First time winterizing.

Discussion in 'Winterizing Your Pond' started by Thomas, Sep 3, 2016.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas

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    Hi, all. I'm in Zone 6b, and this will be my first winter with my stock tank water garden. Things have really gone well, all summer long, and I want to make sure that I transition into cold weather the right way.

    My tank is a galvanized metal stock tank, about 300 gallons. I've got lots of filtration--maybe more than necessary, and about 9 fish (comets/shubunkin), unless there are fry that I haven't found yet.

    At this point, I'm just starting to make my shopping list for things that I'll need.

    1. Net to keep fall leaves out.
    2. Air stone/oxygenator.
    3. Heating element.
    4. Bales of hay to insulate the tank from

    Anything else that I should put on my shopping list?

    Also, if people have recommendations for the size, types or brands of air stones and heaters I should be looking for, I'd be grateful for the advice.
     

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    Thomas, Sep 3, 2016
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  2. Thomas

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    You will need to surround the sides, that will freeze solid if you don't.
    Our deck pond freezes to the bottom, but we have no fish in it. The snails seems to do fine.

    I use a pond breather to keep some circulation going. Air exchange. It does not warm the water, just keeps a hole in the ice. My ponds all freeze over, the fishless ones I do nothing to them. The ponds with fish I use the pond breather to keep them healthy. This is with a 3 foot or so snow cover.
    pb1.JPG DSC07805.JPG
     
    addy1, Sep 3, 2016
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  3. Thomas

    Thomas

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    So, with a pond breather, I wouldn't need a separate oxygenator and heating element, then? Just found another thread that talked about them...sounds like that's the way to go.
     
    Thomas, Sep 3, 2016
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  4. Thomas

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    Mmathis, Sep 3, 2016
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  5. Thomas

    Tula

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    I agree with @addy1 about insulating your stock tank, or bring your fish inside for the winter.
     
    Tula, Sep 3, 2016
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  6. Thomas

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    How exposed is the tank?
     
    Mmathis, Sep 3, 2016
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  7. Thomas

    Faebinder

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    That tank looks way too exposed for the fish... it's metal too...

    I would bring the fish in the garage (or a cold basement) for the winter and put them in a 100 gallon container with an aerator with a water change once a month.
     
    Faebinder, Sep 3, 2016
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  8. Thomas

    Thomas

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    Photo is attached

    It's up against a large planter box on one of the long sides. The rounded ends and other side are exposed. My thought was that a few bales of hay around the sides would help insulate it, though, if there's a better way to do that, I'd love suggestions. I was also considering partially covering the top (with a board and some kind of insulation).
     
    Thomas, Sep 3, 2016
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  9. Thomas

    Faebinder

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    You could always cover it with a greenhouse sheet. It will be easier in the winter after your plants lose their leaves.
     
    Faebinder, Sep 3, 2016
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  10. Thomas

    MitchM

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    I think it's too cold in zone 6b for an above ground tank without a lot of insulation.
    300g is small enough that you could easily catch the fish and bring them inside for the winter.
    If you cover the surface with insulation or plastic you will also need to provide some aeration so the decomposition process can continue throughout the winter with the water condition remaining healthy.
    You know your climate best though.
     
    MitchM, Sep 3, 2016
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  11. Thomas

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    @Thomas How much freezing do you get there in zone 6b? Is there a chance that the tank could freeze over? Insulating might help, but every pond and every situation is going to be different. Is it an option for you to move the fish indoors as was mentioned?
     
    Mmathis, Sep 3, 2016
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  12. Thomas

    Thomas

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    It wouldn't freeze solid, I think, but it would freeze. We usually have one or two weeks (not consecutive) of temperatures that are bitter cold, and the rest of the time, temps hover around freezing, or slightly below.

    The garage isn't really an option, because it's tiny and our car takes up all the space (the fact that we have a garage at all in Brooklyn is a minor miracle). I could bring them into the basement, but my only concern was to have 9 fish in 100 gallons, I just had questions about filtration, feeding etc. They've been doing so well in the stock tank, and I've only had to feed them once or twice a week--the water quality is great, they've grown a bunch over the summer, so my only concern would be if I move them indoors and everything takes a sharp left hand turn into a ditch... But maybe that's not a concern at all.
     
