Warm weather won’t last forever, and so you may be wondering how to prepare your pond for winter. After all, even if you aren’t tending to fish, a healthy winter pond equals a beautiful spring pond.
Winterizing your pond can be a tricky task, especially for new landscapers and fish owners. That’s why we’ve put together this complete guide to help you – with examples of the best pond heaters!
You see, a pond heater will be your saving grace once the temperatures start dropping. It’ll help keep the surface of the pond unfrozen so that gas exchange can occur.
Fish rely on dissolved oxygen in the water, and, without adequate gas exchange, they’ll use up their oxygen supply. Lack of ventilation can also lead to algae issues.
This may be a lot to take in at once, but no worries, we’re here to help! Keep reading for our complete guide for picking the best outdoor pond heater.
- Our Top 10 Effective Pond Heaters:
- 1. Laguna PowerHeat Heated De-icer for Ponds
- 2. Finnex Digital Heater with Controller
- 3. Natural Waterscapes Winter Pond Aerator De-icer Kit
- 4. Aquascape Pond Heater and De-icer
- 5. Tetra Pond De-icer
- 6. Danner Manufacturing Pond De-icer
- 7. K&H Thermo-Pond Floating De-icer
- 8. Orathai Shop Floating Pond De-icer
- 9. API Pond Breather Heated Aerator
- 10. K&H Stock Tank De-icer
- Buying Guide – Everything You Need to Know to Pick the Best Pond Heater
- Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Our Top 10 Effective Pond Heaters:
1. Laguna PowerHeat Heated De-icer for Ponds
At 315 Watts, the Laguna heated de-icer will work more most average size ponds. It helps prevent freezing in ponds reaching a maximum low of 20 degrees.
This de-icer is designed with durability in mind. It has an automatic shut off feature for overheating protection and an element to prevent snow buildup.
The LED light is extremely visible and shows when the heater is on. This helps prevent injury while also letting you know your heater is working.
While the heater can be used in a lower temperature, doing so may reduce its longevity.
- Designed for ponds that reach a maximum low of 20 degrees
- The LED pilot light is easy to see and shows when the heater is on
- The integrated thermometer has an automatic shut off to protect internal workings during overheat
- Built-in heating element prevents snow buildup
- Includes 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Extremely cold temperatures (reaching less than 20 degrees) can reduce longevity
2. Finnex Digital Heater with Controller
While designed for indoor tanks and aquariums, the Finnex heater will also protect your pond. It has a submersible heater and sensor, and it is designed for quiet operation.
Related: best aquarium heaters
In order to help pick the best option for your pond, it comes in three buying options. You can choose between a heater that is 300, 500, or 800 Watts.
It has an automatic shutoff for protection if the heater was to overheat. And the titanium tubing adds durability from water, wear and tear, and the elements.
- Deluxe titanium tubing for added durability
- LED water temperature reading
- 3 buying options: 300, 500, or 800 Watts
- Automatic shutoff for protection during overheating
- Fully submersible heater and sensor (the digital control is not)
- Silent operation
- Poor customer service
3. Natural Waterscapes Winter Pond Aerator De-icer Kit
The best way to protect your fish is to provide both deicing and aeration. The de-icer prevents freezing which can prevent gas exchange while aeration keeps the water moving.
Both of these systems work together to make sure your fish have the right amount of oxygen.
You can use this as either a floating or submersible heater, and it can work as a koi pond de-icer.
- Combines de-icer and aeration system for maximum winter pond protection and gas exchange
- Includes full aeration system with aerator pump, air stone diffuser, airline, and check valve
- The de-icer works as either a floating or submersible heater due to removable float
- Strong enough to work as a koi pond heater and de-icer
- Aids in keeping fish healthy with maximum gas exchange
- Installation can be difficult
4. Aquascape Pond Heater and De-icer
If you’re a beginner, you probably want to branch out and experiment. This heater and de-icer offer a 3-year warranty so you can try it without fear of wasting your money.
It has an energy-efficient design that helps reduce wasted energy and money. The stainless steel design offers extra protection from the elements, wear and tear, and corrosion.
For your protection and satisfaction, the LED light lets you know when the heater is on and working.
Just be wary with how you install this heater. Some customers say that it has tripped breakers for them.
