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How to Winterize Water Features

September 04, 2019

Learn what you need to do to get your water garden, pool and spa ready for winter weather.

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Stop Feeding Koi

Early fall is the time to give fish a little extra food before their winter hibernation. This helps increase their metabolism before they enter hibernation. Once water temperature dips into the mid-50s, stop feeding fish. Pull any dying leaves on waterlilies and lift the tropical ones to store indoors in water through winter.

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Photo: Aquascape

Waterfall Wisdom

In the coldest regions, shutting down a waterfall for winter makes sense for several reasons. You save on energy costs, extend the life of equipment and also avoid having ice dams form. A running waterfall in winter cools pond water quickly and to a greater depth, potentially lowering water temperature to a point that’s unhealthy for fish. In place of a waterfall, add an aeration system to the pond for winter to add air to the water.

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Photo: The Pond Guy

Keep Leaves Out

Use a net to keep leaves from falling into pond water. A net stretched across the pond surface requires daily emptying when leaves are falling. A pond shelter-type kit supports netting on a frame that prevents leaves from ever touching the water. An elevated net is also easier to keep free of leaves. If leaves do land in water, scoop them out. Also keep the skimmer basket emptied of leaves. Decomposing leaves in a pond release materials that can harm fish and muddy the water.

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Photo: The Pond Guy

No Ice Allowed

Keep an opening in ice that forms on the pond with a floating heater. An open spot in the ice protects fish by allowing harmful gases in the water out while letting oxygen in. In the coldest areas, it’s wise to have a back-up heater, along with a plan for storm-related power outages. If a solid sheet of ice forms on your pond, melt a hole by pouring hot water onto the ice. Do not pound on the ice. The sound waves stress fish, which leads to a compromised immune system and possibly death.

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