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Do I really need a pond deicer? It costs a small fortune to run it. Are there any other options? – Water Garden & Features Q & A


The price of running a deicer can cost more then $75 per month!

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: Do I really need a pond deicer? It costs a small fortune to run it. Are there any other options? – Mary in Indiana

A: You’re right! Some pond deicers do cost a lot of money to run – but there is an alternative. Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a climate that doesn’t freeze, your going to need some type of device to keep a hole open in the pond during winter months. When a pond develops a layer of ice, a deicer is used to melt a small hole in the ice allowing toxic gases to escape and oxygen to enter the pond. For years, this has been accomplished by just using a deicer.

Unfortunately, the deicer can also melt a hole in your wallet. Pond heaters use anywhere from 100 watts (for ponds up to 600 gallons) to 1,500 watts (for ponds up to1,000 gallons) of electricity. When you consider utilities charge from 8 to 15 cents per kilowatt hour (1,000 watts of electricity used in one hour) depending on the location, the price of running a deicer can cost more then $75 per month!

The good news is that an aeration system can also keep a hole in the ice – and do so for a lot less money. For instance, Water Garden Aeration Kits use a high-efficiency air compressor that operates with as little 12 watts (that’s 88–99% electricity savings!) of electricity to push air to the diffuser. The action created by the air causes the ice to weaken, eventually creating a hole. This aerator also helps to add oxygen and circulate the water below the surface.

To install an aeration kit in your decorative pond, place the compressor near your power source. Make sure the compressor is covered – a faux rock cover is perfect for this application. Attach one end of airline tubing to the compressor and the other end to the diffuser. Place the diffuser away from the deepest point of your pond and no more than 4 feet below the surface. Plug it in and you’re ready for the cold weather!

Another benefit to an aeration system is that they can be used all year long. Aeration works great in the summer, providing oxygen for your fish and keeping your pond free of muck and debris.

If you already have a pond deicer and plan to run it this winter, save money with the ThermoCube – it can cut your electrical cost in half!

POND TALK: What are some other ways to keep a hole in the ice?

21 Responses

  1. Quick question — why would one use a deicer or aerator as opposed to just leaving their waterfall/pump on? Is there a concern for the waterfall pump freezing? Thanks!

  2. I bought a de-icer first and then realized I needed an aerator for the fish to breathe. Is there any reason to run both a de-icer and aerator? I would prefer to just go with the aerator and return the de-icer to save on energy and I don’t think I need both. I tried using a Thermocube for my de-icer and the Thermocube froze and tripped my breaker and I had to return it.

    • Hi Dustin – It really depends on how cold it gets in your area. Typically, an aerator is sufficient to keep a hole open, but not in all cases. Using an aerator and a de-icer together allows for the deicer to run less frequently. Here’s a blog we recently did on using de-icers and aerators: Do I need to heat the water in my pond in order for my fish to survive the winter?

      • I appreciate the response. I live in Northern Utah and lows have been in the single digits lately, but our pond hasn’t frozen over at all. I have both a de-icer and aerator in the pond currently, but it seems like the aerator creates enough movement in the water so that it won’t freeze over. I just don’t want to use the extra energy if the de-icer may not be necessary.

      • You can try taking out the deicer to see how much, or if any, ice formation begins, and only use the deicer if temperatures dip lower. Each pond is unique so it may take some trial and error before finding the combination of the aerator and decier that works for your pond.

  3. Thank You the information was very Helpful
    Gary Van Blaricom

  4. This article was extremely helpful to me. Wanted to say thanks!!

  5. There is a product called a “pond breather” which operates at 40 watts. The article states that it is reliable up to 15″ of ice depth. I live in southern WI, temps can get down to -20F. Have you heard anything about this unit? Will it hold up to a WI winter?

    • Hi Rod,

      The most energy efficient way to de-ice your pond is with an aeration unit. During the winter, it is very important to keep a hole open on the surface of your pond. This hole allows toxic gases to escape. An aeration unit also adds oxygen to your pond during the winter months. Placing your air stone /air stones in the shallower area of your pond will leave the deeper water undisturbed and warmer for your fish. The constant bubbling action of the air stones under the water surface will keep the water open.

  6. Most deicers have built in thermoststs. Does the Thermocube add any additional savings?

    • Hello Tom,

      Yes, the Thermo Cube does give you an additional savings. It registers the outside air temperature and turns the unit on at 35 degrees and off at 45 degress. The De-Icers by themselves register the water temperature. The Thermo Cube can be plugged into a standard 120V AC electrical outlet.

  7. I too use the tank heater. I had problems with the pond floaters the first year too much snow in WI. Piled over and froze. lost all my fish. This worked great last year although it seemed too keep the whole pond mostly open. Not shure if that screws up the fish but they all lived

    • Hi Todd,
      Having the entire surface of the pond open during the winter will not harm your fish. The most efficient way to de-ice your pond is with aeration. You do not have to worry about the snow build-up because the friction from the aeration works from under the surface of the pond. Even if the pond were to freeze over for a day or two, the constant friction under the surface would reopen the hole. The aeration diffuser plate, or air stones, would be placed in the shallower end of the pond. This will leave the deeper portion of your pond undisturbed and warmer for the fish. The aerators also provide oxygen for the fish during the winter months and are adaptable for a wide range of pond sizes.

  8. I have been under the impression that having an aerator run during the winter is not good for the fish because it circulates the colder water from the top of the pond to the bottom and the warmer water from the bottom to the top thus perhaps causing problems for the fish. Am I wrong? We keep our waterfall going 24/7 in order to keep an open space for the exchange of gasses.

    • R.Ash.
      You can effectively run an aerator in your pond during the winter. It is recommended to move your aerator into the shallower area of your pond which allows the aeration unit to keep a hole open on the surface of the ice for toxic gases to escape. The aeration unit also adds oxygen into the pond during the winter months. The deeper area of your pond can then be left undisturbed and warmer for your fish. When spring and summer return, you would then move your aeration unit back into the deeper areas. If you have an aeration unit with multiple air stones, cluster the air stones together in a shallower area of your pond, such as on a plant shelf.

  9. I get a tank heater from a farm supply store. It turns on when water temp is below 40. It is much less expensive than the pond deicers and I haven’t noticed too much of an electrical cost. I live in the middle of the US and have a 500 gal pond. I do have aeration too.

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