Pond Winterization Tips
The winters here in Canada are no joke, we're called the Great White North after all. While there are many things to do before we bunker down for the winter we often forget about our yard. Particularly when it comes to ensuring our ponds and theirs components are ready for the upcoming winter. Here are a couple tips that may prevent problems in the spring once they thaw!
For ponds with out fish: In areas where your pond may freeze solid it is best to remove the pump entirely and place it in a garage or crawl space (of course if you have an OASE Aquamax pump you can simply let that baby freeze solid and thumb your nose at Mother Nature). If your pump is of the mag drive persuasion be sure that you either leave it in a bucket of water or rinse it thoroughly before storing it. If the water surrounding the magnet dries it leaves behind any dissolved solids that were present. These little pumps do not have much torque and come springtime, this little layer of crud will impede the impellor and it will not spin. Also drain all plumbing. Trust me on this one, I have blown up more PVC flex pipe in the Manitoba region than any living soul on earth.
If your car does not have a 115v plug coming out from under the hood then you can leave your pump running as a waterfall or stream. In the winter, this can look quite cool. Just remember that as ice builds up it can divert water from the stream and cause the water level to drop so just bear that in mind.
Ponds with fish If you have some finned friends you want to make sure they do not end up as High-liner fish sticks. In some areas your only course of action is to bring them inside, however in more temperate climates you simply need to create a hole in any ice that covers the pond. It is very important if you have fish as you need to keep some form of water/air contact so any gases that are created by the decomposition of organics exit the system. This can be done by placing the pump so that it simply creates a bubbling at the surface of the water or by using a small air pump such as the OASE Aquaoxy. Turn off waterfalls or streams as this can lead to a cooling affect which can de-stratify the water column as the water comes in contact with cold air.
If you forget and the surface does freeze over create a small hole by pouring warm water on the ice. DO NOT use a sledgehammer, one local homeowner did some years ago which resulted in significant trauma to his fish and his marriage.
Filters and UV's
Most filter systems are not required during the winter months as the amount of biological activity occurring is slim. In addition, the low levels of sunlight usually stymies any algae growth so a UV is not really providing a whole lot of value.
Pressurized Filters: These should be removed and stored. As their name indicates these are sealed vessels and should they freeze YIKES! Drain them completely and store in a warm, dry place.
Gravity Filters: If freezing is not a huge concern, then rock and roll keep these bad boys going. However if you are worried, simply bypass the filter and drain it completely.
UVs: It is best to disconnect UV systems and bring them in as well. Quart sleeves are not cheap and the colder temperatures can also degrade O-rings and gaskets.
Leaves and Debris
During the fall a great deal of leaves and other dead organic matter will fall into your pond or water feature. It is best to try and prevent this if possible as this material will rear its ugly head next spring and lead to algae growth as it decomposes. Nets work to capture larger debris (maple leaves, pine cones, satellite debris) but smaller bits (we deal with pine needles out here like you would not believe) are not so easily deflected. These can be cleaned out in the spring or by using a specific cold weather bacterial or enzyme that target plant material. Microbe Lift Autumn prep is a good choice for this has the enzymes included in the kit that helps to breakdown the cell wall of plant material making it easier for the bacteria to digest this material.
If you feed your fish it is also time to switch to a cold weather food that contains less protein. This change should be made when the water temperature hits around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Microbe Lift Cold weather food contains wheat germ making it easier to digest. You can continue feeding until the water temperature drops to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not feed your fish below this temperature! Fish are cold blooded and their metabolic decreases dramatically in these temperatures which means the food they eat can decay in their system causing bacterial issues.
Wanna help in maintaining your pond? Pond Maintenance & Accessories — Nueyard
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