Winter-proof your pond in autumn
© Stefan Körber - Fotolia

The right plant care

Firstly, you should note that autumn is the right time of year to take a few precautionary measures against snow and frost on your pond. For example, cut back any reed beds or lily leaves. The wetland area around the edge of the pond can also be thinned out. 

Also note that there are several plants, such as lotuses, which will not survive the harsh winter weather unscathed. Make sure that you remove such plants from the pond and place them in a water bucket over winter in a frost-free area with plenty of natural light.

A further aim of these precautionary measures is to prevent too many organic materials from getting into the water and being broken down by microorganisms. This is because such activity can produce fermentation gases, which vastly impair the water quality. The decomposition process furthermore uses up the oxygen that your fish depend on. It is therefore important to keep a careful eye on the autumnal leaves that fall into the water.

Remove leaves from the pond

Although well-established pond plant life looks beautiful in summer, the leaves that drop in autumn are a real nuisance. The brightly coloured autumnal leaves fall into the water, sink to the bottom of the pond and are broken down by microorganisms. You should therefore use a dip net to regularly fish out the leaves that are floating in the water and dispose of them on your compost heap.

A leaf net saves you work

Even better: winter-proof your pond by installing a leaf net. With small ponds in particular, this is a great solution that eliminates the daily need to fish out the leaves. The net should ideally be pulled tautly across the pond, several centimetres above the water. With some models, the net is supported by wires or polystyrene blocks that float on the surface of the pond to prevent it from dangling into the water. Some manufacturers offer a tent-like design so that the leaves can slide off the net at the side of the pond. Depending on the amount of leaf fall, you should clean the net as required. Once the trees have dropped all of their leaves, you can carefully remove the net together with any leaves collected on it.

Remove sediment

Over time, a thick layer of sediment builds up in the deeper areas of a garden pond, gradually reducing the pond depth. However, the correct water depth is essential for your fishes’ survival. If the pond is getting too shallow, it is advisable to occasionally remove the sediment – and autumn is the ideal time to do this. If your pond is only shallow, use your hand to scoop out the sediment into a bucket and leave it by the edge of the pond for a few days. This allows any living creatures contained in it to crawl back into the water.

Pond vacuums can also be used to remove sediment more quickly and easily – and are necessary devices for ponds that are too deep to be cleaned ‘by hand’.

However, the mechanical method also has its disadvantages as it has a far greater impact on the pond’s ecosystem and removes a lot of microorganisms that were actually important. To minimise the damage caused, not all sediment should be removed but only part of it.

Give your water pump a break

Pumps must be removed from the pond. Otherwise, there is a risk that they will freeze when the water does. Tetra’s APK 400 pond aeration set is an exception to this rule and will enrich your pond with oxygen even during the winter, while also preventing part of the water’s surface from freezing over. To use this pump, set it up so that it is as protected from the elements as possible and place the air stone just under the surface of the water.

This is important in view of the general problem that exists with regard to water pumps: in the winter, the warmest water layers (where your fish will remain) are located at the very bottom of the pond. If these are exchanged with water layers higher up, the creatures in your pond will get far too cold and the fish can even freeze to death! When using such systems over winter, only ever install them in the shallow water area!
AUTHOR: Tetra GmbH
DATE: 29.11.2016