Tag: Maintenance of pond

Pond-Tipp: Safely through the Winter

Garden-Pond-Tip: Safely through the Winter

Slowly, the days are getting shorter and the autumn season is gradually changing to winter season. During wintertime the fish move to deeper layers of water where they are staying until spring in a kind of hibernation. Their heartbeat slows down to approximately one beat per minute while the metabolic rate comes almost to a complete standstill. Being in hibernation, fish hardly absorb any oxygen and completely renounce any food.

In order to avoid any typical spring diseases the pond inhabitants should be prepared accordingly. The individual proceeding in order to prepare the precious fish for wintertime is easily implemented at low costs.

It is their fat reserves that protect the creatures from cold and physical weakness. These fat reserves should be specifically given before wintertime is starting. Feed the fish by adding small portions several times a day. Make sure that the fish take the food and that there are no remaining particles of fish feed in the water. It is important to administer the required vitamins and minerals during the feeding in order to maintain the special condition. By this means you support the fish to build up their fat reserves, moreover, their metabolism is revitalized. At low temperatures you should only use food which can be easily digested, such as Sanikoi or Staple Prime. Due to the high proportion of wheat germ as well as the added vitamins, this food is perfect for being fed in autumn.

Safely through the Winter

The temperatures in the pond should be checked regularly and if possible, reduced by gradual means. Sometimes the pond inhabitants tend to react in a sensitive way to extreme temperature fluctuations. Even temperature changes of 4°C in the course of 24 hours can be extremely stressful for the creatures. This is why the temperature-regulating measures especially with regard to smaller ponds are important. Smaller ponds tend to cool down rather quickly. Due to their lack of depth it is not ensured that there is a layer with a height of approximately 40 cm and a temperature of about 4°C. It is a fact that at about 4°C the water has its highest density and keeps sinking by its own weight thus ensuring that in a depth of more than 80 cm the survival in winter should be possible without any problems. In a pond volume of more than 30.000 litres, the heat is stored sufficiently in the water and the cooling measurably slowed down. Any intervention is necessary only in extreme weather conditions.

Be careful if the pond pump remains in operation during wintertime. The layers of water are mixed while the protecting layer of water at the pond´s ground is cooled down due to the cold water on the surface. While the formation of ice on the surface can be avoided for a while, the pond inhabitants on the bottom of the pond are freezing to death because the water temperature drops below 4 °C. The flow should be as low as possible in those spots where the pond inhabitants have settled down for wintertime in order to prevent cold water from entering the quiet zone.

During wintertime immersion pumps should be stored protectively against frost. In winter, oxygen produced by e.g. the Canadian waterweed (Egeria densa) and hornwort plants are sufficient for the pond inhabitants in their resting position. It is useful to operate rather an oxydator or a pond ventilator than a pond pump. The pond water is supplied with fine bubbles of oxygen and putrefaction prevented.

Hibernation also means to refrain from any construction work nearby the pond. Otherwise the fish are troubled while their consumption on energy increases which in turn enhances the risk of a weak condition in spring and illness. In case the pond freezes you should avoid to break it open by tapping or the like. You better thaw the ice with a hair dryer or hot water.

In order to avoid an extreme cooling you can cover the pond by using various materials such polystyrene, polyethylene-balls, twin-wall sheets and more. However, the aforementioned measures should only apply for smaller ponds or in extreme weather conditions. In any case make sure that there is a small spot in the pond that remains uncovered. Said small space should be kept free of ice in order to provide the gas exchange. Moreover, the ice-free spot allows the observation of the pond inhabitants during wintertime thus making possible the immediate intervention in the event of any desease that might occur.

A pond heater in combination with a frost guard have proved to be the most effective and economical ones. The frost guard switches on the pond heater when the temperature is about 0°C thus avoiding the total freezing of the pond. Such systems are offered for example by Schego.

If possible, always keep checking the quality of the water during the winter. If the pond has been well maintained and cleaned in autumn there should be no problems in the course of winter. In winter fish should be fed only when there are continuously warm temperatures. Keep in mind that the food, if it is not eaten, could lead to a problem in spring since it affects the water quality.

