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Thread: Northern climates and pond freezing question

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    JohnK87's Avatar
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    Northern climates and pond freezing question

    It was asked what I would do to keep the top of my pond from freezing and pushing out the concrete. One pond I visited with this type drained the pond for the winter and kept the fish in the basement. Others drain and keep the fish in a holding tank in the garage. I don't have underfloor heating installed... so what do the rest of you do? How do you prevent or control ice on top?

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    I live in zone 6 and have above ground tanks. I even have four without pumps and filters that are just 18" deep. I use air pumps to help maintain a opening and use hot water or tank heaters to help out if we have a really cold snap.
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    I build a tent over the full pond and run a air stone 6 inch from the top it also helps heat the water faster in the spring the pic is from one of my old ponds frame is made of electrical pipe held together with electrical tape covered with a poly tarp found no ice formed even on the coldest days here in Canada even sat out there when the wife was bugging me to do chores
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    i live in zone 4 Montana, and the winters can get very cold here. For winter I shut down my skimmer line and waterfall. Then I build a winter cover over the pond with 2x4s and plastic sheeting. My BDs continue running all winter as those lines and returns are burried and ran through the cinderblock filter pit. I also keep the airators going. Sometimes when it gets really cold I will add a bucket heater to one of the SCs to keep the edge off. My pond is 5ft deep and 3 of that is below ground.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scott_cyan View Post
    I build a tent over the full pond and run a air stone 6 inch from the top it also helps heat the water faster in the spring the pic is from one of my old ponds frame is made of electrical pipe held together with electrical tape covered with a poly tarp found no ice formed even on the coldest days here in Canada even sat out there when the wife was bugging me to do chores
    Canada is a big place with a lot of different zones in every province, lol. Where abouts are you talking? Zone 2, 3,4,5,6,7 or 8.

    I'm zone 5/6. I keep two submersible pumps running all winter to keep two holes open in the ice. If we get down below -15C for a few days in a row the holes may need to be helped with a few buckets of warm water.

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    Sartorius is offline
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    I live in zone 4/5 and minus 20C (-4F) for several weeks is usual matter.
    So, I keep aeration through all winter to maintain hole in the ice.
    Is it enough?
    I do not thing so.
    What about listing all means to keep koi alive through harsh winters:
    - aeration or stream to maintain opening/hole in the ice
    - pond cover, green house type or floating from policarbonate or styrofoam
    - pond wall isolation with styrofoam
    - pond heater

    Anything else?

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    I have very shallow ponds ( 26 inches ) , and shut down the water pumps and filter for the winter. I do run my air pump all winter, although if it gets cold enough, the hole can actually ice over. Fish make it through fine every year.
    Prior to getting the air pump a few years back, I would just let the ponds freeze over and fish made it through fine. This included a couple of tough winters where we had lots of ice. I think I was just lucky that I didn't lose them all.

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    Brian Kaminski's Avatar
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    The first years in ponding I did nothing, just air to keep a hole and some bubbleplast on top. I lost one fish jumped on top of the plastcover....
    Still I had 15cm of ice on the pond, and a small hole from the air.
    I build a roof of 2 x 4 and covered it with reinforced transparent plastic /rubber cover. (tarpaulin???)
    Never had any ice on the pond since. Running air about 40cm from the surface, and only midwater intake, so the warmer button water is not disturbed.

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    cviscomi is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK87 View Post
    It was asked what I would do to keep the top of my pond from freezing and pushing out the concrete. One pond I visited with this type drained the pond for the winter and kept the fish in the basement. Others drain and keep the fish in a holding tank in the garage. I don't have underfloor heating installed... so what do the rest of you do? How do you prevent or control ice on top?
    Everyone has all given great advice on keeping koi alive, but when I read your post, it seems to me that your concern is the outward pressure of the ice pushing out the concrete. Nearly "total" icing over can occur without an issue ( heated float, aeration, pond heater etc) depending on construction method. Most ponds (if constructed properly) do not have an issue with ice pushing out the sides. Therefore I need to ask a couple questions before I can respond.

    1. Is this is a partial or total above ground or in ground pond?

    2. What was the construction method (ie; Is it cinder block with horizontal and vertical rebar? A concrete collar, etc remember pictures always help).

    3. How deep is it

    4. Is your concern due to ice damage happening in the past, or merely concerned with preventing it from happening?

    After you respond, we can see what you are dealing with and reply.
    Last edited by cviscomi; 07-01-2013 at 03:39 PM.

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    Hour north west of you brooklin

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    get your local politicians to come over and blow hot air into the pond..they've got plenty
    Hottest day of the year and your worried about ice... me to in my scotch..

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    What is scotch ??? As being a Real Scotsman I have never heard of scotch is this an North American drink ?? . In Scotland where we make it it is called whiskey or malt whiskey . And malt whiskey what you call scotch should never be ruined by putting ice into it .
    Regular whiskey cheap stuff or blended whiskey needs ice to water it down cause it is ruff on the throat
    Never put ice in malt if you go to Scotland they will look funny at you

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    Here is what I do and I keep the filtration running year round.
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    dragonfly1976 is online now
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    I guess the answer to your concern is found in how your pond is constructed. Above ground, partially, or at ground level.
    That is a very cold climate you're in so it also depends on the depth of the pond as to how cold the water will get. We live in a fairly cold area so we take more precautions so that we can view the fish all winter, and have better chances of not losing any. Your best bet is to cover the pond with a temporary structure that will shed all the snow you get. Here is my temporary greenhouse that goes up in about 3hrs in mid October.
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    My pond will be 5' below grade on the uphill, 3' on the downhill, with a 6' total depth. My plans include 2" of insulation on the outside of the block, no insulation on the bottom. I'll shut down and drain the line to the waterfall, keep the bottom drain and returns 10" above the bottom going on low. I'm planning to build a frame over the top and cover it with heavy duty clear plastic to get some solar heating. I'm just hoping to avoid having to cover up things or use a heater.

