What Happens to Fish When the Pond Freezes?

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Hi, Mr. Nature here, trying to answer a question that a lot of people have.

See that frozen pond? There are probably fish in it. Live fish. You may be able to see them through the ice.

As the weather grows colder, wild fish stock up on food and their metabolism slows way down. The pond freezes over, but there is still some unfrozen water under the ice. The fish stay alive in that unfrozen water, eating little, moving around very slowly, and trying to hold out until the spring.

But if the pond freezes solid, clear down to the bottom, the fish freeze solid with it and that’s the end for them.

But what about all those stories you hear about frozen fish coming back to life?

Well, I know several people with goldfish ponds who say those are just stories. I had a little pond when I was a boy. It froze top to bottom and that was curtains for my fish.

There are a few fish species living in Arctic or Antarctic environments that seem to be able to survive being frozen. But the trick is, they’re not frozen solid. Their blood contains a chemical that works like antifreeze, and as long as their blood doesn’t freeze, the fish can survive if they don’t have to wait too long for the water to thaw.

If you have a goldfish pond, you have to feed your fish special high-calorie food in the fall and then find a way to keep the pond from freezing solid in the winter. And if you do everything right, your fish will be there to greet you in the spring. And they’ll be hungry.

Pond fish in the wild have to prepare as best they can and then hope their home doesn’t freeze all the way down. But God has created them with what they need to keep their species going.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

4 responses to “What Happens to Fish When the Pond Freezes?

  • Linda Sorci

    We have some friends with an outdoor koi fish pond here in Western New York where winters are not kind. They have made a special indoor/outdoor access for the fish so that when the weather gets too cold they open the access and the fish then go inside (they’ve constructed an area in their basement to accommodate the fish). They’ve been doing this for years and it seems to be working very well. The fish stay healthy, happy and unfrozen 🙂


  • Watchman

    Makes me glad I’m not a fish.


  • Altie

    Isn’t it amazing that God created water to become less dense when in ice form, so that it stays on top of the water, instead of settling on the bottom, which would cause all the water to freeze from the bottom up until everything is frozen? This way fish can survive a very cold winter in the water sealed in under the ice.


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