Winterizing Your Pond...
What to do when Jack Frost comes knocking on your door...
Yes, its that simple! Keep your waterfalls running. Any pump that is greater than 2000 gallons per hour can run throughout the winter. The moving water will keep the area around the waterfall and skimmer open. This open water will be a definite bird's attraction. During the winter, they are on a constant search for running water. Be careful with long or slow moving streams because the ice may create dams and divert the water off the liner. You may have to top up the pond several times throughout the winter. Water is taken from the pond when ice forms and also when ice forms, the water can flow over top of the ice and out of the pond. If you decide to shut down the waterfall in the winter, there are a few options to choose from. If the pump is not going to remain in the pond, it should be removed and stored in a frost free location in a bucket of water so the seals do not dry out and crack. The biological media and filter mats should be removed from the BIOFALLS®, sprayed down and stored. This will make clean outs in the spring muchquicker and easier. Fish can survive the change in temperature in the water over the change in seasons but they do need a sufficient oxygen supply and a hole in the ice to survive.
OPTION #1 - SUBMERSIBLE PUMP
By placing a 1000 GPH or larger submersible pump just below the water surface - you can keep the oxygen levels high enough in the pond to sustain the fish throughout the winter. This also keeps a hole in the ice to allow the poisonous gases to be released from the pond. These gases come from decomposing matter like leaves and other debris that has sank to the bottom of the pond. The pump shouldn't bubble any more than an inch above the water surface. It is also wise to place the pump in a bucket or basket filled with gravel to prevent your pump from being clogged and also to prevent your pump from becoming a sushi machine.
OPTION #2 - FLOATING HEATER
Floating heaters are the most common method of keeping a hole in the ice. It is better for the fish if a heater is used in conjunction with a small submersible pump (ex. 150 GPH) because the heater alone does not provide oxygen for the fish. The downfall of this method is that heaters are energy gluttons and use a lot of electricity to operate. Most run at around 1000 to 1200 watts, where most pumps run at about a third of that. For example the Tsurumi OMU2 2700 GPH pump runs at 280 watts. If a pump is used in conjunction with a heater, they should be more than a foot away from each other because the pump will push the warm water away from the hole.
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Cutting back plant material in the fall will prevent organic debris from decomposing in the water over the winter.