How to prepare your pond for winter.
The UK weather during the winter can range from freezing temperatures and snow, to constant rainfall and blustery winds – this can be a problem for people with ponds in their gardens.
If you’ve had a pond installed, you may not have considered the specific care and maintenance required during this particular season. During the colder month, attention needs to be turned to your fish, pumps, and filters to prepare for the colder climate.
Below is a winter checklist of tasks worth knowing which we feel are winter essentials in keeping your pond clean and healthy.
Do I still feed my fish in winter?
The first thing to remember is that your fish will already be well accustomed to the British climate. However, as temperatures drop their metabolism will also slow, meaning digesting their food will take longer. You should feed them less during this season so that no uneaten food impacts the water quality. You should also change the food to a wheatgerm-based pond feed which is easier for fish to digest at lower temperatures. Wheatgerm pond food should be fed in temperatures between 10 – 4 degrees. Usually, these months are between October through to March.
Do I turn off my pump and filter in winter?
Whilst many guides from other countries recommend shutting your pond pump down over the winter to prevent water from becoming too chilled, the UK climate is not of concern! We recommend still running your pump and filter in these months. It helps by keeping a constant flow of water aiding the good bacteria in your filters, although most of the bacteria is either dormant or dead its worth keeping that supply of oxygenated water. Keeping the system running also helps with the clarity and maintaining the pond during winter.
What do I do if my pond freezes over in winter?
When your pond water freezes, it is important not to break the ice or pour hot water over it. Remember that fish are sensitive to extreme temperature changes and shockwaves.
An effective way to prevent your pond from completely freezing is by installing a pond heater, however, these heaters come at a cost. It’s worth knowing, they are not cheap to buy and certainly not cheap to run as they average at around 1kw for smaller ponds and up to 3kw for larger ponds. You only need a small portion of the pond ice free to allow the gasses to exchange so the cheapest way to achieve this is to either keep the pump running, place a small floating object like a football in the pond and remove in the morning or purchase a small floating pond heater. The pond heaters are only designed to keep a small area of the pond ice free so they are usually not to expensive to run.
Should I turn off my UV in winter?
There are no right or wrong answers to this question, there are pros and cons for both options. We recommend turning them off in winter, it will be cheaper on the electricity bill and you should get a longer life out of your bulb by doing this. You just need to remember if you do turn off the pond pump you need to make sure that the UV is free of any water sat in the chamber. If water is left in the UV, when the temperatures drop and freezes there is a significant risk of damaging the quartz sleeve. When the water freezes it will expand which will inevitably crack the quartz so when you turn on the UV in spring water will then flood the electrics and cause the UV to blow. Keeping the UV on in winter won’t help all that much as the days are darker and cooler so there is a much less chance of getting green water. Also, you will be running the electricity for no reason when you could be saving on your electricity bill.
How do I stop leaves falling into the pond in winter?
There are several ways you can do this. The quickest and easiest way is to simply add a pond cover net over your pond. They usually come with pegs so its very easy to install them on ground ponds. If you have a raised Koi pond you would have to create a timber frame and staple the net to this. Alternatively, if you haven’t got a surface skimmer installed you can easily pick up floating pond skimmer at an affordable price nowadays. These simply float on the pond and suck up any leaves or debris that are floating, then all you need to do is empty the basket of these leaves. These do need electricity so you would have to have a nearby socket available.
Should I cover my pond in winter?
In most cases it can be very difficult to cover a pond completely, especially if the pond has shrubs overhanging or if it’s a funny shape. If you are lucky enough to have a pond that can be covered we do recommend doing this. It will help with the leaf fall and will help with the temperatures of the pond (to some degree). If you decide to cover the pond it can be very easy to forget about the fish, you have to remember to regularly check on the fish for any signs of illness. It can be as simple as building a timer frame and screwing down some 10mm Polycarbonate sheets. These sheets are thick, light to handle and allow light to still get to the pond.
If you’re looking for more advice on how to prepare your pond for winter, thinking about installing a pond, or seeking landscaping services – Contact the team at JJ Landscapes, your go to landscaping company.