So, here we are again – the robins are briefed and ready, the mistletoe is looking nervous and the stores are bracing themselves to explain to last minute gift shoppers that fish can’t be gifted in a brand new aquarium purchased the previous day.


  • Winter-proof your water circulation - after a good summer, fishes will be sitting out the cold at the bottom of the pond or keeping activity to a minimum. Once water temperatures drop below four Celsius, the warm surface water settles on the bottom and this ‘inversion temperature’ is why pond creatures spend the winter in this layer. By disturbing this lower layer, fishes can be fatally chilled. To keep them safe, raise your pond pump a foot or so off the bottom.
  • If your pond is shallow and has a large fish population, you may want to keep an area free of ice to help your fish through the winter and provide birds with a source of drinking water. No matter how tempting, never break the ice on a pond. This can create shock waves that will stress pond life and do more harm than good. If your pond is frozen over, place a pan full of boiled water on the surface and allow it to melt before adding a pond heater to keep this breathing hole open. For a lower-wattage option, a pond air pump can prove effective if temperatures don’t drop too low – just make sure that excessive turbulence is avoided.
  • If you have an ultraviolet clarifier for algae control, bear in mind that as so much of it is made of glass, water freezing inside the unit can cause a great deal of damage. Drain the unit and bring it under cover for some seasonal maintenance. UV lamps need replacing regularly as even though they may still emit visible light, the wavelength shifts away from the UVA that makes the lamp work against algae. A new lamp should be fitted each spring but now is the time to strip the unit and service the O rings and quartz sleeve that are so fundamental to trouble-free running. As normal glass does not permit the passage of UV light, the sleeve protecting the lamp from the pond water is made of a rather fragile quartz glass. In hard water areas, this quartz sleeve can become covered in lime scale and stop the unit from working effectively. Depending on a number of factors including temperature, you may decide to turn off your pumps and filtration equipment for the winter. As long as fishes remain inactive and feeding doesn't take place, the lack of pollution means that filtration won't be needed.
  • Leaves continue to fall – keep measures in place to control these little seasonal packages of algae food.
  • Fish can be fed whenever they show any interest in food but only with the right food. Make sure you’re using a winter diet.
  • Provide drinking and bathing water for local wildlife that depends on your pond as a source.



  • Let me get this out of the way now so we can carry on – A new, un-matured aquarium cannot support fish, regardless of who it is purchased for. It doesn’t matter if it’s ‘only for the kids’ set up the tank first and let things settle before choosing which fish to add, whether they’re goldfish, neons or Nemo!
  • For established tanks, remember that buying someone a fish which is unsuitable for their aquarium could spell disaster. To reveal a trade secret, anyone who’s worked in an aquatic store for any length of time can tell you a story of people who came in to buy fish for a friend who has “…Some bluey ones and maybe a brown one…” Gift vouchers are definitely the solution to this one as a fish is for life and not just for Christmas. Of course, there’s always the option of a pair of clownfish socks!
  • Fancy a new tank? With the Tank Sale underway there’s something for all tastes with a reduction, whether it’s a first aquarium or a posh Oak cabinet.
  • Stock up on spares as typically things go wrong on the few days when everything’s closed. What would you do if your filter/heater/air pump failed at 6pm on Christmas Eve?
  • Carry out extra water changes and make sure filters are maintained prior to what can be a busy time full of distractions
  • Check out our annual tank sale and bag yourself (and your fishes) a bargain. Whether it’s to give your pets a better home or upgrade from veneer to solid oak, it could be the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Share the festive feasting with your fishes by trying something new. Whether putting some frozen foods on standby or offering them one of the range of complete diets made from sustainably-farmed bugs, there’s something to suit all tastes.