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    You will have freezing and expansion forces from the outside and inside. The outside due to the higher density of dirt vs water has the potential to push harder if the ground is saturated with water before freezing. Draining the pond down too low for winter can also cause issues. As stated in other posts pond construction type figures in. Swimming pool companies in cold climates used to sell floats for winter that lessened the effect of ice. This was several years ago and I don't know if this practice is still in use. I live in zone 5 and almost all people with cement swimming pools that I know have filled them in because of cracking issues. It might be better to put the insulation in the inside of the pond if it uses a liner.

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    dragonfly1976 is online now
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    The insulation will help considerably in winter for you. If you do cover the pond, freezing over shouldn't be too much of a problem. I shut off and drain everything for winter, and use the air pump through the bottom drain to agitate the surface. This method has worked well for me. You could also add a simple bucket heater if you choose to do also.

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    I live in northern wyoming, zone 4- ish, and hope to over winter the fish without additional heat. I am planing our first dedicated koi pond with the help of Mike from Koi Acres. The pond is 5.5' deep, all below ground, gravity filtration in an insulated filtration 'bunker' that is bordered by the house on two sides. One bottom drain, one surface skimmer, return via a water fall. Volume is about 2000 gallons. Construction is insulated concrete forms. We plan on a small fish load for this small pond. The pond will have solar gain in the winter until noon. The ground water is at 7'. We can cover the pond with a frame and solar cover if necessary.
    I am confused about what my options are:
    1)continuing to run the filter throughout the winter, thus continuing circulation and increasing heat loss
    2)running the filter and changing the water return to a lower level in the pond
    3)draining filter system completely and just keeping ice from freezing over.

    Suggestions??
    Thanks,
    Patty

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    Quote Originally Posted by PattyT View Post
    I live in northern wyoming, zone 4- ish, and hope to over winter the fish without additional heat. I am planing our first dedicated koi pond with the help of Mike from Koi Acres. The pond is 5.5' deep, all below ground, gravity filtration in an insulated filtration 'bunker' that is bordered by the house on two sides. One bottom drain, one surface skimmer, return via a water fall. Volume is about 2000 gallons. Construction is insulated concrete forms. We plan on a small fish load for this small pond. The pond will have solar gain in the winter until noon. The ground water is at 7'. We can cover the pond with a frame and solar cover if necessary.
    I am confused about what my options are:
    1)continuing to run the filter throughout the winter, thus continuing circulation and increasing heat loss
    2)running the filter and changing the water return to a lower level in the pond
    3)draining filter system completely and just keeping ice from freezing over.

    Suggestions??
    Thanks,
    Patty
    I would urge you to discuss these different ideas with Mike from KoiAcres as they are the ones building this pond and the one's solely responsible for designing it with these thoughts in mind, to make it a success in your location. We here can mostly guess, but if you're using a pro to build it, they are ultimately responsible. So, also, to protect yourself, get EVERYTHING in writing, not verbal.
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    Most people know ice expands and breaks stuff, but expansion of ice isn't a serious problem in a pond. Water expands almost 10% when it freezes, so a 10' wide pond might be expected to push out the sides by 1'...there's no way any concrete pond could take that. So what gives?

    If you look at how a pond freezes you'll normally see it freeze around the edge first and slowly freeze out to the center. By the time that last molecule of water in the center freezes 99.999999% of surface is already covered, that ice has already expanded its 10%. That expansion wouldn't push against the side of the pond, it would push into the water, which easily moves out of the way. So when that last molecule freezes there's zero extra force on the pond sides.

    And of course even if the ice could push against the sides a 1/32" thick sheet of ice is going to buckle really easy, way before there's any stress on the pond wall.

    As the ice becomes thicker it pushes down which increases water pressure which pushes back and in virtually all cases the ice cap floats up, and to a lesser degree water from under the ice flows up and on to the ice and freezes on the surface. The result is no real pressure increase on the pond walls.

    If it were possible for the initial ice cap to seal so tight it couldn't float up, and if thin ice were stronger than a pond wall, neither is reasonable, but lets say it is, the 10% expansion would be in the vertical direction. So 10" thick of ice would compress the water below by 1" which would be a lot of pressure and that could break a wall, but it wouldn't be at the surface, because it would be the water that was under pressure. And this is exactly what happens in home pipes that you hear so much about. The pipe freezes outside the house and can form a plug. Now you have a closed system between the ice plug and all the pipes inside the house. Now as the ice plug continues to grow the unfrozen water in the pipes inside the house has no where to go...more and more pressure...something breaks. Almost all burst happen inside the warm house, far away from the ice.

    The trick of keeping a faucet open a little to keep pipes from freezing also works to keep pipes from bursting. The warmer water flowing thru the pipe can reduce the chance of freezing. However even then a pipe can still freeze solid and stop water coming into the house. The open faucet still protects against pipes now bursting because as the ice plug expands and puts pressure on the water in the pipe that water now has some place to go...out the open faucet.

    Putting a water glass full of water inside your freezer will normally not break the glass. Ice will just expand upward. Put a glass bottle full of water in there with the cap on and there's 100% chance of it breaking. Closed vs open system.

    Also why most of a pond's pipes don't burst, they're almost always an open system.

    I wouldn't worry about ice expansion pushing on the sides of a pond. You can get damage from cap rocks being pushed up as the ice wants to float, but even that's pretty rare and easy to fix.

    As for keeping the pond ice free for fish health, that's another matter.
    Last edited by Waterbug; 08-28-2013 at 12:13 AM.

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