As a garden pond goes into colder weather, you’ll need to carry out a few routine chores to help maintain the good health of plants and aquatic life.
With your SKIMMER NET, net the bottom of the pond for any debris, algae, dying leaves or spent blooms. Also skim off pollens and seeds from the pond’s surface to prevent random germination in the pots of marginal plants. If you stir up black sediment or detect an odor you may be stirring up methane gas that has already built up from excessive decomposition. At this point, scoop only for a few minutes at a time to prevent “gassing” your fish, and add BDR SLUDGE AWAY, designed specifically for the removal of organic bottom solids that are slow to degrade. It is recommended that your pump continue running while using BDR Sludge Away; the results are quicker while the water is still warm however this product will still work in cooler water temperatures.
Keep falling leaves and debris from entering the pond. Leaves will settle to the bottom in only a few days and begin decomposing. Many types of leaves, such as maple & pine, will produce tannic acid turning the water brown and potentially harming fish. To prevent leaves from falling into the water (and keep unwanted predators away while fish are dormant and totally visible) install protective netting over the pond. NETTING is available in 1/6" mesh size and comes 14’ wide and your choice of length. Also available are HERON DECOYS to deter live birds from stalking your fish.
Once the pond water temperatures has dropped, add BDR WINTER PREP, a natural, safe & beneficial bacteria to your pond. The Winter Prep reduces buildup of dead leaves and organic sediment all Winter long and will continue providing sustained biological activity in water temperatures under 55 degrees. If frozen, the bacteria will remain effective after thawing and is also effective in darker conditions (under ice & snow). Winter Prep also helps to maintain a healthy immune system for your fish during the Winter months and helps to jump start your pond to a healthy environment in Spring.
WATER QUALITY: Testing of your water should be done in early Fall. If any problems exist, (high or low Ph levels, ammonia build-up, or high levels of nitrites), they can be corrected much easier before water temperatures drop. Partial water changes may be necessary if such problems exist and are much easier when water temperatures are above 55 degrees. Test kits are nice to have on hand; they are
inexpensive and are good for many, many tests. We also offer complete water testing here in our store. Please call ahead if you can so we can explain how to properly retrieve your water sample for testing.
PLANTS: As with all garden plants, your water plants will let you know when it is time to cut them back and “put them to bed” for the Winter. The growth will slow, leaves begin to yellow or brown, etc., as the water temperature begins to fall. When this occurs, trim back the tops of plants to prevent excessive decomposition in the pond and over-wintering of pests. Marginals (shelf plants) & hardy lilies should be pruned back an inch or two above the pot level. Pruning and lowering water iris is optional as during a mild winter they may retain green foliage throughout the season. Lower all hardy plants to the deepest part of the pond (ideally 18”- 24”) where they will remain ice-free. Oxygenators that have reached the surface should also be cut back, (weights are available if you need more). Marginal plants that have outgrown their pots can be divided or up-potted at this time. Lilies are better left until Spring. Prior to the first frost, tender & tropical aquatics should be moved indoors and provided strong sunlight. Tropical floating plants (hyacinth & water lettuce) should be removed from the pond and discarded before the first frost.
FISH: If you are in the habit of feeding your fish, limit feeding to only the warmest days as fish metabolism slows in cooler water. Switch to BDR COLD WEATHER WHEAT GERM FOOD when the weather cools as this has less protein and the wheat germ is more easily digested. When water temperatures drop below 45 degrees, STOP feeding fish altogether; fish are unable to metabolize food in such cold water. Resume feeding only when water temperatures return to a consistent 55° in early Spring. Monitor fish closely for parasites or disease as it is next to impossible to treat them for problems in Winter.
Keep the pond’s surface from freezing solid to prevent the build-up of toxic gases that can kill fish, as well as to allow oxygen to enter the pond. We suggest using a POND AERATOR that will maintain a hole in the ice even on the coldest days. The aerator can be connected where your pump will be unplugged. If ice does cover the pond’s surface, do not forcibly break the ice as the concussion can kill your fish. Although floating objects such as a soccer ball, etc. may seem useful, they do not allow oxygen to enter the surface nor gases to escape. Aerators will keep a large hole in the ice while also supplying extra oxygen to help break down decomposing debris in the pond and helping good bacteria to thrive.
IN-POND PUMP AND SUBMERGED BIOLOGICAL FILTER: As water temperature drops, the bacteria growing in your filter dies back eliminating the need for it to operate. We suggest taking both the filter and pump out of the pond and cleaning them thoroughly. The pump can be restarted in the Spring with the bio-filter “seeded” when the water temperature has stabilized over 55 degrees. If you choose to leave the pump in the pond, make sure all hoses and/or sprayheads are disconnected so they do not crack or burst. Make sure in Spring that you replace the bio-rock located in the bottom of your filter.
SKIMMER AND BIOLOGICAL WATERFALL SYSTEMS: As you are already circulating surface water at a large volume, (not the warmer water in the lower half of the pond), your pump can continue to operate in its same position throughout the Winter months.
Regular pond checks must be made to insure your pond water remains at the proper level. Ice dams may build around your waterfall causing water to change its course and run out of the pond. Water levels can also get low if large amounts of ice form on the rocks. Ice may also form around your skimmer door blocking water flow. Again, it is more economical and worry-free using a pond aerator device.
If you choose to turn off your pump and use a aerator, you must remove or open the check-valve which will drain your lines so they do not burst. Remove your pump along with the skimmer contents including the skimmer door. Also, the filter pads in the biological waterfall should be removed at this time along with any bio-rock and be discarded and replaced every Spring. The filter should be re-seeded in early Spring with fresh bacteria.
ULTRA-VIOLET LIGHTS & PRESSURE FILTERS: Both of these systems should be taken off-line and stored indoors for the Winter. Any ice forming on or inside either unit can cause the quartz sleeve, bulb, or filtration system to shatter or burst if left outside.
CONCRETE / POTTERY FOUNTAINS: Concrete fountains / statuary should be cleaned in the Fall and a concrete sealer applied to prevent moisture from penetrating the surface and causing cracks and eventual breaks from freezing. Any basin that might collect water should be drained and covered to prevent water from collecting, or removed to a protected area for the winter. Pottery fountains should also be drained and covered to prevent possible breakage. If your basin is at least 18” deep your pump can remain in place but make sure the hose is disconnected. Make sure the urn or pottery vessel is drained of all water.
If you are interested in any of the supplies mentioned above or if you have questions, feel free to contact your “POND PROFESSIONALS”, Rob & Christopher at:
B.D.R. Ponds, Inc. 225 Southland Drive, Lexington, KY 40503 (859) 276-2221
P.S. For special events and holidays remember to add GIFT CARDS to your want list. They do not expire, do not lose value and are as good as cash. We wish you a safe and enjoyable Winter season and again, phone or come by if you have any questions or concerns. Fall and Winter hours DO
vary, so please call ahead. Thank you.