As winter approaches we need to prepare our ponds for the cold winter months. Pond winterization should begin when water temperatures begin to drop into the mid 60s and leaves begin to turn color.
Pond Cleaning: Remove leaves and dead organic matter from pond with a skimmer net, pond vacuum or wet/dry vacuum. Organic matter will decompose causing toxic gases that may harm fish and create additional sludge in pond. Clean out your pond filter mats/brushes with a water hose. Do not over-clean the filter mats or brushes, and never use soap or any type of cleaner as this will harm the fish and plants. If you have a skimmer in your pond, clean the skimmer daily when leaves are falling and blowing.
Plants: In September stop fertilizing waterplants and cut back dead or decaying plant material, except plants with hollow stem such as Rushes, Reeds, Iris, Sweet Flag, Ribbon Grasses and Cattails, trim these plants back in the spring. If needed, divide and repot waterplants. Tropical water plants should be moved inside for the winter, winterized or disposed of. After first frost, hardy waterplants in plant baskets should be placed at the deepest part of pond below the ice level. Plants in planting pockets, buried in rocks or planted in a bog do not need to be moved, except if tropical.
Frogs: Place container filled with clay/sand in bottom of pond to allow frogs to burrow.
Pond Netting: Ideally, net your pond before the leaves start to fall to prevent leaves from entering the pond. Keep the pond netting on through the fall and winter and remove in the spring. Wood stakes or PVC framing help hold up pond netting, keeping it above the water. If using a PVC tent structure to net your pond be sure to knock snow off the netting after a major snow fall.
Water Change: Prior to going into the winter months perform a 25% - 30% water change to remove excess nutrients.
Pond Winter Additives: Add Liquid Barley Extract and Barley Bales to reduce the growth of string algae over the winter. Increase Pond Salt level to .25% to deter algae growth & as added protection for the fish. Add MicrobeLift Fall/Autumn Cleaner into pond to breakdown sludge build-up during the winter. Add Koi-Zyme to minimize Koi getting ulcers from Cold Water Bacteria.
Fish: As water temperatures drop into the mid 60 s start feeding fish autumn fish food with wheat germ and added Vitamin C . When temperatures drop in the mid 50 s STOP feeding your fish. If pond is less than 18" bring fish inside for the winter.
Pond Closing: Disconnect pump(s) and place in a bucket of water, store at room temperature. Blow out any water remaining in pond tubing. Connect aerator and/or pond de-icer if fish are present in your pond, this creates a hole in the ice to release toxic gases. An aerator should be placed a minimum of 6-12" above the lowest level in the pond to prevent chilling the warmest water, which resides in the bottom of the pond in the winter.
Pond Winterization Shopping List: Pond thermometer, pond netting, pond de-icer (heater) and/or aerator, autumn fish food, Koi Zyme, skimmer net, pond vacuum or wet/dry vacuum, barley straw or extract, pond salt and Microbe-Lift Fall/Autumn Cleaner.
Pond Winterization Classes: The Pond Place of Michigan holds FREE Pond Winterization Classes to assist you in preparing your pond for the winter.