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How to Care for Pond Fish During Winter

stone waterfall leading to a small pond full of lilypads surrounded by stone and green shrubsFish ponds are a wonderful aesthetic addition to your yard. In the warm months, sitting out in your garden and watching the fish makes for a calm and relaxing pastime. However, as the owner of pond fish, you may have some concerns during the winter months.

If you hadn’t considered what you’d need to do to care for your fish over the winter, you might think you’re in trouble when it drops below freezing. Fear not! Your pond fish have adapted to survive the cold of winter. As long as you take a few precautions and know what to do for them when things get icy, your fish will be there to greet you come spring.

Do I Need to Relocate My Pond Fish?

Actually, in most cases, not at all. This tends to only be an issue if your pond is shallower than 18 inches in depth. A few of the more exotic or sensitive varieties of goldfish and koi need special attention—but these are fairly uncommon, and your seller will usually disclose this information upon purchase. Just to be on the safe side, always pay attention to the breed of your fish when populating your backyard goldfish or koi pond.

How Pond Fish Respond to Winter

Most varieties of North American pond fish respond to dips in temperature by simply going into a form of hibernation. Normally, they’ll dive down to the bottom of the pond or near the closest heat source if you chose to install a mild water heater or warming patch (which will make the winterizing process even easier). This means that they can essentially be left to themselves, and all you need to do is some basic preparation and planning.

Winterizing Your Fish Pond

  • Feed your fish generously leading up to the cold months. Once your fish go into hibernation (roughly around when the temperature drops below 40 or 50 degrees), they’ll stop actively seeking food. That means they need to have plenty stored up, so be sure to feed them high-quality food consistently until hibernation begins.
  • Consider a bio-filtration system. Fish in hibernation will still produce small amounts of waste. Typically, this is no big deal, but a hefty cap of ice can seal off the pond and contribute to contamination issues. A bio-filter handles this issue with ease.
  • Never break pond ice aggressively. If your pond does begin to freeze all the way through, please resist the urge to go after the ice with a pick or hammer. The shocks from these actions can and will harm your fish! Instead, use a mechanical de-icer (pond-specific ones are sold online and in pet stores) or a space heating unit to control ice.

Install Ponds & Water Features in Montgomery County, MD

All in all, not too much to worry about, right? That’s why we love koi ponds! They are simple, stress-free, and absolutely gorgeous in any landscape.

Interested in adding a pond or other water feature to your home space? Need more tips on how to properly maintain your koi pond? Contact Four Seasons Landscaping online today to find out more!

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