Why Do Fish “Hibernate”?
The warm weather is obviously the best time to be able to enjoy your koi and/or goldfish. During this time your fish are active, lively, and highly visible. Many pond fish become downright interactive with their keepers and will follow them around the pond, stick their faces out of the water or practically climb out of the pond to celebrate feeding time. During this time, we all know exactly what is going on with our fish and all it takes is a quick peek into the pond.
Then the cold weather sets in and we slowly lose our ability to see what’s happening with our pond fish. Their activity slows down, they tend to keep themselves concealed, and once the ice and snow come; well, we lose touch with our fish. So, what’s going on underneath those layers of ice and snow? What are our fish up to?
In short, our fish are not up to too much. But pond fish not being up to too much is an interesting behavior all the same, given that they are so lively throughout the rest of the year. Koi and pond fish are poikilothermic animals, a fancy way of saying cold-blooded. This basically means that their body temperature is regulated by the surrounding temperature of the water, and their body functions respond and change according to the water temperature. The activity and metabolism of koi and pond fish is greatly reduced during colder temperatures, which is why they do not feed during the cold periods. Many experts say that because koi and pond fish are cold water fish they actually benefit from a cold period, however; prolonged cold spells are not good for them, they run the risk of their immune systems actually shutting down.
So what do they do? For the most part they sit on the bottom of the pond in the “warmest” pocket of water they can find. During winter months the warmer water is on the bottom of the pond as opposed to warmer months when the warmer water is at the top of the pond. We have often seen our koi lined up next to each other, facing the same direction as if they were in a parking lot! This is funny behavior that may lead to think that they are huddled together to share body heat; but since koi are poikilothermic that would not make sense, so this behavior is probably a way to fit as many koi into that pocket of warm water as possible. In larger warm areas you’d probably see a more random formation of the koi, some facing this way and others facing that way.
What happens to the koi and other pond fish is that they go into a state of torpor. Torpor is not quite full hibernation, because it is of a shorter duration than hibernation, but otherwise it is a very similar state of being: reduced body temperature, slowed metabolism, slow reaction times, reduced breathing rate and primary body functions. Torpor allows the animal to save the energy that would otherwise be needed for higher levels of activity. Because of the state of being in torpor it is a very good idea to keep things as calm as possible around the pond.
To maintain an open area in the ice try use a floating de-icer or an aerator. This open area in the ice will allow noxious gases, like ammonia, to escape from the pond (See article below).
Generally speaking you should not let your pond water’s temperature drop below 34F. Temperatures below 34F will allow ice crystals to form on the gills of your koi, which can kill them, so watch the temperatures if you live in an area of extreme winter temperatures.
If your pond is cleaned and prepped prior to those cold dark winter months, then worry not, your koi and pond fish should do just fine. Like was mentioned the koi, goldfish, and pond fish in your pond do not DO much during the winter months. Spring will be here soon enough and your fish will start again with their antics and amusing behavior. But for now, you have a better idea of what is happening out there under the ice and snow, and you are not missing out on any party. If only we could share that state of torpor and wake again when the spring has sprung!
All copyrights to this material belong to Mike Gannon.
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Aerator vs. De-Icer…or BOTH?
Lately, we have had a lot of questions regarding aerators and de-icer rings for the upcoming winter. Veteran pond owners have varying opinions on the topic…and so do we. Keep reading to know the purpose of each, the difference between the two, and why we think you should use both.
You may already know that it is important to keep a hole open in the ice that forms over your pond during the winter months. This provides an outlet for harmful gases (such as ammonia and carbon dioxide) and an inlet for new oxygen-rich air. The question now is; Which device do I choose to get the job done?
The good news is if you have already made your purchase for the season, either a pond aerator or a de-icer ring will perform excellently. Both will maintain a hole in the ice but unlike a pond heater, this is only one of many tasks an aeration system performs for your pond.
AquaScape’s 300 Watt De-Icer does not heat the water in the pond but keeps a ring of water open allowing gas to escape through the hole in the ice. Since most ponds deeper than 24″ do not freeze solid this is all that is needed to allow oxygen exchange while the fish are dormant. To reduce electrical expense, this de-icer is thermostatically controlled to run only during a given temperature range, measuring water temperature instead of air temperature.
AquaScape’s Pond Aerator keeps a hole in the ice during the winter by producing bubbles and water motion to slow the ice from forming. This allows for the same gas exchange created by a pond heater, however your aeration system will circulate the entire pond volume and infuse it with dissolved oxygen making it more efficient at oxygen/gas transfer.
Your pond benefits from aeration year round. This makes an aeration system a helpful and highly functional tool regardless of the season. The installation process is simple and straightforward.
Here are four ways to give your fish a peaceful winter rest:
If you have more questions, please call us at
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Enjoy The Beauty of a Fire Fountain and Self Contained Water Feature
Self-contained water features and fire fountains have been gaining in popularity in recent years. The Aquascape Fire Fountain is easy to set up and allows you to enjoy the beauty and elegance of flickering fire and flowing water.
You’ll enjoy the soft sound of trickling water as the flame burns brightly in the center of the bowl. Constructed of durable GFRC and available in three sizes, choose the fire feature that best suits your style and space.
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Mock Property Services is a proud Authorized Dealer of Berlin Garden Outdoor Structures.
It’s not too late in the season to expand your outdoor living space! If you have been considering adding a structure to your backyard, we can help.
While outdoor structures don’t technically count toward the total square footage of your home, they do provide much of the privacy and functionality of an indoor room. Plus, just about any outdoor structure can be outfitted with furniture, lighting and entertainment extras, essentially giving your home an additional outdoor room.
Add in the fact that your new outdoor room will soon become everyone’s favorite and that square footage becomes very valuable indeed.
Outdoor structures add a character all their own to any outdoor space. While gazebos offer a decidedly romantic charm, pergolas and pavilions create architectural interest, with strong posts and open-beamed construction that’s become quite popular in recent years.
Regardless of the style you choose, your new outdoor structure will enhance your living space, encouraging you and your family to enjoy the outdoors more often.
While only you can decide if a new outdoor structure makes sense for your backyard based on your budget and priorities, it’s good to know that a well-built outdoor structure can offer lots of value that goes way beyond simple enjoyment. We invite you to check out our selection of outdoor structures to see the possibilities for yourself! Visit Berlin Gardens to see the endless options available!