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FAQs on Winter Pond Maintenance

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

What to do with a Little Fish. GF, overwintering in a pond   11/13/14
My question involves a tiny 2" fish in my pond. I fear this fish is too small to survive 3-4 months without food, when I stop feeding for the winter. Photo of it is in attachment. It is smaller than my 4 inch fish. I was told I might have to rear it indoors this winter.
If I change the water every day, could I keep it in the 6 gallon tank for a while? Should I put it in one of the other tanks? Should I just leave it in the pond? Thank you.
<Better to leave it outdoors; enough food there at lower temperature.. BobF>

Re: What to do with a Little Fish    11/14/14
Thank you so much Bob! :)
<Welcome commensurately Cam!>

Again re overwintering GF    12/1/14
I have a 28 gallon tank. The gph of the filter is about 350, it is a power filter. The ph is 8 and nitrates and ammonia at 0. I ordered a sponge filter rated for 40 gallons for the 3 female guppies I own. This tank contains 3 guppy females, 5 neon tetras, 2 ghost shrimp, and numerous bladder snails.
I also have a 10 gallon tank with a sponge filter rated for 15 gallons. The ph is 8 and ammonia and nitrites at 0. This tank contains 1 Betta fish, 4 ghost shrimp, and numerous bladder snails.
I also have a spare 6 gallon tank that is currently empty. I have a spare 10 gallon power filter I can use for it.
I also have a 765 gallon pond with 10 goldfish in it. The ph here is 8 and ammonia and nitrates are 0. It has a 625 filter with a uv and fountain attachment. The filter is submersible.
My question involves a tiny 2" fish in my pond. I fear this fish is too small to survive 3-4 months without food, when I stop feeding for the winter. Photo of it is below.
<Hmm... no picture attached. But I think we answered this question or something similar a few weeks ago? Ah, yes, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PdDailyFPg.htm
Bob F thought it'd do fine; I'd prefer to bring such a small fish indoors. I wouldn't keep a juvenile Goldfish (if that's what it is) in a tropical tank though -- better to find an unheated tank of suitable size and keep it there. It's "body clock" will already have shifted to cool conditions, and warming it up too dramatically could be stressful. Bob F's comment works the other way, allowing the fish's metabolism to slow down with the winter, and that being the case, it won't need much/any food anyway. Hmm... what to say... ultimately your decision, risks either way, but likely more baby fish in spring anyway. Left outdoors easier, perhaps less stress on the fish, no need for a ready-cycled filter, "what doesn't kill makes it stronger" so far as this baby fish goes. Bring indoors means you can keep feeding during the winter, faster growth rate, able to medicate if something goes amiss, less likely to just vanish without trace. Your move. Cheers, Neale.>

All fish in pond dead    3/23/14
I live in Northeast Pennsylvania and we had a very hard winter here this year. It looks like I lost every fish in my 6 year, 6000 gallon pond. It is still partially frozen over but from what I can see, there is nothing left alive. I had 8 year old Koi and regular pond gold fish and they are frozen in the ice. I am so devastated and upset. I have decided that I will not be replacing the fish seeing as I am not at home for most of every month (I drive semi truck with my husband) and can not handle the guilt of what has happened.
<... is it the design (shape, location) of this pond basin that allowed it to freeze so deep? Have you read here re de-icers?
I did a clean up in the fall, had a heater in throughout the winter to keep a hole open,
stopped the pump, covered the pond with netting yet this obviously it was not enough. I'm not sure what else I could have done.
<Covered in hay perhaps>
I just want to drain the pond, clean it out and refill it but with no fish.
Is there a way for me to find out what happened? The deepest end of the pond is over 5 feet so I am pretty sure that the water did not freeze the entire pond. I suspect maybe a PH crash. If I have the water tested, would this be able to tell me what happened?
<Quite a few possibilities... lack of oxygen, anaerobiosis effects... Testing won't tell you much re the past/cause/s>
I appreciate any information that you can give me regarding this issue.
Thank you very much.
<Do peruse the above citation, the linked files at top. Sorry for your losses. Bob Fenner> 
Re: All fish in pond dead    3/23/14

Thank you for your response.
<Welcome Sandy>
The pond design/shape is fine (I think). We have come to the conclusion that the fish died then floated to the top and got iced over. The pond is not completely thawed out yet but I have managed to get a lot of the larger dead fish out. While I was doing this I accidently caught a live gold fish.
This has given me some hope as to maybe there are more alive. I put it back into the pond but am concerned because the water is "smelly".
<You did the right thing. Important to move very slowly, deliberately when the water is still cool to cold>
In addition to the dead fish (which by the way look like they have been dead awhile i.e.: white eyes, bloating) there are numerous leaves laying on top of the net but also in the water. I know this is not a good thing and tried to get some out.
Do I have any chance of saving any live fish that are in the pond?
I will be leaving for work in just a few days and we are expecting yet another cold front so I can only do so much. My cousin will be stopping in from time to time and I have asked him to scoop out any dead fish that he sees. Any other suggestions??
<Drip, as in a steady drip... new water into this pond... at 6k gal.s it won't hurt to introduce sanitizer like this... and it will slowly dilute wastes>
I appreciate your time and insight. Thanks so much.
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: All fish in pond dead     3/24/14

Thanks again for all the info.
We have started a steady drip of fresh water from the hose. The problem is that the temperature is below freezing today and will also be for tomorrow.
There is a small hole in the ice where the water is coming out of the hose but not very big. I don't think we will be able to run this during the night (temps down in the low 20's).
I have also found quite a few holes in the top part of the liner that will need to be repaired as soon as the weather breaks.
We have seen numerous fish moving very slowly under the ice so that is a good thing. I have removed some more leaves (what isn't frozen in the ice).
<Better to not disturb... PLEASE read where you've been referred. B>
Is there anything else that we can do? I do have another pond heater (to keep a hole open in the ice), would it be beneficial to put another one in?
Then I would have 2 holes open.
Please advise and thanks once again.

At a total loss, help! Pond winter maint. f'        2/26/14
Hi Guys,
Thanks so much for the great info on the site.  I have been reading through and now I'm more confused than ever.  I have an small outdoor man made pond (actually 2 that are connected with a small watercourse, top one is about 35 gallon and bottom pond is about 150 gallon).  I am in Baltimore, Md
<Ahh, these volumes are too small... I would overwinter your livestock (fish, plants, invertebrates) indoors... moving them when temp.s are staying in the mid 50's F... as gone over/archived on WWM re maintenance of ponds>

 and we have had a highly unusually cold winter.  For the first time in the ~13 years I've had the pond, I have had some winter issues with the fish.  First my Shubunkin had dropsy which I attributed to possible hypothermia. 
Brought it into my basement for 24 hours which slowly brought water temp to 40 degrees and added some Epsom salt, then the next day I bought it upstairs which brought temp up to about 50 degrees
<Mmm, I'd leave all in the basement>

 and added a bubbler.  Then I put it into my indoor pond (about 35 gallons) and treated with e.m. erythromycin for 4 days according to package directions.  In the meantime, I ended up bring in 3 more goldfish (comet or comet/Shubunkin hybrids, not sure, were born in pond) and did the same process with them.  They are now all in the indoor pond and had been treated with the anti-biotic.  All are eating,
<... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdmaintwint.htm
and the linked files above>
one looks great and seems happy, fin on back raised, but the others seem stressed fins down.  Two have a fuzzy white appearance almost like the slime coat is "peeling" off.  Been monitoring water quality and the ph and kH are low, from the antibiotic killing off beneficial bacteria? 
 The ammonia levels have been high
<... need to be zero>
 so I've been doing 1-2 (30-50% each) water changes per day making sure to match temp which is ranging now between 55 and 60 degrees
<Too high; too much change in a short period>

and am hovering at 1 for ammonia, which I know is still high.  My question is, are these large water changes ok, or stressing fish more?
<Read on WWM re biological cycling>

 Is the white stuff disease or symptom of ammonia poisoning/water quality?  Should I add some salt?  I do have plants in the pond, iris, pothos, tropical water lily I'm overwintering, white calla lily and a lucky bamboo.  It's been over a week since the antibiotics and I've added beneficial bacteria several times.
I am just at a loss. 
Thanks so much,
<... Bob Fenner> 

Pond Goldfish Feeding      12/4/13
I live in Arizona. I own a 500 gallon pond. I have 4 small comet goldfish in the pond. This is my first winter keeping goldfish in a pond.
The pond temperature has reached below 50 degrees F now consistently. The instructions from other sources I have read say to stop feeding pond goldfish when the temperature gets consistently below 50 F.  The instructions on their food bag say I can feed them their brand of food until the temperature reaches 39 F.
The fish are so small. And Arizona's temperatures tend to fluctuate. The temperatures rarely reach 40-39 F outside.
Should I still be feeding the fish now, or will they be alright now until the spring?
Thank you.
<I would stop; see WWM re. B>
Re: Pond Goldfish Feeding       12/4/13

Thank you so much!

