Cleaning out your pond can seem daunting the first time around, but having all the right equipment will make the task surprisingly manageable. The first thing to consider is investing in some kind of vacuum. These three are top sellers, and vary from low tech to high tech.
The Muck Vac Perfect for use in small applications, no electricity is required to use it because it is powered by your garden hose! Amazing right, the hose water builds up pressure in the head piece of the muck vac which starts spinning the water and creates suction no water is added to the pond in this process and all discharge water can be used to feed a garden or flowerbed. Easy to use and very reliable. (requires a minimum hose pressure of 50psi)
The Matala Pond Vac 2 This is not your everyday ordinary pond vacuum, the Matala pond vac 2 is really more at home in medium sized ponds but can be used in pretty much any pond application. This unit really lives up to its nickname “Muck Buster” and with its powerful 2HP motor it is able to suck water up 5′ above water level. The Matala Pond Vac 2 does not run continuously and stops running as soon as the vac has been filled with debris then it discharges all the muck and sludge wherever you want it to go. (this vacuum requires electricity)
The Pond O Vac 4 The king of all pond vacuums, this amazing piece of technology is meant to handle any size pond, or swimming pool and it can even be used as a wet vac! Features:
- Dual-chamber Vacuum System: Two cylinders alternate suction and drain cycle to provide continuous suction.
- Sludge Drain with Drain Hose: Dual-discharge option for draining waste water directly into flower bed.
- Aluminum Extension Tubes: Lightweight bend-resistant tubes. Safe, even in swimming pools with chlorine.
- Transparent Extension Tube: Allows easy visual inspection of debris material.
- Universal Multi-Tool: Removes pond sludge without taking in pond gravel.
- String Algae Tool: Separates string algae strands for easy removal.
- Brush Tool: Scrub away stubborn encrusted dirt and deposits.
- Flat Surface Tool: Rollers and integrated brushes make cleaning large, level surfaces found in pools and swim ponds a breeze.
- Wet Vacuum Tool: “Squeegee” away soiled water or residual water during use as a wet vacuum cleaner.
Taking Care of Your Fish
The most important thing you can do for your fish prior to the cold is to give them a clean environment in which to winter over. Koi and Goldfish are cold weather fish and their metabolism will slow as the water gets colder, making them inactive. During Autumn, be sure and switch to a wheat germ food which is easier to digest and will add some fat to carry them through the Winter. Stop feeding them when the water temperatures approaches 55 degrees. We carry a full line of Wheat Germ food products. Remember, your fish DO NOT require feeding during the winter months. To do so may cause stomach rot. You can resume feeding them in the Spring when the water temperatures are above 55 degrees. Save a little wheat germ to start your Spring season. It is much easier for your fish to digest than high protein foods.
Assuming that your fish are at least 4″ to 6″ in length and your pond is at least 30″ deep, your fish should be able to survive the winter. Again, the deeper the better. If you are in doubt, then net them and move them to a protected covered area. Use some of the existing pond water to reduce stress on your fish and treat them with Pond Stress Coat or Microbelift Aqua Extreme. Be sure to provide aeration in their new winter home and cover any temporary housing with a good fish net to keep them from jumping out. We carry several good brands of air pumps which can be used to prevent icing over in winter and promote healthier fish and can be used in the heat of summer for additional aeration.
If your pond freezes over in the winter then you will need a pond deicer which will keep a hole open in the ice so that toxic gases can escape. Otherwise, trapped gases will kill your fish. We carry a variety of different de-icers depending on the size of your pond. The most popular uses only 100 watts of power.
Cleaning your Pond
Treating your pond with the proper additives will greatly increase your chances of a clean, clear and healthy pond in the spring. Nitrifying bacteria (good bacteria) is what helps keep your pond clean. The problem, is, when the temperature drops below 55 degrees, it usually dies or goes dormant. Use a specialized product like Microbelift Autumn Prep which will continue to provide sustained biological activity in water temperatures down to 38 degrees water temperature. It also helps to jump start your pond to a healthier environment in the spring. Even when frozen, the good bacteria will remain effective after thawing out.
Covering Your Pond
While part of the pond should always remain uncovered for pond health, depending on your winter temperatures, you may want to keep most of your pond completely covered throughout the winter. This will insulate and protect your fish from both the cold and any hungry predators that happen by. You can add a pond net but even a piece of plywood would help. Covering just reduces the chance of problems occurring and gives you peace of mind.
Be sure to remove any built up leaves and debris that may accumulate on the netting or cover. Rotting vegetation emits gases that are toxic to fish so they must be removed to protect fish health.
Taking Care of Your Equipment
There are differing opinions on what to do with the equipment that filters, pumps and sterilizes your pond. One thing we know for sure, if you have fish, and there is a possibility of your pond freezing, it is NOT recommended to leave the pump running to power your waterfall or other water feature. While beautiful to look at, a frozen waterfall can divert running water out of the pond causing your pond to freeze solid. A pump designed to oxygenate the water can be maintained as long as it is not drawing water from the bottom of the pond, or it can super cool your pond water and kill your fish. In colder areas we recommend that you disconnect and clean all of the equipment in your pond. This means the pump, filter systems and UV sterilizers. Let them air dry prior to storing in your shed or garage. Keep in mind that water expands when it freezes, therefore your pump, filter and sterilizers are at risk.