Winter-proof your pond

Leaf-free hibernation

Pond owners should start preparing for winter once trees start to lose their leaves in autumn. Fallen branches, leaves and dead plant matter represent a great danger for hibernating animals – and have to be removed. The experts from Maxi Zoo have put together everything that pond owners should do before the cold sets in.

Remove plant matter

Remove leaves, branches and other small items from the water using a rake or net. You should also take out thread algae and dead pieces of water plants such as leaves from water lilies as excess organic material sinks to the bottom of the pond and decomposes. The bacteria required for this process uses up valuable oxygen and produces biogases such as poisonous methane, creating less-than-optimal conditions for survival for fish, frog and insect populations.

Hint

So that you don’t have to continually collect leaves throughout autumn, spread a leaf net (mesh width 0.8 inches) over the water surface.

Turn off pump

You should not run your pump when the temperature drops below 12 degrees Celsius. Ponds regulate their own temperature in winter, with different temperature zones – the water at the top is cold and can freeze. Below this is heavier, warmer water. This is about 4 degrees, enough for fish to hibernate. If the water is constantly circulated by the pump, this prevents these natural layers from forming and the entire pond could freeze!

Important

If your pond is shallower than 28-31 inches, you should transfer fish to an aquarium to hibernate. You should also disassemble the pump, clean it and keep it protected from frost in a bucket full of water over winter.

Ensure oxygen supply

Winter hard plants provide oxygen in the water, so as a rule, don’t trim back grasses, reeds and bulrushes and leave underwater plants such as pondweed, charales, elodea and water crowfoots in the pond. Only non-winter hard plants like water hyacinths must spend the winter frost-free in a bucket. If fish live in your pond, the surface of the water should never freeze right over, so that biogases can escape and oxygen can reach the water. You can buy special de-icers and pond aerators for this from stores.

Important

If the pond does freeze over, do not break a hole in the ice using a hammer or axe! This scares the fish and can, in the worst case, have fatal consequences for the animals from the pressure created by the vibrating ice.

 

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