Article - Getting Ready for the Cold!!
Getting Ready For The ColdColder Weather - is the pond ready?
As the days grow shorter, our fish know winter is coming. It doesn’t matter if you live in New Hampshire or in Florida, Alaska or Australia; the fish are one with their environment. I’ve noticed a slight cooling in the air myself lately and I moved to SW Florida so to not have to deal with winters. I can put on a sweater or jacket. My fish cannot. Their metabolism will begin to slow down as the water temperatures drop.
One of the biggest dangers is fluctuating water temperatures in spring and fall. One day the air temperature will be in the 70’s and 80’s and the next it can drop to 50’s and 60’s. If your pond is shallow, the fish will be feeling every slight change in temperature. Deeper ponds will be much more stable at this time of year. Many people resort to using the floating de-icers as soon as temperatures begin to dip into the 50’s at night to better stabilize the pond water temperatures. Remember, it’s the water temperature, not the air that you need to use as gauge for your fish. Temperature fluctuations will stress your fish and stressed fish will eventually become sick.
Feeding stressed fish is not advisable. The fish need a clean pond and will use their stored energies to maintain their immune systems. This is a priority over eating. When the water temperatures drop to the low 70’s, it’s a good idea to switch to Wheat Germ food which is easier to digest. The high protein foods will take more energy to process, thereby using more fuel than it gives. Your fish need their immune system as they face a slowing metabolism, when any parasites will still be active at the same temperatures. Another good reason for reduced feeding will be the good-guy bacteria in the pond… it also will slow down as temperatures drop. It cannot adjust on a daily basis if you get an 80F day after a cold snap. So, by feeding on the 80F day, you may be dooming your fish to an ammonia and /or nitrite spike shortly thereafter.
On the other hand, if you prefer to feed your fish all year around, you may choose to heat it through one of the proven heating methods on the market today. Covering the pond to prevent air cooling will be helpful in conserving energy.
If I had to choose the most important thing to remember in fall it would be a clean pond. A clean pond is the safest way to over winter your finned pets. The filter can remain operational or be minimized to simply circulate water, thereby distributing oxygen to all areas of the pond. Microbe-Lift/Autumn Winter Prep will continue to clean your pond throughout the winter. Protection from falling leaves is very helpful to maintain cleanliness. Salt will lower the freezing temperature, but will not “warm” the pond, so it is not helpful in safeguarding your fish from the cold. Just give your fish a nice clean “bed” to sleep in this year!