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a moment of silence for my poor fishies...

Rockford, IL(Zone 4a)

Well, the weather finally warmed up enough so the ice on my pond has almost almost all melted. This morning I went out to check on my little goldfish... and do not want to say how they were found. (sigh) Appearently, the person who told me that if I made sure there were NO leaves in the pond in the fall, and if I made sure that the pond was 2 1/2 feet deep, my fish would survive the winter was a big liar... (sigh)

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Oh, Kathy, I am so sorry. We lost a few (but not all) of our fish this winter, so I know how disheartening that can be. Although it's too late to prevent the tragedy, the one piece of advice you may or may not have been given is to keep an open hole for the gasses to escape....even if you've done a thorough job of cleaning the pond, there's going to be some debris that is rotting away all winter, and without a way for it to escape, it'll kill the fish. I found a 6x18" piece of styrofoam that I tossed in our pond, and it did a good job of keeping some open space.....

(Zone 7a)

My sister over wintered her pond with a pond deicer. Its a heater that keeps the temp 40 degrees. it costs approx 40 dollars. I took my 3 survivers inside in the fall. Think I will try the deicer this fall.
Kathy sorry to hear of your little fishes.

This message was edited Monday, Mar 12th 7:01 AM

MD &, VA(Zone 7b)

So sorry Kathy...

go_vols is need to have an open space in the water, I didn't get all the debris cleaned out this fall but kept the pump and fountain running all winter, had a nice size hole in the ice. All fish are fine and starting to get quite active.

Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)


I'm very sorry to hear of your bad experience. I don't know about you but I'm pretty attached to my wet pets.

Another way to keep an opening in the ice is to run an airstone. It adds O2 and helps to keep an opening in the ice. I use one in the summer as well, the warm weather can be hard on the fish also.


Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

TerryN68 - what a great idea! We had an airstone when we had an aquarium, I don't know why I didn't think of one for the big is your pond and stone? (I'm recalling that the one we had for our 30-gallon aquarium was pretty small, so do they make them for large ponds?)

Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

My pond is a little over 2000 gallons.
I have;

a 2000 GPH pump feeding the bio-filter/veggie-filter/waterfall.

a 450 GPH pump on a floating skimmer/UV/

a fairly large two port airpump feeding two airstones. The airstones are about one inch in diameter and about an inch and a half long. I have one positioned close to the skimmer and the other about 3ft further out in the pond.

They do make the airstones in much larger sizes. I have seen them a foot or so long.


Hello Kathy
Its been a very hard winter, all over the nothern bit, so ice has been a bit thicker than normal, the toxic gases that killed your fish are present all the time, even if you spend hours cleaning the pond out, so dont feel bad about that, but the ice prevented the toxins escaping to the air, so it poisons the water, there are a few things that you can use to keep a hole in the ice, the best one i have found is(for the benifit of US readers) a soccer ball,they keep moving all the time and leave enough space for the gases to escape, so dont feel to bed, put it down to experience, we have all been there before.

Terry, i have a similer set up and size to you, what fish do you keep.


Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

Hey Alan, I have 14 Koi, ranging in size from 8 - 14 inches. Two of which are butterfly. Six Orfes, one sarrassi and one mystery fish. The mystery fish is almost black and I haven't been able to get close enough to check out his/her features.
What about you? Where do you live?


Ps, Terry, i wouldnt recomend useing an air stone in the winter, i takes all the cold water from the top and sends it down, chilling the fish more than normal, its warmer down there, in a small pond it could be fatal.


Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

Alan, I understand your logic, and agree that it could lower the water temp. But it will keep a hole open for the gases to escape and I think that hole (however one keeps it open) is more important than water temp overall. How would you rank the ideas posted for Kathy in Zone 4,unknown # of gallons,2.5 feet deep,unknown fish type? I listed them below in the order they were entered into the post.

floating styrofoam
a heater
kept the pump and fountain running all winter
an airstone
a soccer ball

some others I've heard from time to time.

a greenhouse over the pond
fish in a holding tank and let the pond freeze
use a hammer ( PLEASE DON'T EVER DO THIS!)


