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Thread: Help My Pond Is Frozen, Are My Fish Dead???

  1. #1
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    Help My Pond Is Frozen, Are My Fish Dead???

    I have a pond de-icer in my pond and I have been noticing it is kicking of the electrical breaker lately. Guessing it must be going bad, hindsight....

    I looked at the pond this weekend and kicked a bigger hole open in the ice and pulled the de-icer out, it was working but not real well. I figured me pulling it out and messing with it would take care of it.

    Well this morning we noticed the breaker was kicked off again and aren't sure how long is has been that way. Reset it and headed to work hoping it would melt a hole again. Max # days the pond may have been frozen over is Sat thru Tonight (Thu) when I get home. I ran out and bought a new de-icer on the way to work but can't swap them out til tonight. The temp here in Illinois is 10-20 degrees (F).

    So the questions is.... are my fish still alive or did I possible kill them????
    Pam

  2. #2
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    Unless you were in a stupidly overstocked scenario or something I wouldnt think there'd be cause for alarm.

    I mean I dont know that there can be a "formula" to determine how long something like that could go. My impression would be that it would be over a much longer period of time though.

    I'm sure theres people out there that let them freeze over all winter without precaution and dont ever find themselves with massive fish kill. Once again prolly just depends on fish load, water quality, the health of the fish as a whole going into winter and whatnot.

    And even if you do find come spring that 1 or more may have perished you wouldnt necessarily be able to point to that as the cause because that just happens sometimes too.
    My Pond Pics Here

    I've come to the conclusion that theres only one question in regards to ponding that can be answered simply and with absolute certainty..... "Do I have to add water before I add fish?"

    Every other question must be answered starting with "It depends".

  3. #3
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    Ok, I assumed there wasn't a formula but hoping people had some similiar experiences with alive fish results. Guess I will just have to wait and see if they appear next thaw.
    Pam

  4. #4
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    Pam, you mentioned in your 1st post that you "kicked" a hole open in the ice. Beating on the ice in any way can cause waves of concussion in the water which can harm or kill your fish, as they are already in a "stressed" state due to winter. A better solution is to thaw a hole open with hot water (carried in buckets).

    Good luck with your heater - those tank heaters are notoriously unreliable and always seem to quit when you need them most, and don't give any warning that they aren't working! We went through several the first few years we had our pond. We have since switched to the tote box heater, which has been totally reliable and maintenance free, except for switching which light bulb is plugged in when one burns out. Since we're gone to Florida most of the winter, this is an easy solution for our neighbor who watches the house. He can see if the light bulb is on from across the yard and knows immediately when a new one should be plugged in.
    Karen

  5. #5
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    I may work on building one this weekend but in a state of just get it fixed and fast I bought another de-icer.

    I didn't have to kick too hard to open a hole, but the ice is much harder now, temp has dipped down a lot in the last few days. I will try to remember the stress factor, thanks.
    Pam

  6. #6
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    Pam,
    Karen said all the right things. You should be OK depending on how big your pond is.

    Build a tote box, they work great. I helped invent them. They are cheap to run and keep a big hole open. There is another post about them. You should use a bubble pump under them to keep the water agitated about an inch above the surface.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Tote4.JPG   Tote2.JPG  
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  7. #7
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    Do you really have to have the bubble pump part of it? Trying to keep it simple and I don't have a bubble pump now.
    Pam

  8. #8
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    Yes Pam, you really should BUT I guess it is not mandatory. Most that used the tote used a bubbler under them.
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahhuhz View Post
    Yes Pam, you really should BUT I guess it is not mandatory. Most that used the tote used a bubbler under them.
    Yup. Which in some measure I suppose is because the folks might've been using the bubbler in the first place anyway but found that if it got reallllly cold then of course you got the frozen dome across the bubbler area as well. Thats actually how it shook down for me because I had a little bubbler thingy all along from some other project before I even built the pond.

    Beyond that, like you say just keeping a hole open at all would be better than nothing.. then it would just work on the same pinciple as the floating heaters.

    I suppose the question is, is the light bulb concept creating enough warmth to where without the turbulence below it would still keep a hole open if it got really cold. I'm not so sure it would unless the wattage was higher than normal or it was down closer to the surface than it might otherwise be.

    Wha cha think?
    My Pond Pics Here

    I've come to the conclusion that theres only one question in regards to ponding that can be answered simply and with absolute certainty..... "Do I have to add water before I add fish?"

    Every other question must be answered starting with "It depends".

  10. #10
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    The bubbler goes under the tote. It does not freeze over under the tote.
    The 60w bulb keeps an opening the size of the tote. The bubbler is to agitate the water.

    It has worked for many water gardeners here.
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  11. #11
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    I realize the bubbler goes under the tote but I am trying to skip the bubble since I don't have one and finding pond parts this time of year is IMPOSSIBLE!!! Maybe if I find a shorter tote or smaller one to get the bulb closer to the ice it would work, Or line the tote with reflective fire retardant material like what you put around a water heater or something like that. Hmmm, I may have to wander around Home Depot and see what I can invent.
    Pam

  12. #12
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    You can always go on-line and order the bubbler that you need if you can't find one in a store. That way, you could have one inside of a week and not have to worry about it.
    Karen

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahhuhz View Post
    The bubbler goes under the tote. It does not freeze over under the tote.
    The 60w bulb keeps an opening the size of the tote. The bubbler is to agitate the water.

    It has worked for many water gardeners here.
    I dont know if you were answering my question with that, Chuck.. but yeah, of course it does. I was just saying I had the pump first and then built the tote to go over it.

