How To Winterize Your Pond {The Best Way}

Are you looking to winterize your pond during the cold or icy winter season? Will your fish freeze to death in a pond that isn’t winterized? In this article, we’ll look at what is required to winterize your pond.

How Do You Winterize Your Pond? You don’t have to remove your fish, plants or drain the pond. Keep a hole open if the ice freezes over the surface, but don’t smash the ice as this will disturb and stress your fish who are trying to hibernate. A deicer (de-icer) is recommended in colder climates. 

Do I Need To Drain My Pond For The Winter?

Your pond doesn’t need to drained. Do you have fish in your pond? If they are acclimated and able to survive in winter conditions, they will dwell and hibernate near the bottom of the pond for the winter.

Your pond will more often than not, fill up naturally. The amount of rain or snow you receive in your area may end up filling your pond even if you drain it. The idea here is to winterize your pond so you don’t have to drain it.

Do I Need To Clean The Pond For The Winter?

You should definitely clean your pond as the first step to winterizing it. You don’t want anything in the pond that will produce gases that could hurt your fish.

  • Remove fallen leaves. 
  • Clear up all organic matter in the pond.
  • Use pond netting for the fall to prevent leaves and debris from falling in.
  • Use a pond skimmer.
  • Prune any long plants down to the base.

Should I Add Any Chemicals Into The Pond For The Winter?

We are trying to reduce the buildup of toxins, ammonia, nitrites and chlorine before the winter sets in. Cold water bacteria is a great solution to help get rid of waste and debris during the months where your pond may end up covered in ice.

Chemicals like conditioners or dechlorinators are not designed to work in the cold temperatures. Try to avoid adding any other chemicals during this time.

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Do I Turn Off The Air Pump For The Winter?

You should not only turn off the pump at first, but you should also clean out the filter as well. Anything that is above the surface of the pond or immersed without being fully submerged, must be cleared. If the pond freezes over and these parts are caught halfway between the ice, air and water, it could get damaged.

If you can submerge the pump fully into the deepest section of your pond, then put it back in after cleaning the filter. The water will not freeze at the bottom of the pond, so you can keep your pump going through the winter. Make sure to leave a hole open if the ice freezes over the pond. This hole will help to aerate your pond.

If the water freezes completely in your area, then store away the pump for the winter. This will avoid causing it to freeze, malfunction or become unusable in the spring. If the climate is warm enough, keep the pump running to maximize aeration.

Do I Need To Remove Pond Plants When I Winterize It?

The type of plants you choose to fill your pond with is entirely up to you. If you chose hardy plants that are tough like water lilies, they’ll survive all winter long. It’s best to research your plant type if you are unsure.

Tropical plants will certainly die in the winter. If you can keep them indoors, you may be able to save them during harsh winter conditions.  If you have plants that are long and sticking out of the pond, this is a good time to prune them down to the base if you plan to keep them in the pond.

How Do I Keep My Fish Alive In The Winter?

The first step is to make sure you are keeping hardy fish that are capable to surviving winter temperatures. Goldfish or koi fish are known to last through winter months at the bottom of the pond. If the water freezes over completely, your goldfish may not survive.

Keep a hole open for aeration and consider using a deicer. A deicer acts as a pond heater. You can also pour hot water on the ice to keep it thin or to expose a hole. If you try smashing the ice, you may disturb or stress out the fish who are hibernating in the pond.

Do I Feed My Fish After Winterizing My Pond?

Your fish are going to want to hibernate. Their digestive systems will not be able to handle food in these cold conditions. Fish don’t digest food well in the winter. The leftover food will build toxic gases or ammonia.

If your fish don’t digest the food, it could lead to a gas buildup in their gut as well. You want your fish to hibernate so please don’t disturb them by adding food or trying to break the ice. The deicer will do its job and hot water works as well to keep a slight hole open to prevent the pond from fully freezing over.

Why Should I Use A De-Icer?

A deicer (de-icer) helps to promote aeration and acts as a heater for your pond. It will help to keep a small hole open at the top of your pond. This allows for toxic gases to be released.

If there are any leftover plant matter that you were unable to remove before winterizing your pond, the deicer will help to make it escape through the hole. Oxygen will also flow into the pond as well. If there is a chance for any debris overhead or nearby to fall into the pond, you should also consider a netting over it.


Fall is when the work gets tough. Cleaning out the pond while keeping the water in it will be the challenge that is required for winterizing it. All debris, plant matter, UV lights, pumps or filters that are poking their heads out of the surface of the pond must be removed.

A deicer comes in handy to help aerate the pond and keep a hole open in case the ice wants to fully cover your pond. Allow your fish to hibernate peacefully. Don’t smash the ice! Good luck winterizing and stay warm for the winter.

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.