5 Pond Winterization Questions Answered

Winterizing your backyard pondHow can I make sure my fish survive the winter? What happens if the pond freezes solid? Winterizing your backyard pond can stir up a lot of questions, and we’re here to help answer a few of the most common ones.

  1. Do I really need to winterize my pond? You only need to worry about winterizing your pond if there is a danger of the water freezing over. If your climate is particularly mild in winter, you probably do not have to worry about much. – this is not a confident answer. Ex. If your pond’s water temperature will be above X°F you do not need to winterize your pond.
  2. Can I leave my plants outside all winter? Hardy plants will be fine outside, but to best protect aquatic plants, move them to the deepest part of the pond. Tropical plants should be moved indoors for the winter. – different types of plants need to keep in water, the dark, with sunlight, without water. People should check what they need to do for their particular type of plants, or you should give more detail.
  3. Do I need to shut my pond down every winter? If temperatures routinely drop below -10° Fahrenheit, it is advisable to shut down ponds by draining and storing pond pumps and filters indoors. When the weather is that cold, ponds are very likely to freeze solid, possibly damaging the liner, pump, filter, and more. If your area does not get that cold, it is okay to keep your pond running through the winter. – If your pond does not freeze solid but does have a layer of ice along the top you need to take different winterization steps.
  4. What should I do with my fish? Again, this depends on how cold the weather will be. In extreme winters, koi and other fish can be brought indoors, but for the most part, they will be fine outside. They will enter a dormant state once water temperature reaches around 40-50° and will ride out the season on the bottom of the pond. There is no need to feed most fish during the winter. – this again depends on temperature
  5. Is it okay for the surface of the pond to freeze over? If you have fish, then the answer is no. The pond surface should remain at least 30% free of ice – any hole size is fine, to allow for enough oxygen to circulate and avoid suffocating fish. However, if the pond surface freezes over, do not use force to crack a hole in the ice, as this can create shock waves that harm fish. Instead, use hot water to slowly melt the ice away.

These are a few of the most often asked questions about pond maintenance in the winter. For even more answers, visit the “All About Winter” section of our Tips & FAQs page.