Should I Feed Fish Or Run Aeration During Winter?
Since fish are cold-blooded critters, water temperatures influence feeding habits. As water temps drop below 70, a fish’s cold-blooded body transitions to winter. During summer months, they should consume a five-second-feeder spin in 10 minutes. By early November, that same amount may take 15 or 20 minutes. Their darting, swirling flashes soon appear in slow motion. Near Thanksgiving, you may notice leftover pellets on the surface when fish cease eating. That’s your sign to stop! They randomly nibble a few bites after successive, warm days, but it will be short-lived. Don’t refill feeders after Thanksgiving. If you have a bag or two of leftover feed, place it in a sealed container until spring. Delete programmed feeding times so feeders don’t continue running all winter and cause undue wear and tear on the spinner motor. Keep batteries connected to the solar charger. If you remove batteries, still keep them charged for extended life.
As fish warm-up around mid-March, appetites and digestion increase. By April, they resume peak activity. These fluctuating metabolic rates determine how fast the last meal will be digested and how soon they seek another. Bass, for instance, prefer temps in the 65 to 75 degree range. Colder levels turn blood flow to the consistency of motor oil. Researchers estimate the metabolic rate of bass declines approximately one-third with every 18-degree drop in body temperature. A meal consumed in two or three days at 70 degrees may take four or five days at 60 degrees. When it surpasses 85, they get grumpy and heat stressed.
As temps drop, functions of the nervous system decline. From 60 to 50 degrees, they experience more sluggish symptoms. By 45 degrees, they school in deeper, warmer zones. Respiration rates may be one breath per minute. They can’t swim fast or far before tiring. At this stage, a meal may last one month. During winter, you may observe red coloration inside the mouth. That’s a seasonal condition and will clear with warm water.
Wet a hook every opportunity, even through winter. Work baits slowly. Females reach their highest annual weight by February when filled with eggs to spawn. Don’t be left out when campfire conversations turn to fishing stories. If it gets competitive, just remember you have a personal consultant. We can discuss forage plans that take your bass to the next level and get the attention of buddies around fireside chats.
As for aeration, manufacturers recommend operating units 365-days a year. They feel continual service maintains healthy environmental stability. Lake managers say it depends on your region. Concerns for dissolved oxygen and related water quality issues subside during cooler months when thermoclines destratify. In colder zones, circulation prevents pond surfaces from freezing solidly, cutting-off oxygen, and causing a fish kill. In other areas, if you have an unseasonable cold spell, aeration circulation can chill a fish’s deeper, warm winter home and create stress. In our area, we recommend turning aeration off around December 1 and re-starting March 1. When resuming, carefully follow gradual start-up procedures for five to six days. Visit with your consultant for best policies in your area.
Seasonal transitions are good reminders to conduct important aeration maintenance. Failure to change filters quarterly can reduce circulation and damage compressors. Rebuild kits should be installed annually to replace parts worn from continuous operation. Prevent field mice from entering compressor cabinets, establishing a colony, and gnawing on air hoses. Keep tall grass from growing around the cabinet and blocking necessary ventilation. Monitor surface boiling action to ensure supply lines and bottom diffusers are producing maximum flow.
Aeration systems are an insurance policy to protect a large investment in your pond. Minimize potential for fish kills, unsightly algae, poor water quality, swarming insects, foul odors, and muck accumulation. We custom design systems for any size lake.