4 Keys To A Healthy Winter Pond

Here are the keys to a successful pond winterization:

1)  Aeration

Sufficient and consistent aeration is absolutely critical if you are not running a waterfall over the winter.  This is the only source of oxygen for your fish, and it enhances gas exchange.  Lack of aeration, even for just a few days, will most likely result in fish deaths.  Check your pond frequently to ensure your aerator is function properly.

For ponds under about 2,500 gallons, the Pond Air 2 and Pond Air 4 are excellent choices.  It is a little confusing, as both Airmax and Aquascape manufacture products with these names, and they are very similar.  We prefer the Airmax line for two reasons: 1) the airstones are round (vs flat) so you can just toss them in the pond (vs needing to place them upright); and 2) there is a variable air flow controller which allows fine tuning of the air flow.

For larger ponds we recommend the Airmax Koi Air 1 and Koi Air 2.

2)  De-Icing

To ensure proper gas exchange, you always need a hole in the ice.  In many instances the aerator bubbles will maintain holes in the ice, particularly if the airstone is placed about 12" under the surface of the water.  Still, in our area (SE Pennsylvania), we also install a de-icer just in case.

Even though your fish are dormant, they are respirating which releases ammonia into the water.  In addition, organic material in the pond continues to decompose, which also releases ammonia and nitrites.  Without a hole in the ice, the toxic gases have no way to escape.

3)  NEVER Crack Ice

Never crack ice covering your pond.  If you have a situation where the the pond has iced over, just put the de-icer on the ice and let it melt through.  Cracking ice, even very thin ice that is not covering the entire pond, sends a massive shock wave through the water.  In their dormant stage, fish are easily put into a state of shock, which can lead to fish deaths.  Unfortunately, we know this by direct experience...(enough said).

4)  Beneficial Bacteria

Your nitrifying bacteria are dormant in the winter.  However, make sure you contine regular maintenance treatments with non-nitrifying, winter, beneficial bacteria such as Arctic Blend.  This bacteria becomes active at water temperatures below 55 degrees, and will continue to consume ammonia, nitrites, and muck all winter long.  X