2 5 inch Koi; overwintering in/outdoors      11/20/13
I was wondering if you could answer a few questions about my 2 approximately five inch Koi I have. (don't know their actual size sorry)
<No worries; this approximation will suffice>
we have been keeping them in an above ground stock tank (approximately 500 gallon) for the summer.
we are unable to keep the tank heated over the winter and I am afraid they will die if left outside in this stock tank.
would they live? or should I move them inside?
<Mmm, depends on how well insulated (thermally) the 500 gal. system is...
IF not too much vacillation in temperature (a few to several F. per any given day), they should be fine>
if I have to move them in Im afraid I don't have a big enough tank for them.
what would my options be on housing them indoors for the winter only?
<Tanks... kiddie pool... both covered, w/ tops>
I have a couple 35 gallon tanks, would that be big enough for the winter if I split them up? should I split them up?
<Unless there's the variation mentioned, or outright freezing; I'd leave where they are>
any advise would be greatly appreciated.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Checking for Disease and Disinfecting Goldfish    10/28/13
Mr. Fenner,
Hello.  I had corresponded with you previously regarding winterizing my father’s Goldfish pond.  I reviewed the article at the link below which you provided:
I noticed the article recommends that prior to cold water hibernation, the fish should be well fed and checked for disease and disinfected, if necessary.  How does one check to see if a Goldfish is diseased and/or requires disinfection prior to hibernation?
<A cursory examination of the body for obvious parasites like Anchorworm and fishlike... Some folks (so I'll mention it) might do a body (slime) sample, perhaps a snip of gill branchiostegal and look under a 'scope. Mostly keen observation of the behavior the animals. Bob Fenner>
Thank you,
Re:  Checking for Disease and Disinfecting Goldfish    10/28/13

Thank you for your timely response.
<Ah, welcome>
Are the disinfectants chemicals that are added to the water or are they applied directly to the fish?  Should they be applied preemptively?
<Best to not add anything if there is not specifically call to do so>
Thanks again,
<Certainly welcome. BobF>
Re:  Checking for Disease and Disinfecting Goldfish    10/28/13

I see.
Thanks again,

Pond Question; winter heating in AZ    10/13/13
Hello, I have a 90 gallon pre-formed pond outside my apartment and was wondering what kind of heater I should get for this coming winter?
<Mmm, let's see>
I live in Tucson, AZ so the nights don’t get to cold but I want my fish to be comfortable. I have four Goldfish and one medium sized Pleco. in it. I brought them inside last year but can’t this winter since all my tanks are currently occupied. I’m on a tight budget so I’m looking for a heater that is reasonable priced and works well.
<Well, I'd get/use a simple de-icer model... leave it on continuously... this will cost you energy-wise>
 I tried search for heaters but am not sure how much many watts I need.
<Depends on how insulated the setting is; but likely 25-50 watts will do>
 Thanks you for your time, Bethany S.
<Do see WWM re pond overwintering... the couple articles re there. Bob Fenner>

Questions about Goldfish in an Outdoor Pond; winter care      9/30/13
My father, who resides in Southeast Pennsylvania, has an outdoor Goldfish pond that is approximately 5-ft x 3-ft in size and about 2-ft deep.
<Wish this were deeper... better insulation from the seasons>
 He originally had about a dozen Goldfish in the pond.  However, all but one died during last winter.
 The remaining single Goldfish is now about 6-inches in size.
My father is interested in adding more Goldfish to the pond.  He was wondering if he could do that now just before winter sets in and the pond freezes or should he wait until next spring?
<Well; better to wait till the water warms, and stays above 55 F. or so. If he's willing to wait, I would>
 Also, should there be any concern over the size of the Goldfish he adds?
<Not really, no>
  If the new Goldfish are smaller than the larger Goldfish already in the pond, will the larger Goldfish attack the smaller Goldfish?
<Comet/pond goldfish tend to be quite social toward others>
Thank you for your assistance with these questions
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Questions about Goldfish in an Outdoor Pond     9/30/13

Mr. Fenner,
<Mr. B.>
Thank you very much for your timely response to my questions.
<Certainly welcome>
Regarding the concern about the pond’s 2-ft depth not providing enough insulation during the winter, my father does have a water pump that circulates the water in the pond.  Would keeping the pump running to prevent the pond from completely freezing be a way to compensate for the shallow depth of the pond?
<Yes; it should run twenty four seven... there are even purposeful "pond de-icers" that one may employ in cold climes. Perhaps a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdmaintwint.htm
and the linked files above>
Re:  Questions about Goldfish in an Outdoor Pond     10/1/13

Mr. Fenner,
Thank you again for timely response and for the link to your informative article on Over-Wintering Water Features.
<Ah, welcome>
Kind regards,
<Should your father have further questions, concerns, please don't hesitate to write. Cheers, BobF>
Re:  Questions about Goldfish in an Outdoor Pond

Will do.  Thanks again.
<Cheers, B>

Question re: Pond Cover for Fish - 11/05/2012
Greetings Wet Web Media Crew - I hope this message finds you well.
<Hiya - it's finds us alive, dry and with our homes intact!!  - Darrel here>
I have a question about winter pond covers I hope you can help me with.
<Ahhh - hope springs eternal, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it>
In getting ready for hurricane Sandy, I made a pond cover with a blue 5 mil plastic cover that sits on some PVC pipes so it is shaped like a pyramid.
(See attached picture). It has some air holes cut into the top
<OK - the only thing I would add here is that a storm powerful enough to dump enough water to affect your pond inhabitants is likely to be strong enough to wash that cover way - but that's just an observation>
The pond is 2 1/2 ft deep.  5 ft across and 8ft long.
I'm wondering if I should switch out the blue tarp for an opaque tarp that will let more light in during the winter months.
<Not particularly, no>
I have a low voltage ice melter in for the colder months to come.  Do fish need to experience the different light and dark time periods during the day for the health?  Or during hibernation is it   I've tried to lift the front part of the tarp to let some light in when I am home during the day.
<When it gets cold enough for the need of an ice melter, the fish have entered a state of torpidity in which they rarely move, barely transpire and have virtually no brain activity -- essentially the same as the average American voter right about this time of year.   The light cycles of the fall, winter, spring and summer have a tremendous affect on them when they are active and alert, but once they've reached this hibernative state, the light cycles are unimportant.>
<A bigger concern to me is that the pond is not very large (specifically not very deep) to endure a prolonged cold snap without freezing - and an ice melter works fine to the point where it is overpowered by the cold.  
Given that you only have a 5/8 surface area, you could look into 3 inch thick pieces of  Styrofoam from a local building supply store to float on the water, under the cover, to give the melter some additional help.>
Thanks so much for your help.
<Did I help?>

Yet another blue Chinese (cheap) tarp!

ice. Pond deicing choices    12/7/10
Hi Guys,
I wrote you recently about the fact that I have about 10-12 new baby fish and I live in NY and it is getting very cold. You advised me that I should not let the pond freeze because the babies would not survive.
<Not likely... if they're small, born late season>
I am looking at two types of heaters/de-icers one is from farm innovators item# FI-H-419 this one is submersible and has a thermostat and the other one is just a floating pond de-icer, 1250 watts.
<Yow! The last expensive to run all winter>
My pond is approximately 460 gallons, which type do you think would work the best and should I keep the pump running?
<The thermostatic one, and leave the pump off, drain the water lines to prevent rupture from expansion, and the pump volute as well if it's not submersed>
If you folks sell either of these items I would prefer to purchase from you as you guy's have been very helpful in the past.
<Ahh, we sell only "content"... the "media" part of the website name. Thank you, oh, and please read here:
and the linked files above. Do take care not to disturb the pond during the cold season. Bob Fenner>
Re pond de-icers  12/7/10