- Energy-efficient design helps reduce operating costs while keeping the environment healthy
- Stainless steel design aids in durability by preventing corrosion and cracking
- LED light indicates when the heater is on and hot
- Effective in most extreme climates for aided reliability
- 3-year warranty for peace of mind experience
- 300 Watts
- Has tripped breakers for some customers
5. Tetra Pond De-icer
If you live in extremely cold climates, this heater, which works in temperatures as low as -20, is for you. It’s a 300 Watt heater with an average lifespan of around 3 years.
Its natural stone finish helps you keep your pond warm and your fish safe without sacrificing appearance. It also has thermostatic control to help prevent damage from overheating.
The Tetra Pond de-icer is also designed for easy installation, helping you heat your pond faster.
- Efficient design works in temperatures as low as -20 degrees
- Thermostatically controlled shutoff for protection and temperature control
- Natural stone finish to aid in aesthetic appeal of pond
- Easy to install and use
- Energy-efficient design helps prevent unneeded use that wastes power
- The average lifespan of about three years
6. Danner Manufacturing Pond De-icer
Low wattage doesn’t mean poor operation. In fact, while only operating at 120 Watts, which is energy-efficient, this heater can work in temperatures as low as 10 degrees.
Just be careful because extremely low temperatures, such as those lower than 10 degrees, can damage the product. While it may still work, the lifespan may be reduced.
It’s safe for flexible liners and pre-formed ponds, so you can protect your fish without worrying about your pond. The floating design helps keep a strong ring of water for gas exchange.
- Energy-efficient for reduced impact on wallet and environment
- Safe for flexible liners and pre-formed ponds
- Floats on top of the water to help prevent ice
- Not designed for extremely low temperatures (under around 10 degrees)
7. K&H Thermo-Pond Floating De-icer
This K&H de-icer floats on the surface of your pond to prevent icing and allow for gas exchange. It’s safe to use with a flexible pond liner or preformed plastic pond, and it’s non-toxic for your fish and aquatic life.
The thermostatic control helps keep this 100 Watt de-icer from overheating, protecting the internal workings. This is due to the automatic shutoff feature.
While 100 Watts may not seem like a lot, this heater is designed for a wide variety of ponds. Its surface design helps keep an area of freshwater for gas exchange even in larger ponds.
The only complaint from customers is that it can be difficult to get up with customer service.
- Low-wattage pond de-icer that only uses 100 Watts
- Floats on top of the water in order to maintain an adequate hole in ice on top of the pond
- Thermostatically controlled prevents overheating and damage
- Completely safe to use with a pond liner or plastic pond
- Helps maintain a toxic-free environment for your fish that are living under the ice
- Some customers have difficulty working with customer service
8. Orathai Shop Floating Pond De-icer
With it’s flat saucer design, you’ll get a unique experience with this pond de-icer.
First, it has to be set up in a specific way, which is described thoroughly in the product’s instructions. Next, due to the flat design, its energy-efficient by preventing any heat wastage due to wind.
When it comes to temperature control, this heater is designed to work within a set range. It automatically turns on at 35 degrees and then turns off at 45.
This prevents freezing while not overheating your pond.
The thermoplastic design is durable and easy to clean, and the low-profile maintain your aesthetic.
- Automatically turns on at 35 degrees to prevent freezing and kicks off at 45 degrees to prevent overheating
- Unique saucer design helps prevent unnecessary loss of heat
- Made from easy-to-clean, weather-resistant thermoplastic
- Aesthetic, low profile design
- As of the writing of this article, this heater is not eligible for Amazon Prime benefits
9. API Pond Breather Heated Aerator
While 40 Watts may not seem like a lot, this energy-efficient heated pond aerator is designed to work hard – even in sub-freezing temperatures. It even works in larger ponds!
By combining heat for ice control and aeration, you can be sure that your fish are getting as much oxygen as needed.
One thing to note is that the installation can be a bit difficult. This is because the free-floating heater can be difficult to adjust right.
- 40 Watts design is energy-efficient and helps reduce operating cost
- Aeration design helps move water around within the pond for better breathing conditions for fish
- Works in sub-freezing temperatures for added durability and reliability
- Works in large ponds despite low wattage
- Can be difficult to stand up in the water
10. K&H Stock Tank De-icer
If you’re looking for the K&H name but need a lot of options, this is the de-icer for you. Designed for stock tanks, you can buy this de-icer in 5 different wattages ranging from 250 to 1500.
