Pond water pumps keep water circulated, helping filter away algae growth and providing oxygen to fish and plants in the pond. But running the pond pump all year has both benefits and drawbacks. Benefits include keeping the pond oxygenated, which helps keep fish and bacteria alive. The drawbacks are similar: too much water circulation in winter can kill fish. And if a power outage occurs then the filters, plumbing and pump could be destroyed.
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Can It Kill Fish?
Ponds are often stocked with fish. In the winter, fish navigate to the deepest part of the pond, where the water is the warmest. Ice can form at the top of the pond, but fish located at the bottom of the pond can still live, as a middle barrier of water separates the two.
But running the pond pump year round at a normal summertime water circulation rate can have an adverse affect on the fish in your pond during the winter. Circulation of the colder top water down to the lower warmer water can kill fish in the winter. This can be avoided if the surface skimmer and bottom drain are both turned off and the pump, itself, is turned down a little. Also place the pump and filter intakes at the mid-water level, near outlets like the fountain or waterfall.
Can It Harm the Pump or Equipment?
Sometimes winter storms knock out power and this outage goes on for a lengthy period of time. This can lead to water remaining and freezing within your filter, pump or the UVs in the pond. Damage can result due to the units breaking from the frozen water within them, necessitating total equipment replacement, which can be costly and time consuming to replace.
This potential problem can be avoided if you are present during the winter outage, and you took the precaution of having a check valve installed in your particular pump system. This check valve can be accessed with a long piece of wire or tubelike material, pushing the valve open so the water in your system can run out, eliminating its freezing potential. Some pond systems have a mechanism in place to allow the water to drain out by itself if power outages occur.
What Are the Benefits?
It isn't necessary to have your pond pump running during the winter, so you don't have to run it year round. But the benefits of doing so are great. First, you don't have to remove the fish and vulnerable plants if the pond is too shallow to sustain life in freezing temps. Second, you don't have to find an alternative site for them once they are removed. In addition, you don't have to drain the pump, pipes and filter and then go about the process of repackaging the pond with all the plants, animals and equipment again in the spring.
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