> Hello Bob,
> I read your reply re: de-icing with interest.
> My understanding is that pond heaters do not appreciably warm up ponds; all they do is ensure there's a gap in the ice for gaseous exchange.
<This is so>
Pond heaters certainly won't keep a pond warm enough for very young fry to survive, so where that's an issue, removing some or all of the fry to a 55-gallon tank is surely the right way forward.
<This would be better... and is what I'd originally suggested; but it's likely too late "in the season" to do this... safely for the pond keeper or the fish>
> Generally, I recommend people concentrate on providing sufficient depth for goldfish to hibernate through winter safely -- i.e., at least 3 feet of water -- rather than fuss with heaters.
<This is my strong suggestion as well Neale; but unfortunately a good many ponds in the U.S. are too shallow>
I believe the latter lull people into a false sense of security, thinking that using a heater means they don't need a deep pond that can become properly stratified.
> I just worry that some people think pond heaters are big versions of aquarium heaters!
<Mmm, I don't this to be the case... Else they would be incredibly expensive to operate. Cheers, BobF>
> Cheers, Neale

Overwintering first year young 11/17/10
Hi, I have a 460 gallon outdoor pond with comets. Within the last couple of months there have about 10 new baby fish that I have noticed. My pond freezes about 2" thick with a 4" hole in the middle from the pump which runs during the winter months. Will the baby fish survive the winter, they do not appear to have much meat on them. If they will not what do you recommend I do, thank you.
<Mmm, if you have a system of size (twenty gallons or more) that you can set up... soon, before the weather gets even colder... I would move these young in-doors (or the garage) for the winter to be sure. Do use existing pond water for the move, new system. Bob Fenner>
Re: Overwintering first year young   11/17/10

Thank you for getting back to me I really appreciate it. I have another question. Could I use on of those floating warmers that prevents the pond from freezing and if so would I feed any of these fish?
<Mmm, yes to the first, not really to the second. Do read here re overwintering ponds:
and the linked files above. BobF>

Mud in my pond this winter-- 02/28/09 Hi Crew, <Mark> I usually ask and benefit from your excellent marine aquarium advice and articles. Today I am switching gears to see if you can help me determine if I should do something with my pond. I live in the greater Chicagoland area and have a 2700 gallon pond 25 ft x 16 ft x 3ft deep. I have had it for about 5 years now without incident. I am currently stocked with about 12 medium sized Koi (~5-10" ea), 5 medium sized assorted goldfish (~4-8"ea) and probably 20+ small (~1-2" ea) goldfish that were the result of some breeding activity last year. I use two Farm Innovator deicers to keep the ice open all winter but I do turn the pump off and bring it in during the winter. I keep the pond as free as possible from debris all through the fall and periodically in the winter if it is unfrozen. 2 days ago we had a downpour of rain which cascaded lots of water into the pond from runoff. This had muddied the water a great deal. The weather returned to below freezing and now my pond looks like a frozen bowl of chocolate. Again, there is still a nice 2 ft hole on one end of the pond but it is frozen over beyond that. <Don't "fool" with anything to do with this system till the water warms substantially... at least till all the ice has melted for the year> Finally my question. Is this mud dangerous to the fishes ability to 'breath'? <Not likely if they are still alive> It doesn't seem to be settling and I am concerned that it could inhibit their ability to get the minimal oxygen they need. I was thinking of either putting my pump back in or setting up an unused air pump from my aquarium but don't know if this would have negative implications. What do you think? <I'd hold off for now... IF all seemed like they were outright dying, I'd drain the water down quickly about 60%, and refill very slowly.... Stay OFF the ice> Thanks in advance for your help. Mark <Pondfish "live in mud" in the wild in many places... Wait till the season changes... start vacuuming out the bottom a bit each week... refill SLOWLY (drip) and dig a drain around the pond where mud is, might get in... perhaps a French drain... Bob Fenner>

Pond... winter, reading  12/07/08 Hi, this is my first experience with a pond (1000 gallons) a total of 11 Goldfish and Koi since October. I am afraid to leave my fish out for the winter much longer. It is December and the pond is almost completely frozen over. I am still running the pump to keep a hole opened in the ice. <Mmm...> I really enjoy watching my fish and I am seriously considering bringing them in for the winter, but I am afraid if I move them, I risk killing them. Is this true? <Possibly... best to move once the water temp. is staying about 55 F...> If I try to carefully remove the ice, will I hurt them from shockwave noise? <Very likely so... not advised> Something I was told And if I bring them inside, what size of tank do I need. <... depends on size of the fishes, the water temp... larger is better... filtered, aerated... and the pool covered> I have never had fish before? I also have a large issue with green algae, I have the bio filter and light but still have a lot of green coverage. I welcome your advise. Debbie <Please read... here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdmaintwint.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Preparing for Winter and boosting survival chances 11/9/08 Hi Bob and crew, you have always been a tremendous resource for my saltwater hobby and that hobby has lead me to keeping Koi in my backyard. <Great!> My pond is 8' x 14' x 4' deep. It gets very snowy where I live and I have for the first two years of keeping this pond, lost a fish or two every winter. The last winter I believe none would have died but we had a 6' snowfall that piled too high, smothering the de-icer. I physically couldn't get into my backyard and over to the pond... <A pain.> I know you say that less is more in terms of winter preparation but I'm wondering where to draw the line. Instead of only running a de-icer, should I be running a heater too? <Likely so from the sound of things, perhaps even building a little "shelter" over at least part of the pond to keep snow off; the surface liquid.> I'm trying to figure out the optimal way to deal with the pond this winter (without overdoing it) and the goal is zero casualties. I have 5 young Koi in the pond now that make a really great looking crew...Thanks in advance! FRANK <Very welcome, if the winter is just that bad and the Koi young/small enough, do consider even housing them indoors through the winter. Any holding container can work, aquarium, kiddie pool and the such. Also do be sure to adjust your feedings as the temperature drops. A few links below giving the general ideas here. Scott V.> http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdmaintwint.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/tfhpdwintpc.htm

