Fall-pondFall is upon us with the days getting shorter and the leaves just starting to turn. This is the time to start preparing the koi pond for the upcoming winter months. As the water temperature declines the metabolism of the koi pond starts to slow down. If you have not had a frost yet, it will arrive shortly.
Pond flowers like water lettuce and aterhyacinths need to be taken out from the pond well before the cold sets in. Water lettuce is typically the first to show signs of temperature drop. It is critical to take out these plants before they die and start discharging toxic compounds into the water and eating up oxygen levels. Any kind of tropical lilies should be also taken away and put away for the next season. Get rid of the lily pads as they die off and cut the perennials back to a smaller area. Plants like watercress should be cut back to a 1 – 2 foot square area. Cut the tops off of water iris to leave about 4 -6 inches. The lesser the plant surface area is on the water, the less difficult it is to keep the leaves emptied out of the pond. If you have dead spots it the pond with little water flow, an additional pump can be used to keep the bottom stirred up.
Given that water temperature stays above 70 degrees F, pond fish can be fed the same high-protein pellets they’re given throughout the summer. But in between 60 to 70 degrees their diet needs to be modified to a mix of high-protein pellets and wheatgerm pellets, the exact ratio favoring the wheatgerm pellets the colder it is. Wheatgerm pellets are less difficult to digest than high-protein pellets, and this is most important because pond fish will be processing their food more slowly as the water temperature lowers. Below 60 degrees F, they should be supplied just wheatgerm pellets because they won’t be able to absorb high-protein pellets at all.
fall1It’s a good plan to feed pond fish two or three times a day through the first half of fall, and twice (or just once a day) in the second part of the fall. Take care to quickly get rid of any uneaten food. Below 55 degrees F pond fish barely feed at all, and even wheatgerm pellets should be used moderately. By the end of the fall period, algae and detritus in the pond will be supplying all the nutrition pond fish need, so supplemental feeding will be not required.
Scrape the sides of the pond of algae and net it out. You must also eliminate any plants that are not going to make it through the winter. Set a leaf net over the pond in order to avoid tree leaves from flying into the pond at a later time when the weather gets rough. If you expect flooding or heavy rain, set up sandbags on the edge of the pond to a height of up to two feet to stop fish being swept away.
It’s very important to prepare your pond equipment for fall/winter. Clean your filtration system and remove the pond pump from the water. Once you have gathered your equipment you can clean and maintain it at your convenience. You do not want to do it when it’s already freezing outside.
If you wish to run the pump working all through the winter, lift it so that it draws off of mid-water level. Never have the pump pull water from the bottom of the pond in the winter – this keeps the water more warmer for fish.
Extra tip: Keep a hole in the ice so that gas exchange can occur. Do not forcefully break a hole in the ice because that can be fatal to fish.