should be low because the waste from the fish is low its easy to forget about the other water parameters. In winter you often see the PH (physical hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and GH (general hardness) drop. This is mainly caused because of the build up in debris, decaying plat life and rain water. These will need raising to keep the fish happy and healthy.
Its worth remembering that most pond treatments will not work as effective in temperatures less than 10 degrees. Speak to your local stockist about what treatments are better used in colder weather.
Ending our guidance for winter pond care, we must stress that there is still work to be done on your pond in winter which is essential for keeping your fish alive and healthy.
Remember these steps this winter and get the most out of your pond all year round. Contact the team at JJ Landscapes today for more information on pond cleaning services this winter.