You know the story. A groundhog is pulled from his burrow
at the local zoo. If he sees his shadow, you will have six more
weeks of winter. In the event that he does not see his shadow,
an early spring is on its way. Most of our region, the upper
midwest of the United States, has been cheated out of winter
thus far. January was the third warmest in recorded weather history.
But there is still hope for those who do enjoy winter weather.
Historically, a colder than average February follows a warm January.
Along with the colder temperatures, February promises to include
more than normal snowfall.
Lets learn together how a cold winter has advantages
over a warm winter. Most pond owners do not realize that a warm
winter can cause more problems for their ponds ecosystem.
The easiest problem to spot is string or hair algae. String algae
just loves the cool flowing water found in streams and waterfalls.
During a typical winter you may have warm spells that result
in algae growth, but the cold snaps keep the algae from overtaking
the pond. During a warm winter the pond temperature may be in
the 40s and 50s, ideal growing conditions for string algae. String
algae can become very unsightly if not treated.
Your pond fish should be of concern when your pond temperatures
are in the 40s and 50s as well. When the water temperatures hover
in this zone, your finned friends still are in a dormant or suspended
state. Yet diseases and parasites are active and reproducing.
These diseases and parasites can and do attack the
fish during the winter. Careful observation keeps you in touch
with your fishes health. Many treatments can be applied
to prevent larger outbreaks. Do not use medicated fish food during
the winter months. In fact no fish food should be offered until
the water temperatures reach and stabilize in the mid 50s. In
our region, it is not until Mid-March that your fish should be
permitted to eat processed food again.
Our final reason for wanting a colder winter for your pond
is purely artistic. Yes, your pond can be breathtakingly beautiful
in the winter. The ice sculptures are wonderful. A waterfall
can create layer on layer of ice candy that only grows more satisfying
the longer it stays cold. Add a blanket of soft pure white snow
and you will be amazed at the amount of time you spend enjoying
the muffled sounds of moving water. In the evening after sunset
your underwater lights pop on and you will again find yourself
pondside, warming your spirit from the glowing jewels in the
In the US, the groundhog did see his shadow and retreated
for at least six more weeks. This gives us more time to enjoy
the winter pond. It also gives us more time to plan on the new
plant introductions and fish additions to consider for 2006.