Pond Care in Winter
Circa Week 44: Prepare for colder spells by cutting back vegetation so that it doesn’t overhang the pond.
Falling leaves can, if left to gather in your pond, release toxins into the water as they decay.
If you have an ornamental waterfall or fountain in your pond, it’s wise to turn it off during cold weather.
Similarly, remove any pumps or filters you might have in your pond, and service them in preparation for use the following year.
An essential part of winter pond care is remembering to change your fish food.
In cold temperatures, fish find it difficult to digest protein, so as soon as water temperature drops to anywhere near 10°C (50°F) it’s advisable to switch to a low protein alternative.
As temperatures drop further, say below 7°C (45°F) stop feeding the fish altogether.
In cold weather, garden ponds can freeze over allowing dangerous toxic gasses to build up beneath the ice.
The decomposition of decaying plant matter can cause a build up of methane and / or hydrogen sulphide gases.
This can prove fatal to fish and other animal life, ensure that an area of the pond surface is kept ice free.
This can be done in various ways;
If you have expensive fish, you can install a special electric pond immersion heater to keep a small area of the pond surface free from ice and provide an escape vent for toxic gasses.
A couple of cheaper methods to open up a breathing space is to make an ice-free patch by pouring warm water into a bowl and sitting the bowl on on the ice, or by floating a ball on the water prior to it freezing.
If ice builds up in ponds with masonry or concrete sides, the pressure created may damage the walls.
A few rubber balls floated on the water usually helps to reduce this pressure.
Never crack the ice the shock waves may kill the fish.
Erect a temporary barrier round the pond to stop pets and young children from walking on thin ice.