Do I need to bring my fish in for the winter?

Do I need to bring my fish in my pond inside for the winter?

Bringing fish inside for the winter | Denville, Rockaway, Morris County NJ

Fish do fine during the coldest of winters as long as you give them two feet of water to swim in, oxygenate the water, and keep a hole in the ice with a bubbler or floating heater, allowing the naturally produced gasses to escape from under the ice. Otherwise, you let Mother Nature do the rest. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond and then they will slowly wake up as the water warms in spring.

How deep does a koi pond need to be Denville NJ
Do I need to bring my fish insode for the winter
Aquascape pond heater de-icer for fish

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How Often Do I Need To Test My Koi Pond Water?

Do I need to bring my fish in my pond inside for the winter?

Bringing fish inside for the winter | Denville, Rockaway, Morris County NJ

You might have been searching some Facebook groups for the answer: How often do I need to test my koi pond water? And you probably are getting every answer imaginable. The one answer we commonly see is that you need to test your water daily.

This myth comes from the aquarium industry and it has a lot to do with the fact that an aquarium is a much smaller body of water and the small size makes it more difficult to balance. Mother Nature never tests her water, and her ecosystem does just fine. A well conceived, naturally balanced water garden normally requires no testing either.  The only time there is an exception is if you are having a fish or water quality problem, and you need to get to the root of the problem.

Even then, keeping it simple is far more effective than turning your backyard into a science lab experiment. You see, these water features are literally small renderings of natural lakes and streams that Mother Nature herself creates. There is only so much we can do to manipulate the biological organisms at play. A far more effective approach is to set up biological filtration system where Mother Nature can grow a true biological system, just like in nature. The moment we start messing with it and dumping every treatment in the water we can find, we start messing with it and upsetting it’s balance. Your pond is a natural, breathing, living organism. Which means it’s not going to change overnight.

To recap, remember, set up your pond to support Mother Nature, not manipulate her. This means keep it simple. No need to test your water like a scientist. Mother Nature is far more effective and capable when we leave her alone.

Below is an example of how we build ecosystem ponds to support the organisms of Mother Nature in our backyard ponds.

How deep does a koi pond need to be Denville NJ
ponds by Atlantis Water Gardens
will predators eat all my fish in my pond

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How Deep Does a Koi Pond Need To Be?

Do I need to bring my fish in my pond inside for the winter?

Bringing fish inside for the winter | Denville, Rockaway, Morris County NJ

So how deep does a koi pond really need to be? Some will tell you that they need to be a minimum of 3′. But here’s what we are seeing:

There are thousands of two-foot deep ponds around the Lincoln Park, Morris County, New Jersey (NJ) area, full of happy and healthy koi. A common myth is that ponds must be built at least 3-feet deep, especially if they contain koi and or are located in a colder climate. You see, the water in a two-foot deep pond will generally only freeze eight inches down, even in the coldest of climates, because of the insulating qualities of the earth that surrounds the pond.

A few things to consider: A pond that is too deep could be considered a swimming pool by your local government and therefore fall under strict guidelines and codes. Also, more digging means more work, more water to fill the pond, and more additives to treat algae and fish illnesses.

How deep does a koi pond need to be Denville NJ
ponds by Atlantis Water Gardens
will predators eat all my fish in my pond

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Can Koi Be Kept In A Pond With Plants?

Do I need to bring my fish in my pond inside for the winter?

Bringing fish inside for the winter | Denville, Rockaway, Morris County NJ

Fish naturally love to eat plants, and most of the time they’ll (the fish) survive nicely without you feeding them all due to the plants and algae. On the other hand, you have to have sufficient volume of plants to accommodate the koi too. In the naturally balanced pond, proportionality is always a key ingredient to success.

In a naturally Pequannock Morris county NJ balanced ecosystem, koi and aquatic plants complement and need one another. In nature, fish feed on plants. As a result, the fish produce waste which is broken down by aerobic bacteria on the bottom of your pond, which in turn, is used as fertilizer by the plants to grow and produce more natural fish food. It’s known as the circle of life, and to imply that koi and plants shouldn’t co-exist is to ignore nature.

So contrary to the myth, having rocks and gravel on the bottom of your pond actually allows Mother Nature to clean up after herself, saving you headaches and hours of work trying to keep the bottom of the pond muck-free.

frog in a koi pond
ponds by Atlantis Water Gardens
will predators eat all my fish in my pond

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Do Rocks and Gravel Make My Pond Hard To Clean?

Do I need to bring my fish in my pond inside for the winter?

