Its that time of year again, fish are sedentary, plants have died back and ponds are looking a little bit drab. You can sit back and stop your pond maintenance till spring now, right?
Although the jobs do vary from spring and summer jobs, It’s still vital that you keep up your pond maintenance through the autumn and winter. Here are a few tips we recommend to keep your pond clean and healthy throughout winter.
- Clean your filters. In the cooler months of the year your fish will not only be eating less but they should be eating a lower protein-based food. This change in diet leads to the fish producing less waste. Contrary, pond plants will be entering a dormancy stage of growth and some will “die” back leaving vegetation to rot off in the water column. Ensuring that any mechanical filtration (sponges, foams, static media beds) are clean will ensure that your filter won’t block/overflow and that your water will remain clean and safe for your fish.
Don’t wash filter media using tap water! use old pond water or clean rainwater.
- Check your pond pump is clean and working correctly. Removing a pond pump from your pond and giving a quick wash with a hose pipe and putting it back in is NOT good maintenance. For most styles of pump, all this does is clean the outer casing, and although this is important to do, it neglects proper care of the pump itself. Your best bet is to consult your paperwork with any given pump to see what the manufacturer recommends, but generally speaking, a satisfactory clean of a pump involves accessing the impeller and ensuring both that it free moving and free of obstruction (blanketweed, plant matter, gravel etc.). If your unsure, do not force anything open on a pump and seek assistance from where you purchased the pump or the manufacturer.
- Clean out debris from the pond. This includes any leaves that have fallen in, clumps of algae, left over food and any rotting plant matter. This can be done either by hand or using a robust net, although if you do use a net be careful not to put too much stress on the handle. The easiest option for cleaning a pond is to use a pond vacuum. If you are considering purchasing a pond vacuum, it’s worthwhile having a chat with a member of staff as we can discuss the differences between models and recommend options for your setup.
Its always a good idea to have a backup plan and provisions in case the weather turns and the temperatures drop.
- Have on hand some insulation. Bubble wrap is perfect to fix to a framework to help cover a pond to minimalize icy winds hitting the surface.
- In the case of sub-zero temperatures, pumps with winter settings should be set (this usually reduces flow) and pumps can be lifted from the lowest part of the pond. This allows the pond to still be filtered but leave the bottom of the pond to stay at a consistent temperature.
- Have on hand a pond heater. Floating pond heaters are ideal for creating holes in the ice to keep gaseous exchange active. Other options can be used to ensure the water doesn’t freeze completely over, but you should NEVER attempt to break the ice as this will send shock waves throughout the pond and potentially cause distress to fish.