If you’re living in a region where temperatures get low during the winter months, you’re going to need a device to keep a hole melted in the middle of the pond through the winter. When a pond gets a layer of ice, a heater (or deicer) is used to melt a small opening in the ice letting toxic gases out and oxygen to get into the pond. This is best done with an electrical pond heater.
However, the heater can greatly raise your electricity bill. Pond heaters pull electricity from 100 watts (for ponds up to 400 gallons) to 1500 watts (for ponds up to 1000-1500 gallons).
Alternatively, goldfish and koi can be taken indoors for the winter. They can be placed in an aquarium or a small children’s pool. But be careful with plastic pools, as plastic residue can be toxic to fish. A simple remedy for this would be to fill up the pool with water and add 1 tablespoon of salt for about gallon of water. Let it settle for a few days, then wash it out and add fresh water. If the dissimilarity in pH levels is too big, the water can kill the fish.
Pond heaters come in two designs, a submersible pond heater, and a floating pond heater. A floating heater will use electricity, oil, or natural gas for its power source. There are even some models with solar panels to power the heater. A floating heater uses hardly any energy and is essentially created not to heat the water, but instead to prevent ice from developing in the first place.
A floating pond heater can work both as a pond deicer and/or heater if your garden pond already has ice on the top. You can put the floating pond heater on top of the ice and it can thaw a hole through the ice, gradually melting all or most of the ice on the pond’s surface, depending on the size of the pond.
To get the most out of the koi pond heater make sure that you secure your system as much as possible from heat loss. The less heat you lose, the lower the electricity bill is and the more efficient your heating device is.
Either you have a big pond or a small water garden, there are a couple of things you can do this fall to get your garden pond ready for winter.
To keep your pond healthy, take out all plant content that will normally decay in the pond and supply food for algae in the beginning of the spring. This involves aquatic plants, underwater plants, and dropped leaves from trees. Following the first frost, trim aquatic plants to a couple of inches tall. If you have koi fish in your pond, be sure that your aquatic plants are positioned at enough depth to hold plant crowns from freezing, typically about 3-4 feet.
You need to winterize your pond plants before the first freeze. Remember that the longer you wait the colder and more intolerable the water will be. You need to take out all annual surface plants such as water lettuce, and water hyacinth. These plants are very hard to overwinter indoors, so your best bet is to compost them and just start with new ones next spring. Don’t leave any of these plants on the surface since once they freeze, they will start to decompose and ruin your water.
Help your koi fish in early fall to survive by doing the following: As soon as the water temperature falls to 55 or less, only feed them when they are moving around and active. If they are just sitting near the bottom do not feed. Only feed them what they will eat in a few minutes and remove all the uneaten food. If the water temperature drops under 45 do not feed your fish, even on warm days where the nighttime water temperature returns to 45 or less.
Remember to cut back on what food are you giving your koi and pond fish and stop entirely by November. You can start feeding the fish again in the spring after the water temperatures have hit 50 degrees.
Empty and clean out all pond equipment, pumps, filters and water lines. If your pond keeps freezing over completely every night, set up a small pump or air bubbler to keep a hole in the ice. Or use a pond de-icer. If it doesn’t get cold that often, you can gently poke a hole in the ice. A hole in the ice lets unsafe gases to escape from the pond while permitting oxygen to mix into the water.
If you need help getting your pond ready for winter – please contact us!