Winterizing the Pond – How to Make Your Aquarium Winter-friendly


Written by Melissa

Winter is coming soon, and steps need to be taken to get the pond ready for the winter season.  Our winters are not too bad and I still have a month at least before the water starts to get near the 60’s-50’s but it is good to have a plan.  Here is mine.

Before It Gets Cold (Above 60*f)
Check the pond liner for any holes, leaks or cracks.  Since it is brand new I doubt this will be a problem, but it is a good thing to get in the habit of doing.  Any small cracks or rips in the liner need to be taken care of before it gets to cold.  If the water freezes between the cracks or rips it will make them worse, since water expands when it freezes.

Check equipment.  Make sure everything is in working order and is not showing signs of wear or breaking.  I don’t know if this needs to be done now or not, but I figure it is a good thing to do and will keep me on top of making sure everything is working properly.

Do a small water change and remove old leaves and wastes from the bottom of the pond.  This will just make it easier in the spring.  When the water warms up bacteria will become active again and if there is an excess amount of wastes and decay-able matter in the bottom it can turn the water bad quickly.  There will probably also be runoff water going into the pond in the spring and this combined with waste matter from the previous year probably would not be good.

Give the fish a check up.  Look over the fish and make sure they are healthy enough to survive winter.  Any fish with sores, parasites, bacterial or fungal infections or that are skinny will be brought inside and nurtured through the winter.  I don’t think a sick fish would make it through the winter and a skinny fish would not have enough fat reserves to sustain itself and may have an internal infection.

Get any needed equipment for winter.  Pond deicers and an air pump, tubing and air stone.  I will make an insulated housing for the air pump to make sure its ability to function is not affected by the cold.  Where I live the ponds don’t normally freeze over completely but its better to be safe than sorry.

When Temps Drop to 60*f

Switch the fish to wheat germ based foods that are easy to digest and pass quickly through the fish.

Check the fish again for any signs of infection or stress and check for adequate body mass.

Throw out any plants that will not survive the winter.  These are mainly the floating plants, such as water hyacinths and water lettuce.  Cut down other plants.  They will be cut down to the rim of the pot.  They will also be moved to the deepest part of the pond.  Other plants, like horn-wort and parrots feather will probably be brought indoors.

Temps Drop to 50*f
Stop feeding the fish.  It is now to cold for the enzymes in their digestive track to effectively break down food.

Turn off filters and pumps and bring them inside.  Set up deicer so it is in place in case it gets cold enough to freeze.  Set up the air pump, with the air stone about 18″ up from the bottom of the pond.  Adjust it so there is a gentle movement, but not to much water is moving.  This will help with gas exchange, but keeping it gentle will help keep to much of the warmer water that is at the bottom from being chilled by the top water.

Hope this helps! You can leave your comments below and let me know your own opinions about keeping your fish tank winter-friendly.

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