Pond freeze-over time limit 1/17/08 Hello Crew, <Mark> I live in the Chicago area and have had a 2500 gallon pond about 26' x 18' for several years now. There are about 12 medium sized Koi (~5-10" ea), 5 medium sized assorted goldfish (~4-8"ea) and probably 20+ small (~1-2" ea) goldfish that were the result of some breeding activity last year. <Okay> I use a standard Farm Innovators Floating Pond Deicer to keep a hole in the ice over the winter. Yesterday when the weather returned to the cold temps the pond froze over but I noticed the heater seems to have died since the last freeze-over and now it is frozen in the ice. I will replace the heater but in the meantime, how long can I leave the pond frozen over without fear that the fish will be affected? Do I risk carefully breaking the ice or is it better to be patient and get a functioning heater in as soon as I can? <Could run out of oxygen... and/or if it freezes to the bottom... and BE VERY careful re walking, striking the ice cover... Deadly> Thanks for a fast turn around on this as the time is ticking!! Mark <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdmaintwint.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Stinky pond, winter -12/22/2007 Hi, Hope this is not a redundant question... My parents bought a house (Portland Oregon) this winter. Prior owner had a pond installed with waterfall, do not know if they ever kept fish in it but they did have plants. Suspect they had chemicals in it while the house was on the market 6 months to keep it clean and avoid maintenance, it has a suspicious lack of algae and no plants, snails or vertebrates. I am guessing it's 800 gallons at least and over 4 feet deep. The waterfall and filter were randomly turned off for days, weeks at a time over the last half year, and leaves accumulated. The water has a hydrogen sulfide smell to it. The person turning the pump on and off did not know to drain the stale water from the filter before turning it back on, so it got shot back into the pond after periods of anaerobic nastiness. Suffice to say it looks great but the smell is not so hot. So... if the rotting leaves are sieved out, filter cleaned and waterfall running, could the stinky water "clear up" and be safe for new livestock this spring? <Likely so> If not would carbon help? <Mmm, not worthwhile in pond-volumes...> Or should we drain and clean it and start over? <I would not try this till Spring has "really sprung"> Draining would be complicated because there is nowhere to put the water except on the ground, and it will then drain in to the neighbor's yard. <Mmm, look for a sewage clean out (a four inch threaded cap line...)> That probably wouldn't go over real well, especially as the ground is already saturated and marshy. My Dad is also hoping we can avoid draining it because he is worried about the water bill. Advice? Thanks, Kate B <Wait for now... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdmaintwint.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Pond liner exposure to winter weather 10/14/07 We drain our 4000 gallon pond and would like to leave it empty for the winter. We want to leave it empty and then clean and refill it in the spring. All fish and plants have been relocated to another pond. Will this cause any damage to the pond liner since it will be exposed to cold central Illinois weather? <Mmm, likely not IF this liner is of butyl/rubber... EPDM or composite make-up of adequate thickness (30 mils or more let's say)... I might throw some straw on it to prevent some possible damage by accrued snow, water/ice. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pond des., pb.  10/3/07 Thanks very much for your prompt and thorough response. You said you are about to be out of net reach so perhaps this reply is too late but, here's hoping... <Here for another day> The only point I didn't understand and would love to hear more about was your comment as follows from my question about the currently built 45 degree walls >The contractor left long sloping edges that I don't like very much. They slope nearly 45 degrees around the shallow end. ... <Mmm, yes... not good for maintenance, but better to avoid having the basin crushed, pop-out during coldest weather> I am not familiar with the concept of Basin crush, pop out from cold weather. <In areas where the ground freezes down a bit, and there is a good deal of water, lack of compressibility to the soil... the expansion with freezing can indeed crush the sides, even "pop out" the basin or swimming pool...> I don't want to assume the previous contractor was totally looped, if he had some wisdom for this Denver climate I want to understand it before I tear it down. Are vertical walls more susceptible to bulge later from frost heave than are degrees of slope? <To some degree, yes> If so perhaps I will have to research local builders and see if I can get an idea what works locally. <Mmm, have been to Denver... and see on the Net that the area does not usually get much of a "freeze"... the micro-climate can be of sizable influence as well... if there are large trees, structure near by... this will reduce freezing as well> I will start contacting local building firms in the mean time (in case you are away for the time you thought you would be away and cant respond to this follow up) and see if I can learn more about this concept. Again, my thanks for your time to reply. David Groover <Glad to help. BobF>
Re: Pond des., const. for cold weather  10/4/07
Ooops, I have another question already. Well, same as before, if you are still around ... and thank you - again. <Welcome> Yes, another day, just go your second response, much thanks. Yes, Denver is really not that bad in the wither. But it can definitely hit below zero temps for periods of time. Last wither was blizzard after blizzard and weeks and weeks of below 10 degrees, a relative rarity but these are changing times for the weather so one can't tell for sure. <I see> I want to know about building with winterizing in mind just because this has become my project and I want to build a good reputation. And that usually comes from building good ponds from a viewpoint of construction, beauty, and maintenance planning, and being good at timely delivery and customer care. <Good characteristics> This is Denver where it can get very cold in the winter. You also have quick thaws as the sunshine is very intense here. Therefore one would assume people would want to run their water features year round here. I built a patio water feature for a friend last year in Colorado and she kept it going all year. I asked her to turn off the pump when the water had frozen and it was a very small line, easily repaired if burst so I didn't worry. The pump sat in the feature so it never got solid with ice and I didn't worry about that either. <Okay> But now with this size of project and having had to dig up many pipes back east that had broken (the joy of leak detection) I am certainly thinking ahead as to how I want to design this. Both for practical reasons like, is the back-flow valve I would put in what I will likely use, a bio filter, is going to allow me to drain off the water that was raising out of the pond to fill the bio filter, and for potential repair work. Should I install a bleed valve somewhere near the outtake line from the pond for winter clearing of standing water in a pipe before a freeze? <That or insist the folks leave the system running year-round... this volume, shape should resist freezing... if so> Or, does water always seek its own level so I needn't worry as it will just reset to the level of the pond anyway? <Mmm, no... some systems have to be drained... Otherwise other mechanisms employed that resist freezing> Or, do I use a larger diameter pipe, more than the flow volume, so that when water does start to freeze and expand, it has a little room to move as it were? Is schedule 40 PVC better than the consumer grade PVC as it is a stronger PVC if I am at all worried about freezing? <Mmm, no... still have to worry regardless> It seems to me that if I am building a large system like this I should over-build it in a way that I shouldn't have to make the homeowner worry about rushing home to turn it off if there is a freeze warning. Seems kind of silly doesn't it? But I appreciate being able to ask the question and to be reassured. <Again... I would leave the circulation going continuously> And this is probably somewhere on the site so sorry to ask but as I have your attention, what is recommended as a depth for water carrying pipes when there will be a freeze? I expect when I dig I will remember as I used to do it so often. Perhaps 12 inches? <Maybe> You asked me earlier what the homeowner wanted? Amazingly, he seems to not have discussed this with the former contractor. <Or vice versa...> He wants plants and fish and the water fall. He has some dogs which will probably go swimming. I warned him about this as you a are probably already aware, critters sharp claws and EPDM liners don't usually get along very well for very long. <Err, I would NOT make a liner-only basin of this size. We installed such features for years... but with shotcrete, concrete and reinforcing mesh over the liners...> He didn't seem to care though. Therefore I envision this as getting it to the finish line ASAP with winter just around the corner with an eye to good future maintenance in my construction techniques. I see a good design made better but not an overly perfected look to the finished pond as in Japanese garden (which I love) or other forms of more formally prescribed beauty. I envision more of a Buddhist "I am one with nature" beauty that won't die all together form doggy dipping but will also be a part of a natural Colorado canyon landscape idea. Thanks very much again. David Groover <I'd read a bit more before committing to this project. Most all my pertinent efforts are posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm, though some occur with better graphics, editing in books, manuals. Bob Fenner>

Sick Koi?  -- 03/09/07 Hi, <Bonita> We have had our koi pond for just over one year. When the ice thawed about 2 weeks ago, it started getting full of stringy moss.   <Seasonal... to be expected... and a note to all... I would NOT fool with a pond this early out of the "cold season"> The koi have been kind of dormant (not moving around much) which seems to be the case whenever the water starts getting colder (going into winter). <Yes> Anyway, one of the koi was particularly dormant and seemed to have moss growing on it. <!> Now the rest of the koi are moving around a lot, but this one has a big patch of green on its back and a small patch over each eye.  It looks just like the moss (same color and looks stringy).  My husband picked the koi up and rubbed his thumb across the green patch on its back.  It didn't come off at all and he said it felt really slimy. <Mmm... healthy koi, pond fish... are slimy... not "dry"... but not "too" slimy either> Can you tell me what this is and if there is anything we can do about it? <Likely nothing... really. I would leave this fish be... and if you do "anything" with the pond... do it s l o w l y> I have been trying to find information, but everything I read about fungus and other things seem to be white or red in color.  Also, I have read something about putting salt in the pond and someone told me I could treat the fish with salt??? <I would not at this time of year...> Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Bonnie & Rusty Wilson   <You should read... here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm scroll down to the tray on Pond Maintenance... the articles by myself... and the related/linked FAQs files. Don't fool with the pond or livestock... until it's much warmer, consistently. Bob Fenner>

Koi additions   1/12/06 HEY THERE Fellow enthusiasts! <There you are Tom... long time, no chat> A couple of years ago, I built a large (to us anyway) liner pond (Thanks for the help Bob!).  It is approximately 3600 GAL or so.  It has been doing wonderful and the fish are happy and healthy. But here's the question.  A friend of mine is moving and can't take his (6) koi with him.  He wants to give them to me for my pond .  I feel there is enough room in the pond for them (only 5 fish right now) but am worried about adding fish in the winter. <Mmm, yes... a tough time to move> Will the bacteria be able to reproduce rapidly enough to keep up with the added load in cold water? <Actually... likely so... there is very little excretion of such in cold temperatures... the big troubles come about from the actual fish being moved... more psycho-social than physiological>   I live in Northern VA and, although winter hasn't truly visited us yet, the water is around the upper 40's (we stopped feeding in Nov when it dropped below 50). <Mmm... I take it all the fish... yours and theirs are outdoors... moving the koi expediently, switching water back and forth to acclimate, provide oxygen... not raising water temperature much in transition... should do it here> If this is in any way risky, I have no problem housing the new fish (around 6 - 8" each) in the basement in a 100 GAL stock tub with filter until the Spring. What are your thoughts? <Better to mix in with your existing fish IMO> Thanks so much for all that you fine folks do! Tom (The Tool Man) <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

