Newbee winter question


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I haven't decided if I will keep my pump running through winter or just use the bubblers and a heater.

In any event, what happens to my beneficial bacteria I've been growing? Does it die in winter? If I take out my pump and filter, will I have to grow new bacteria in the spring?
 
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sissy

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I think it depends on what the winter is going to be like I keep pond thermometers in the pond to answer part of the question ,do I shut down or stay on
 
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It was so cold last winter. I think it got down to -1. But other winters we've barely had a freeze. I thought I might let everything run and see what happens. Is that a bad idea?
 

addy1

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I turn everything off, my pump is external. I pull the pump open the lines and it sits until the spring. If we lose power it could freeze up and be ruined. And I have a huge bog the surface area cools the water a lot.

When I fire it up, in two days the water is back to crystal clear.
 

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It doesn’t all die. I think there is a dormancy factor. But, that’s the reason everyone has green water in the spring for a little while, at least. There’s not really anything to do about it. It’s how the world has turned since the beginning of time!
 
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I turn the water off to the bog for winter, as well. I leave the main waterfall running and an aerator mid level running, year round.

All my pumps are in skimmers and the main waterfall even if it starts to freeze won’t dump water out of the pond due to ice damming. Like addy1, my water never turns green.
 
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You really need to know your own pond. For example, some waterfalls are built so they can handle the water freezing at the surface and still continue to flow under the ice. Others would dam up and divert water out of the pond.

We keep our whole system running all winter long - and the first two winters we did it were two of the worst we had seen in a long time. Had I known what was coming, I don't know if I would have had the nerve to try it!
 

sissy

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But you never know and things can happen so fast .I learned 1 winter .Snow storm ice on the pond looked fine until I went out and saw the pump had turned sideways and pumped the water out from under the ice cap .1 foot of water left under the ice and lucky I have indoor water in the basement and could hook the hose up to it .It was scary as heck .What gets me the ice stayed up in place and fooled me .In my pjs at 2 in the morning trying to fill up the pond and also had to worry about the ice cap caving in and killing my fish .After that I got security cameras
 

sissy

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But is it worth the risk because you cannot control the weather .That day it was in the 40's and by that night temps. had dropped to 10 degrees and by 1 or so in the morning is when hubby saw it looked funny because ice was sunk in the middle .2 days before it had been up to only 20 degrees .I really thought we were headed for a warming spell .When weather is changing like this how can you know when something will happen .Just like last winter I had a cat break the power cord that was frozen .The you never know
 
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I think we're having the same discussion on two different threads @sissy . Like I said on the other post, everyone's level of comfort with dealing with potential failures is going to vary. And because everyone's pond set up is different, each pond owner needs to assess their own risks and be prepared.
 
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Y'all are not helping me decide what to do..........
haha! You're right... except to say you really need to know your own pond and decide from there. Analyze your setup and your risk and decide from there. Our first winter we shut the whole pond down... then I worried all winter "what if there's water left in the lines... what if they freeze... what if my fish die...". Come spring, we turned it all back on and all was well. Until I realized that turning the pump off allowed our water level to drop down below the level of all my marginal plants and every single one of them died from being exposed to the elements all winter long. That was an expensive mistake.

We did a lot of research that spring and summer to figure out a way to keep our plants covered when the water level dropped - maybe use burlap, or straw, or put pots over them to protect them? Finally it hit us - why not do what nature does and keep the water (ice in this case) level high enough to protect the plants? That was the winter of 2013 in Chicago - 4th snowiest on record and 3rd coldest in history. A true test for our young pond. It survived. We survived. And we've never looked back.

As for your real question - beneficial bacteria... I don't know. My assumption is there is bacteria that dies in the cold, but there's also bacteria that survives. Maybe some even prefers and thrives in the cold, I don't know that for a fact. I will tell you this - we have observed algae that will be growing on the rocks BEFORE the ice even melts off the pond. It's a type of algae that we only see at that one time of the year. It's a beautiful, bright green and the fish will slowly come to life and devour it as their first food of the new season. Nature adapts. We appreciate it!
 

sissy

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Don't risk failure I learned the hard way and with a newer pond it is not really worth the scare you may get .You can keep it running as long as you feel safe about the water temperature .Once you see ice on over half the pond it may be time to shut it down .Super cool water can kill fish also .Some may make it through the winter with no problems and no fish die off but the you never know comes into effect .I built my pond only a few feet from my septic tank so I get some heat from that .Is a little bacteria that may survive really worth it .Which I doubt will survive
 
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.Is a little bacteria that may survive really worth it
Putting aside bacteria - what about your fish? I am of the opinion that running water is healthier for the fish. Just an opinion, though. I don't have any science to back it up.
 
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Nature adapts. We appreciate it!
This is what I needed to hear. I try to keep my pond as I keep my yard - as natural as possible.

I don't deadhead and cut back in the fall. The birds eat the seeds and I get surprise volunteers in the spring. I don't use chemicals. I have a yard full of wildlife. I hear people lamenting that they don't see fireflies anymore, but my yard is full of them.

I'm going to play it by ear. Even in winter I'm outside 4-5 times/day with the dog. We have a pond heater, so I'm going to turn that on and leave the pump running. DH is an engineer so I'm going to have him create a reverse float that will shut off just the pump if the water level drops too much.

We still have months before we get a freeze, but I'm a compulsive planner.
 
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The pond design will dictate what you choose, but the design done correctly will permit you to operate your pump and water flow year around. When you shut down a filter, the bacteria actually flip to anaerobic after the oxygen is depleted, typically in 45 minutes. If you want to test this phenomenon, turn your system off for an hour and start up up so that you can smell the outflow. It will smell like rotten eggs. The bacteria will eventually go dormant and create spores that will return when you start up,but the recommendation is to run the system year around. We valve our pond so that we can turn off the waterfalls and run the water back through bulwark fittings close to the surface. We also turn our bottom drains almost completely off to maintain a higher water temperature at lower levels. Koi settle to the bottom and some heat is retained as the ground serves as a heat sink. The physical chemistry of water also shows that the heaviest water is 4 degrees Celsius, so that water tends to sink, and lighter water molecules rise. So the bottom tends to stay warmer, and the vertical movement of heavier 4 degree water oxygenates the lower level. Additionally ice overs also retain heat and are valuable insulators so long as there is an air gap between the ice and water surface. But if the design doesn’t support this concept, you need to find an alternative solution.

We live in South Carolina so our winters do not approximate Michigan Maryland or Illinois. But the concept above can work there too if the design respects the frost level and there is a backup plan for a power outage. An old fashioned incandescent bulb can heat a closed space. A small heater can do the same. Then again a long term outage can still be a problem , but how often does that happen? Just keep in mind that the most oxygen depleted water is at the bottom away from the ponds natural gas exchange, the surface.
 
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Thanks, Carolinaguy.

Our design will allow us to bypass the falls and dump directly back into the pond. I hadn't thought of that.

Also, we have lived here for 8 years and I can count on one hand the times we've lost power. And the longest it has been off is an hour when a transformer blew.
 
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addy1

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I hear people lamenting that they don't see fireflies anymore, but my yard is full of them.
We have tons of them also. We were over run with black crickets when we moved here, now hardly ever see one. The birds, roads, frogs, etc eat them up. And NO mosquitoes. I have a ton of bird houses everywhere. No spraying except to kill poison ivy.
 

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