Winter Kill Worries
In places like Michigan, when it gets cold – it really gets cold. In the winter, temperatures drop and the snowbanks rise. For some hardy folks, this means one thing: ice fishing! For others, it means huddling inside with a mug of hot cocoa. But while you’re cozy in your house, watching the snow come down, under the surface of your pond, there is a lot going on. Decomposing plant matter, algae, and fish all need oxygen, and when the top of the pond freezes, the ice acts like a seal, keeping toxic gasses in, and keeping oxygen out. This is the cause of “Winter Kill” and other serious problems. All the work you have done to build and maintain a pond may be ruined over the course of the winter. So, what can we do to keep our ponds happy when everything outside is white?
Let’s say that your pond is bigger than a swimming pool, or has a natural bottom. In this case, aeration is perfect for you. Circulating your water is the best way to keep it open to exchange toxic gasses for the oxygen that your fish need to keep swimming. In fact, it’s amazing how efficiently a small, quite compressor can keep the ice at bay. So how should they be installed?
- Diffusers should be placed in medium depth water this creates good circulating patterns but helps to avoid “super cooling” the entire pond.
- Installation should be done in the fall or sooner. This makes burying air lines much easier, and keeps you from trying to install a diffuser through the ice.
So your water is the size of a swimming pool or smaller, and will usually be pretty shallow. In this case, a de-icer is just the ticket. A De-Icer is a small device that warms the water, instead of circulating it. This works for shallow water and water features much better, because shallow ponds will simply freeze solid if circulated. Here are a few pro tips for de-icers
- Install your unit before the onset of freezing temperatures.
- Place the de-icer in the shallowest part of your pond.
- Shelter the unit from wind as best you can.
Don’t let all of your hard work and effort get killed off over the cold winter. Just remember that we’re trying to keep the ice thin, don’t step out on it! Even falling through a shallow pond in the winter can become dangerous.
Now, your fish are happy, your pond is breathing again, and your hot cocoa is calling. Time to watch the snow fall with peace of mind, knowing that your pond is going to be just how you left in next spring!