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I was out at my pond today and it is still partially covered with ice. I have a de-icer and aeration – isn’t that enough to keep the ice off my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A


Q: I was out at my pond today and it is still partially covered with ice. I have a de-icer and aeration – isn’t that enough to keep the ice off my pond?

Q: I was out at my pond today and it is still partially covered with ice. I have a de-icer and aeration – isn’t that enough to keep the ice off my pond?

Mark – Buffalo, NY

A: During these frigid months of the year, a hole in the ice means the difference between life and death for your pond fish. That opening allows oxygen to flow into the liquid water while it dissipates harmful gases caused by decaying debris and fish waste into the air.

Bubblers and de-icers both keep a hole open in the ice, but they go about it differently.

  • Bubblers, like the ones found in Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kits, are designed to gently and quietly move the water surface, and that action keeps a hole open in the ice. The aerator also delivers oxygen to the lower levels in your pond while bringing harmful gases to the surface to be released.
  • De-icers, such as the Thermo-Pond De-icer, melt surface-forming ice and create a gas exchange vent in the ice. While effective, during cold windy nights they may not be be enough to keep a hole open on their own.
  • Bubbler-De-icer Combos, like Airmax® PondAir™/Thermo-Pond De-icer Combo, is an energy-efficient option. Because the aerator will bring harmful gases to the surface and your de-icer helps to keep the hole melted, you’ll be sure to keep the ice vent open.

The bubblers, de-icers and combos are not designed to warm the water or keep the entire pond surface ice free. They’re meant to keep an opening for gas exchange, which is all that’s needed for the fish in your pond.

As long as the equipment you have in the pond is sized correctly (see your manual for details on what yours can effectively handle), you won’t need a larger hole. Your fish are less active, not eating and producing less waste, and so they won’t have the gas exchange requirements they do in the warmer months.

If your vent does freeze over during extra cold temperatures, simply pour hot water on the ice where the hole once was. It’ll melt the hole back open – and your fish can breathe a sigh of relief!

Pond Talk: How do you keep a hole in the ice in your water garden?

Keep Your Fish Safe - Airmax® PondAir™ & Thermo-Pond 3.0 De-Icer Combo

6 Responses

  1. What size de-icer would I need for a 3500 gal. pond? I already have one] of your Koi-Air Aerators.

    • Hi Jeanette – Typically, the KoiAir should be able to provide enough water movement to keep a small hole open in the ice. We recommend moving the diffuser plates to 1/2 the depth of the pond during the winter. If your pond is still freezing, you can open the ice by placing a pot of hot water on the ice and let it melt (make sure the pot doesn’t fall through). You only need a small hole for gas exchange to occur. If this doesn’t work, you can add a higher wattage de-icer like the Farm Innovators 1250 Watt De-Icer or the Perfect Climate 1500 Watt De-Icer over the area of the diffuser plate.

  2. Does the same hold true for Frog Ponds? I have NO fish, just cute little frogs. I’ve got an AirMax 4 port system and a DeIcer. IS that enough to keep my Froggies alive? Not much is ever mentioned about frogs, just fish.Can they be included in future posts and references? Thank You!

    • Hi Sherry – I’m not sure of your pond size but if it is around 2,000 gallons or less than the Airmax® PondAir™ 4 and de-icer should be enough for your frogs as well. I’ve included a blog article posted in the fall about water garden frogs if you would like to take a look. We will try to include more references for the future, thanks!

  3. does this also go for 1/2 farm ponds that are frozen 6″ thick?
    Should I take the backhoe bucket and break holes in the ice….(not easy to do)

    • Hi Ralph- If you haven’t already been running an aerator (one sized for a half acre pond) then I would just wait for spring. In larger bodies of water, especially if you use it for recreation, customers often do not run aeration systems for the winter. Larger ponds are able to hold more oxygen. You would not want to break any holes open because this would send shock waves through the pond which may do more harm to the fish than the ice cover itself.

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