A popular method of keeping your pond ice-free, the de-icer is a simple but effective device that every discerning fishkeeper should have in their toolbox. They come in a wide range of sizes, wattage, appearance, and price.
Due to the above, it can be difficult to wade your way through all the de-icers available about there and pick the right one for you. But never fear because Fishkeeping Forever is here, and we have scouted out the best three de-icers for you.
What is a pond de-icer?
A pond de-icer is basically a heater which floats on the surface of your pond. It heats the area directly around it and beneath it which in turn prevents ice from forming, or melts it, and creates a hole. They are not for use all year round, only when the temperature has dropped enough for the pond to freeze.
Why do you need a pond de-icer?
There are three main reasons why you need a pond de-icer. These are:
- It helps to provide oxygenation when your pond freezes – A pond de-icer will create a hole allowing oxygenation to take place, even during the coldest temperatures.
- It increases water flow when your pond freezes – As your de-icer works it creates an area free of ice and increases the water temperature around it. This warmer water (with more energetic molecules) then mixes with the colder water and creates flow. In the absence of a pump (which you have probably removed during winter), this is beneficial to your ponds ecosystem.
- It aids in faster thawing come spring – Not the most important of benefits, but a benefit nonetheless. Having an area of your pond that is constantly thawed will aid in faster (all round) thawing when spring appears.
Top 3 Pond De-icers
Laguna PowerHeat Heated De-Icer for Ponds - 315W
- De-Icer for ponds whose temperatures are down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit
- Highly-visible LED pilot light that indicates when unit is on
- Integrated thermostat shuts off the De-Icer when it overheats, protecting internal components from damage
- 315 watts. 7 meter (22 feet) electrical cord with grounded plug
- Aids in gas exchange by keeping ice from forming around heater
Laguna PowerHeat Heated De-icer For Ponds – 315 watts
I’m always a little wary when purchasing anything for my pond and aquariums that will be placed in the water. You see, I have this, perhaps irrational, fear of electrocuting my fish. Therefore, I will always check absolutely thoroughly that the product I have purchased is well made, has no damage, and is, as far as I can tell, fit for purpose.
On inspection, the Laguna De-icer appeared to be a very well made piece of equipment, solid, and durable in feel. It also fantastically came with an impressive 22 feet of electrical cord with grounded plug and LED light to indicate it is on. It floated easily when I placed it in the pond, and I left it there to do its job.
On checking the next day, after a night of very low temperatures, I found that my pond had, yes you guessed it, frozen over. However, there in the middle, sort of, not that it mattered, was a circle of water visible. My Laguna de-icer had done its job and was ensuring oxygenation.
Over the next few days, the Laguna de-icer continued to do its job and more. Not only did it ensure there was always an oxygenation hole, but it also melted the surrounding ice more and more. Don’t get me wrong it did not melt the entire surface of my pond, but it certainly cleared enough for me to keep an eye on my beloved Koi.
TetraPond Pond De-icer, Thermostatically Controlled, 300-Watts
2 used from $41.30
- POND DE-ICER Keeps an area of your pond free from ice
- WINTER SURVIVAL SOLUTION Allows toxic gases from decaying matter to escape from under ice during the winter
- EFFECTIVE Works in temperatures as low as -20 degrees
- 300-WATTS Features a 15 foot power cord and thermostatically controlled shutoff
- NATURAL FINISH Stone finish complement’s your pond’s surroundings
Tetrapond Pond De-icer, Thermostatically Controlled, 300-watts
I have to be honest and say that part of the appeal in testing this de-icer was its ‘natural stone finish’. I liked the idea of disguising what this product is, and that it may look quite attractive. Of course, other features such as the thermostat also made this de-icer appealing, but looks were what caught my attention first.
Appearance aside, the Tetrapond de-icer also came with a respectable 15-foot cord and a powerful 300 watts. It also, and beneficially, is fitted with a thermostat to switch the unit off when it is not needed. This was a Godsend as you can leave it on, and never be caught out. It simply switches itself on and off when the temperature dictates so and keeps your pond from completely freezing up.
When my pond did freeze over the Tetrapond de-icer performed its duties pretty well. It cleared an area of ice around one foot in diameter around itself even with 3-inch ice depth. The fish in the pond also seemed to enjoy hanging around near the de-icer allowing me to check they were OK.
Danner Manufacturing, Inc. Floating Pond De-Icer With 18-Foot Power Cord, 120 watt, #02175
$51.59 in stock
- Power Source Type: Corded Electric
- 120 watts of heating power
- Extremely energy efficient
- Thermostatic control reduces heating time & saves electricity
- 18-foot Grounded Power Cord
Danner Floating Pond De-icer, 120 Watt
I opted to test this de-icer as it looked like a solid and durable piece of equipment, which it was. It felt tough and gave the impression it would be able to battle even the thickest of ice and coldest temperatures. It also comes with a fairly long cord of 18 feet and has fixed thermostat control.
