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Old 29-01-10, 03:11 PM
Neil Rigby's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Kent, South East England
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Post Snow Watch: Your ponds in the Big Thaw

During the Big Freeze this year we recommended that you take the advice of Pond Conservation not to worry too much if your pond froze over. Now Pond Conservation want to know what happened in your ponds!

Recent research indicated that making a hole in the ice wasn't likely to help keep pond oxygen levels up. We've had mixed reports on your success with this so we thought we'd address some of your queries here.

There have certainly been many people who made holes in the ice and still had fish and amphibian mortalities; and if you made a hole and had no mortalities, this doesn't prove a connection between the two things either. The animals might have survived anyway.

Frog under the ice by Sally / Great crested Newt

Looking after ponds in cold weather
Unless your pond is very shallow it's not likely to freeze solid so the water in a healthy ecosystem will usually retain sufficient oxygen to keep pond life such as frogs, newts and insects alive. Goldfish, koi and amphibians are actually pretty resistant to low oxygen levels.

Creating a hole in the ice actually doesn't seem to make any difference to oxygen levels. It is the plants in your pond that produce oxygen by photosynthesis. Photosynthesis needs light so if your pond collects snow, be sure to brush it off (but be careful not to step on the ice in case you break through!).

If your pond isn't carefully maintained and you keep too many fish in it, the oxygen levels can get depleted. This is because sediment and leaves that collect in the pond will encourage decomposers, and these, as well as your fish, use up oxygen during respiration. To get more oxygen into the pond you need to stir the water up so that deoxygenated water comes into contact with the air - this will need a pump or a fountain.

Take part in Pond Conservation's Big Pond Thaw survey to let them know how your pond got on in the Big Freeze - even if everything went...swimmingly!

Read more about pond care on the Pond Conservation website. Or for daily updates you can also look at pond expert Jeremy Biggs' blog.

And as always leave a comment below to ask any questions about ponds and pond life, and tell us about your experiences.

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frog, great crested newt

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