Bringing fish inside for the winter | Denville, Rockaway, Morris County NJ

Rocks and gravel offer a natural place for aerobic bacteria to colonize and set up housekeeping. This bacteria breaks down the fish waste and debris that would otherwise accumulate in the pond and turn into sludge. Regardless of your pond’s location (i.e., close to trees and loads of leaves), or how many fish you have in it, you’ll find that having rocks and gravel in your pond not only makes it look better, but it makes it healthier as well.

You are susceptible to buying into this myth if, and only if, you’ve never experienced pondering with rocks and gravel in your pond. If you have a smooth-bottom pond in th Pompton Lakes, Morris County, New Jersey (NJ) area, and each season you’re amazed at the amount of muck and grime that collects on the bottom, you automatically rule out rocks as a solution. You keep visualizing that same amount of muck on top of the rocks and gravel and say, “NO!” to even considering them. It’s understandable. Its seems logical… until you learn the rest of the story.

Pond & Waterfall Cleaning, Spring Cleanouts, Denville NJ

So contrary to the myth, having rocks and gravel on the bottom of your pond actually allows Mother Nature to clean up after herself, saving you headaches and hours of work trying to keep the bottom of the pond muck-free.


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Are UV Lights the Best Way To Keep Pond Water Clear?

Do I need to bring my fish in my pond inside for the winter?

Bringing fish inside for the winter | Denville, Rockaway, Morris County NJ

UV clarifiers are one of the ways to keep your pond water clear, but certainly not the only way, and arguably not the natural way. The fact of the matter is that if you have a pond in Kinnelon, Morris County, New Jersey (NJ) that’s naturally balanced, in which the aquatic circle of life is rotating the way that Mother Nature intended, you don’t need UVC at all. In this naturalistic setting, the fish eat the aquatic plants, then produce waste that gets broken down (along by other pond debris) by aerobic bacteria that’s colonized on the rocks and gravel below, and then it’s taken back up as nutrition by the plants, continuing the cycle. A naturally balanced pond is the low maintenance pond because Mother Nature is doing the maintenance work for you. Pretty good deal, don’t you think?

UV light for pond
UV Light for a pond

There are several drawbacks to the UV solution though.

1. No matter how intense, UV clarifiers don’t affect string algae at all, and so this problem is not addressed.

2. Secondly, after the regular algae is killed, it generally falls to the bottom of the pond, biodegrades, and provides another wave of nutrition for another (often larger) algae bloom. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to encourage larger cycles of algae blooms by using a UVC. If your pond is unbalanced, the choices are minimal.

3. The third, and most obvious drawback is that a UVC isn’t cheap, and the bulbs usually require replacement every season.

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Will pond predators eat all of my fish?

Do I need to bring my fish in my pond inside for the winter?

Bringing fish inside for the winter | Denville, Rockaway, Morris County NJ

There is a constant fear in the Randolph, Morris County, New Jersey (NJ) water gardening community that raccoons and other four-legged pond predators will go swimming in your pond, and while they’re in there, they’ll help themselves to some of your prize koi, shubunkin, or goldfish. When you go out to your pond in the morning and discover you’re missing a fish or two, it’s very tempting to blame it on such critters, especially if you didn’t see it happen. There has to be a reasonable explanation, and predators are as good as any, right?

However, take the following facts into consideration before you jump to any conclusions. Raccoons generally won’t swim. That’s not to say they never swim, or couldn’t stand on the side of your pond and take a paw swipe or two at your fish. Fortunately, most fish will swim to a deeper, more protected part of the pond when a predator is threatening them.

will predators eat all my fish in my pond

Giving your fish a place to hide dramatically helps their odds of survival. Plenty of lily pads give them some protection and will work to minimize attracting a heron in the first place. Other protection measures include a cave-like structure that can be build in during the pond’s excavation, or if you already have a pond, they can be added with a little pond remodeling.

The one predator with legitimate credentials is the blue heron. These tall, long-legged, big-beaked birds can easily wade into your pond, help themselves to any fish they think look tasty, and fly away with their bellies full. They are a protected species, so they are off-limits if you’re thinking about taking revenge on them. However, a scarecrow, a motion-sensing sprinkler that can be set up alongside your pond, ready to fire a steady stream of water at a heron, has some degree of success in warding off these curious critters. It’s a good idea to move the sprinkler often though, to keep them guessing.
scarecrow to scare away predators from my fish

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Pond Myths

Do I need to bring my fish in my pond inside for the winter?

