Common Winter Pond Maintenance Mistakes

For pond owners, pond maintenance is always on their minds, especially during the warm summer months, when ponds are enjoyed the most. Many water garden and pond owners have the misunderstanding that once the temperatures drop, pond care is no longer necessary. The truth is, to maintain a beautiful and appealing pond, maintenance and care is required throughout the year, especially during the winter for those pond owners who reside in colder climates with harsh winters.

If you are a pond owner, is essential to maintain the health of your pond, especially during the winter. However, pond maintenance during the winter season must be done properly. To help ensure that owners care for their ponds the correct way, and avoid pond maintenance mistakes, we put together a list of mistakes pond owners should never make when performing pond maintenance.

MISTAKE #1: BANGING ON THE ICE

In the winter months, ponds are much more likely to freeze, especially in the colder regions of the nation. If you find your pond frozen and are unsure of which steps to take, be sure to check out our previous blog, What Should I Do If My Pond Freezes to guide you in the right direction. When ponds freeze, many pond owners know the importance of creating a hole in the ice to allow for proper gas exchange. However, what most pond owners do not know is that you should never hit or kick the ice in an attempt to create a hole. Banging on the ice of a pond can create sound waves that can be harmful to pond fish. Instead of trying to break the ice open, pond owners should use a de-icer to create a hole in the ice’s surface. If a person does not own a deicer, they can be found at almost any pond supply store, or instead of a de-icer, pond owners can create a hole in the ice by simply pouring boiling water on an area of the ice’s surface.

MISTAKE #2: FORGETTING POND WATER TREATMENTS

Pond water treatment is something that should be done during each season, not just the summertime. Just as pond maintenance is important year-round, a pond’s quality of water is just as important, if not more important in the winter than it is in the summer. Applying a quality bacteria blend to your pond at least once a month will help with preventing debris that normally collects in pond water during the colder seasons, leaving your pond fish happier and healthier.

MISTAKE #3: USING A CHEAP OR INEFFICIENT DE-ICER

As you now know, deicers can be extremely helpful in winter pond maintenance. Because de-icers play such an important role, it is important to ensure that pond owners are using a good quality, effective deicer with at least 1200 watts of power. Cheap deicers commonly fail or are not effective in ponds of larger sizes. However, purchasing a quality de-icer, pond owners can ensure that there will always be a  hole in the ice’s surface to allow for gas exchange, keeping your pond in good shape and providing pond inhabitants with a healthy environment.

MISTAKE #4: LEAVING A DEICER ON CONTINUOUSLY

Many pond owners have the misunderstanding that deicers need to be left running. The truth is, this actually is a bad idea. In the winter, deicers can consume a lot of energy. Pond owners who reside in colder climates may be tempted to leave their de-icer on to ensure their pond does not freeze over, but it is not really necessary. When using deicers, pond owners should periodically check on the hole. If the hole seems to be closing up, simply switch the de-icer on for a day or two to solve the problem and then shut it back down.

MISTAKE #5: FORGETTING TO TURN ON THE DE-ICER BEFORE GOING AWAY

Just as pond owners forget to turn off their deicers, many forget to turn them on. As mentioned above, it isn’t good for your de-icer to continuously be running, however there is an exception. If pond owners are going to be away from their pond, perhaps taking a trip to a much warmer area, for a week or more during the cold winter months, their pond’s de-icer should be left on. Forgetting to turn on your deicer before leaving for a while could leave you with a frozen and unfortunate situation upon your return. It is essential your pond has everything it needs, including a de-icer, before leaving. Ideally, if pond owners are going to be away from their pond, they should have a friend, family member, or neighbor care for their pond while they are gone. This way, a de-icer won’t have to run continuously and pond owners can save money on their energy bills.

MISTAKE #6: NOT SHUTTING DOWN WATER FEATURES

There’s nothing that adds beauty to a pond like an appealing, relaxing water feature, like a waterfall. However, for pond owners to ensure that their water features continue to run properly, they must first take the necessary steps to shut it down properly for the winter season. When shutting down a water feature, pond owners should:

  1. Remove the pump.
  2. Store the pump in a bucket of water
  3. Blow out the pipe and cap each end using a cleanout plug.

By following this shutdown process, pond owners can prevent pipes from bursting if the remaining water inside the pipes freezes.

MISTAKE #7: FEEDING FISH

Growing up, if your first pet was a fish, you were probably reminded to feed it over and over again. While it may seem counterintuitive to avoid feeding your fish, it is important to keep in mind that pond fish will naturally slow down their systems when the temperatures begin to drop. When this happens, fish are unable to digest food properly. While it may be tempting to feed fish during these cold months, giving them food can be harmful, it could even kill them.

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