As the days grow colder and temperatures fall, in order to keep your fish alive and comfortable, take the following issues into consideration. Non-sensitive fish are capable of surviving successfully outdoors, but only in ponds with a depth of at least 18 to 24 inches. Please find a new space to keep your fish if your pond does not meet this depth requirement. Once temperatures drop below 50ºF, refrain from feeding the fish. This will help to avoid any metabolic complications as they get ready for hibernation.
IF you live in the Greater Philadelphia Area where your entire pond is likely to freeze over, there are two options you need to consider. First and foremost, you’ll want to add a floating de-icer to your pond. The unit is controlled by a thermostat and only runs when your pond water is at or below freezing. When it runs, the de-icer will heat the surrounding water to just above freezing before shutting off again. This creates a hole in the ice which allows potentially harmful gasses to escape, helping to ensure the health of your fish. For pond owners in the most northern areas of the country, the best option is to implement a de-icer in addition to a small pump or waterfall.
You need to make sure the pond water stays oxygenated for your finned friends, which is exactly what a small pump or waterfall will help to accomplish. By keeping a waterfall running throughout the winter, it will help aerate the water and ensure a successful hibernation for your fish. Since the waterfalls help to aerate the water, a small pump for oxygenation won’t be necessary.
When a waterfall is left running in the winter, it is possible that some pond water will evaporate. This is normal! Although water loss is considerably less in the winter than summer, you may need to add water occasionally. If you suspect that your pond is losing water, make sure to also check that an ice dam isn’t causing water to trickle out of your pond.
One of the best parts about keeping your waterfall running throughout winter is that you’ll get to enjoy amazing ice sculptures! A frosty waterfall is the perfect breeding ground for spectacular snow and ice formations. You may catch yourself completely enthralled by the tiny stalagmites and stalactites emerging from your backyard oasis. With each new blanket of snow, your space will transform further into a winter wonderland!
If you decide that leaving the waterfall running isn’t the option for you, here is what you should do. First, unplug the waterfall pump, remove it from the pond or skimmer, and then store it in a location that will remain frost-free. Make sure that you still place a pond aerator or a submersible pump in your pond. These should be placed on the second shelf of your pond so it bubbles right at the surface of the water. As long as the winter temperatures are not drastically frigid, the bubbling of the pump should be enough to keep an open hole in the ice.