New pond... design/iatrogenic problems   12/3/06 Hi, <Hello there> I've done a bit of research but have not found the answer to these questions. We've recently installed a small pond between 2 patios in our back yard in the Pacific Northwest.  It measures approximately 8' x 12' and is 20 inches deep <Mmm, too shallow... will be too variable in temperature to be stable... hard on livestock> with a thin layer of small gravel in the bottom. <Is this intended to be a biological system? You don't want gravel at the bottom... as you will learn> It also has a small waterfall for circulation.  We've added pots of water plants, lily pads, floating lettuce and hyacinth and some others.  We bought 12 goldfish and they seem to be enjoying the pond immensely. <You will need to bring all this life "in-doors" during the winter months...>   My first question is about feeding.  The pet store clerk and the water pond clerk both said that they don't feed their fish. <See WWM re... no feeding during times when temperatures dip/stay below about 55 F.> It increases the nitrate levels in the pond, plus the stores sell them really fast. <...>   So-do we need to feed them or will they feed on the plant material and what ever algae grows in the pond? <See WWM...> My second question involves our new pond inhabitant.  A rather large bull frog just appeared yesterday.  He seems to enjoy the pond too. <And your fish> Because it is the end of September, I'm wondering if he plans to hibernate here.  As I mentioned, the pond is only 20 inches deep with a little gravel.  Is that enough depth? <Not enough...>   Plus there is no mud for him to burrow into.  I hope he's had his fill for the year, because I don't want him eating my fish.   Should we "encourage" him to leave? <I would, yes> Any help you can give is much appreciated.  We're new to water features and want to do it right.  I suppose we need to figure out about testing the water too.  What is the correct ph balance we should try to maintain? Thanks for your help. Sandy <I strongly encourage your reading of what is posted on ponds on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm From the top down... including pond design... Yours will be problematical due to its size, shape, the gravel... Bob Fenner>

Overwintering Koi in a cold locale   9/19/06 Hi: <Hello there> I have a rather small pond about 5' x 4' x 20" - I am worried about my beautiful young koi.  There are 3 - 7" koi and 4 babies that are about 1" each - they were born this year.  I have been told I can leave them in the pond if I use an aerator to keep water moving or a deicer. <Mmm, no... unlikely... too much chance this volume, size/depth basin will freeze all the way> At 20" I am afraid the water will freeze solid.  Should I buy a 100 gal Rubbermaid trough (or bigger) and move the koi into the garage for the winter. <Yes, I would> We are going to expand the pond in the spring and will make an area that is at least 3' deep - I know they can survive throughout the winter at that depth.   If the garage stays between 20 and 30 degrees throughout the winter, would the koi be better there and then what do I need for the trough.   <Store it... incorporate it into the pond/bog filter...> The aerator - do I need to run a filter - I have no idea what to do.  I need help <I would run a large sponge filter and a Tetra Luft pump to operate it... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSub http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pdmaintwint.htm and the linked files above, and: FWSubWebIndex/spngfltfaqs.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks a million Jacque Re: Overwintering Koi in a cold locale   9/19/06 Thanks for your response.  I went to the web site but I can't identify the large sponge filter you are referring to in the e-mail can  you be more specific? <Mmm, let's see... http://www.pondbiz.com/home/pb1/smartlist_106/tetra_pond_filters.html> Also, will a 100 gal tub be large enough. <Should be... with a cycled filter in place, careful to no feeding when temperature is below 55 F... Bob Fenner> Jacquelin A. Moody

Pond Overwintering, not reading   8/19/06 Ok well I live in  Pennsylvania where it is pretty cold and the pond will freeze. How deep does it  have to be. <Mmm... depends on what you intend to keep in it, where it's located relative to "structure", whether you intend to employ countervailing strategies to prevent it freezing over/all the way to the bottom... 4 to 6 feet likely...> Also is there any specific brand of food I should feed them or what  should I feed them to get their fat up for the winter. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdmaintwint.htm and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Pondfishes in the GWN  3/3/06 Hello I am thinking of setting up a small outdoor pond - 180 gallons - which contains no heater and a basic filter. <... likely too unstable at this volume...> I am located in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. I have a couple of questions: What type of fish would you suggest? Can they survive the winter? <Perhaps some of the local life...> What happens if the water freezes in the pond? <If all the way down, fishicles... See WWM re ponds please: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm See all those blue file names? They're links... Bob Fenner> Thank you Pat

Over-Wintering Goldfish  11/30/05 I saw one post where someone wanted to bring goldfish in to an aquarium. I live in zone 7 and want to bring mine in to a tub of part of the pond water and the water lilies. In the spring we'll be constructing a slightly bigger pond because my current 3' diameter (round) by 18" deep is splitting. This year at the beginning of spring, we dug into the mire of this small pond and found the 2 fish alive (surprising to us) and lots of dead frogs. Will the fish be okay in my basement in a tub until spring? Thanks! Tammy <Goldfish are very hardy. They should be fine. Just make sure you do regular water changes and feed very lightly. Don>

Pond water in the winter  11/23/05 Mr. Fenner: <Jarvis> I have one question that I'm trying to get the answer to. Recently, the area that i <I> live in is getting cold, and the water temperature of my koi pond is remaining at a constant 10 degrees Celsius( 50 degrees F). It is this problem that the air is colder than the pond water, and the water just keep vaporizing and escaping. Do you suggest that I add in more water? I would appreciate your response.  A Koi keeper, Jarvis <I would slowly add more new water (a trickle) here. Making sure you remember the source water is running (to remember to turn it off). Bob Fenner> 

My pond goldfish... winter maint. 10/31/05 I am new to this (just built concrete pond this summer). Do they need any food or plants when temperature is in 40s at night?  <Mmm, generally not> Wait until spring to start feeding them? <Yes... till the water is consistently above 55 F.> I have been told there are no plants for the winter for outdoor ponds. True? <In a manner of speaking, yes. Please take a read over our site re Pond Maintenance (particularly seasonal) and feeding. Bob Fenner>

Moving goldfish indoors 10/25/05 It's getting cold in Minnesota and I'm preparing to bring 3 small (2 1/2" - 3") goldfish indoors for the winter. <good> The outdoor pond is minimal size (a gift) about 90 gallons.  I have a10 gallon aquarium with a filter, Water (conditioned), gravel on the bottom (10 pounds) and a couple Anacharis plants. I'm concerned about making the change without killing the fish.  My indoor water has stabilized over 2 days to about 70 degrees. The outdoor water temp is about 50 degrees. The indoor water has nothing added other than the conditioner. Can I add some of the clarifying bacteria inside, that I used in my outdoor pond? It seemed to work very well outdoors.  <the goldfish should be fine with the new setup, but you may want to add some of that clarifying bacteria...it works pretty well in my opinion> I know the trick of putting them in a bag with water from their current environment and floating it in the new environment. <good, make sure you acclimate them well, pH, temperature changes are very stressful on fish!> The pond has caught a lot of leafs this fall and has become a very light brown, like very thin tea. I'm thinking I would rather not mix it with my nice clean aquarium environment. Any trick there?  <No, do not put any foreign objects into the indoor aquarium> <<Huh?>> Any other advice would be much appreciated. I am a complete rookie. The outdoor pond was in operation only since early August. <I think you are doing fine, just get them inside before they freeze up there!!!!, IanB> <<Expect that when the fishes are shifted to water so much warmer they may begin to display breeding behavior.  MH>>

How do I fatten my koi up for winter?  9/3/05 Hello, I'm lacking some knowledge about how to prepare my pond and koi for the winter. I know that i would have to fatten my koi up for the winter, just like squirrels do before the snow comes. How do i do this and what else do i have to do?                                                                                         Thank you! <Mmm, there are a few things to do in anticipation of cool/er weather. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdmaintwint.htm and the linked files above... and for koi nutrition: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdfishfeeding.htm An ongoing process... Bob Fenner>

