Goldfish in the pond over the winter

mondotomheadOctober 9, 2009

This will be my first year with goldfish, approx 45 2-6" in a 3500 gallon pond that is 3 1/2 feet deep. I will be leaving the pump on all winter(I did this last year with no fish). This keeps the pond from freezing over because of the waterfall. The filters will still be in place.

My question is do the goldfish need to eat anything during this time? Are they still active? What about ammonia buildup?

Thanks everyone!


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I'm sure someone else would be a better advisor (this upcoming winter will only be my 2nd winter with a pond), but that's what I had done for most of the winter and I didn't lose any fish (50-some goldfish and a 9" koi in about 700-gallons, 2' deep). For the majority of the time they were all congregated in the deepest part of the pond, not doing much of anything. I did feed them a couple times, but each time was during a warm spell when the water got up above 55 deg. F, and only with their winter food pellets - majority of the time I left them alone.

I had kept the pump and waterfall running most of the winter but had to shut things down sometime in Jan, so I used a bubbler to keep a hole in the ice - worked fine even with 4" of ice on the pond (aquarium air pump in a disposable tupperware container, with a 3" round airstone on a shelf). Low temps and snow didn't affect the air pump at all - matter-of-fact there was a significant stretch of time when the air pump had over a foot of snow covering it, and it did just fine.

This time I've got about 51 goldfish (no koi) in 850 gallons (3' deep), and I'll be doing the same thing I did last year except this year I'll cut the vegetation back - didn't do that at all last year so it was a bit ugly come springtime.

- Mike

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 1:22PM
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Thanks, Mike,

Where I live (middle of mass, just above CT) the water will NOT get above 55 for at least 4-6 months. I just wondered what the fish did in that cold water all that time. From what you say not much of anything. I am hoping for the best. I really love my fish!


    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 4:47PM
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Fish's metabolism slows way down in cold water, so basically they just huddle in the deepest part of the pond trying to stay as warm as possible. They don't hibernate, they are awake and will move around a bit. Not a pleasant time for them, but they seem to be able to adapt.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 5:30PM
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pat_c(5/ N W OHIO)

Leave fish in the pond and do not feed. As long as you keep a hole in the ice they will be fine. They do not need food at those temps, and if the weather should warm up for a few days, they'll eat algae.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 5:30PM
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lisa11310(z5 MI)

Im in West Michigan small 600 gal pond. Im feeding only snacks on warmer days and will quit feeding all together in the next few weeks. We are also frozen for about 4 months. Ive been here 5 winters but the fish were here when we moved in ..some 10 yrs old or more. We have a tent for wind and snow and a bubbler. Fish do just fine. Plants, so so.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 11:48PM
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Thanks all you guys for the comments. I guess I won't worry TO much!


    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 9:33AM
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donaldb(5B Worcester, MA)

I'm here in Worcester,MA with a 1000 gal pond with waterfall. You may want to consider purchasing a heater instead of running your pump all winter. They are inexpensive and your electric bill won't be as high. All the fish need is a small hole and the heater accomplishes this.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 9:49AM
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Heater will work very well in the winter.Once the temperature drops below 55 degrees stop feeding. If the temperature goes above this in winter still do not feed until spring time.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 3:14PM
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cityworm, where would you find a heater that doesn't take much electricity? Farm store, or a pet shop, or where? I have been talking about that but someone said it would be very expensive to run all winter. Sure would be easier than trying to catch all the fish I have. Thanks in advance. BT

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 5:38PM
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brownthumbia you should be able to get a heater at your local pond supply store or pet shop. If they do not have any or will not order it for you. Just try on line, just type in pond heater and you should be able to find it. Some areas do not need it and it also depends how deep the pond is in the deepest end. Here in NJ if your pond is deeper then 18 inches usually you will have no problem.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 11:16PM
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Energy-wise, it would have to be a really large pump before you would be using less energy with a heater/deICER. Most heating elements have a greater load than the medium size pond pumps, IMHO. Many of my friends go to a bubbler setup with a smaller pump, like a 250 or 500 gph, in the winter.

Many here at GardenWeb have noticed that energy-wise, the air-pumps with air-stones are even more efficient than the smaller pumps.

Just FYI: But if you're doing the heater setup you may want to see Drh1's homemade device instructions under FAQs at the top of the opening page.

Here is a link that might be useful: Last on the List is DeIcers

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 10:44AM
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I use this bubbler. Fun to build, cheap to run, works great. My goldfish always live through the winter though at most my pond is 20" deep.

Here is a link that might be useful: hemenway bubbler

    Bookmark   October 17, 2009 at 9:27AM
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