As the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness gives way to winter there are far fewer leaves on the trees. It’s time to go and fish them out of the pond and make the most of the warm autumn weather before it really does get cold out there. We may have had the first frosts but it takes a little longer for ponds to cool. Indoors, it’s always tropical...


  • Keep up control measures to contain and remove falling leaves to prevent algae issues next season
  • Remove any growths of blanket weed and duckweed, for the same reasons as leaf litter and to avoid any decomposition robbing ice-sealed ponds of oxygen. Excess growth of oxygenating plants can also be removed and placed on the compost heap.
  • If you haven’t removed this already, cut back any dead plant material and consign it to the compost heap along with any blanketweed and duckweed growth. To provide overwintering sites for ladybirds and other beneficial insects, avoid cutting back dense rush and sedge growth until early spring. It might seem cold now but time spent removing dead plant material this year will be saved removing blanketweed or dealing with green water next summer.
  • It’s a great time to plan a new water feature and if you break the soil in time you’ll get things done for spring.
  • Consider a preventative treatment for parasites or any lesions whilst temperatures remain high enough for medications to be effective. Many fish losses in early spring are due to the rigours of winter and it’s often too late to fix these issues when they become apparent.
  • Towards the end of the month, raise pumps from the bottom of the pond to restrict turnover and ensure some undisturbed water at the deepest point of the pool where fishes can rest. Before winter tightens its grip there will be a bit more hardware maintenance to carry out next month.
  • Make sure you use a low temperature fish food. Fish will struggle to digest summer foods in cold water and this can lead to digestive problems. In some cases, undigested food will breakdown in the gut and cause bloating and buoyancy issues as spring comes.
  • With the prospect of cold nights ahead, consider buying a pond heater to keep an area ice free as these all require a source of power and some forethought.
  • Put fresh water out for wildlife. As things get cold, water is as vital as food for the wild neighbours who know your pond is a dependable place to visit. In cold weather, birds need their plumage to be in top condition and small mammals will be interrupting sleep for brief spells foraging.


  • Transport your fishes and invertebrates home properly. Spare a thought for how much of a shock it can be taking a tropical creature home in a clear plastic bag; upgrade your pets to first class with a Maidenhead transport bag or ask the staff if they’ll sell you a polystyrene box. If you’re in part of the country with controls on carrier bag use, don’t forget to bring a bag or be prepared to pay a few pence for a carrier – taking tropical fish outside with no insulation or shading is not giving your new pets the start they deserve!
  • Prepare for the holiday season. If you’re an aquarium owner a few things can happen in the next couple of months. Aside from dropping obvious hints about a bigger tank or a new filter, consider stepping up your maintenance regime to accommodate weekends away. Holiday and auto-feeders can help, as can a well-trained friend or neighbour with access to the odd emergency spare part or heater!
  • A fish is for life – if you’re planning an aquarium as a gift, consider it now as a new tank is unsuitable for new fish and it’ll be you that has to live with disappointed loved ones. No amount of pleading will change the fact that things need a bit of time to mature before the ‘big day’. Adding maturation agents such as Microbe Lift Nite Out 2 will help get things started in the right direction.
  • We often see rare and expensive fish, but every species is special with its own tale to tell. Take a bit of time to find out about the ancestral home of your favourite fish and see if you can alter anything to make it feel more at home. Most fishes are captive-bred and many forms don’t exist in the wild. We’ve all got wild relatives somewhere and generations of captive breeding doesn’t mean that it won’t make your pets feel more at ease.
  • With dark evenings comes the opportunity to spend time reviewing your aquarium and problem solving. What would you change? Algae issues? Snail problems? Take a look at our website for pointers on a range of subjects.
  • Leaves can be a great item of decor for achieving that forest pool look. Collect and soak oak and beech leaves from clean sources or alternatively consider the dependable, packaged version in the form of Indian almond leaves. Many familiar fish thrive when given this little slice of habitat and some dwarf cichlids and catfish are real leaf-litter specialists