Shallow pond - 7a zone - anyone overwinter fish in moderate/mild climates in shallower ponds?

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So, I realize that I have been overestimating the size of my ponds. I measured them and turns out - they have a spot that is close to 18 inches in the middle, but it's small (about a foot long), and most of the pond is 12 inches deep.

This means it's a lot less water than I thought.

The thing is I really don't want to overwinter the fish indoors - I'm in Maryland, zone 7a - I like to have the waterfall running all winter (this is my first winter with fish) -

If I add in an aerator and de-icer and watch to make sure the water doesn't freeze over, will the fish be ok? I know the rule is 18 inches, but I find it odd that it would be the same for every temperature zone -if the water stays above freezing, wouldn't the 12 inches with an 18 inch pocket be enough?

Anyone out there ignored this 18 inch rule successfully in a milder/moderate climate?

Pond has 6 comets that are about 3-4 months old (3 inches)
 
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I have looked into getting a stock tub - since I have cats, I'd have to put them in a guest bedroom with the door closed. I do have filters, pumps, etc from my smaller pond I could put in there. Wouldn't get below 60 ish degrees in that particular room. No better location to keep them -
 
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But I don't think I stock tub would be a great solution in the long run, anyway, since they'll get bigger and might breed and even a larger one (100 gallons) may not be enough??
 
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Also - pond was installed by a previous homeowner and its made from cement =D So I can't dig it any deeper without way more work than I'm willing to do. I will probably raise the lip of it by 6 inches at some point, so that will help a bit, but I probably wont' get to that this summer.
 
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OK - let's start with how many gallons is your pond? Volume of water can be just as important as depth in the case of winter. And I've never heard a rule of 18 inches. Most will tell you AT LEAST three feet, but here in Chicago I've seen lots of ponds that are only two feet deep and they function fine all winter.

Yes, it is important that you keep a hole in the ice, but it's equally important that your fish can get deep enough to stay in the warmest water possible. A hole in the ice only addresses gasses building up and suffocating the fish; they can still freeze to death if the water isn't deep enough. You don't need the whole pond to be the maximum depth, so your 18 inches in one area MAY be enough. However, if you say your pond is only 200 gallons, that will be a different story.
 
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So I am assuming that in Maryland the water would not freeze over winter due to the moderation of temperatures by the ocean. So do you live near the coast or inland. the fact that you can have the waterfall running all winter is the only clue to temperatures. So what is the min air temp during winter where you live?
 

Jhn

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So I am assuming that in Maryland the water would not freeze over winter due to the moderation of temperatures by the ocean. So do you live near the coast or inland. the fact that you can have the waterfall running all winter is the only clue to temperatures. So what is the min air temp during winter where you live?
No it will freeze over here in MD. @academiannut lives in roughly the same zone in Maryland I do. Winter temps can vary from being in the teens or twenties, thirties at the lowest one winter, then the next winter it can be below zero.

As the winters have been recently, 18” Is deep enough, but if we get a harsh winter, it maybe an issue, depending on the design/water volume of your pond. With the size of your fish currently, if you ran a deicer, as well as leaving you waterfall running the fish should be fine. I have had goldfish survive here in an above ground 300 gallon stock tank with nothing but a pond breather in it, with temps dropping in the single digits for weeks.

I never shut off my waterfalls, in any of my ponds. Have had ice form all the way up to the lip of the waterfall from the pond, though my waterfalls are designed so ice damming won’t divert water out of the pond, though.
 
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For three months in the winter, the average low air temperature in my city is 24, 26, 28 -

Pond is 520 ish gallons
 
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Look into the Pond Breather, many of us use them. They keep a hole open and aerate the water by disrupting the water's surface and returning aerated water below the surface.
 

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academiannut- where in Maryland are you located? I'm in southern St. Marys county. Weather here can get cold enough to put 6" of ice on a 10x10 pond.
Look into the Pond Breather, many of us use them. They keep a hole open and aerate the water by disrupting the water's surface and returning aerated water below the surface.
Pond breather may not be suitable for a shallow pond. They hang down what I think would be close to 18" or more.
 
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academiannut- where in Maryland are you located? I'm in southern St. Marys county. Weather here can get cold enough to put 6" of ice on a 10x10 pond.

Pond breather may not be suitable for a shallow pond. They hang down what I think would be close to 18" or more.
Good point and I'm not sure it can be lifted.
 

addy1

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academiannut- where in Maryland are you located? I'm in southern St. Marys county. Weather here can get cold enough to put 6" of ice on a 10x10 pond.

Pond breather may not be suitable for a shallow pond. They hang down what I think would be close to 18" or more.
I use the pond breather in my 1000 gallon stock tank, it does hang down low enough that I use a rope around the pump in the container to pull it up. Otherwise it tends to gather up the plants on the bottom. Keeps the pump clear. You can pull the pump up as high as you want as long as not out of the water lol. The tube is very flexible.

We are 6b, the deepest ice I have measured on my ponds, was to the bottom of a 18 inch pond (fishless) it was one of our real cold winters. No water movement in ground pond.

I have volunteer fish show up in my small shallow ponds, eggs fry go where they want to, through a pump down the garden hose. One of those ponds is my lotus tub, found around 5 fish, 4-5 inches long. To much plant matter to catch them.
With the kitty litter in there for the lotus, the water depth is around 12 inches. They have so far survived our recent winters. But a real cold winter may wipe them out.
 
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So, I realize that I have been overestimating the size of my ponds. I measured them and turns out - they have a spot that is close to 18 inches in the middle, but it's small (about a foot long), and most of the pond is 12 inches deep.

This means it's a lot less water than I thought.

The thing is I really don't want to overwinter the fish indoors - I'm in Maryland, zone 7a - I like to have the waterfall running all winter (this is my first winter with fish) -

If I add in an aerator and de-icer and watch to make sure the water doesn't freeze over, will the fish be ok? I know the rule is 18 inches, but I find it odd that it would be the same for every temperature zone -if the water stays above freezing, wouldn't the 12 inches with an 18 inch pocket be enough?

Anyone out there ignored this 18 inch rule successfully in a milder/moderate climate?

Pond has 6 comets that are about 3-4 months old (3 inches)
Listen.... 3 years ago i had the same problem as you and i live just a little north of you, in PA. I'm guessing your pond is probably like 300 gallons or so.

Here is what you need to do, since you don't plan to chance the depth anytime soon (would cost money if you are not doing it yourself):

1- Shut off aerators in the fall. You don't need them. They will just cool the pond too much. They wont help much to keep a hole when a serious freeze comes in.
2- Don't shut off the waterfall if you have a filter... Shut off the bog though if you got one.
3- This is the most important thing to do.... Get a trough heater that keeps the water slightly above freezing.
Like this one. Your fish will thank you. Its cheap and does not cost a lot to run electricity wise.
 
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