On actually testing this product, however, I was a little disappointed. Instead of melting the ice all around the unit, it only melted that which was in the doughnut-shaped middle. This, of course, was plenty of ice melted in order to allow oxygenation to take place, but it did not prove conducive to also being able to check on my Koi.
Prepare your pond and fish for winter.
Is it bad for a pond to freeze?
It probably goes without saying that for a pond to freeze completely it would be disastrous. Koi and Goldfish, for example, can survive extremely cold temperatures, but won’t survive being frozen solid. This is partly why it is so important to provide a pond that is deep enough for your fish to prevent this from happening.
On the other hand, a pond that just freezes at the surface should not pose too much of a problem. That is as long as you ensure you use a de-icer to create a hole. Why? Well, because without one oxygenation cannot take place!
Oxygenation is the process in which O2 (oxygen) goes into your pond and in turn, CO2 (carbon dioxide) is released. Without these processes, your fish will struggle to breathe, may become sick, and even die. Oxygenation to be clear, cannot take place if O2 cannot get to the water in your pond; and it cannot get through the ice.
Different types of pond de-icers
Floating electric De-icers
The floating de-icer is undoubtedly the most popular type of pond heating used. It sits on top of the water ensuring a hole stays melted beneath and also within close proximity of it. They are not, however, designed to heat the overall temperature of your pond, but rather just to keep oxygenation from ceasing.
Immersed Electric Pond Heater
These are simply a much larger and more powerful version of a standard aquarium heater used in most household tanks. Placed strategically they can provide warm pockets of water for fish to hibernate in, and prevent the surface above them from freezing. They do not, and cannot, however, heat the entire pond.
In-Line Electric Pond Heater
The in-line heater connects to your external pond pump and is designed to heat the water, a few degrees, as it passes through the pump. It can heat the whole pond preventing any freezing at all, and keeps your fish at a comfortable temperature.
What to look out for when buying a pond de-icer
There are a few things to look out for when choosing a pond de-icer. These include:
- Wattage – You will need the correct wattage for the size of your pond. For example, a pond of up to 250 gallons needs 100 to 250 watts and 250 to 500 gallons needs 300 watts.
- Cost Efficiency – Though the in-line de-icer may be appealing in that they keep your pond free of ice completely, they are also expensive to run. Floating and immersive, by comparison, are extremely cost-effective.
- Durability – Be sure to purchase a de-icer that is tough enough to withstand even the coldest of winters. This usually means purchasing one that is mid-range and above price-wise to ensure the product will last. It is also worth taking note that few de-icers will last longer than 3 to 5 years.
Are pond de-icers expensive to run?
The expense of running a de-icer will vary depending on the type you are using and how long you have it running for. Pond de-icers, after all, use anywhere from 100 watts to 1500 watts of electricity. And when you consider the cost of electric from 8 to 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, the expense could get high.
With the above in mind, the floating pond de-icer and immersed heater, only used when needed, would definitely be the least expensive to run. The in-line, on the other hand, would be the most expensive as it runs all the time.
How do I power my pond de-icer?
Pond de-icers are powered by electric and will, therefore, need plugging into an electrical socket within your house or an outbuilding. For this reason, it is important to ensure that your de-icers electrical cord is long enough or to have it further extended safely for outdoor use.
Winner of our review
After reviewing all three of our chosen de-icers the clear and outright winner for the title has to be the Laguna PowerHeat Heated De-Icer. This is for many reasons including:
- It’s ability to clear ice quickly and efficiently
- The amount of ice it can clear
- The LED light which indicates the unit is working
- The lengthy 22 foot cord
- What size pond de-icer do I need? This all depends on the size of your pond. For up to 250 gallons we would recommend 100 to 250 watts, and for 250 to 500 gallons, 300 watts.
- What is a pond de-icer? A pond de-icer is a device used to prevent the buildup of ice in your pond.
- How do you keep a pond from freezing without using electricity? You can’t. You can, however, melt ice holes using bowls of boiling hot water placed on the surface ice. Never smash the ice or pour boiling water directly onto your pond.
- How does a pond freeze? Water freezes from the perimeter to the center of the pond, and from the top to the bottom.
- Will a fountain stop my pond freezing? Water movement is one of the best way to prevent your pond freezing over. Only in very low temperatures will a fountain freeze itself.
- Are air bubblers a good way to prevent your pond freezing over? Yes, again the water movement provided by an air bubbler will help to stop your pond freezing over.
Conclusion: Best Pond De-icer & Heaters
Clearly, we have already stated our preference for the pond de-icer, the Laguna PowerHeat Heated. However, it cannot be stated enough just how good this vital winter piece of equipment is. I, for one, will be using this all through the winter, and hopefully for many more.
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