Winter is here and although it is cold and wet, your pond will need to be checked to make sure your fish are still happy in their aquatic environment due to the change in weather.
Any leaves that fall in the pond should be removed and your pond plants may need to be trimmed and tidied up, water lilies will become dormant and old flowers and leaves will begin to break down and these will need to be removed as well, some plants may be pruned which will encourage vigorous growth in the new pond season.
You can start to reduce the amount of food your fish are fed; as their metabolism slows, they will begin to eat less and less and over feeding will just result in pond pollution and this should be avoided.
Checking and maintaining your pond filter and pump should not stop over winter, ensuring the pump and filter are working correctly is a must and some cleaning may need to be undertaken to ensure your fishes health and the wellbeing of the pond; smaller, r
egular maintenance will also be easier than doing massive cleans that may take you all day!
Filtration materials such as foam filters should be checked for deterioration and may need to be replaced at this time, just remember not to change all of the filter material at once as you will lose the beneficial bacteria that helps keep the pond clean and healthy, it is better to stagger the change over a month or more.
Also while you are out there have a good look at your fish as in winter your fish can be more prone to bacterial infections and parasitic attacks that may require treatment.
Winter is a great time to install a pond or if you have already set one up, what's next?
If you are running a UVC on your filter you will need to leave this off, depending on the filter set up, for the first 4 weeks or so. This will enable bacteria to establish in the filter without the fear of getting zapped by the UV light!
The beneficial bacteria that grows in the filter breaks down harmful Ammonia and Nitrite which is present in high quantities when the filter is first set up, the development of bacteria can take up to 8 weeks and in this time small partial water changes may be needed to help ease the toxicity of these chemicals. In this initial set up stage fish may be introduced at the start to help "kick start" the bacteria but more fish should not be added until the bacteria is fully established, this can be determined through weekly water tests to ensure the Ammonia and Nitrite cycles are completed.
Due to the large amounts of rain we are experiencing Australia wide you will need to keep an eye on the amount of water in your pond, fish can over-flow with the water as the water level rises in your pond so it is a good idea to empty some of the water from your pond to prevent this happening. For those about to install a pond it is worthwhile installing an overflow pipe into the side of the pond to prevent this happening, just remember that fish can go out the pipe as well but a cage or mesh over the pipe will prevent this!
Winter Quick Tip: Just remember that although it is cold outside, regularly checking and cleaning your pond filters and pumps to ensure they are running perfectly is a necessity so that when spring comes you will have a healthy and happy pond!