One of the most frequently asked questions in the fall-winter pond deicer season is, “Do I need a pond heater or deicer for my pond?” There are several factors to consider before answering that question. Let’s take a look at what happens to a pond in the winter and when a deicer would be needed. In the fall, our ponds start to change with the weather. Debris, which has settled to the bottom of the pond during the spring and summer, is now joined by hundreds of falling leaves.
Over the winter, this debris will begin to decompose. As they decompose, a slightly toxic gas is released that harmlessly dissipates into the atmosphere after it rises to the pond surface. In northern locations, where the pond freezes over completely, the gases have nowhere to go and begin to build up. These gases can, over time, harm or even kill your fish. To avoid the untimely demise of your favorite fish, you will
want to keep a hole open in the ice to allow for the release of these gases.
Now what you do not want to do is go out to your pond with an axe and chop away! Many people think that this will help but what they are unknowingly doing is sending massive shock waves through the pond with each strike of the axe. If that doesn’t kill the fish outright, it will leave them brain dead.
A better way to vent these gases is to use a floating pond deicer. The deicer is a nearly indestructible heating unit that is fish and liner safe. The deicer will come with an internal temperature switch that will turn on only when the water hits below freezing and will turn off when water temperature rises to about 45 degrees. The floating pond deicer will keep a hole in the ice. A common-sized deicer is about 1250 Watts. It will maintain about an eight inch diameter hole in a 600 gallon pond. For larger ponds, a good rule-of-thumb is to add an additional unit for each 600 gallons of water.
To obtain the fullest benefit from your deicer you should try to install it in an area that is not exposed to high winds as cold winds can pull the heat off of the deicer thereby decreasing its effectiveness. Many customers utilize various types of wind blocks and achieve excellent results even in windy weather.
As a final thought, I would like to address the common misconception that a shallow pond of 12-24 inches is not good to winterize with fish in it. While there may be some locations where your water will freeze several inches deep your pond does not become a solid block of ice. The fish may perish in the frozen pond but it will likely be from the toxic gases produced by decaying matter. For small and shallow ponds I strongly suggest the use of a pond deicer. A properly placed pond deicer can be the difference between life and death for our favorite Koi or goldfish.