Bringing fish inside for the winter | Denville, Rockaway, Morris County NJ

Over a decade of hard work, education and passion for the water gardening industry has grown Atlantis Water Gardens in Denville, Morris County New Jersey into one of the premier water garden design/build companies in the Northern New Jersey. “Water gardening has provided us some unique opportunities, experiences, friendships and accolades over the last decade.  In all of our travels we have gained over a decade of experience building and servicing the water features we build. Review our 20 most popular backyard pond myths, and see if we can show you the true pond facts, and answer some of your questions !  


Is the Best Place For My Pond In The Lowest Spot In My Yard

Pond Myth#1: Predators will eat all of your fish! 
There is a constant fear in the water gardening community that raccoons and other four-legged predators will go swimming in your pond and help themselves to some of your prize koi, shubunkin, or goldfish.
Click to find out the real facts on Predators…

Pond Myth#2: UV lights are the best way to keep your water clear.
UV clarifiers are one of the ways to keep your pond water clear, but certainly not the only way, and arguably not the natural way. 
Uv Lights are not how Mother Nature intended to keep your pond clear…

Pond Myth#3: The presence of rocks and gravel make it difficult to clean your pond.
You are susceptible to buying into this myth, if and only if, you’ve never experienced pondering with rocks and gravel in your pond. 
Click to find out the real facts about rocks and gravel …

Pond Myth#4: Koi can’t be kept in a pond that also contains plants.
In a naturally balanced ecosystem, koi and plants complement and need one another. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
Find out how you can have koi and aquatic plants to .

Pond Myth#5: Your pond must be at least three-feet deep in order to keep koi.
There are thousands of two-foot deep ponds around the country, full of happy and healthy koi. 
Find out what you need to know about depths and the cold…

Pond Myth#6: Your pond water must be tested on a daily basis.
This myth comes from the aquarium industry and has a lot to do with the fact that an aquarium is a much smaller body of water. 
Bring Mother Nature into the picture and how out how easy it is.

Pond Myth#7: You have to bring your fish inside for the winter.
Fish do fine during the coldest of winters as long as you give them two feet of water to swim in, oxygenate the water, and keep a hole in the ice with a bubbler. Mother Nature can do the rest … find out how your fish survive in the winter.

Pond Myth#8: A pond in your backyard means you will have a lot of mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes will generally only lay their eggs in still, stagnant water. 
Lots of options here, click to find out.

Pond Myth#9: You cannot have a pond in an area where there are a lot of trees.
In nature, ponds and trees go together. Yes, you may have more leaves in your pond, but think of the shade. 
Find out how these two features compliment each other.

Pond Myth#10: You can’t have koi in a pond that also has rocks and gravel.
Koi are actually just a fancy variety of carp, and all carp are bottom feeders. They love to swim and scavenge. 
Find out the truth about koi and their environment.

Pond Myth#11: Having a pond may decrease the value of your home!
Everyone knows when it comes to the resale value, a swimming pool in most American climate regions can be deadly. 
Find out how real estate agents think ponds can affect your value.

Pond Myth#12: It’s okay to use pool chemicals in your pond.
This one comes from the swimming pool industry. If chlorine is good for humans in the local swimming pool, it must be okay for fish and plants in your pond.
Think again, and find out why not to use pool chemicals.

Pond Myth#13: I have liability or safety concerns!
It’s natural to have these concerns, but it is important to remember that a professionally-installed water garden is constructed with safety in mind. More on Pond Safety. 

Pond Myth#14: You can use a timer on your pond!
Not true! Your pond is a living, breathing ecosystem that needs constant oxygen. 
Don’t use a timer Find out more.

Pond Myth#15: I want my pond located in the lowest part of my yard!
It makes sense to have your water garden in this area because it already collects water, however, this is probably the worst location. 
This is one of the worst locations Find out why.

Pond Myth#16: It’s necessary to drain and clean your pond regularly.
The reality is, if you decide to work in harmony with Mother Nature, draining and cleaning your pond should be minimal. 
Find out why why less than twice a year is good.

Pond Myth#17: High tech is the solution to controlling Mother Nature.
More than anything else, being observant and learning from Mother Nature is what it takes to be a water gardener. 
Be a good student and start here. 

Pond Myth#18: Bottom drains work best if you have koi.
The claim by many koi keepers is that the water will lack sufficient oxygen at the lower levels and affect your koi. 
Get the real facts about bottom drains.

Pond Myth#19: The more filtration the better the pond.
Believe it or not, you can over-filter a pond. That’s right.    
Find out what to avoid. 

Pond Myth#20: You can’t be a koi hobbyist and a water gardener.
Not true! You can raise koi and have a beautiful water garden. 
Don’t choose… do them both! 
Find out how.

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