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Thread: Over Wintering Koi in Ontario

  1. #1
    Sansai Ian_&_Terri's Avatar
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    Over Wintering Koi in Ontario

    Living in a cold climate has some draw backs concerning Koi keeping. Ideally these lovely fish should be raised in a place where seasonal temperature's typically vary from 10C to 30C , but I suppose that depends on who you're talk too... while they may be cold blooded we know that they are not cold water fish. Unless a pond is indoors here in Canada, those "ideal" temperatures just aren't possible all year round. Here in our part of Ontario summer air temperatures can reach well above 30C with humidity while winter air temperatures can plummet far below -10C(add windchill and it feels doubly cold). There are a few different ways to winterize an outdoor pond in which fish reside, dependent on the design, to ensure things run smoothly in the following spring. Even with careful planning though sometimes there may be fish losses come spring. Our winters tend to be very cold and long.

    Over the past years our methods for wintering koi have changed somewhat. Each winter presented it's own dilemma's which we had to adapt to in keeping our koi "alive". For the first two winters with our pond we over wintered a few koi in less than 1000gal pond. The pond was 3' deep. At first we tried using a small water pump(250gph) set about 6-8" deep to keep a hole open... this method was short lived. I woke one morning in late December to find the pond completely iced over. It took several pots of boiling water to thaw out a hole. That same day I purchased a "pond deicer", similar to a cattle trough heater(1500w !). We placed the deicer on a timer to come on for a few hours during the coldest parts of the day and night. This kept a large surface area free of ice and maintained the water temperature at around 5C. We tested the water regularily to keep tabs on ammonia, nI, KH, pH and temperature. The koi seemed ok, all huddled together at the bottom, occasionally on warmer days we observed them munching on algae.

    Our third ponding season we expanded from 1000 gals 3' depth to 5000 gals 6' depth. Fall into winter we maintained our past routine of water changes and monitoring. Shuting the main pumps down and winterizing the filter.

    That December the pond froze over so fast the ice was as clear as glass with a depth of 24 inches. From our past experience in allowing the majority of the surface to ice over, the water temperature remained stable through out the winter season. Ice cover helped protect the waters surface from wind chill and lessened evaporation. We found that the average water temperature remained at 4C during the course of the winter months in the past - smaller pond was due to a heat source, the larger pond due to that water under the ice is generally 3C(38F). This was to be a different year so we found... you read more you learn more! We know that keeping a hole open and trying to keep the water temperature at or above 3C is greatly effected by the method which is used.
    We noticed a decline in the ponds pH and KH - not unusual really and for us our KH was quite high typically so we just monitored the level. From what you read the answer is generally 'add baking soda'. We wanted to try and find a different route to take than this that didn't break the bank(three kids to feed, etc etc LOL). Did some research and asked some questions... found info on CO2/winter/ice/natural light etc. So off to get some supplies and construct a temporary cover for the pond to see if it would help. We wanted to keep the snow off the ice, keep the algea from dying(source of CO2), the deicer would be more effective and a small bubbler/air pump was added for circulation. One week later and there was a noticable improvement. The ice had started to retreat and become thinner, the KH leveled off and remained stable.

    Outside temperature's had gone below 0
    C, -20C for a week or two,but inside the structure seemed warmer and pond temperature held around the 4C mark.

  2. #2
    Sansai Ian_&_Terri's Avatar
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    Our pond water temperature, a chilling 34.2F(1.2222222222222239C) , with a pump used for keeping a hole open in the ice. Not sure where the point is in which crystalization may begin in the fish - but man this temp must be hard on the gills!


    The temp of the pond water without a pump but with a deicer being used along with a very small aquarium air pump/bubbler plus pond cover. KH and pH stable and temp stable even with outside air temps at -20C. I suppose the best you can get with out forking out $$$ in heating/energy costs here in Ontario.

    Not regular posters here but regular readers.
    Kind Regards,
    Terri & Ian
    p.s. there you go Dick, I finally got around to posting this

  3. #3
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    I don';t know how i missed seeing your post, but it needs to get back up to the top for others to read and see!

    Thank-you so much, there is a tremendous amount of good knowledge learned and shared here that will help others who choose to enjoy koi where ever they live, and especially to land frozen in the north!.

    and the ffort to document and post....well it's really appreciated.( I love the picture of you flat eagle out on the ice LOL! )

    I relate very much to your efforts and I got to the part where I built an inside
    pond in my journey to improve my koi's condition. I put in a smaller 2,000 USG
    and heat it with a 115V spa heater. Not too expensive to buy or operate and does the job of holding 50's for my girls thru out the winter. I will be interested to monitor your current improvement program and what improvements you make, to which i hope you'll continue to keep us informed.

    A big KB "atta-boy" ( and girl ) to you both...

  4. #4
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Wow!

    Awesome photos. Your adventure is inspiring.

  5. #5
    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    It's amazing . . .

    how much we take for granted here in Southern California -- until we see what you have to go through to shepherd your koi through the winter. Simply unbelievable. A Job Well Done and thank you for sharing.

  6. #6
    Daihonmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM
    Wow!

    Awesome photos. Your adventure is inspiring.
    whereas I think you need your heads felt.
    Hugs and kisses you two,
    Luke

  7. #7
    Sansai adreamer2's Avatar
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    Wow!!!... Those pictures were very beautiful!!!.... How thick that ice is to hold a man........


    Glad you resurrected this post.....

  8. #8
    Jumbo Regenmeneer's Avatar
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    Ian & Terri,

    thanx for your post and pics.
    I can relate to your problems. Winters are usually not that cold over a prolonged period of time overhere, but they are long and it takes a long time in our climate to heat up the water the natural way in spring. However, sometimes it becomes pretty cold for a few days or a week (last march -21 or -22 c, without the windchill).

    The first year I used my present pond (1998), the temperature dropped very quickly. Having just moved, I did not have a clue how the water temperature would react, but since it is 2m deep, didn't worry to much. That night I came home, and when I walked by the pond, I saw a 55cm Kujaku lying on it's side. scared me to death. Measured the temperature, and it was _0.7c. The pond should have frozen over. But because of the strong winds, and unfavorable direction, and hardly any shelter because there were no plants in the garden yet, it did not freeze. It supercooled! I saved the koi in a desperate effort by adding warm water slowly. But they sure weren't happy campers. Lesson learned Have been keeping the pond covered after that, and now run a heated winter pond.

    So don't know exactly when crystallisation starts, but this was to low.

    Regenmeneer

  9. #9
    Sansai Ian_&_Terri's Avatar
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    Regenmeneer, interesting and important information there, thank you. That's COLD water!!

    Like yourself Dick, Ian and I have moved our koi indoors for winter . It's been 2 winters since any
    have spent winter outside. We pull them in late October and put them back out late May.

    We spent the afternoon at another koi kichi pond. Indoors is not an option at this time so the next best thing is cover and heat(in this case natural gas).

    Inside....

    Nice collection, will have to downsize some pictures, that is if anyone would like to have me post them here...?

    Kind Regards,
    Terri & Ian

  10. #10
    wild horse dinh's Avatar
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    wow, very interesting information. Gotta love the winter pond with ice and snow.... Thanks much for sharing.

    Is that you on ice?

    --Dinh

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