    But I was asking for those that dont have the bubbler already, if we thought the tote would otherwise work well enough without the bubbler. Not in regards to saying we should have the bubbler to aid in air/gas exchange regardless, but just if the warmth of the bulb without the turbulence of the bubbler as well, would actually even keep a hole in the ice in the first place.
    My Pond Pics Here

    I've come to the conclusion that theres only one question in regards to ponding that can be answered simply and with absolute certainty..... "Do I have to add water before I add fish?"

    Every other question must be answered starting with "It depends".

  14. #14
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    Pam, do not use a smaller tote. You don't want the bulb to close to the water, any kind of splash could break it and then you would have glass in the pond, not a good idea. Since it is almost February, I would think the tote would keep the hole open or you could get a pump online.

    Dan, I lost my first and only fish with my bubbler freezing over. It looked like a snow cone. That is when the tote came to be. As I said to Pam, not sure it would keep the hole open but we know the bubbler keeps it open in below zero weather. It did for me when I had my watergarden.
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  15. #15
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    Tote Update

    Ok so I built a tote like the one I saw on this site (see photos), a few modifications where I thought would be helpful to make it a little safer for outdoor weather. Not sure if they were good ideas or bad ideas yet.

    I put the tote on the ice this morning at 11am and as of 9pm tonight the ice is melting but not completely thru yet, it does appear to be pretty thick where I placed the tote. I am thinking it might take until morning to get thru it. Or I made need to lower the light/lightbulb. Any suggestions for improvements or let it go and see what happens tomorrow?

    FYI I left my de-icer in for now while I am playing with the tote concept so I don't kill my fish. Also, I did see 3 fish alive today so they made it thru my original freeze over. The temp here today is High 29, Low 12.

    Pretty cheap to make cost about $25 for all the parts at Home Depot to make and then I added a $7 light bulb which could be cheaper once I have confidence this thing will work.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 100_1900.jpg   100_1908.jpg   100_1912.jpg   100_1913.jpg  
    Pam

  16. #16
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    Pam,
    Looks good. We used the blue tote, kinda errie loking instead of clear.

    If you look at mine, that too was an outdoor box and fixtures with outdoor extension cords. It too is safe.

    It will work, trust us.
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  17. #17
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    Minnesota
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    to bubble or not...

    We bring all of our big fish inside for the winter, due to things eating them in the past. We do leave the spawn and one year olds in the pond tho. Last year I decided to try the tote box heater without the bubbler. The hole stayed open all winter...however, the noodles became frozen and the thicker the ice became the lower it pulled the noodles...finally in Feb, during a really cold period (-10 high) the lightbulb got low enough to touch the cold water and blammo...blew the hole outside system. The ground fault worked beautifully (as it should) as everything lived. Had to throw a few breakers back on...and the tote heater was as they say was toast. But, yes, it can work, but I would use a bubbler from now on.

    Hope this is what you were looking for.
    Kirsten

  18. #18
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    It took about 24 hrs for the new tote to melt thru the ice. Seems to be working ok but is getting covered with snow as we speak. I will have to watch for sinking noodles as you mentioned Kirsten. Still have my de-icer in as backup for awhile.
    Pam

  19. #19
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    Hey Pam, brush the snow off it........
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  20. #20
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    Thanks for stating the obvious but it is currently snowing so it is going to stay covered for now. Plus I am at work and can't shovel across 20 miles. It is water proof (thanks to silcone sealing it) so leaving snow on the tote won't hurt it.
    Pam

  21. #21
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    Just kidding you Pam! Thought maybe you were blonde.....
    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  22. #22
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    I knew you were kidding and I am blonde but not a dumb blonde so you were partially right.
    Pam

  23. #23
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    Chuck
    Happy Koi Keeper!
    AKC

  24. #24
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    Bailey's Pond, is your tote heater keeping a hole in the ice? I'm in the Chicago area and our near zero temps are killing me. I run our pump in the pond so that it creates a bubbler effect, but lately it's been freezing over everyday. Now I'm breaking holes open twice a day. I was thinking of getting a small propane torch to melt the ice open, but it your tote is keeping up with these temps then I'll do that instead.

  25. #25
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    Vealti, we're up in Wisconsin, about 3 hours north of Chicago. Our high today is about 0. The tote works wonderfully to keep a hole open in the ice, along with the bubbler underneath it to keep the waer circulating a bit. I highly recommend the tote heater, as it is easy to use and low maintenance.

    Be careful in breaking a hole open in the ice. The shock waves from hitting the ice can stress and kill your fish, since they are already in a stressed state from the cold.
    Karen

  26. #26
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    Hi Pam, You have come such a long way since I first started reading your post Isn't it fun to learn as we go? Great job on this DYI project You done good
    Who Needs A Therapist When You Have A Pond
    Happyoutsidegirl,Debbie
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  27. #27
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    I'll try to make the tote heater than. I've been trying not to break the ice too much, but I figured it was better than having the pond freeze over with the pump underneath. Earlier this winter my floating heater got frozen over and I had to wait until a warmer spell to get it out. I've also noticed that I'm losing a lot of water to freezing. It looks like there's about 3-4 inches of ice and the water is a couple of inches below that.

  28. #28
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    I have not tried the tote system as of yet but I have one question? The hole in the ice is to let gasses escape right? So how does it escape from under the tote? Just courious?
    Who Needs A Therapist When You Have A Pond
    Happyoutsidegirl,Debbie
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  29. #29
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    Most people cut a small "window" in the side of the tote to give access for changing the light bulb. Any small hole will let the gasses escape.
    Karen

  30. #30
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    Thanks Karen. I really was stumped on that
    Who Needs A Therapist When You Have A Pond
    Happyoutsidegirl,Debbie
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