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Winterizing a Garden Pond is an indispensable chapter during seasonal care of your water garden. While you prepare your pond for icy winter temperatures you have to take care of plants, fish and sensitive pond equipment like pumps, filters or skimmers. If you have Koi or other sensitive kinds of goldfish in your fishpond, it will not be enough to care for an ice-free breathing hole with a de-icer. You will have to install a pond heater, to keep water temperatures stabile.
But first lets talk about winter care of plants in and around a garden pool when temperatures starts dropping and lots of leaves are blown into the pond towards the end of October.
Removing all dead foliage and tidying up your water garden is important winter care at this time. The decomposing vegetation will produce gases beneath the ice that would be fatal for your fish. It also changes your ecological pond balance and will force algae in spring. You may remove the foliage with an ordinary fishnet or a vacuum pond cleaner, but don't make a too thorough job of it. Many floating pond plants have grown buds that will sprout new leaves and flowers in spring.
Everyone who has installed a pond netting cover against autumn leaf-fall will have much less trouble fishing out dry leaves when winterizing a garden pond. Fish tank covers and Ultra UV resistant pond netting covers are available in nylon, polypropylene and polyester.
During winter care all tropical and other sensitive, not winter-hardy plants have to be moved to a sheltered place, a greenhouse or winter-garden and kept growing throughout the winter via the bright light.
Move non-tropical, winter-hardy floating aquatic plants with their plant pots or baskets into a deeper zone of your garden pond to keep plants and roots from freezing. Zones where the pond is at least 36" deep will prevent these pond plants from icing during the winter.
When you prepare for winter, cut all kinds of your reed plants just so short, that their stems still stand above water surface and are able to provide the gas exchange in a frozen water garden. Some bundles of straw may be a natural prevention against an airtight sealed garden pond by ice and snow as well as some moving plastic balls on the water surface. But to guarantee a continuous ice-free area, you should install an floating de-icer.
After winterizing aquatic plants and the pond itself, we look at the already installed pond equipment. We recommend to shut off pond pump and filter and to store both in an ice-free shelter after cleaning and servicing. Always store your garden pond pump completely covered with water in a bucket. If you have pond lighting installed better remove it, too - and store it in a dry room till spring.
Finally we get to all precautions for your fish. To avoid fish freezing you need at least zones in your water garden deeper than 36". During all icy periods one area of your pond must be free. Technically you do this the best way with a floating de-icer, or in milder areas with an air pump or a water pump.
The colder the water gets, the less your fish will and can eat. Stop feeding or change to special offered easily digestible winter food mostly made of wheat germs. Start with wheat germ foods again in spring, when the water temperature is between 45°F and 55°F. That will be an easily digested diet after a long winter.
Some fish hibernate, breath much less and save energy. Others like Koi and similar exotic species need to have a pond heater and a winter-proved aerator. Considering a few fishkeeping tips and doing vital pond maintenance before winter will help to bring your pond life healthy though cold winter months.
Additional thermostatically controlled installations will shut on your garden pond heater, as soon as water temperatures drop below 25°F. Already with 100 watts you can operate these pond equipments, that are available for less than $ 100. Similar prices (starting below $ 100.-) for pond heaters, which already heat your pond with 100watts, 200watts, or 300watts.
Another efficient garden pond equipment for fishponds in winter are pond balls, which can prevent the surface from freezing over and the water's warmth from escaping into the cold air outside.
Besides this pond supply to heat your Koi fishpond, and air pumps for provide enough oxygen for your fish, there are oxidizers, that produce by a chemical reaction much more oxygen as common air pumps. An oxidizer, that gets refilled in autumn will produce enough oxygen through a cold winter season. Check your oxidizer when you prepare for winter, if no pond water was seeping in, and avoid during malfunction that its harmful fluids runs out into your garden pond.
After all seasonal winter care you and your water garden may enjoy your winter vacation.