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Do I need a heater to overwinter my fish in the pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Do I need a heater to overwinter my fish in the pond?

Q: Do I need a heater to overwinter my fish in the pond?

Pat – Far Hills, NJ

A: Unless you house warm-water fish like Plecostomus in your water feature, you won’t need a heater to heat things up. Most pond fishes, including koi and goldfish, will overwinter just fine in their outdoor digs because they go into a pseudo-hibernation state when water temperatures fall. Their metabolisms slow and they’re able to tolerate cooler water—even water that’s frigid enough to freeze.

If you live in a climate that experience those freezing temperatures, what we recommend is a de-icer or aerator (rather than a heater) to keep a hole in the ice. This hole allows for gas exchange, through which necessary gases like oxygen enter and harmful gases like ammonia escape.

Which option is right for you?

  • De-Icer: A de-icer’s purpose is to float on the surface and melt a hole in ice that has formed on a container of water, whether a koi pond or water garden. Unlike a heater that actually warms the entire body of water, a de-icer like the K&H™ Thermo-Pond 3.0 Pond De-Icer simply melts an opening in the ice sheet, thereby allowing for gas exchange.
  • Aerator: Rather than create a hole in the ice from above, an aerator, like the PondAir™ Aeration Kit, circulates the water below the ice sheet. In areas with relatively mild winters, that subsurface water movement will keep a hole in the ice that allows for gas exchange—but when temps really dip, an aerator may not be enough to maintain a vent hole.
  • De-Icer, Aerator Combo: An excellent and convenient option to consider is the PondAir™ & Thermo-Pond Combo. It combines both the Thermo-Pond and PondAir™ Aeration Kit, providing your water feature the one-two punch it needs to stay well-vented throughout the winter.

If temperatures in your area vary between above- and below-freezing, consider installing a ThermoCube®. The thermostatically controlled outlet turns on when air temperatures drop below 35° Fahrenheit and turns off when air temps rise above 45°F. This handy-dandy device will save you money, which is something we can all appreciate!

Pond Talk: What do you do to keep your finned pals comfortable in the winter?

The Ultimate in Winter Pond Protection - View Pond Logic® PondAir™ & Thermo-Pond Combo

Fall is just around the corner. What kind of prep work should I be doing now? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Fall is just around the corner. What kind of prep work should I be doing now?

Q: Fall is just around the corner. What kind of prep work should I be doing now?

Karen – McHenry, IL

A: Though we all wish summer could linger on forever, the reality of fall—and its associated pond chores—is nearly upon us. Cooler temperatures, shorter days and those brightly colored (and falling) leaves means you need to take a break from summer fun and get to work.

Here’s a quick rundown of the prep work you should be doing now:

Add Bacteria

When temps start to fall (particularly below 50°F), it’s time to add some cool-water beneficial bacteria to your pond, like the tiny muck-eaters in Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense®. They go to work decomposing leaves, scum and sediment that will inevitably build up over the fall and winter, which will result in better water quality for your finned friends.

Clean Up Your Plants

Cut back and remove any dead plant vegetation that’s inside and around your water garden. Use a handy long-reach tool, like the Pond Scissors and Pliers, to cut back water lilies and clear away dead marginals. As the temperatures cool even more, you’ll need to remove floating plants like hyacinth and water lettuce, sink your hardy water lilies and marginals into the deeper areas of your pond to protect them from freezing, and make plans to overwinter your tropical lilies inside.

Cover Up

Blowing leaves and other debris will drop into your pond during the fall, and if you don’t get them out, they’ll decompose over the winter and create a mucky mess in the spring. Plan to put a net over the pond, like the Pond Logic® PondShelter™ Net Kit, to keep them out, and use a skimmer net to remove any stragglers.

Have Supplies Ready

While you’re thinking about fall, now is a great time to stock up on winter water garden supplies. Purchase a six-month supply of Seasonal Defense®. Buy some Spring & Fall Fish Food, which will help your fish transition from their regular diet to one that’s easier to digest in cooler temperatures. Make sure you have an aerator or deicer ready to keep a hole in the ice. Preparing ahead of time will prevent any last-minute scrambling.

Regular Maintenance

Finally, continue to perform regular maintenance chores, like keeping your filter clean and operating well, doing periodic water changes, and feeding and checking on your fish. Summer is nearly over, but don’t neglect your pond-keeping routine!

Pond Talk: What other fall chores do you do in and around your water garden?

Keep Leaves & Predators Out - Pond Logic(r) PondShelter(tm) Cover Net

The de-icer I purchased says it’s thermostatically-controlled. Why is it always running? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

The de-icer I purchased says it’s thermostatically-controlled. Why is it always running?

The de-icer I purchased says it’s thermostatically-controlled. Why is it always running?
Bill – White Lake, MI

When backyard water features are home to year-round populations of fish, it’s vitally important to prevent long-term ice cover. Without a break in the ice, harmful gases produced by decaying leaves and other organic matter build up, threatening the well-being of wintering fish. To prevent that threat, many pond owners install thermostatically-controlled de-icers, which produce enough concentrated heat to keep a vent hole open during winter’s coldest months.

When a de-icer is thermostatically controlled, it is set to turn both on and off at certain temperatures. In theory, that makes good sense: if the water is cold, the de-icer goes to work, and when the water warms, it switches off – saving on unnecessary electricity costs. The problem, however, is that the water temperature in a frozen pond may not rise above the thermostat’s high-temperature shutoff threshold, leaving the de-icer in full heating mode all the time.

Naturally, we’ve given this issue some thought. And that’s why we strongly recommend the use of our Thermo Cube Thermostatically Activated Plug. Unlike a thermostatically-controlled de-icer, the Thermo Cube measures air – not water temperature. Thus, when the sun is shining, and air temperatures warm up, the Thermo Cube automatically cuts power to the de-icer, and turns it back on when the air temperature drops. The combination works flawlessly – applying heat when it’s required to keep the ice open, and shutting it off when it’s not.

Pond Talk: Do you use a thermocube along with your de-icer?

Pond Logic FeatureFix

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?

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