A common question we receive is "Can I keep my fish in my pond during the winter?". That's a great question, fish in lakes and rivers stay in year round, why can't my pond house fish for the winter?
With our harsh winters, we don't suggest keeping your fish in your pond during the winter. It is possible under certain circumstances, however we never recommend it. Often times even those who successfully keep their fish outdoors year round, lose some of their fish from our freeze thaw cycle.
Here are our recommendations.
When you shouldn't consider keeping your fish in your pond during the winter
- If your pond is less than 4.5ft deep (ice can freeze to 3.2ft in Winnipeg)
- If you don't have a heater to keep a consistent hole in the ice (for gas escape)
- If you don't have some form of oxygen for the fish (waterfall or aerator)
If you can't provide all 3 of these, you should not keep your fish in your pond during the winter.
When you can consider keeping your fish in your pond during the winter
Koi and Common Goldfish (Comet, Shubunkin, Ginbuna) can handle our harsh cold climate, it's important to know if your fish can stay alive during our winters. Tropical species won't survive.
If your pond is more than 4.5' deep, you can consider keeping fish in your pond. Ice in Manitoba can freeze to 3.2' deep, if your fish have nowhere to swim, they'll freeze to death.
If you want to keep fish in your pond during the winter, you'll need a way for the gases created by a pond to escape. We can achieve this by placing a heater such as pond de-icer/heater or a horse trough heater floating in the pond, this will give enough room for gasses to escape. We should mention, if the heater fails or the cold weather becomes too much for the heater, be ready to poke holes in the ice in cold weather.
Fish need oxygen to breathe, you can achieve this by keeping a stream running or keeping an aerator in the bottom of the pond.
One great thing about fish is if the temperature is cold enough, your fish can't digest food, meaning they don't need it until the water is warm enough in the spring. Your fish don't need food for the winter months. Once water temperatures reach 50°F (10°C) you can stop feeding your fish.
Be ready to top off your pond every once in a while during the winter months
If you can provide all of these criteria, your fish stand a chance of surviving our winters, however, you may still lose some. Once the ice freezes, you may not know if they're alive until spring.
Streams & Waterfalls:
If you have a waterfall or stream, your pump will need to be housed well below the frost line (3.5ft+) with the water kept at a specific temperature above freezing. The ice will form around the stream which allows the water movement below the ice. Once temperatures reach major lows (-20°C to -40°C) you may experience problems with flow and ice may damage your pump. You'll need to keep a close eye on your system. Be prepared to lose your pump to ice damage; ice damage also voids warranties.
We always recommend bringing your fish in for the winter, they'll often times be happier, you'll get to enjoy them year round and you'll increase your chances of keeping them alive.
For more information or if you have any questions, feel free to comment below.
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