PONDERING IN THE SOUTH
Stop fertilizing as soon as the water temperature gets below 70°F and remove all spent leaves off of the lilies, as they will continue to produce leaves. This is also a good time to take those beautiful tropical lilies inside and store them in a water-filled container located in a place that will not freeze.
This is the time to fatten up your koi and fish just before old man winter comes back and puts them to rest. Feeding your fish a little extra in the early fall will help with their growth rate and increase their metabolism prior to hibernation. This does not justify over feeding - just a little extra will do fine. When the water temperature reaches the mid 50's, stop feeding all together.
Depending on the location of your pond, the No. 1 fall maintenance issue is falling leaves. A large amount of leaves collected in the bottom of a pond will decompose and produce tannins that can be harmful to your fish and also reduce the clarity of the water. Keeping the skimmer basket emptied is very important, and the addition of netting over the pond will also reduce the chances of increased tannins in the water.
PONDERING IN THE NORTH
When the leaves begin to fall and blow, cover the water's surface with a net to catch them. The net discourages the debris build up on the pond bottom, which would otherwise decompose, create toxic gasses, and prove harmful to the fish during their hibernation period.
Watch for the 55°F mark. Before that time, avoid missing any fish feedings because the fish are in the process of packing on nutrition, and getting ready to hibernate. But when the temp starts to regularly dip below 55°F, it's a sure sign to stop feeding your fish because their metabolisms have slowed down to a point where they can no longer handle the nutrition safely.
At this time, dying foliage on your aquatic plants should be removed. This helps to minimize debris build up on the pond bottom. If you have potted tropical aquatic plants that you want to save for next season, this is the time to remove them from the pond, and take them indoors for the winter
Owners of ponds in climates that reach and stay below the freezing mark for extended periods of time have a decision to make each winter - keep the pond running or shut it down. Either option will work, but both require steps to be taken in order to insure your pond comes out of its winter slumber healthy and happy.
If you decide to shut your pond down for the winter, you'll need to remove the pump from the skimmer box, place it in a bucket of water, and store it somewhere that is protected from freezing.
You'll also need to remove the filter mats from the skimmer and waterfall filters and clean them off. Saving this task for spring could delay your spring cleanout. The water in the skimmer and waterfall filter takes longer to thaw and the filter mats could be frozen inside. Place a small re-circulating pump (at least 150 gallons per hour) on the top shelf of the pond. This will agitate the water's surface, oxygenating the water and helping keep a hole in the ice, which will allow gasses to escape while the pond is iced over. This keeps the fish safe during their hibernation phase.
In extremely cold temperatures, a pump may not be enough to keep a hole open in the ice. Under these conditions, it may be necessary to supplement the pump with a floating heater. A low voltage heater runs only enough to heat the water that surrounds it to 32°F, ensuring that a hole will remain open during most frigid part of the winter. Floating heaters should never be used alone, as they do not oxygenate the water.
We recommend pond aeration systems. These systems you can use throughout the year to reduce algae growth during heat waves but and the create a nice opening in the ice during the winter months using minimum electricity.
Keeping It Running
If you choose to keep the pond running all winter, you're in for a treat when the ice formations begin to take shape in and around the falls. This scene is tailor-made for an ambitious winter photographer. You'll also need to keep an eye on any slow-moving streams where ice dams can form, diverting water out of your pond and creating potential problems you'll want to avoid.
You'll still may need to employ a re-circulating pump or floating heater in order to keep a hole in the pond's surface for the sake of fish safety. Keeping your pump on all winter is risky and stirs the water bringing in the outside air making the water colder.
Now is a great time to add Microbe-Lift Autumn/ Winter Prep. This will get your pond water ready for a clean & clear spring! Microbe-Lift helps accelerate the decomposition of leaves, sediment and other organic matter during the fall and winter months. Microbe-Lift Autumn/ Winter Prep will also jump start your pond to a healthier environment in the spring. It is a two-part system of liquid bacteria and dry, water soluble packets containing a blend of cellulase enzymes, cellulase-producing bacteria and a cold weather bacteria. The cellulase enzymes, along with the cellulase-producing bacteria, are the key to accelerating the breakdown of leaves, organic sediment and sludge all winter long. The cold weather bacteria and liquid bacteria take care of the initial breakdown by-products. Continues to provide sustained biological activity even in water temperatures under 40 degrees..