Moving goldfish indoors for winter 8/17/05 Help me....... please,                I'm losing sleep and winter's comin.  We have a wonderful garden pond that has roughly 20 large goldfish, 6 Shubunkin, and 15 multi colored babies that survived the breeding and eating season.  I've come to the realization that I have to bring all of them inside to enjoy over the long Minnesota winter.  Would either 2 150 gallon or a single 300 gallon tank see them through the winter? Joann <Yes... depending on how "large" is large, about this volume should do... you might save some money by looking for Rubbermaid troughs... and investigating filtration for these on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Pond construction question 7/13/05 I am building a semi-raised pond eight foot by twelve foot, roughly two and a half feet deep.  I am starting out with a footing 5 1/4 inches deep by 8 inches wide, reinforced with 1/2 inch rebar horizontally and vertically.  I am then planning on placing one course of 8x8x16 hollow core concrete blocks.  I am capping the pond with concrete pavers probably two courses. The footing is being poured on top of the existing grade and properly leveled.  The raised portion of the pond will be surrounded by a flower bed which i hope will solve the problem of grass clippings and leaves.  My question is if there should be any concern about frost line with the poured footing and if i should be concerned with it cracking or being damaged. <Mmm, yes... if the ground and air get/stay below freezing for long...> I will have a EPDM liner and underlayment inside the concrete block and form. I live in New Jersey, USA. Any information or help would be greatly appreciated. Everywhere i read and research has not mentioned anything about this concern. Thank you for your assistance. Dan <There are a few ways to thermally heat and insulate winter ponds (posted on WWM)... I would use a thermometer daily... or plan on draining the pond, plumbing, pump... during this time. Bob Fenner whose wife is from Garfield>

NOT moving pond livestock during the winter I have a small pond with approx 3-7 yr old Koi 2-4yr old and 3-2 yr olds. My problem is, we ended up buying  house a lot quicker than I imagined. Now it's full blown winter and I am scared to move my fish but I am not leaving them behind. What can I do?? <I'd "make a deal" with the new owners... to keep all going till the weather has warmed into Spring AND you've had time to design, build-out quarters for them at your new digs... there are designs for liner ponds on WetWebMedia, and ready-made pools, filters...> I don't want to shock them. I have a pond heater running and they love it but I don't know if it's keeping it warm enough to move them. <You are wise here... I also would NOT move this life> They are somewhat active and do come up to the surface occasionally. I plan to move them into a large container indoors until I am able to get their new home setup, stabilized in spring. What is the best way to move them from winter weather to indoor luxury living? Thank you for your help. D. Houghton <Do NOT do this... their metabolisms cannot take the rapid change... may appear fine for a few to several weeks... will likely die as a consequence. Bob Fenner>

Re: HELP!!! Moving pond life in winter I have another question, would it be possible to change them from the pond to a container that is the same temperature. <Yes... in/with the same water> I am placing them into a large Rubbermaid container that I currently have outdoors to detoxify and to cool down to the pond temperature. Will moving them to an exact environment as the pond kill them? <Hard on the fish, but should not kill them if they are in otherwise good health> I will make sure the containers water is the same temperature as the pond before I even attempt to move them. I am just unsure if disturbing them will shock them. They are still active and come to the top often. It has only dropped below freezing a few days so far. This week we are going to have 4 days of warm weather, ranging from 55-62. What happens to them when they experience fluctuating temperatures naturally that range from below freezing to 62 degrees within a 1 week period? <In large/r volumes, in below-ground basins that are thermally insulated... these thermal fluxes are slower, less...> This week is the only week I have to move them. Our worst part of winter is still coming and I won't be able to get another chance to relocate them. Asking the owners or future tenants is not an option. I am forced to move them no matter what. I just don't want to kill my pets. Thank you for your time I really appreciate your help. <Good luck to you. Bob Fenner> 

Bringing fish indoors I have recently lost three pond fish. They were large and healthy, but I believe that the extreme changes in our weather here killed them. <Does happen, particularly in systems that have wide temperature changes in turn... are too small in volume, too shallow, not placed away from thermal influences> I have since brought the remaining five smaller fish indoors. I have them sitting in bowls in my floor right now because I need to clean out the aquarium that I borrowed. The problem is that the aquarium didn't come with a filter or anything, and I am clueless about taking care of these fish indoors. <Same as aquariums period. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm> I have never had so many, and I wouldn't even know what type of filter to buy or even if they need one. I have 2 black moors, 1 calico fantail, 1 goldfish, and 1 Koi. please tell me what to do. I just didn't want them to die, but now I feel like I have made a mistake by bringing them inside. Thank You, Stacy <Read, make a list of possible purchases... act. Bob Fenner>

Winter Pond Care, And A Missing Link - 12/16/2004 Hiya Bob.   <Actually, crewmember Sabrina here, this fine afternoon!> I stumbled across your site as I searched the web for articles on maintaining a fish pond.   <Well, welcome!  I do hope you find our archives to be of use.> Let me first tell you that we "inherited" our pond when we bought our house (just 1.5 weeks ago).   <Congratulations!> The house had been vacant since March, so I have no idea how the pond was being maintained in the interim. <Err....  it probably wasn't.  Yikes.> We live in central Michigan.  The pond is less than 2' deep, and we have maybe four full grown Koi and some babies.   <And I take it two feet is not below the frost line.... ?> The pond has already frozen (just within the last week).   <How solid?> I did notice that there was some algae on top of the water recently. <Not a real problem/threat.> Anyway, are the fish already goners?   <Unlikely.  These fish are quite capable of surviving the winter outdoors, provided that they have adequate oxygen and space.> What should we do?  I tried clicking on your winterizing link, but it didn't work.   <Ahh, my greatest apologies.  I have made Bob aware of the problem.  Meanwhile, here is the correct link:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdmaintwint.htm and do be sure to look at all related articles and FAQs as well, linked at the top of that page.  Lots of information available.> My husband has a 40 gallon tank.... should we use that?  We also have a child's wading pool... should we use that instead? <The wading pool would be my preference, should you find that you must remove the fish.  Four large Koi produce lots of waste.  If you have a basement, that might be the easiest place to house the wading pool of Koi.> We generally know NOTHING about pond maintenance, but want to learn.   <THAT, my friend, is THE attitude to have.  I do hope the information provided will help you in this.> The pond/waterfall was an added bonus when we bought the house. <And a great bonus, indeed!  I suspect that you will enjoy it tremendously.> Thanks for your advice.... <And please feel free to respond with any further questions!> Happy Holidays, <To you and yours as well.> Joy Horne <Wishing you well in your new home,  -Sabrina>

Pond Filter Help I was wondering if you could help me out. I would like to know when I should stop the filter for my pond in the winter. Do I do it by time, or by temperature? Thanks, Gerald <Mainly the latter. When the temp. is going to stay below 50-55 F. and definitely above freezing! Please see here re overwintering ponds: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdmaintwint.htm and the Related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

Winterizing very small pond I have 3 goldfish about 5" long in a 2 feet deep 90 gallon pond in central Oklahoma.  Will they over winter in the pond, or will I have to bring them in? Thank you for your help. Tammy <You'd be best bringing them in... this system is too small and shallow (changeable in temperature) to ensure good health of your goldfish through winter. Bob Fenner>

Water Loss in a Pond, and Winter Hi, I was wondering if you could help me out, I have an outdoor fish pond.   <Uhm, not sure if I can help with that - I'm addicted to ponds, myself....  maybe a support group?  ;)  j/k> The fish are comets, the pond is approximately 460 gallons, 11 fish.  During the summer months I loose about 1 inch(5-10 gallons) of water every couple of days.   <Reasonable> I live on Long Island, NY and the weather is getting colder with some snow.  Lately I am losing about 2 inches of water every 48 hours.  Any suggestions as to why, I checked this summer and the liner has no leaks.   <Well, could be something's caused a leak in the liner recently, but I'd be more inclined to think there's a poor connection somewhere with the filtration/hoses/etc.> I run my filter all year round which sends a small stream up to the top of the pond and a small water fall on one end.   <Check everything doing with the waterfall, all hoses, every inch - hopefully it's just something loose somewhere.> I keep hearing mixed reports about whether to run the filter year round.   <A great article to help you with this:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdwintmaint.htm .  Unless the equipment is going to freeze and malfunction, I'd keep it running.  If any way possible, do not let your pond freeze over, or at least not fully.  Within that article are suggestions to help you with this.> Any help you can give me regarding this would be greatly appreciated.   <And further reading galore:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm .  Lots and lots of good stuff here, I'm sure you'll find some interesting fuel for your pond habit!  Not an addiction I'd want to cure, for certain.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Jeff

