How to Prepare a Fish Pond for Winter

This video shows you How to Prepare a Fish Pond for Winter. This is a two pond system with a stream connecting them together.  I will show you how to prepare the ponds, stream, and fish for winter.

The Upper Pond

The upper pond does not have fish in it.  I just leave it uncovered and leave the plants in it.  In the spring time I will shut the pump off, completely drain the upper pond, rinse it out and then fill it back up again.

How to Prepare a Fish Pond for Winter

How to Prepare a Fish Pond for Winter – Upper Pond

The Pump

You’ll notice from the previous statement that I leave the pump on during the winter.  This keeps the water flowing so I don’t have to drain all of the pipes.  Because the pump is low in the water, where the water is warmer, it keeps the pump and pipes from freezing.  It also keeps the top of the pond from completely freezing.  If the top of the pond froze solid, it could build up gasses in the water that could harm the fish.

The Stream

For winterization I pull the decorative rocks out of the stream.  This prevents the stream from clogging up with fallen oak leaves.  If I do end up with a collection of oak leaves in the stream, I’ll pull them out from time to time.  I only check on it once a week or so.  If the stream did clog up with oak leaves with the pump on, it would end up overflowing the water in the stream and emptying the pond of water.

The Lower Pond

How to Prepare a Fish Pond for Winter

How to Prepare a Fish Pond for Winter – Lower Pond

The lower pond needs all annual plants removed and the tall perennial plants to be trimmed back.  This is so the debris doesn’t fall to the bottom of the pond and create anaerobic composting, which is not good for the fish.  I have water hyacinths that are annual in this area.  I just remove them and toss them into the compost pile.  Any of the tall perennials also get trimmed back to about three inches high and the cuttings also get tossed into the compost pile.

How to Prepare a Fish Pond for Winter

The Fish

The lower pond has koi and gold fish in it.  They stay out over the winter.  They will go into a kind of semi-hibernation state during the winter.  I will stop feeding them when the temperature gets down to about 55 degrees.  If these fish eat food below 50 degrees, the food will sit in their gut and rot them from the inside out, killing them.  This is because their gut needs bacteria to help break the food down and the bacteria does not work below 50 degrees.  I can’t say as I blame them as I don’t like working below 50 degrees either.

Predator Protection Removed

I have fake alligator heads and rubber snakes around the pond to keep predators away.  It actually works quite well.  I have not had any raccoons or blue herons visiting and eating my fish since I started doing this eleven years ago.  It also helps having the top of the water covered with water lilies and water hyacinth.

Put a Lid on it

The last step to winterizing the lower pond is to cover it with a net.  Don’t just throw a net across the top of the water because all of the leaves, sticks, acorns and other debris would just sit on top of the net and make a mess.  I built an A-frame out of PVC that goes into the pond.  Then put the net over the A-Frame.  The A-frame shape causes all of the debris to fall off to the side and not sit on the net or in the pond.

How to Prepare a Fish Pond for Winter – Net on A-Frame

More on Predators

After the snakes and alligator heads are put away for winter and the vegetation is cut back, the fish are easy prey.  I generally have a blue heron visiting about two or three weeks after I winterize.  So now I need some kind of winter protection for the fish. Well, the net over the top not only keeps leaves out, but also keeps the predators out. I have never lost any fish to predators with the net on top.

The A-Frame

A-Frame Disassembled

Check out pictures and the video of the A-frame design.  I came up with this the first year I winterized the pond and it has worked quite well ever since.  The key for me was to NOT glue any of the joints.  That allows the A-frame to fill with water and sink to the bottom vs. float.  It also allows me to easily dismantle it every spring and put it away in the spring.


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The Video

Check out the video below titled Fish Pond Winterization.

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