Fall & Winter Pond Maintenance
1) Start paying more attention to your feeding schedule and water temps now. When your water temp hits 65-55 degrees, slow down your feeding and feed a higher carb food to build up some bulk for the winter.We feed several varieties of wheat germ based foods such as Hai-Feng Quick Grow, Legacy Cold Water , Tetra Koi Wheat Germ Excellence and Tetra's Spring & Fall Diet.
2) At between 55-40 degrees feed small amounts 2-3 times a week. Keep feeding your fish until they no longer come up to eat it, but keep the amounts very small and only a few times a week. Some people will tell you to stop feeding at 55 degrees. We feel this is a baseless suggestion. Fish in the wild feed until they want to stop, no one is there telling them to stop at 55. Your fish are a better judge as to what they need than we are. If they want it, feed them, just be aware of your water quality and remember to only feed wheat germ based foods (wheat germ is the first ingredient) We find they usually stop feeding at around 40C.
WINTERIZING TO DO LIST
1) Do a water change of 25-50%. (Refill using de-chlorinator)
2) Clean the pond bottom with either a fine net or pond vacuum. DON'T over clean the pond...no power washing please.
3) Remove leaves and stems from ALL submerged plants (except oxygenators like Hornwort).
4) Drop lilies and other ice sensitive plants to the bottom.
5) Add a sludge eating product to help eat up any missed debris such as the stuff that gets stuck in between your rocks. Not only does it really help keep the pond cleaner over winter but it helps improve water quality and oxygen levels. We suggest Microbe-Lift Autumn/Fall treatment and Tetra's Sludge reducer.
6) Shut down and clean pump, filter & UV, put UV away in a frost-free area. This would be a good time to lightly bleach the filter before putting it away. Don't close the filter up completely otherwise it will get quite stinky over winter, just leave the top off and make sure the media is completely dry.
7) If you have a Venturi, hook it up to a submersible pump now. If you use your regular pond pump or air pump for winterizing, just make sure to bring it up to the top (approx 1-1 1/2 feet below surface) Reason being, if the pump or air stones are left on the pond bottom you run the risk of super cooling the water and making it really hard for your fish to survive. Equally, you wouldn't want your waterfall running in the winter for the same reason (that and ice jams).
8) Install your pond de-icer now as well, just don't plug it in quite yet. I'm not a huge advocate of de-icers, at least, i didn't used to be. Mostly because they typically suck a huge amount of power and they are useless at de-gassing your pond. The usual advise people are given at their local garden centre is to use a de-icer to keep a hole open in the ice. What's unfortunate about this advise is it implies everything will be all wonderful if only a hole is kept open. Well, part of the advise is true. The de-icer will keep a hole open in your ice what they don't tell you or they just don't know is that there's more to it than that.
First, the whole reason for having the hole in the first place is so the gasses in your pond can escape. The gasses can't escape unless the surface is agitated, hense the reason for using a venturi, air pump or your pond pump close to the surface. You need to agitate that water surface to de-gas the water. De-icers are a great back up for that couple of weeks of really cold weather (or when you're away and can't monitor the pond) I install my de-icer right beside my air pump or pond pump and just plug it in when needed.
So, back to how power hungry some de-icers are. A typical de-icer sucks 1250-1500 watts...that's a huge power bill no matter where you live (and it's getting higher) We carry 2 de-icers that are super cheap to run and actually work (we tested them to -25c) Thermo Pond makes a 100 watts de-icer (yes, 100 watts only) and Tetra makes one that looks like a floating rock and is 300 watts. We were completely impressed with both brands and recommend either. We think they are well worth the added piece of mind.
9) Cover the pond with birds netting to keep the leaves out, but be sure to remove it before the snow flies, otherwise it will freeze to the ground making access to your pond difficult.
10) People with greenhouse covers can go ahead and put them on now. Just be sure to keep any snow brushed off or risk collapse.
That's about it...keep warm and we'll see you in the spring!!