At this time of year there will normally be a build-up of debris. Make sure you take the time to maintain your pond by tidying up...
- Fallen leaves which need to be netted out; you can prevent leaves from entering your pond with cover nets which will not only catch the leaves and pine needles but also protect your fish from predators such as herons who will be on the lookout for more fish as winter approaches.
- Plants, both marginal and deep water need to have dead growth cut back and tidied up. Towards the end of autumn, you should cut plants back to 6 inches above the water level. TOP TIP: Do not cut Equisetum (Dutch Rush) until spring as you may kill the plant.
- Debris at the bottom of a pond can be left if it's not too deep and it's a nature pond without fish. However, if your pond contains goldfish or koi, waste and other debris should be removed. The reason for this is that they become dormant in the cold months, their digestion and immune systems don't work as sufficiently and fish sat in sediment and waste at the bottom are more likely to get bacterial infections. We recommend a Pondovac for cleaning out the bottom of ponds as it makes the process quick and easy without distressing your fish.
TOP TIP: Do all your maintenance on the pond before winter; Autumn neglect will lead to a problematic spring.
Preventative Autumn Fish Treatment
A preventative broad spectrum treatment is recommended before the winter. This will reduce background levels of bacteria and parasites before winter sets in.
Pond Pumps and Oxygenation
Before winter arrives, you should raise any pumps in the pond up. The reason for this is because at the bottom of the pond, where the fish are, is a few degrees warmer and you don't want your pump pulling this water in and circulating it with the colder water. You are best to leave the pond alone during the winter months, apart from allowing the pond to breathe during freezing conditions. A waterfall, a pond heater or an air pump should normally stop the water from completely freezing over. If temperatures are due to fall below -5 degrees invest in a pond heater, or an item that floats on the water that you can remove the next morning that will leave a gap in the ice allowing the pond to expel harmful gases, whilst also letting oxygen in. Furthermore, if such conditions are expected it is advised to switch any waterfalls or fountains off, as pond surfaces can completely freeze and the water coming down the waterfall, or out of the fountain, will settle on top and can pour over the edges and drain your pond without you realising.
Its also time to think about changing your staple food to autumn food. As soon as water temperature drops below 10 degrees you should feed wheatgerm and then stop completely once the water reaches 4-5 degrees. Even if there is a day or two when water temperature reach 8 degrees, it is best to look at how the weather will be for the rest of the week. As your fishes' bodies become dormant, so does their digestion, and any undigested food can start to rot in their bodies which can be fatal for them.