Small, shallow pond in cold weather are and treating Cryptocaryon Hi. I just found your website today. Very helpful, but I still have two questions that are kind of answered in FAQ but I would rather have them "personalized"! <Okay> 1. I live in Northern Cal where the winter temp averages 40 and rarely (if ever) goes below freezing. I have a 60 gal 14" pond with a pond comet, a fancy goldfish and a small butterfly koi. (and a bunch of mosquito fish) I have been told they'll be fine and I've been told they cannot winterize in such a shallow pond. What do you think? Also, I've received varying opinions on whether or not to leave the pump running. Someone told me it's too disturbing to them. <Mmm, if the water doesn't get to the point of freezing, and the pond itself is sheltered thermally (near a large building, trees, stones...) you may be fine leaving all going (including the pump). If in doubt, I would move the fish indoors (or the garage) for the cold season... soon. Not advisable to move when it is colder> 2. I have a 25 gal salt-water tank (I know, I know....too small. I'm moving to an 80 gallon in a couple months.) I have 2 false percula clowns, a yellow tang and a little scooter blenny. Also various snails, crabs, shrimps corals and live rock. They have what I think is Ich. The tang became super-stressed when I did a water change, that's when it all started. I got "Marine Aquaria No-Ich" from the store and after 1 dose I noticed a substantial change (for the better) in the tang and one clown. (I thought for sure the tang was going to die the night I treated it and other clown wasn't as sick) Turns out another guy at the store said DON'T TREAT YOUR TANK!!! He said never trust what the bottle says. (This stuff is supposedly reef safe) <There is no effective Ich/Cryptocaryoniasis treatment that is reef safe> I am supposed to treat every three days for 2 weeks and am on the 2nd treatment. The fish seem much perkier and the corals seem unaffected, well, except a bubble coral that took a tumble off the top of a rock about a week earlier. It's looking "iffy". ANYWHO, What is your opinion? Just to clarify, the fish are perkier but still have white spots and the tang has brown spots. All are eating (ferociously!) Also, since I have to take the carbon out, won't the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates get too high in 2 weeks? By the way, I am using the eclipse system...until I move to the 80 gal. OK. Blah Blah Blah. Sorry so long but REALLY appreciate your feedback. Thank you so much! Lisa <Thank you for writing. You can find MANY of our and others opinions on these broad topics posted on WWM. I would peruse them and change your treatment regimen now as in ASAP. The "medicine" sold to you is only temporarily killing the ectoparasites on the host fishes and causing them to produce a bit more mucus... like our new governor, "they will be baaaack". Bob Fenner>

Fish Ponds in Cold Places              Dear sir,  I tried signing up to WetWebNews but was unable to do so. <Alas, this WWM feature is no more. We had anticipated having a full-length "online zine" by now.... but its debut is much delayed> Also, I have a question about ponds. I live in northwestern Minnesota. The ground where I live can freeze to the depth of eight to ten feet. I lived in California most of my life and have built several fish ponds out there so the pond building is no problem. I read where I can buy heaters that float on the pond, but what about the pump house with all the plumbing, even leaving the pump running continually in that severe cold? <This must either be protected from the water freezing in it (plumbing and mechanicals) or turned off during freezing weather/seasons) and drained> Are there any books or other reading material out there that I can put my hands onto to try and solve this problem? I will await your reply. Thank You,  John Dachauer <There are a few strategies for preventing loss of life and gear during very cold times... including draining all, moving the livestock into a non-freezing setting. The books on water feature design, construction and operation I am familiar with are cited on our Pond Subweb in the articles dealing with such topics. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/Pond%20Sub%20Web.htm Bob Fenner>

Winter and Red Eared Slider I really need to know if I can leave my red eared sliders out side in the winter or not. I have a little pond outside that they can live in. I have a heater for the pond so it won't freeze.   I keep gold fish in it and they stay alive.  I have it all fenced in so they can't get hurt by any animals. They also have land to go onto so they can be on land if they need to.  please help <It really depends on where you live.  If it gets cold enough they should bury themselves at the bottom of your pond and go into hibernation.  I personally would move them inside, I have never hibernated a turtle or tortoise and if I were going to try it I would like to be in control of the conditions.  Check out the links below to help with your decision.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.anapsid.org/hibernation.html http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/Refrigerator.htm  >

Snails in the Winter I purchased 3 gold Inca's for my 1000 gallon pond this summer and they sure kept it clean.  The filter never had to be changed it was wonderful.  Now winter is coming upon us fast here in Connecticut and from what I have read I do not believe they are hardy snails.   <Definitely coincides with what I've read, as well.> Will I have to bring them indoors and how do I keep them alive for 5 months?   <A great informative site on apple snails (gold Incas are in this group, I think): http://www.applesnail.net/ .  I'd probably bring them in for the winter, in perhaps a 20 gallon 'long' or 'breeder' type aquarium, with the water level a couple of inches low (to facilitate egg laying if it happens and prevent the urge to escape).  A small power filter, heater, lid and light, a bit of substrate, and some Anacharis/elodea to munch on, some dechlorinated tap water, and you're all set. I hate to see them die.  Sandy Rich <I'll admit, I'm a plant-tank gal myself, so snails are pretty much, eh, how do I put it nicely.... "evil"....  in my tanks, and become fish food.  I am quite fascinated with the apple snail-types, though, and perhaps will try some for my ponds some day.  -Sabrina>

Winter for goldfish and koi.... I have 10 fish including 1 koi which I need to bring indoors for the winter.  I need advice on going from pond to aquarium.  The fish are all no longer than 5" and I have a 40 gallon tank. <Well, first off, 40 gallons is going to be very difficult for 10 goldfish type dudes to live in, even for just the winter.  The difficulty will lie in trying to keep the water quality high enough to keep your goldfishes alive; they're eternal poop machines, to say the least, and have a tendency to foul the water very, very quickly.  Have you considered using a child's wading pool?  Sheep trough, or other similar structure?  Might be worth looking into.  Whatever you do, the tank must be very well filtered, and you should test the water regularly for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  When you do the actual move-of-fish, net and bag them, individually if necessary, and float/acclimate them to the tank inside, just like you would with a fish from the fish store.  The fish store should be willing to give you some bags for very inexpensive if necessary.  Do be sure to treat your new water for chlorine/chloramine.  If possible, and if the pond water is of good quality, you might use some of it in the tank.  Do get your indoor tank cycled before adding the fish; perhaps use some filter media from the pond to jump-start it.  And lastly, a great article on overwintering your pond:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdwintmaint.htm .  Enjoy, and please do write in with any further questions!!  -Sabrina>

Pond Fish in for the Winter Sabrina, <Hi, Patti> Thank you very much for the info and for responding so quickly. <My pleasure.> We had considered trying to winterize the pond but I am told that we are in for another severe winter in the northeast.   <Yikes....  Bundle up, and stay warm!!  I do miss the snow....> Perhaps I should purchase an additional tank?  -Patti <Maybe, or if you've got a basement or a mudroom, or anywhere where there's space to do it, a child's wading pool or something equivalent.  You *might* be able to pack 'em all into the 40, since it's only for the winter, but do stay very much on top of testing your water (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates), and do water changes absolutely as often as necessary.  The more space you can give 'em, the better.  Keep me in mind when you're shoveling snow (Can you BELIEVE it??  I MISS shoveling snow!!), and I'll keep you in mind while I'm laying in the hammock under the sun in a t-shirt.  -Sabrina>

Decided to Winterize Hello Sabrina, I want to thank you for the advice you've provided.   <Any time, Patti, that's why we're here.  Always glad to help.> I am more convinced than ever that I will over winter them out doors.  The articles you've directed me to combined with the sage advice from the "fish store dude," as my children call him, have convinced me that I CAN do this.   <And you can.  It's totally a do-able thing.  There's so much information out there to help you, too.  Many books, articles, internet sites - just a Google search on pond winterizing will probably give you more than enough info.  I think you'll enjoy this learning process.> I am just a bit worried that I'll miss seeing my fish for several months. <I'm sure you will.  I would.> Thanks again.  Enjoy the sunshine where ever you are!  Patti <I'll trade you some of my sun for some of your snow!  I'm sure they'd ship just fine in a box.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Pond winter Hi crew, <Hi, Jennifer!  Sabrina with you tonight> I have some questions.  First, it appears that I have baby koi, comets and Shubunkins (about 30) even though the parents are deceased. <Congratulations!!> Since they are outdoors, I am concerned that they may or may not survive Ohio's  winter.   <Lots of great info here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdwintmaint.htm .  This should help quite a bit.> Do I leave them be or try to catch them and bring them inside?  If I bring them inside,  how big of a tank do I need?   <As big as you can go....  Thirty little goldfish is, well, A LOT of little goldfish.  Since they're babies, you could probably get by with something in the neighborhood of 50 gallons.  You could set up a kiddie wading pool in your basement for them.> Does it need filtration and aeration?   <Yes, most definitely.> Finally, will the larger, adult Koi survive the winter if I provide a water heater?   <Again, I refer you to the link above - lots of overwintering options.> I'm sorry, one more-Is it really necessary to feed them autumn food @ $20 per bag?   <It is important that they be fattened up before the water gets too cold for them to eat, but I'll admit, when I lived in Kansas, I never once used any 'special' foods, just fed them copious amounts of their regular stuff.> Thank you in advance. Your help is appreciated.  Jennifer <Glad to be of service.  -Sabrina>

