The only bad thing about the month of September is that there are always one or two nights when the temperature dips a bit below 50 degrees. On these chilly evenings, we get a short preview of what we will be looking forward to as summer rolls into fall. For us, the drop in temperature at the beginning of fall means we break out sweaters and prepare for jacket season. For our ponds and water gardens, however, it means it is time to begin thinking about wintering over our koi and goldfish and preparing for the harsh realities of snow and ice.
We should not have to think about snow and ice in September! However, some simple planning then will ensure that our customers’ ponds and fish enjoy a restful and healthy winter — and we can expand the pond selling season for a few more months.
The first order of business is reminding customers that closing their ponds correctly is vital to a healthy ecosystem and will save them time and money in the spring. While some novice pond keepers may think that the fish need open water to “breathe” during the winter, it is a good idea to remind customers of every experience level that maintaining the proper oxygen/carbon dioxide gas exchange is what will keep the fish and plants healthy throughout the long, cold winter.
There are two types of products that I recommend that all of my customers carry for the fall and winter pond season: de-icers and heaters (which fall into one category) and aeration kits. (Full disclosure: at Laguna Water Gardening, we manufacture a variety of products in each category that we are very proud of and work great.) Not only are heaters and aeration kits great combo sales, but they also help to extend your pond selling season.
It is important to explain to customers what these products are intended to achieve, which is the ability to keep a small area of the pond open and free for all the proper gas exchange. They are not intended to keep the entire pond ice-free! Still, using these products will greatly decrease winter fish loss and keep the pond oxygenated all year round.