Backyard fish ponds can be just as beautiful in winter as during the summer. But there are some special things that you need to be aware of if you want your fish to survive during the snowy season.
First, if your pond becomes covered with snow and iced over, you need to make sure there is a hole in the ice. The hole (or holes depending on the size of your pond) allows for gas exchange. Without adequate gas exchange, your fish will quickly die of suffocation. Carbon monoxide builds up unless new oxygen continues to flow in.
Waterfalls and other features that keep the water moving can prevent ice from forming. If you have one of those features, it may be unnecessary to cut a hole in the ice. Just keep an eye on the water’s surface to be sure.
If you didn’t clean your pondproperly before the winter weather began, you can expect to have problems with parasites in the spring. The parasites do not become dormant when the water temperatures get low. They swim around and eat off of the fish but the fish don’t realize what’s going on until the spring.
The metabolism of your fish slows down when the water temperature starts to cool off. This is one the reasons that feeding is unnecessary once the water temperature drops. The rule of thumb is “don’t feed until spring” once the water temperature drops to 50.
Any food that you do put into the water may go uneaten causing a cleaning issue. Even worse, if the fish do eat some of the food after their digestive system has slowed down the food can rot and cause an infection that kills your fish.
Some people advise shutting down the bottom drain and even the filtration system during the winter. If you do that, your fish will be swimming in their own waste products all winter. At worst, this will make them ill. At best, additional cleaning will be needed in the spring.
Leaving the bottom drain open and running the filtration system throughout the winter also helps to remove parasites. So basically, you have killed two birds with one stone by making sure your drainage and filtration system is functioning correctly throughout the wintertime.
If you love your pond and your fish, you will take the necessary steps toensure that the aquatic environment stays healthy all winter long.