How To Do Winter Pond Maintenance The Best Way In Maryland

Find Out How You Can Better Protect Your Pond And Fish From Our Freezing Maryland Winters
Winter pond maintenance includes creating a hole in the ice like in this picture

Winter pond maintenance in Maryland includes taking down any fall netting, cleaning, shutting down, and making sure your fish are safe.

Find all the steps and more below-

Fish Cubes?!

“Winter is coming and our fish could freeze!” says Matt worriedly.

Christina’s forehead wrinkles in concern. “Yeah, you might be right. I remember it froze last year when we didn’t have any fish in it. Now that we do, are they going to become, I don’t know, fish cubes?”

Matt swallows a smile at hearing ‘fish cubes’. “Don’t worry, hon, we’ll figure something out. People have had koi ponds and fish for years without a problem. We can too.”

Christina’s smile looks stressed. “I guess.” Matt frowns and pulls out his phone. “Instead of stressing over not knowing, let’s look up winter pond maintenance and see what we need to do. It worked for finding the fall pond maintenance process.” He starts searching for answers on Google.

Here’s what he finds and shows Christina to relieve their stress:

Winter Pond Maintenance Steps For Maryland

  1. Take down any fall netting
  2. Clean pond and filters
  3. Shut down the waterfall or make sure it’s winter-ready
  4. Place an aerator one foot below the surface
  5. Turn off automatic pond parts like autofill devices
  6. Add a de-icer when your pond freezes
  7. Remove the pump and store it in water if you shut down the pond

Winter pond maintenance is about cleaning up after fall and getting ready for winter.

The fall netting may not have caught all the leaves and debris. Cleaning the pond and filters gets debris out before it breaks down into sludge and gases. This keeps your fish and pond healthier.

Waterfalls can create beautifully frozen ice sculptures in your yard. They can also keep a hole in your ice. The hole allows gas from your fish and any debris out. It also lets oxygen in. If you leave the waterfall running you’ll want to check it every so often for ice dams. Ice dams shoot water into your yard which can cause nasty spots.

Mostly frozen waterfall

Aerators are a great tool for winter pond maintenance.

An aerator can help keep a hole in any ice that forms. The aerator moves oxygen around but you must move it to the shallow end. If left in the deep end it’ll send warm water up and cold water down, leaving your fish stuck with cold water.

Whatever you do, don’t break the ice. Imagine being half-asleep and a giant boom from above suddenly wakes you up. It’s cause enough for a heart attack! Now imagine it for your fish…

The automatic pond parts like the Ion-Gen (what’s an Ion-Gen?) aren’t needed during winter so you can turn them off. Storing the pump in water keeps it in better condition.

Preparing A Koi Pond For Winter When Winter’s Already Here

Go ahead and leave your pond running. Make sure it stays full so the pump doesn’t try to run without any water. Make sure to check for ice dams or you’ll have a swampy yard!

Using aerators to form a hole in the ice for winter pond maintenance

If it’s frozen then get a de-icer on it ASAP! De-icers are great for many reasons, like keeping you from trying to break a hole in the ice. Do not break a hole in the ice. Then put an aerator in the shallow end.

After that, there isn’t much you can do besides keeping an eye on it and your fish.

But Will The Koi Fish Survive?

You’ll definitely want to know what to do with your fish during winter.

As long as your pond is at least 2 feet deep your fish should be fine. Water in Maryland doesn’t normally freeze that far down. Your fish will be in a hibernation-like state so they’ll hardly notice!

But, as part of winter pond maintenance, you need to know about feeding your koi fish. Do not feed your fish under 50° Fahrenheit. You can switch to cold temperature fish food when temperatures are between 60-50°F.

Koi fish under ice is fine because winter pond maintenance was performed

You can also move them inside as part of winter pond maintenance:

  • Using de-chlorinated water in a 100-1000 gallon tank
    • Polytank or stock tanks are stronger and easier to move than glass
  • Putting the tank near a power and water source, and drain for easier cleaning and filling (weekly)
  • Setting up a small filter, aerator, and de-icer 
    • If the area is heated then get food instead of the de-icer
  • Cover the tank with a net so the koi don’t jump out

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“It sounds like our fish are going to be ok as long as we follow this,” sighs Matt in relief. Christina smiles and nods, her stress gone. “Let’s see what else we can learn while we’re on here,” she suggests.