Maintenance of your pond in autumn

Maintenance of your pond in autumn

During the months of September, October and November the garden pond gradually comes to settle down and rest. It is precisely the time when plants and creatures prepare for the winter season and wait for the pond owner´s helping hand to support them during this process. Learn more about: Maintenance of your pond in autumn.

The following enumeration may give you an idea about the important tasks to be fulfilled in autumn:

  • Fishing and collection of leaves and plant particles
  • Stretching a protecting foliage net across the pond
  • Cleaning all technical devices and providing for a frost-free storage
  • Drainage of hoses
  • Storage of pond plants that are not in the condition to be sturdy during the winter season
  • Thinning out floating and submerged plants
  • Tying up grasses and reeds
  • Removal of digested sludge
  • Making use of an ice preventer

Fishing leaves / Stretching a pond net

By stretching a pond net across the garden pond, you can save a lot of work in the season of autumn. The pond net ensures that the foliage falling down does not end up in the pond water. Died off leaves as well as particles from plants should be regularly removed by the means of a pont net to provide for the sufficiently required water quality. Plant particles rot away in water, this submitting substances that disturb the pond´s biological balance. This results in fermentation gases beneath the layer of ice in winter whereas in spring there will be a strong growth in algae. The fermentation gases may cause the pond inhabitants to suffocate. An accurate preparation of the pond for the winter season contributes to the health of your fish. So you make sure to take much pleasure in the pond with regard to the forthcoming season.

The installed pond net should be removed before the first overnight freezes and as soon as the leaves have stopped falling down.

Frost-free storage and cleaning of technical devices

The growth of algae in the pond stops at temperatures below 10°C. So there is no need for pond technology during winter. For the maintenance of the pond in autumn, pumps and filters should be removed from it. Freezing water expands, thus generating a strong pressure which in turn damages the technical devices. Clean thoroughly all pump and filter elements and inspect them thoroughly for damage before storage. The storage should be in a frost-free place (e.g. in the cellar). Store the pump in a bucket of water in order to prevent the pump from drying which makes the essential gaskets made of plastic become brittle and porous.

The hoses being used should be thoroughly emptied so that they are not damaged due to frost.

Cultivation of plants = Maintenance of your pond in autumn

In case your garden pond is not as deep as to resettle sensitive plants to frost-free zones, it is advisable to put them in a cool but frost-free place during wintertime. We recommend the cellar or an adequate glasshouse.

Grasses and reeds should be tied up and cut back if necessary. Reeds, cattails and other pond plants should be cut shortly above the water surface. You may also wait to cut the dry stems in spring if you like. There are insects that use the reeds to settle down in winter. The plants provide for an exchange of gas in the garden pond.

Ideally, water lilies and other floating plants are cut with a special pond scissors as far below as possible. Plant remains should be thoroughly removed to the effect that they do not cause a digested sludge on pond´s ground. The special cutting tool has a long handle thus enabling to work from the edge of the pond. The plant residues can be easily removed with a landing net.

Removal of digested sludge

Especially in wintertime, the digested sludge is a problem and much wor for the maintenance of your pond. The process of putrefaction releases poisonous hydrogen sulphide gas that cannot escape the frozen pond and therefore gradually dissolves in the water. It is recommended to remove the digested sludge before wintertime with a bailer or be the means of an electric sludge sucker. The sludge can either be put on compost in thin layers or used as a fertilizer on the flower bed.

Use of an ice preventer

During wintertime fish move into the deeper water areas. It is a kind of hibernation that makes them remain there until spring. It is not only that their heartbeat slows down to approximately one beat per minute but also their metabolism nearly goes to a halt. Being in a hibernation, fishes are low on oxygen and renounce any food.

The creatures are in danger only by freezing or suffocation due to lack of oxygen or a high level of fermentation gas in the water. At a water depth of at least 80 cm the danger of freezing can be excluded whereas lack of oxygen or formation of digester gas can remain a problem when there is a closed layer of ice. This is why it is advised to make use of the so-called ice preventers. They should be used just in time before the formation of ice in the pond.

If you have failed to make use of the ice preventer in time you should not break up the water surface by force. Pressure and sound waves disturb the fish during hibernation. You better make the ice melt by using a hair dryer or hot water.

For the maintenance of your pond it is important that below a temperatures of 12°C you should refrain from feeding the fish. Due to the slow metabolism, the food cannot be digested anymore and leads to death.