Fish ponds in winter -- what needs to be done
I know NOTHING about outdoor ponds, but I thought you all could help me, and let me know whether I need to worry.
I was visiting a public garden and came upon a man-made outdoor pond with fancy goldfish or some sort of small goldfish-like fish in it. They didn't have a pump running at all. Winter is coming, and this is in the DC area.
What needs to be done to keep these fish safe for the winter?
I'm so ignorant, I don't even know if the fish can stay in the pond over the winter. Can they?
Is it normal to have the pump off at this time of year? How do they get enough oxygen? The pond is 2 levels, with some plants in the upper level, but the fish are in the lower level and the water isn't circulating, so I don't think anything other than surface aeration is going on.
Does it have to be a certain depth so that the fish can live under the ice layer? Should a pump be running to prevent icing over, among other things?
Do they need plants for food throughout the winter? I know their become very sluggish, so maybe they don't need to eat.
When do they need to be "tucked away" by to be safe? A certain outdoor temp? A few nights we have actually gone into the 20s, but it's still mostly in the 50s and occasionally the 60s during the day.
I don't want to make an issue if this is all normal for this time of year. Bur rhis place has been known not to be the best at animal husbandry.
If there is reason to be concerned, I will make a list of problems based on responses so they can't just say don't worry, everything's OK.
Thanks for helping to educate me on this.