Patio Joe Lily

Closing Your Pond for the Fall cont...

Getting your water garden ready for winter..Brrrrr!!

Fish have to breathe too...

Your fish do require access to fresh air during long periods of frozen ice in the winter. You may let your waterfall continue to run as it has all season, (but there are better options). The moving water will not freeze and will provide the needed air exchange. Even in severe cold, ice will form over the moving water, but the flow will not stop. There are a couple of concerns with this option: First, a temporary power outage might allow water to freeze in the line blocking the water flow even when power resumes. Second: in a severe winter ice dams can form on a waterfall or stream causing water to back up and start a leak that would never occur in the summer. For these reasons, if you expect to be away from your pond for extended periods over the winter, we would suggest one of the following alternative methods.

One option is to disconnect the pump from the waterfall (or use a separate pump 175 gph or larger) and place it on a shelf about 6-8" below the water surface with the outlet pointing up so that it creates a bubbling, mini-geyser at the water surface. When plugged in, this moving water helps prevent total freezing of the surface. Even after a power outage, when the pump is turned back on it will quickly melt through any ice that has formed on the surface. Be sure your pump still has a pre-filter attached to the inlet during the winter. If your primary pre-filter can't be used, most pumps come with a smaller built-in or attachable pre-filter that will usually suffice.

It is recommended that you do not place the pump in the bottom of the pond since you would be mixing the relatively warm water in the bottom 6" of the pond with the much colder air above- lowering the overall water temperature and possibly stressing your fish.

A second option is using airstones to provide a source of air exchange. Pond Aerator 2 or Pond Aerator 4 by Aquascape are good choices. The pump is placed outside of the pond and the airstones are placed on a shelf (about 12" deep) or suspended off the bottom at a depth of 12-15". The bubbling from the airstone provides enough water movement to keep an open air hole for very little energy cost in all but the coldest winters.

A final option (our recommended option), is to replace the pump with a floating de-icer during the coldest winter months. Simply set the de-icer in the pond, anchoring it with a stake or stone so that it doesn't touch any exposed liner. Plug it in, and you're done! A built-in thermostat will turn it on when water temperature drops below freezing and off when it is not needed. This is probably the most trouble-free approach.

Saving some Electricity $$$$...

To save some electricity, a de-icer need not run all the time. Simply, place the de-icer in the pond with the plug hanging outside of the pond near an outlet. During extended (5-7+ days) periods of ice cover, just plug your de-icer in and run it for 2-3 days to allow any toxic gases under the ice to vent. If you have a low-wattage de-icer (under 300 watts) or a hollow center de-icer then leave the unit plugged in all winter. On higher watt de-icers or de-icers with an exposed heating element, these units will melt a hole through the ice cover within 24 hours. The round shape of the de-icer will prevent any damage from ice forming around it when it is not plugged in. The goal is just to prevent more than 7 days or so of uninterrupted ice cover in your pond. A few days of ice cover for a healthy pond is not harmful. However, if your pond is relatively dirty and/or has an extra-large fish load, we recommend maintaining a continuous air hole with your de-icer or pump. In fact, for very heavy fish loads, an aerator in addition to a de-icer may be needed.

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