The sight of winter might swoon your heart, and it will change the atmosphere of your pond. The fish in your pond don’t appreciate winter as a frozen pond prohibits oxygen from entering and toxic gases from leaving, making it an inhospitable place for not only them but also for plants and wildlife.

You can salvage this situation by introducing a pond deicer.  But, how do you determine that you really need a pond De-icer for your water feature?

You need a pond de-icer if you don’t want to invest in a pond heater or other expensive heating system but are worried about the pond freezing. However, for ponds incorporating a waterfall or having no fish, you don’t need a Pond De-icer.

What is a pond de-icer?

A de-icer is a device that floats on the ice and opens up a hole on that ice, stopping the water in that small area from freezing. Once it melts the ice at the surface, it slowly drops down to the bottom, continuing to work accordingly.

Do You Need A Pond De-Icer

Should you use a de-icer?

The answer to the question of should you use or rather do you need a pond de-icer depends on certain factors. Depending on those factors, you should decide whether or not to use a de-icer.

Why should you use a de-icer?

If you live in a place where the water freezes during winter, a de-icer is a must for you. Although fish can stay alive in frozen water for a couple of days, it isn’t ideal for them to do so.

Because, when water freezes to ice, the oxygen from the air can not mix with the water. As a result, the fish in the water will not receive the adequate oxygen needed for proper respiration. If this condition continues for a few days, they will start dying.

Another reason to use a de-icer is, all the organisms exhale carbon dioxide, which is a toxic gas. Along with carbon dioxide, they also excrete other wastes which are also toxic in nature. Freezing water not only disallows oxygen from the atmosphere from mixing in water, but it also doesn’t allow the toxic gas from the water to mix the air. As a result, the fish inhale carbon dioxide and suffocate to death.

The use of de-icers is not limited to the health of your fish only. It also helps to keep your pond clean. The decaying leaves and other materials which have accumulated at the bottom of your pond over summer and spring give off a very bad smell. This isn’t a problem during summer and spring as the gas can come out and mix with air, but in winter, a frozen pond is detrimental to this process. A de-icer helps the gas to come out of the water through the hole keeping the water clean.

Please do not use an ax or any kind of object to break the ice with force. It will break the ice, sure, but it will also damage and in some cases kill your fish. The fish which have been subjected to this kind of treatment are suffering from a myriad of diseases like brain damage.

Why you shouldn’t use a de-icer

If you live in a place where the water doesn’t freeze in winter, you don’t need to use a de-icer, because there is no ice to ’de-ice’ in the first place. Remember, a de-icer is only necessary for frozen ponds. It is not an item you should have without any reason as it will take a toll on your wallet and there isn’t any merit to it anyway.

Also, if you don’t have fish in your pond, you don’t have to use a de-icer. Because the primary goal of a de-icer is to make sure the fish don’t suffer due to the ice on the pond’s surface. If there isn’t fish, a de-icer is not needed at all.

If you have a waterfall in your pond, in most cases you wouldn’t need a de-icer. Because the constant falling of water will not allow the water around it to freeze. Just keep an eye on whether the water around the edges of the waterfall is freezing or not. If so, the falling water will not go back into the pond, flood your backyard or garden, resulting in your pond being drained.

How to use a De-icer

After reading the following sections, if you feel the necessity of installing a De-icer into your water feature, the following process of using a De-icer will come in handy for you.

So, follow these steps and keep certain things in mind.

  • Your priority should be safety. An electrical device near ice or water is not entirely safe, no matter how careful you may be. So make sure the cord of the de-icer isn’t damaged. Before putting the de-icer on the ice, ensure that it is unplugged. Also, ice is a slippery surface, and if it’s too thin, it will break. So walk very carefully.
  • Place the de-icer on the shallower sides of the pond. It is best if it’s placed near the pond liner. This way the heat will be conducted through the liner to the whole pond.
  • When placing the de-icer, don’t put it in a place where it comes in direct contact with freezing wind. The wind takes the heat away from the device, resulting in it taking longer to warm up which will only increase your electric bill. The best way to do so is to cover a corner of a pond with plywood and placing the device under it.
  • If the pond is completely frozen, it is better to place the de-icer on its side. As the ice gradually melts, you may need to make it upright.
  • Make sure that the de-icer is grounded by connecting it to a GFCI outlet. Keep an eye on the indicator of the de-icer as when warm, it will turn red and blue when it’s cool.
  • Keep the power outlet as close to the pond as possible.
  • Although it is not ideal to use extension cords as the de-icer loses power because of this, most people do it anyway. If you use an extension cord, try to use the shortest one possible.
  • After the use, wait for an hour before pulling the device out. Before storing, it is suggested by experts that you clean the surface which is made of stainless steel with vinegar or some mild acid first, then rinse it with water. This will get rid of the calcium deposits which have a chance to hinder the thermostat from working properly.
  • Try using an aeration system along with the de-icer. Not only will it supply air at the bottom of the pond, but also will help always keep a hole on the surface.

