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oh yes, already a question about winter
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Joined: 13 Jul 2003
Location: Wisconsin

PostPosted: 2003.07.14(Mon)23:25    Post subject: oh yes, already a question about winter Reply with quote

hey guys. my dad and I built a pond in our back yard about 3 years ago. it's absolutely beautiful, w/a stream and waterfall. also a bio-filter [with lava rock as the medium.] I'd estimate it at about 1500 gallons. not immense, but definitely good-sized. every year so far, the plants have FLOURSIHED. we've ended up having to discard hyacinths out in the woods, because they multiply so rapidly.

this year things are great. the hyacinth number hasn't been as high [nor the duckweed,] but the lilies and parrot's feather are plentiful. we have a few frogs [not as many as in the past.] we did have a pair of toads that mated in the pond in early summer, and there are literally hundreds of tadpoles eating away at the algae on the rocks and lining. they've gone from about 1/8 inch to 1" each over this past month. real cute little guys Wink

we never keep very many fish in the pond. this year we have 3 beautiful comet goldfish [1 gold & 2 gold+white.] it's AMAZING how much healthier goldfish can be in such an environment. I've had them in large tanks in the past, but nothing can compare to an outdoor pond. I purchased them a couple months ago at about 3 inches each. now they've all grown to about 5 inches & have been doing wonderfully. the pond isn't extremely deep [about 2.5 feet in the center,] but there are plenty of hiding places for them at the bottom near the lily pots etc. I have found quite a few raccoon paw prints actually IN the pond on the lining, but the fish are still doing just fine. their colors are so incredibly vibrant. I only feed them a few times a week, because they seem to find plenty of algae and insects to eat. OK, let's just say... they're some of the healthiest fish I've EVER seen. haha.

the problems always come during winter. we tried emptying the pond one year of all its contents [releasing all the frogs etc,] and keeping the fish indoors in a tank. but their health seemed to decline so rapidly. I know the setup was sufficient, but I think moving them indoors after being in such prime conditions was just too stressful. last winter, we tried using a heater in the pond. again, none of the fish made it through the winter. it discourages me, especially since I've become particularily attached to these 3 fish this year. I want them to make it through the winter in good health so badly.

I'm not sure what to do. my dad has suggested that we construct some sort of setup in our screened-in porch. it's right next to the pond, so transferring wouldn't be a problem. the porch itself is basically exposed to everything the outdoors would be, but it's screened in and has a roof to prevent leaves from falling in etc. we cover the screen with plastic in winter, but the temperatures do still drop below freezing inside [this is wisconsin people, what do you expect?] I'm assuming the setup would include large heated tubs. I'm not really sure of size or numbers yet. I'm sure we'd keep some of the plants [oxegenators etc.] along with the fish. do you think a setup like this might work? what about filtration?

anyone who has successfully made it through the winter with healthy pond fish, tell me what you did. what can you guys suggest for me? I'm determined to make this work!!
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003

PostPosted: 2003.07.16(Wed)20:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your pond sounds lovely, I'm jealous. Smile

Here's a suggestion. Does the heated tub(s) have to be on the screened porch during the winter? Is there any way you could set one up in say your basement or another part of the house that doesn't freeze? I could not afford a pond this year so I made a "container water garden" instead.

I purchased a 50 gallon RubberMaid tote with lid. Cut out the center of the lid, leaving 2" perimeter all the way around. Snapped lid onto tub for extra reinforcement since the weight of the water is so much on the sides of the tub. Using a 402 powerhead set up for RUGF with some old undergravel filter plates I had lying around for filtration. Covered the plates with 50 lbs. of natural gravel. Planted lots of parrot feather, cabomba, hornwort, and several varieties of swords in clay pots with quality potting soil. This makes the plants easy to move around and they are doing so much better than they would in plain old aquarium gravel. Covered the mechanics and sides of the tub with silk ivy since ivy is a non-aquatic plant. Also used a few silk lilies and lily pads for some shade on one side of the tub. Put many pots of mint, wave petunias, and some other plants on the ground around the tub. I have three large fantails in the tub also. You're right the goldfish do much better outdoors than in tanks from what I have seen so far.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that you could do something similar indoors in the winter time without compromising aesthetics for the fish' sake. I imagine lighting would be a bit tricky if you plan on bringing in any of the plants. I just plan to transfer the plants to my tanks this fall and use all silk in the goldfish tub when I bring it indoors. HTH, Christy
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Matt Shandorf

Joined: 23 Apr 2003
Location: MN

PostPosted: 2003.07.20(Sun)18:26    Post subject: Reply with quote


That sounds almost exactly like our pond, right down to chucking water hyacinthes in the woods every week! We have frogs too, but more fish.
Since you live in Wisconsin, you can do the same thing we do (we live in MN). Do what christy said and buy a Rubbermaid stock tank, preferably as large as you can afford. Get an Aquaclear 500 or similarly powerful canister filter, but make sure you diffuse the flow a lot. The MOST IMPORTANT THING: DON'T HEAT IT. In fact, put it in the coolest place in your house (except the garage) like your basement. Your fish will go into a semi-dormant state. Feed them VERY sparingly - more than once every 2 weeks. Their metabolism slows way down, so feeding often will do more harm than good. I think ours were fed about 5 times last winter, if even.
We've lost 2 fish to this method, out of about 15, and that was because of an Ich outbreak caused by not quarantining new fish (D'oh! D'oh! D'oh!)
Also, be sure to cover the tank with some kind of netting, as goldies and koi wil jump out.
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