"Winter is Around the Corner" Pond Checklist

Tis’ the season to be jolly and to prepare your pond for the cold weather.  Winter is around the corner and we have come up with a checklist that will help you successfully winterize your pond. 

Closing Down the Pond

Determining when and if pond equipment like pumps, filters, and UV clarifiers should be shut down is your first step. If your winter temperatures are moderate than you can keep the pump running all season long to keep the surface from freezing. It’s also good to reduce the circulation of the pond water by either turning off the pump for the winter or preferably by placing the pump or the intake to the pump closer to the water outlet (waterfall or fountain) so it picks up water from mid-level of the pond. If you are keeping your equipment on, turn down the water flow. Keeping the water flowing through your biological filter allows the beneficial bacteria to live, which will make for good water quality early in the spring. 

If the temperatures are more extreme, we recommend shutting your pond down to prevent hyper-cooling, which is when colder surface water mixes with warmer water that is on the bottom of your pond, where fish hide and hibernate, changing the overall temperature. Also, you run the risk of diverting water out of the pond and emptying it when the flowing water begins to form ice, especially on features like waterfalls.

Clean and Store Equipment

If you are choosing to close down the pond, we recommend cleaning the equipment and inspecting it to see if any components need to be fixed or replaced. Storing the equipment indoors safe from the elements will increase functionality and longevity. Make sure to check for water left in any device to avoid icing up and/or causing the body/housing to break if storing outdoors. For submersible pumps kept inside, it helps to place the pump in a bucket of water to keep the moving parts and seals wet.

Winter Pond Equipment

A heater or deicer is a good investment. Gases produced by decomposing organic material, are trapped under ice covering the pond’s surface and can be dangerous to fish. Deicer’s keep an area of the pond ice-free during the winter, allowing an exchange of the harmful gases to escape through the opening. In smaller ponds, a deicer is particularly helpful in avoiding ponds from freezing solid. Deicer’s alleviate stress for fish during the winter, making it easier for them to withstand diseases that are more predominant in the spring.

Fish Feeding and Maintenance During the Winter

It’s usually best to leave fish in the pond during the winter, providing the depth of the pond is 18˝ or deeper and there is little to no water circulation. Fish will gather in the denser, warmer part of the pond, which is at the bottom. As cold weather approaches, monitor pond water temperatures daily. When the water temperature falls below 39°F, you should stop feeding the fish altogether. Fish rely on stored energy reserves to sustain them throughout the winter months so there’s no need to worry.

Here’s a condensed checklist:

  • Disconnect the pump, filter and UV clarifier before water freezes
  • Clean and inspect equipment
  • Store filters and UV clarifier indoors for protection
  • If storing submersible pumps, place in a bucket of water
  • Purchase or have the pond deicer ready for installation. It will melt a small opening in the surface, allowing toxic gases to escape
  • If you keep your filter running through the winter, reduce the flow
  • Monitor temperature and stop feeding fish when the temperature drops below 39°F

Now make that list and check it twice to have your pond prepared for winter!