Maintenance

As with every other piece of equipment, it is essential to keep the de-icer under proper maintenance.  Here are a few things you can do to make sure that your de-icer works perfectly.

  1. Minerals like lime tend to deposit on top of the surface of the de-icer. This build-up sometimes prevents the thermostats from working properly. To get rid of them, you may wash them with vinegar first and then rinse them with water.  Another way to remove this deposit is using a limescale remover.
  2. If the LED indicator is not working properly, you have to reset the thermostat. You can do it by unplugging the heater. Keep it unplugged for about an hour so that it can cool off.
  3. If you have no issues which are mentioned above, then you can run a test called the ‘Air Test’. For this test, take the de-icer out of water. Now put it in a plastic bag and place it into a freezer for an hour or so. After you take it out of the freezer, plug it in immediately.  If you see the heater has the red light on, it will mean it is heating up, which indicates that the device is perfectly fine.

Picking the perfect sized De-icer

There are different sizes of de-icers according to the size of your pond. It is mandatory to pick the right sized device for your pond for it to work perfectly.

The following sizes are a good rule of thumb to follow :

  • 100 to 250 watts for ponds up to 250 gallons.
  • 300 watts devices for ponds from 250 to 500 gallons
  • 750-watt de-icers for 500-1000 gallon ponds
  • For 1000 to 1500 gallon ponds, 1250 watts devices are suggested.
  • For large ponds of 1500 to 2000 gallons, it is best to use de-icers of 1500 watts.

Which Brands’ De-icers to use

A pond de-icer is an important winter tool for keeping your water from freezing. I recommended the best types of pond de-icers to keep you and your fish healthy and happy during those cold months:

  1. Farm Innovators Floating Pond De-Icer: Almost indestructible due to its cast aluminum-made body, the Farm Innovators Floating Pond De-Icer runs on 1250 watts.  It also has a 10 feet long power cord. As it is suggested to use 1250 watts in ponds of 1000 to 1500 gallons, you can use it in 600 gallons ponds easily.
  2. K&H Thermopod 3.0 Pond De-Icer: Despite it running on only 100 watts, you can use it in ponds of up to 1000 gallons. It is 12 inches long with an automatic thermostat that will turn itself off once the water is warm.  As a result, it doesn’t get hot enough to burn fish, your body, or the pond liner. Moreover, It has a domed top that allows the heat to stay inside while the 12 feet long power cord helps put the de-icer in its intended place. It is very easy to install and has a one year guarantee
  3. K&H Pet Products Thermo-Pond Perfect Climate Deluxe Pond Deicer K&H Perfect Climate Pond De-Icer: These de-icers come with a float which you can remove if necessary. This float enables them to be used as either a floating de-icer or a submersible one. It also has a 12 feet power cord and it comes in three different wattages. So you can choose any size according to the size of the pond you have.Tetra Pond De-Icer
  4. TetraPond De-Icer: The TertaPond De-icer comes with a 15 feet long power cord and its wattage is 300 watts. Although it has a three-year warranty, it looks a bit unappealing and is less reliable than others.
  5. Laguna Power Heat De-Icer: The Laguna Power heat de-icer is a floating de-icer that has 315 watts. It not only melts ice, but a 15-watt element on top of it helps melt snow as well. Even in cold weather like 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it can easily keep a hole open. It comes with a 22 feet long cord and unlike most de-icers, it is abosolutely safe for pond liners.Aquascape 39000 Pond Heater and De-icer for Pond Water Feature Gardens
  6. Aquascape 39000 De-Icer: This de-icer is made of stainless steel, which makes it very durable. Coming with a 22 feet long power cord and a three-year warranty, it has a unique feature. There are several thermosensors built in it that can monitor the temperature of the water.

Is A Deicer The Same As A Heater?

One of the most common misconceptions people face is that they think the de-icers and pond heaters are the same things. I don’t blame them for thinking in such a way, because sometimes these two are advertised as the same. But they are entirely different products.

While the de-icer only melts in a certain place of the pond, pond heaters heat up the water of the entire pond, essentially turning the pond into a hot tub. This is used in ponds where there a tropical fishes like koi, which love warmer water.

So pond heaters can only be used for these kinds of fish. In fact, if anyone uses pond heaters in a pond containing non-tropical fishes, it will have an adverse effect as these fish will not be able to live in warm water and die. The De-icer only melts the ice, it doesn’t increase the temperature of the pond.

A Final Word

Let’s face it, nobody wants to look out their window and see an icy mess. Without a de-icer your water could freeze solid, causing damage to both the ice and fish inside of it.

So please stop worrying about whether or not you need a pond de-icer and just get one already!

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