Winter is coming…What about my fish!

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Relax! Take a deep breath. This is not a Game of Thrones episode after all…I hope. Your fish friends will do just fine and survive even the coldest of winters. However, to ensure your fish do survive, steps must be taken to winterize your pond. Ensure your pond is built at least two feet deep, which is the minimum depth we ever build ponds here at TranquilityScapes. 

Winterizing your pond will start in fall. You should net your pond before the leaves start to fall to reduce the amount that accumulate in your pond. If you choose not to, you will want to make sure to clean out any leaves or debris that is in your pond before winter comes. This will help reduce the amount of organic material breaking down and turning into sludge. This can lead to less than ideal water quality during the wintertime and allowing opportunities for parasites to grow that can harm your fish. Once all the leaves have fallen, make sure to remove your net as we do not recommend leaving the net over the pond during winter.

You will want to start get your fish prepared for the winter by transitioning over to a high quality cold water fish food once temperature hits 65 degrees and below,  and completely stopping all feeding once temperatures are below 50 degrees as the fish will not be able to digest the food. We recommend having a pond thermometer for this reason, it is a great tool that will allow you to know when to change to cold water food, when to stop feeding and when to resume feeding when spring comes around.

If you have aquatic plants, you will need trim them back. For your Hardy marginals remove dead foliage and trim them to only 2 inches above waterline after the first frost. Hardy water lilies should be cut to 1 inch above the crown. Unfortunately, tropical lilies, tropical marginals, floating plants (popular ones such as water hyacinths and water lettuce) will not survive the winter. They should be brought inside before the first frost or be treated like annuals and repurchased again in the spring. Please prevent any plants from dying and decomposing in your pond over the winter months as this will create unhealthy water conditions for your fish.

A crucial step in ensuring your fish winterize fine is by maintaining oxygen exchange in the pond, this is done by making sure the pond does not completely freeze over. You will want to maintain a hole in the ice if your pond freezes over. This can be done in different ways. You can choose to either shutdown or continue to run your waterfalls during the winter (both have pros & cons; this will be discussed in another post).  If you choose to keep your waterfalls running the water that falls into your pond will help keep a hole open if the water does freeze over and provide oxygen for your pond. Other options we always recommend regardless is having an aerator, bubbler, or deicer to maintain a hole in the ice. If you shut down the waterfalls, you will need to have an aerator or deicer to provide oxygen exchange for your fish.

 By following these steps your fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond until spring arrives ready to greet you. If you would like an information or help on closing your pond or want to be hands off we can help! We service the Nassau County and Suffolk County areas of Long Island.