Have you ever wondered what happens to fish during the winter. Often times ponds and lakes freeze over, so what happens to the fish?

This is a common worry of pond and lake owners. Just like many other animals and plants, some fish hibernate, or at least slow down. Fish body temperatures are regulated by their surroundings. So, as temperatures drop, so does the fish’s activity. Fish don’t necessarily get cold, but their body does respond to the cold temperatures.

Feeding

In general, it is best to feed your fish good quality, high fiber food during the warmer months. Although, to help your fish during the colder winter months, don’t feed them at all. Fish typically continually graze on food. However, when temperatures drop below 55 degrees, that food can get stuck and decay in their bodies due to lack of movement. Because they can not empty their digestive track, keep an eye on the weather and cease feeding below 60 degrees to be safe.

Depth

The top of bodies of water freeze first. So, this isn’t any different for ponds and lakes. Fish will hover along the bottom of the water to keep warm. For their protection, make sure your pond is at least two feet in depth. This depth will become a safe zone for fish. If you have an aerator or waterfall, make sure it is off or in the shallowest parts of the water during the cooler months. This will prevent cold water from mixing with the deeper warm water. Big temperature swings in water can stress fish out and lead to health issues.

Oxygen

Lastly, is to make sure there is an open hole in the surface of the pond. In colder climates ponds may completely freeze over. Although, fish are breathing less in these climates, they still need a source of oxygen. Enable harmful gasses to escape and allow the pond to re-oxygenate as it normally does by using a small pump or an air system to keep a hole open in the ice.

Although winter creates a different environment for fish in the winter, they will survive. Implement these quick tips to provide an easier environment for your fish in the winter, ensuring a prosperous spring pond or lake.

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