Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wintering Koi

I have a small back yard pond, over the summer my friend gave me some pond lettuce and to my surprise there were 4 baby Koi entangled in the roots which I did not even notice until about 2 months later!!! The fish have survived wonderfully with no feeding or attention. Now, that winter is approaching I would like to keep my fish in the pond through the winter. What should I do? Last year my pond froze solid, is it even worth the try? -Lisa

There are two requirements that need to be met in order for your Koi to survive the winter, how you achieve them is up to you:
  1. A hole in the ice, so that fresh Oxygen can get into the water and Carbon Dioxide can escape.
  2. Make sure that the bottom 2/3rds of your pond stays un-frozen so your Koi have some water to live in.
Most people keep a hole in the ice with a 1,500-Watt Floating Pond De-Icer/Heater, this nifty little piece of technology will maintain a hole in the ice. When you compare this to a heater that heats the entire pond, its pretty cheap to run.

Another way to keep a hole in the ice it to agitate the surface of the water, with a good amount of aeration or with a strong aquarium power head. If you live in a region that is farther north, then I would not use this method because water can freeze solid easily when its -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

The two worst things that can happen in the winter are (hint, they both involve the pond freezing over):
  1. Mechanical Failure - ie. The heater or powerhead fails and the pond freezes over.
  2. Power Failure - Your power goes out so your heater or powerhead cannot run (consider yourself lucky if you have a backup generator.)
If once of these things happens and your pond starts to freeze over, don't hack away the ice with a pick, the vibrations will greatly distress your Koi. Get some hot, de-chlorinated water, and melt the ice instead of chipping it away (make sure there is no chlorine in the hot water I cannot stress that enough). If the pond starts to freeze due to faulty equipement, replace it right away.

Don't forget, you can always set up a tank indoors!

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