Garden News: Water Garden Maintenance:
Should I keep my waterfall running
through the winter?
When the surface of your water garden turns to ice, there are two things
to think of concerning safety of your fish. First, it’s important
to keep a hole open in the ice. This prevents the buildup of gasses that
could harm your fish. These gasses develop as the fish waste and any plant
debris decomposes. The important factor is water oxygenation. Although
your fish are sleeping their way through winter, oxygenated water is still
vital to their survival through the winter.
Both of these goals can be achieved a couple of different ways. The required
preparations do not consume a lot of time, and certainly don’t threaten
to take over your weekend. If you prefer to leave the project to someone
else, most pond installers can usually be hired to do it for you. But
if you’re up for getting your hands dirty, here are a few things
that you’ll want to take into consideration when preparing for winter.
Running Your Waterfall
If you chose to keep your waterfall running through the winter, you’ll
be rewarded with some extraordinary, natural ice sculptures and winter
scenes.Winter also brings some unique considerations that you’ll
need to keep your eye on.
A pump and waterfall that circulates at least 2000 gallons of water per
hour is sufficient to keep a hole open in the ice, as well as oxygenation
of the water. Keep an eye on long or slow-moving streams and areas around
the waterfall. In these areas, it’s easy for ice dams to form, diverting
water over the liner. It’s important to watch for this, especially
on extremely cold days. If you find an ice dam that’s diverting
ater over the edge of the liner, it’s best to turn off the pump.
If you chisel the ice buildup away, chances are it will form again in
the same spot and be the source of continuous frustration.
Surprisingly, even during the winter, the water continues to evaporate
and therefore needs to be topped off so that your pump continues to function
properly. If you make the extra effort to keep your falls running throughout
the winter, you’ll see the most beautiful ice formations and patterns
around the falls and streambeds.
Shutting It Down
Many people choose to shut down their pond for the
winter because they don’t want to worry about ice dams or pay for
the cost to run a larger pump. If you chose to shut down your waterfall
for the winter, you’ll need to replicate the effects of the waterfall
in order keep the water oxygenated and a hole open in the ice.
A pump that circulates at least 150 gallons per hour can be placed in
your pond below, but close to, the water’s surface. By allowing
it to bubble about one inch above the surface, the agitation will keep
a hole in the ice and oxygenate the water until the air temperature drops
below 10° F.
If the air temperature stays below 10° F for extended periods, you’ll
need to add a floating heater in order to maintain the opening in the
ice. Most heaters are equipped with a thermostat that, when set at the
proper temperature, switches the heater on only when needed. Note, afloating
heater alone will not oxygenate the water, and therefore can be deadly
to your fish.
Winter, wherever you live, is a time for Mother Nature and her "family"
to change the scenery a bit. Whether it’s a frozen, white, wintry
scene, or just a rest from the heat of the southern sun, adapting to these
changes will ensure that your water garden and its fish are healthy all