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As a first year owner of a 500gallon pond i was wondering how to prep my pond and my koi for the winter, such as when to stop feeding my koi, what to do with my pump and piping, etc.

I would like to hear pretty much how you guys prepare for winter

-Jeff
 

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If you are going to keep your koi outside over the winter you need to stop feeding them when the temp. reaches 50 degrees or below as they cannot digest the food. As for your pump goes it all depends on what kind of setup you have. You will need to keep the surface from completely freezing over so their can be surface exchange. I leave my pump for my waterfall running year round but it is a high flow pump and I also install a stock tank de-icer by my skimmer box so the water can still flow. If you can leave the pump going and pointed at the surface to help prevent the pond from feezing over completely.
 

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Very important to have a hole open in the ice for gas exchange. A lot depends on your locale and how cold it gets. Here in RI a minimum safe depth for koi to overwinter in a pond is 18".

Stock tank de-icers are great but they do suck up some wattage. I made one from a black cement mixing tub, some 4" PVC, two light bulb sockets and two 50 watt halogen spot lights. It works great, and I can see every night if it's still working by the light leaking through the cracks.
 

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Never, ever break the ice over a pond with a hammer! The resulting underwater shock wave will probably kill the fish. Instead, pour hot water over where you want to clear the ice out of. That should get rid of the ice. You can also put a pot of boiling water on top of the ice, this will make a hole in the ice the size of the pot.
 

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@ both: if it does freeze over with the water fall on, should i just grab a hammer and break the ice?
@ uh hua: do you stop feeding them when it is 50 degrees at night or day?

I stop feeding once the daytime temp drops below 50. It has been getting below 50 at night the last few days where I live and I will continue to feed until it gets below 50 during the day for a few consective days. I have never heard of a shock wave killing the fish if you break the ice with a hammer and as a matter of fact 2 years ago my pond de-icer broke and I didn't notice it for a couple of days and I ended up breaking the ice by my skimmer box so the water could flow better. It also depends on how big your pond is but if the top completely freezes over you run the risk of the fish dying if you don't break a hole in the surface so there can be gas exchange. If you can I would try to get an extra pump such as a fountain pump and put it as close to the surface as you can and point the outlet towards the surface so that it ripples at the surface to keep a spot open. It doesn't need to be a big hole that stays open. I hope this helps if you have anymore questions feel free to ask.
 

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The outside temperature really does not have much bearing on when you need to stop feeing your fish!! Invest in a pond thermometer....stop feeding when the water temp drops to 50 or 45dg..not the outside air temp. Also in the fall start feeding your koi and fish food based with wheat germ, this will fatten them up more so that when they are in a hibernation state they wont die sof hunger. I personally try to keep TWO holes open in my pond (600gallons) the reason is that last year with the huge amounts of snow....the surface heater melted the top snow slightly and then refrooze at night creating a bubble of ice over the entire hole/heater not allowing gasses to escape. with two holes....you have a better chance one will always stay open. One hole use a surface heater, scond hole an aeration pump/stone.

also i dont recoomend keeping your pump on for the whole winter ...reason 1 being it isnt economical, 2. your taking the warmest water from the bottom, and moving it to the colder area on top or worst over a waterfall which really will chill the water. A heater and air pump uses a fraction of the electriciy a pump will use.:proud:
 

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The outside temperature really does not have much bearing on when you need to stop feeing your fish!! Invest in a pond thermometer....stop feeding when the water temp drops to 50 or 45dg..not the outside air temp. Also in the fall start feeding your koi and fish food based with wheat germ, this will fatten them up more so that when they are in a hibernation state they wont die sof hunger. I personally try to keep TWO holes open in my pond (600gallons) the reason is that last year with the huge amounts of snow....the surface heater melted the top snow slightly and then refrooze at night creating a bubble of ice over the entire hole/heater not allowing gasses to escape. with two holes....you have a better chance one will always stay open. One hole use a surface heater, scond hole an aeration pump/stone.

also i dont recoomend keeping your pump on for the whole winter ...reason 1 being it isnt economical, 2. your taking the warmest water from the bottom, and moving it to the colder area on top or worst over a waterfall which really will chill the water. A heater and air pump uses a fraction of the electriciy a pump will use.:proud:

I have to disagree with some of this as I have been keeping koi for over 10 years. While I agree that a pond thermometer is a good idea it doesn't take long for the pond temp to drop after the outside temp drops below 50 during the day and more than likely the nighttime temp is getting to the low 40's and possibly 30's. It is a good idea to feed a food high in wheat before winter. As far as it being cheaper to run a heater over a pump. A heater will cost you more to run than a pump. It's a better idea to have good circulation and even temp. Maybe my experience is a little different because my pond is 3,500 gals. However before I had this recent pond I had a preformed 500 gal.
 
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winter pond care

I have to agree with the last comment on the pump being a good winter choice. I have had my koi for 14 years and they spend winters outside, Nova Scotia Canada, so they do have lots of cold conditions. I've run the surface heater and it doesn't always work quite as well as they say. The pump, I have on a two foot ledge of a 4 foot deep pond, it' s my skimmer pump and has a large water turnover, and I use a hose that just shoots out of the surface and arcs inward on the pond. All winter long. Keeps it open for 95% of the time and will freeze over, even the moving water in the air, but I just use a saw to cut a hole in the ice and get my air exchange that way. My fish seem fine with the circulating water. My pond is about 6000 gal though so it is larger. Power outages are a pain thought and I've had occasion to have to break the ice with more than a hammer to open it, but I don't reccomend pounding on the ice. Hot water would be best. I have used a hose attatched to the kitchen sink for this.
 
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