Pond snails in the winter Hello, I have a small water garden in a pot, about 30 gallons (I think), <Pi R squared times height... in inches... divided by 231 (cubic inches per gallon)... will give you an approximation for cylinder volume> on my front porch. A landscaper friend gave me several snails out of her man-made ponds and now I am wondering what to do with them for the winter. <Best to "bring them in"... perhaps your container can be re-set up in a garage (if it doesn't get freezing cold, or an enclosed patio...>   I live in NE Ohio and already the nights get down to 50 degrees.  I am planning on bringing in the plants and just keeping them in my basement in buckets of water. <Do the same with the snails>   I had thought to just put the snails in the buckets with the plants but now I am thinking I might find a tank and keep them as "pets" for the winter.  What do I need to do and should I go ahead and bring them in now? <I would bring all in before it gets any colder. The tank can be run with a simple "box filter" or even easier, a hang on power filter. Your local fish store can show you these> Will this work, and do they need water to live in or just moist soil? <Likely in, as totally aquatic conditions. You can ask your friend if these are amphibious species or not> I am assuming they are pond snails and will need at least several inches of water. How do I set up this temporary home for my snails (and the many babies I have noticed clinging to the roots of my floater plants!).  Speaking of, will I have too many for a small tank? <Doubtful... most larger species (Ampullaria) are not bisexual... are slower to reproduce> If so, what do I do with the extras? <Trade them in at a shop, give them to neighbor children...>   How do I feed them, or can I add some of my floater plants for them to nibble on ( I have plenty and can get more for free if they devour them).  So far I have just used water from my spigot (un-softened, well water) and they have survived the summer, so I assume I can just use the same for the tank. I have a lot of questions and any info you can give me will be helpful. Thanks! Kim in Ohio <Please peruse the many pond and freshwater snail files (articles and FAQs) archived on these subwebs on WetWebMedia.com for much more of a complete understanding of what you are about. Bob Fenner>

Over-wintering water hyacinth I live in New England (cold winters!).   I have two ponds that I filter with bogs, in which I use a lot of water hyacinth every year.  Every fall I discard the water hyacinth and buy a fresh batch the following spring.  Is it possible to  keep the water hyacinth alive over the winter in an indoor tank?  What kind of artificial lighting would I need to do that, and what would I feed them during this time? <Can be (must be if they're to survive) kept indoors... something "bright" (intense), either fluorescent or even incandescent, suspended over the top (on a support that can be raised/lowered best) on a timer (maybe ten hours a day of light). I would not chemically feed the Hyacinth, but have some fishes in the tank that you feed instead. Bob Fenner> Thanks Jeffrey M. Zegas
Re: wintering water hyacinth
do you think it would work with natural light?...placing the tank right next to two windows in a "sun room" with all windows on three walls? <Possibly. The hyacinths will likely "die back" quite a bit (shrink in size, turn less green, lose all inflorescence, but survive to the next "outdoor" season. Bob Fenner>

Re: Solar Heat for koi pond Dear Sirs, The following is an e-mail I sent to Bob Fenner, his reply, and some follow-up, to which he did not reply.  I apologize for not seeing his "subject line" which was too long for my mail reader and which asked me to direct my inquiries to you.  I'm interested in any/all comments you may have on this proposed project.  I believe the solar panels are capable of about a 10 degree F temperature rise in winter, and perhaps a similar potential cooling in summer (to reduce evaporation, increase dissolved oxygen...). Thank you for your assistance. Bob Farley I live in Mission Viejo and am considering using solar hot water panels to heat/cool my koi pond.  Is this an insanely stupid idea, or what recommendations would you have? <Not warranted... Nishikigoi need a "chilling period" every year... helps with health, color richness... THE reason cited by many as the cause of less-red "Hi" and "Sumi" (red and black) in "warm water" koi> The "pond" is actually a 40,000 gallon swimming pool (about 13' x 32' x (3.5-8')D) and I would imagine circulating pond water through the panels during the day in winter, and at night during summer to moderate the pond temperature.  This would involve many hours the water would be stagnant in the panels, unless circulated through an auxiliary loop for aeration. <Yes to having valves on solenoids, timer for diverting water during the dark parts of everyday> Otherwise, the panels would have to be vented/reprimed every time flow through them was required, requiring high pressure, electrically inefficient pumps and lower system reliability. Any suggestions? <This is a better choice than having the water "sit in them". Getting back to a/the basic question though, to do this or not... what is it you're trying to achieve? Faster growth? Not really a good idea... Of the four principal criteria by which most Koi are judged, body conformation ranks as number 1... you won't have proportioned koi by subjecting them to elevated temperature... especially during the winter... I would let the system cool down during the cold season. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your attention in this matter. Sincerely, Bob Farley My interest in heating the pond is healthier fish, primarily koi, but also hi-fins.  Seems I lose more during the winter than summer, and have perhaps mistakenly attributed this to cold water.  Again, I welcome your comments! <I would look into general husbandry techniques, particularly water changing during cooler months... and greatly curtail this activity> Regards, Bob F. P.S. - We maintain about 70% coverage of the pond surface with water hyacinths, which provide much of the filtration for the pond.  During the summer, approximately 50 gallons of the plants are harvested each week and disposed.  Dead roots which fall to the bottom are also routinely removed by rake/vacuum. <Good technique. Be careful not to disturb this "overburden" during the cooler months as well. We live in S. Calif. (San Diego) and I've helped build ponds in your area... I would vacuum the bottom but good last in about September, slow feeding down to once a day at 65 degrees of water, stop entirely at 55 or lower... and not disturb the bottom again till the water rose next year to 65 F. and above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Winter Water Changes Hello Mr. Fenner, Thanks for your advice in the past (see below e-mail), and for the continuous content that is added to your web-site. <You're welcome> One thing that I never followed up with, was your last piece of advice on the below e-mail about doing water changes in the warmer months. Recently, I've looked in my little barrel pond, and noticed lots of bio waste in the bottom of the pond. Living in San Jose, California, the water hasn't gotten much colder than 46 degrees, and it's normally around 50 these days, with a +/- 6 degree difference. Why wouldn't one perform water changes in the winter (okay, unless the pond was frozen). <Hard on the animals, other life there when their metabolisms are impugned... some possibility of gas-embolism "disease": emphysematosis... A very good idea to store the to-be-used new water outside for a week or so before use... to outgas, allow sanitizer to dissipate> Are there pros and cons to doing this? I currently have 2 comets, 2 Shubunkin, and 1 small koi, all in the 3" - 4" category. For the most part they are active, and I'm not feeding, unless the temperature warms up past 52 degrees, and stays in that range for a few days at a time. If I do feed, it is wheat-germ pellets. Thanks again. Calvin Nieh <Bob Fenner>

Winter Indoors for Goldies <Angie... Anthony Calfo here sharing mail duty with Steven Pro while Bob is away > This is our first year having an aquarium. It was not really planned, it came about that we became attached to the 4 goldfish in our pond. Do we and or how often do we have to change the water?  <with reasonably good filtration... 20% monthly would be nice. 10% weekly would be better and easier on bucket duty (smile)> It looks fine, but I don't have to live in it. The aquarium is about 30 by 20 inches in size and the fish are on an average 3 1/2 inches long without tailfins. We have 2 aerators (bubblers) a Laguna filtering system for 50 gallon and up which I clean at least once a week. I also clean the insides of the aquarium and the ornaments periodically (they feel slimy) and treat the water with bio care waste control. The fish seem healthy and happy and to our surprise make nice pets. <sounds like you have a nicely filtered system properly stocked and are on your way to successful Aquariology. I don't expect that they will be much trouble or work at all> Any help will be greatly appreciated, thank you in advance. Angie <Best of luck to you, Anthony>

Pond maintenance Can you give me tips on preparing my pond for freezing winter weather. Blessings Orpha Vincent <Yes: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pdwintmnt.htm If there are items missing, anything unclear, please write back. Bob Fenner>

Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

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V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon 

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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