    Thomas, Sep 3, 2016
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  13. Thomas

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    From what I understand [and keep in mind, my knowledge base is limited], as long as the water doesn't freeze solid -- as in the entire tub is a solid cube of ice -- and there is a way to keep an opening in the ice [ie, Pond Breather or by another means], the fish have a good chance of doing fine. Maybe even go so far as to use the hay bales and then wrap the entire thing [sides only] in bubble wrap. Just be sure that the bottom is completely free of fallen leaves, etc. and start feeding a fall-winter diet. And when it gets really cold, don't feed at all.

    I know what you mean about extra space...... Here in the south, basements are unheard of except in some places. So many ponders talk about moving their fish to the basement..... Jealous!
     
    Mmathis, Sep 3, 2016
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  14. Thomas

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    addy1, Sep 3, 2016
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  15. Thomas

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    I am 6b, my smaller fishless ponds, in the ground, freeze almost to the bottom if not all the way to the bottom. (some winters, some winters they do not freeze deep at all) One year I could feel all the way down to the bottom of the pond, along the edge, and it was ice.

    My deck pond is around 18 inches deep, it freezes to the bottom.

    With the metal sides, unless insulated well, like you are saying with hay bales, it will freeze up.
    The pond breather will keep a nice opening in the ice. It does not warm the water.
     
    addy1, Sep 3, 2016
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  16. Thomas

    Mucky_Waters

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    I'm in zone 6, and I wouldn't expect fish to survive in that exposed metal tank through the winter unless we had a very mellow winter. Of course I know a few people with small in ground ponds who routinely just get new replacement fish every spring, so no biggy I guess.
    Hay bales won't do much to insulate unless you have an actual heat source inside the tank. In ground ponds use the Earth as a heat source.
     
    Mucky_Waters, Sep 4, 2016
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  17. Thomas

    bettasngoldfish Maria

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    I'm in northeast Ohio so we get cold and snow. My fish have stayed outside over winter in a 70 gallon rubermaid stock tank no problems.
    I do use a stock tank heater (sold for use in stock tanks/water troughs) and airstones. The heater kept the water right around 45-50 degrees even in the coldest of weather. The tank was up against the back of my house and then straw bales around the rest of it. I also put a sheet of plywood over most of the top of the tank to keep snow out, predators etc. On nice days I would take the top off for a while to give the fish some light.
     
    bettasngoldfish, Sep 4, 2016
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  18. Thomas

    callingcolleen1 mad hatter

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    Sounds like you have it all under control. Keep water moving good in front of heater and all will be fine. You really have a very mild winter compared to me. I am sure they will be just fine, with a little heater for extreme cold. :)
     
    callingcolleen1, Sep 4, 2016
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  19. Thomas

    Thomas

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    Thanks, all, for the advice. I think I might bring the fish into the basement this winter, since it's my first time at the rodeo. I could get a heater and a breather and see how the tank does this first winter, and if it looks like the set-up works okay, perhaps I could leave the fish in the pond next winter.

    I've got a fifty gallon rain barrel that I could put in our basement, and hook up with a filter and pump. It looks like this, but without the lid.

    [​IMG]

    Would that be large enough for 9 fish, though? 6 of them are about 6" long, each. Two are about 4", and there's one fry.
     
    Thomas, Sep 5, 2016
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  20. Thomas

    MitchM

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    The 50 gallon container may physically hold the fish, and they may be quite inactive depending on the temperature of the water in the basement, but those fish will produce more ammonia than the biofilm that develops on the surface of the rain barrel is capable of processing.
    Those fish will produce about 80mg of ammonia/day but the biofilm of the rain barrel will only be capable of processing about 21mg/day.

    You will either need a pressure filter with additional surface area (using bio-balls) that will help process the ammonia, a larger container, or a combination of both.

    I arrived at those numbers from the information on this webpage: http://www.russellwatergardens.com/calculations/biofilter-specific-surface-area-ssa/

    and estimating that the 50 gallon rain barrel will have about 21 sq. ft. of surface area.

    .
     
    MitchM, Sep 5, 2016
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