Northern Piedmont, NC(Zone 7b)

Kathy, I am really sorry about your fish. We do get attached to them as we do our other pets. It is too bad you were not told of keeping a hole in the ice for gas exchange.

Like Terry, I also use an airstone in the winter with no problems at all. I was advised to place the airstone just below the surface of the water, not on the bottom. This way, you are creating water movement and not distrubing the warmer water on the bottom, where the fish are resting. I place the aquar. pump on top of a small bucket, cover it with a larger bucket and forget about it till spring. Works great for me.

Hello Terry

Floating styrophome, i am guessing that you mean polystyrene ?, some things like that have toxins in them that will get into the water, dont think i would trust that one

Heater, there are a few on the market, just like a kettle element, they are ok for small ponds, and they only work in a very small part of the water, so they dont upset the fish too much, but, they can be expensive to run, especialy in a winter like this one.

Keeping the pump running, well we have to Terry, koi are different than gold fish, but water that is exposed to the air gets very cold very quick, and that cold water will effect the fish, it similer to us being in a bad cold draft, so i would say turn it off in a smal pond.

Air stone, well you know what i said about that one,

Soccer ball(football to us in the UK) i have used that several times, it keeps a nice hole in the ice with out disturbing anything.

with all ideas, there will be different oppinions, how we do thing in the Uk and US can differ considerably, so we offer what works for us, and people take it or leave it, i have had a pond for eight years, now i have two, i have made every mistake in the book, and still i look for any good tips and info, so i dont make anymore.

I have Koi too, i think i have fifteen of them, from six to eighteen inches, i say i think, i havent seen them for a month, my own personal belief, is that spring temperatures are the most dangerous for koi, water temp goes up and down to fast, so i put a big polythene cover over it at the end of january, that way the water temp stays 38-42,and the drop is much slower, like yesterday here was mildish and sunny 42, today its cold wet and its 39 it would be lower without the cover, but the draw back is i dont get to see them as much now, i will take it off at the end of April.

I live in the Fens, north East cambridgeshire, England.


Cape May Court House, NJ(Zone 7a)

Kathy, sorry about your fish.. I lost 6 fish and "8" frogs!!! I cried... I kept asking my husband if frogs hibernated.. He laughed and told me no 20 times before I finally belived him.. I guess the same person gave us advice on winterizing. I will ask DG experts next year!!! I know some of them are still in there but I haven"t seen them yet. (I hop I do soon) sue

Rockford, IL(Zone 4a)

Thank you all for your sympathy. The fish were only feeder goldfish, but I was still upset. They'd had babies in August, and a few of the adults would swim up when I came to feed them. My pond isn't very big - roughly five feet by eleven feet. I had read from somewhere that putting a log would keep the pond open (similiar to the soccer ball idea), but that didn't work... I'm thinking next year that a heater will be something I'll be purchasing. Thank you again! Kathy

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Kathy, I saw the log idea, too somewhere - but I figured logs can become "waterlogged" and sink, so I bypassed that one. I like the soccer ball idea, as long as my labs don't decide to go after the ball! The styrofoam seemed to work pretty well, although I hadn't really considered emissions to be a threat..... I guess you never know.

Muncy, PA(Zone 5a)

Hi Kathy,
I certainly can sympathize with you about your fish. The very same thing happened to me last year. I was told I could close up and cover my pond (a very small one). I didn't know anything about anything but I sure learned quick . Scooping out dead fish and frogs is one of the worst things to do! This year I invested in a deicer and all the fish made it! I couldn't believe it. They are starting to swim near the top. As far as the frogs go, it is a little too soon to tell. I think part of my problem was I didn't want the leaves and other junk in the bottom. This year I didn't care. I hope this helps you not to make the same mistake I did. :)
I wish you great success this season with your pond.


Niles, MI(Zone 5a)

This was my first winter with a pond, we live in southwestern Michigan, We used a floating stock tank heater and covered the pond with a tarp over a pvc pipe frame.
All of the fish survived and so did the frogs.
After we opened the pond this March 12, we watched the fish and when cold weather and snow came back they clustered around the heater.
every day until the ice melted.
I would highly recommend getting a heater, and covering the pond.Good luck

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