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Oxygenating Your Pond in the Winter
by Rosie French
October 19, 2014

Winter can pose all sorts of dilemmas when you have a pond in your garden; one of these is knowing how to get enough oxygen into the water to keep wildlife alive. Goldfish and koi are generally quite resilient and can survive in water with low oxygen levels, but frogs, newts and insects will struggle. To help keep the oxygen levels up in your pond this winter, we’ve put together a few tips.

Breaking the Ice

Many people believe breaking the ice on the surface of their pond provides enough oxygen to keep wildlife alive, but it’s actually been proven that it makes little to no difference to oxygen levels. Instead, to stop your pond freezing over in the first place, try floating a light rubber ball on the surface to keep the water moving as this will be more effective at bringing deoxygenated water to the surface of your pond. Fit it at least a foot above the bottom of the pond, as the water and the mud on the bottom needs to stay as warm as possible for wildlife and should drop below 4°C.

Letting in Light

The most effective way of oxygenating the water in your pond is to allow nature to take its course. The plants in your pond will produce oxygen by photosynthesis, so the key element to the survival of the wildlife in your pond is light. When snow or leaves gather on the icy surface, the best thing you can do is simply to gently brush them off, rather than break the ice. The plants in the pond will be exposed to the light through the surface of the water whether it’s frozen over or not, so oxygenating your pond is actually a very simple process.

More Winter Pond Tips

• Don’t fatten fish up for winter; it could kill them as it’s harder to digest food in the cold.

• If your pond does freeze over this winter, melting a hole in the ice will allow poisonous, naturally occurring gasses like methane to escape.

• Never physically break ice on the surface of a pond as the shockwaves can be harmful to wildlife.

• Ventilated ice on the surface of a pond can be good as it helps to protect wildlife from extra cold temperatures and hungry animals like foxes.

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