Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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HMlairy 04-30-2011 09:46 AM

Frozen over pond questions
Hey there,
I have a pond containing common goldfish and a comet. Living in the UK some winters can be brutal like last winter where my pond froze over for atleast 2 weeks and i was wondering about a few things...

1. Is it true that the fishes go into a state of hibernation while under the ice? If so, inform me more please
2. What can I do to stop it freezing over? (cheap techniques please :) )
3. What can I do to keep the water oxygenate?

I would have posted this in the pond section but I thought it would get a quicker response here :/
Thank you

Byron 04-30-2011 10:13 AM

Provided it does not freeze solid (the entire pond) the goldfish should be fine. I had goldfish (common) in my garden pond and for several years, and it froze over every winter (about an inch thick) and the fish survived, even small fry from the previous summer's spawning. I don't know the science behind how this works, but they do survive.


AbbeysDad 04-30-2011 10:34 AM

Years ago I frequented a park in the Adirondack park (New York State) called Animal Land. The owner claimed that in the fall he would catch the pond goldfish, place them in a 55g drum, seal and bury them in the ground. In the spring he would dig them up and they would have survived the winter - no aeration, no food all winter long (November - April) - believe t or not! Just like fish in our Northern lakes here (even lakes that do freeze over) cold water fish are very tolerant to very cold water. I would expect their metabolism to slow down some, although based on the numbers of fellas that enjoy ice fishing (and although I enjoy fishing, I enjoy staying warm more!) the fish will feed in the winter...but can go for very long periods in a kind of stasis, like suspended animation.

I live near one of the finger lakes in NYS. It is a very deep lake that does not freeze in winter except for the very shallow ends of the lake. One boat launch is open year round. They keep the water from freezing over by bubbling air to keep the water moving as moving water will not freeze - or is very difficult to freeze. (I do not know if the air that is bubbled is warmed?)

With a decent air pump and some strategic air stones, you could likely keep your pond from freezing over, or if it did, the ice would be very thin and the fish would still be protected.

HMlairy 04-30-2011 11:50 AM

That sounds like a good idea, but why would he bury the drum? :P

excal88 04-30-2011 01:21 PM

Fish surviving during winter is actually an interesting reason: the ice acts as insulation for the fish underneath, and having a pond freeze over helps the fish survive. Its an interesting concept, but it works! Thats why all those ice fishers catch fish during winter underneath the ice. And for the most part in terms of nutrition and what not, fish do have a lower metabolism during winter time, so they won't need as much food. If you are really worried though, you can always cut a small hole and toss in some food for them. Hope this helps!

MyLittlePleco 04-30-2011 01:51 PM

They will survive. Certain fish, such as the Antarctic Cod, go into a state of hibernation during the colder months. I'm assuming your Goldfish will also enter a state of hibernation or dormancy to survive cold conditions.

HMlairy 04-30-2011 04:53 PM

I've looked it up more and apperently their metabolism slows right down so they can survive for months without food under the ice

SeaHorse 04-30-2011 05:24 PM

I know nothing about ponds other than when I do finally get to put one in, that I need to have an area at least 3 foot deep in order for the fish to winter over/hibernate, which is why I'm waiting to afford to do this right. Is your pond that deep in one area? I've been told they will winter over fine with little loss of life at that depth. But don't know the science behind it.

AbbeysDad 04-30-2011 08:44 PM


Originally Posted by HMlairy (Post 662224)
That sounds like a good idea, but why would he bury the drum? :P

The Adirondack park is northeastern US, a stones throw from Canada- winters can be seriously cold. He buried the drum so a good portion was below the frost line and would not freeze.

How deep is your pond? Of course, I don't know what 'winter' is like there and whether you're speaking of a light freeze that just freezes the surface...or worse - obviously, if the water totally freezes, any fish would be lost.

HMlairy 05-01-2011 10:05 AM

It's not 3ft, but the ice never gets over 2" thick to be honest

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