Keeping your fish in the pond over winter can seem like a daunting task but keeping some key information in mind can help.
1. Maintaining a hole in the ice at least once every 24 hours is critical: The #1 most important thing you need to do during the winter is to make sure there can be an exchange of gases. We recommend using a de-icer in the pond, the de-icer is perfect for our cold winters and because they are thermostatically controlled they come on only when they are needed. We do recommend putting the de-icer on a timer to extend the life of the de-icer, turning it on for a few hours in the morning and afternoon is ideal. If the temperatures are below freezing for extended period of time you should consider extending the amount of time the de-icer is on. The de-icer can and should be used in conjunction with an aerator. The aerator should be placed near the surface of the pond, it can even be placed on a marginal plant shelf. The aerator helps ensure the toxic gases are removed from the pond. Please do not simply break the ice as the trauma can shock and kill your fish.
2. Remove excess debris: We can not stress enough how important it is to remove any leaves, annual plants (hyacinths), and sludge that is in the pond. They will decay through the winter and give off toxic gases that can kill your fish.
3. Use temperature appropriate bacteria: There is bacteria specifically designed to work in cooler temperatures and we would recommend switching over now if you need to purchase new bacteria or starting in the beginning of October when the water temperatures get cooler.
4. Perform a partial water change: Before “closing” the pond for the winter we would suggest doing a 20-25% water change in the pond. The fresh water will replenish oxygen and reduce ammonia and nitrite levels. It is ideal to do a water change 3-4 times a year. Don’t forget to add salt back into the pond after the water change, if you need to check the salt levels you can purchase a salt pen or we would be more than happy to check it for you.