Fall and Winter Pond Care

Posted by Cathy Green on

Tips for a healthy winter pond.

Get the pond ready for fall and winter. It is easy to have a healthy pond through the winter if you follow a few simple guidelines.    


Check the amount of debris in the pond. Remove excess debris if there is more than 1-2" of sludge on the bottom. Removing substantial amounts of mulm and sludge from the pond before the water becomes cold and fish start to hibernate on the bottom, will keep fish healthy. Hibernating, and sitting in a bed of sludge that can harbor parasites, contribute to poor water quality or lower oxygen levels through winter months is not good for them.


Remove sludge and debris

  • 1-Netting out debris. Light amounts of leaves and sticks and algae can be netted out with a good pond net. The best pond nets have a metal frame that can hold some weight. And a four-foot handle or extendable handle for reaching the bottom slit and mud
  • 2- Pond vacuum – Pond vacuum will work if you can see the bottom and what you are vacuuming. One type is like an electric shop vac with accessories. The motor will switch from vacuum to an automatic drain. The other type of pond vacuum is designed to use with a garden hose for spot clean up. It uses a fine mesh bag to trap debris. But I have found that attaching a hose to let it drain the silt out of the pond works better.
  • Water treatments- Ultra Clear Pond Sludge Remover or Pond-Zyme with Barley to clean and clarify pond water. It contains beneficial bacteria and enzymes to consume sludge and clean ponds. Use a fall clean up dose for acute sludge build up. Muck digester tablets are easily added with no measure or mess. Treat monthly and will work in cold water. Oxy pond clean will oxidize algae on the spot and wash the debris into the filter for clean out
  • 4- Cleaning out the pond. Cleaning a pond in the fall is much easier on the fish. They are still strong from the summer growth and the water is warmer for pond cleaners.  See the link for How to clean out a pond.


Other Fall suggestions

  • Trim old yellow leaves. Repot overgrown waterlilies and marginals.  This can be done fall or spring. Although plants are larger in the fall and the water is much warmer to work in. Discard or move tropical plants to freeze free environments during winter months.
  • Use pond netting to keep leaves and debris from accumulating in the pond over the winter months. It is also good to keep herons from eating the fish when they are exposed.
  • Pumps left on the surface of the pond like in a skimmer may be kept running while it is only circulating top water. Pumps in the bottom of the pond should be turned off and filter and pipes drained.  Glass from the UVC need to be removed and brought inside.
  • Do not feed fish once the temperature is below 50 degrees and resume feed when the temperature returns to 50 degrees. Fish are dormant during the cold temperature and do not metabolize the food readily. Old food in their system can cause harm and stress. Old food and waste in the pond can stress the water quality when bacteria and plants are not growing to maintain the balance.
  • Maintain a hole in the frozen pond to allow harmful gasses to escape. Fish do not require as much oxygen during cold months since they are dormant. Cold water is easier to absorb oxygen.  Gas from organics can cause harm if trapped under ice for a duration.  Maintaining a hole can be done with an electric deicer A pond aerator works well to keep a hole open in the ice and can be used for back up if the pump goes out. A floating Ice Guard. Keeps the hole open without electricity !


Grassland Aquatics offers Pond cleaning and maintenance service.  The schedule form and policy are on the web site or call the store for scheduling 615-790-0776