Sitting outside on a spring morning with a cup of coffee while watching your koi swim happily in their pond has to be one of the most relaxing things in the world.
When the weather is warm, koi fish are active gentle giants who adore splashing and swimming about.
However, when winter begins to rear its chilly head, you have to have a plan in place to keep your fish safe and healthy. Let’s look at how to keep a koi pond warm in the winter!
What Can You Do to Help Keep Them Warm?
As Poikilothermic animals, koi fish will match their environment in temperature since they lack the ability to regulate their body heat levels.
Let’s take a look at what you can do to help keep them warm and safe through the winter months until their spring warmth returns once again.
1. Move Them to a Tank
While tanks are not good for koi fish on a longterm basis since they are often far too small to suit the growth rate and ultimate size of koi fish, during the winter many hobbyists move their koi to a temporary holding tank until things are warm enough again outside.
While this is not optimal, it does provide the ability to better regulate the water temperature and ensure your koi are warm enough to eat and remain healthy. When done correctly, this is a viable care option.
Generally, koi are not kept in regular fish tanks. You need something much larger, between one hundred and one thousand gallons depending on the volume of fish you need to house. In fact, if you have a heavily stocked pond you may need multiple large tanks.
If the tank is heated, you can just add in a filter and airflow system and you are all set. If not, you need to include a de-icer to ensure no ice forms within the water.
Heated tanks are your best bet since they can be regulated more easily, especially if you are housing the fish in a garage or other lesser heated area of your home.
2. Heat Your Pond
If you want to not have to worry about rehousing your koi during the winter or changing the aspects of their pond, try having a heating system installed.
Made of a boiler, heat exchanger, and temperature monitoring probe system, a proper heating system will keep the water consistently warm and safe for your koi fish year-round.
Many people even heat during the spring and fall, keeping the water at a solid summer warmth level to prevent the spread of common koi diseases and parasites.
That being said, with a heater system, you must be mindful and work to keep an eye on the system to ensure it does not fail or overheat your pond. If this happens, you need to have a backup plan at the ready, like a prepared tank or second heat system.
3. Make an Indoor Pond
Like the tank method, this involves using an indoor pond setup through the form of a pop-up pool or kiddie pool to make a sort of replacement pond.
This offers a lot more volume and moving space for your fish, opening up more room and comfort for them. The downside is that this is obviously a much more space-consuming option that results in a lot of maintenance.
However, it is easy to go ahead with properly heating the indoor pond since you can just attach heaters directly to it if the material it is made from allows for it. This saves you a lot of time and money trying to set up multiple appropriately sized tanks and works perfectly to accommodate their size and movement.
4. Prep Your Pond
As long as a pond is around four feet deep, it will not freeze solid in most conditions. That being said, a layer of ice will still likely form on the pond, sometimes one that gets quite thick.
It is important to keep holes present within the ice to open up an area for gas exchanges to occur. Koi fish need oxygen and if there is nowhere for oxygen to get into the water and carbon dioxide to exit the pond, they could potentially suffocate.
You can remedy this by using an air stone under the water, a de-icer, or by adding motion back into the water through an aquatic spout or waterfall feature. This prevents a solid, thick layer of ice from forming, helping to keep oxygen exchange happening.
Additionally, if the pond does begin to freeze, you can regularly melt or puncture holes into the top of the ice.
In general, this is a good idea, as it will work to add even more oxygen back into the pond. It is better to err on the side of caution, after all.
Koi fish thrive in warm weather but are hardy and can handle a wide range of different climates.
That being said, you should make an effort to keep the water stable and warm throughout the season until spring comes back around. Your koi will be a lot happier and healthier due to the bit of extra effort!