Gardening Articles: Landscaping :: Container Gardening & Ponds

On Goldfish Pond (page 3 of 3)

by Steven A. Frowine

Overwintering

For many gardeners, overwintering fish creates a great deal of anxiety, but it is really quite straightforward. You can choose one of two methods. One is to leave the fish outdoors if you have an in-ground pool or pond. Goldfish are naturally cold-water fish, and as long as the pool or pond does not freeze solid, the fish will do fine. The main concern is that if ice freezes across the entire surface of the pool, noxious gasses resulting from decomposing leaves and other organic matter in the water will have no way to escape and will be lethal to the fish.

The necessary depth of the unfrozen section varies with the severity of your winters, but for most cold-weather areas (USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 6), a depth of 3 to 4 feet in part of the pool is usually sufficient. As a safety precaution, you can add a floating cattle water trough heater, which has a built in thermostat, to keep at least a section of the pool from freezing solid.

You can also bring goldfish indoors in fall when the weather turns cold, and store them in an aquarium or a child's wading pool. These small pools come in fiberglass or plastic. If you use the latter, treat it first because plastic residue can be toxic to fish. To treat a pool, fill it with water and add 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon of water. Let it sit for a couple of days; then wash it out and add fresh water. Also, treat tap water with a conditioner. The pH level of your household water should be the same as that of the outdoor water. If the difference in levels is drastic, the shock can kill the fish.

The easiest way to capture fish for transport is to drain three-fourths of the water from the outdoor water garden. With the fish in a more concentrated area, it's easy to collect them with a small net. Place them in a bucket of water. Float this bucket in the indoor aquarium or pool, and let the fish make the move into their indoor home.

Steven Frowine is a horticulturist and an expert goldfish hobbyist.

Photography by Digital Imagery copyright 2001 PhotoDisc, Inc.

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