You can use it as either a floating or a submersible heater, and it’s safe for all stock tanks.
Best of all, it includes a free power clip that helps protect your fish by moving the cord out of their reach. It’s also easy to clean and maintain.
Related: best pond vacuum cleaners
Just be careful because the K&H de-icer is very specific. This means that you will need to pay close attention to their provided resources to pick the right pond heater for you.
- Five purchasing options: 250, 500, 750, 1000, and 1500 Watts
- Can work as a floating or submersible heater and de-icer
- Safe for all stock tanks
- 2-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Includes free cord clip to help keep the cord away from animals
- Purchasing requires a larger amount of external research
Buying Guide – Everything You Need to Know to Pick the Best Pond Heater
Now that you’ve seen our picks for the top 10 best pond heaters, it’s time we help you pick the best one for you!
When you’re going through the buying process, you may have a lot of questions. That’s why we’ve made this buying guide to help you with everything you may need to know.
Why do you need a pond heater?
While we cover the basics in a few other areas in this article, you may still be wondering exactly why you need a pond heater. And that’s completely okay!
One of the hardest parts of keeping a pond – especially with fish – is learning the science behind it. That’s why we’ve included this brief introduction to help you get started.
Even though fish live underwater, they need oxygen just like us. However, instead of using the lungs to breathe in oxygen, fish use their gills to filter dissolved oxygen from the water.
During respiration – which is the process of breathing – fish also produce waste gases, such as carbon dioxide. Waste gases are found in other sources too, though, such as decaying algae.
Thus, in order to have enough oxygen in the water, there needs to be a way to remove waste gases. That’s where gas exchange comes in.
Using different systems – such as filtration, aeration, or even plant – waste can be removed from the water and oxygen introduced. However, this involves the surface of the water being exposed.
During the winter, if the temperatures drop below freezing, the surface could freeze over. As a result, your fish could suffocate in the water.
While a pond heater won’t keep all of the water warm, it will at least keep a large enough section unfrozen for gas exchange.
Types of Pond Heaters – Oil, Gas, and Electric
Before wondering what type of pond heater is best for you, you’re probably wondering what types of heaters are even available. There are three main types: oil, gas, and electric, which includes Commercial and solar power.
Oil and gas pond heaters have a steep investment price. It can be costly to get started, which may make these options intimidating for beginners.
However, in the long run, these are the options that are both the easiest to maintain and the most economical.
Commercial electricity, however, is cheap, to begin with, but can add up quickly. Maintenance will also be a bit tricker and more expensive.
In contrast to that, though, solar power, while expensive at the start, leans more towards oil and gas in the long run. After installation and setup, maintenance and operation are inexpensive.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
What is the best pond heater?
The best pond heater depends on your unique needs. As a result, there’s no clear answer.
However, we can offer you some guidelines to help pick the best pond heater for winter:
- Works within your budget
- Made of quality materials that are durable and safe, especially around water
- Easy to access for repairs, cleaning, and maintenance
- Designed for the size of your pond
It’s important to keep these four characteristics in mind, as well as take time to read verified customer reviews. This is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Are pond heaters expensive to run?
How much your pond heater costs to operate depends on what type your purchase.
Oil and gas heaters can be more expensive up front, but they offer a more inexpensive operating cost. On the other hand, using commercial electricity is a smaller investment with higher operating costs.
When it comes to operating and maintenance costs, solar panels, while expensive upfront, are the most budget-friendly. The initial investment can be steep, but after that, it runs as virtually no expense to you.
How can I heat my pond in the winter?
The best way to heat your pond in the winter is with a pond heater. However, since pond heaters are designed to keep the surface warm rather than the water, you may need to make some adjustments.
Pond heaters are designed to keep the surface warm and, along with proper filtration and aeration systems, prevent ice from forming. These rarely heat the entire pond, instead of focusing on a single area.
If you have warm water fish in an outdoor pond, then one heater most likely won’t be enough for you. Especially if your pond is particularly large.
As a result, you may want to consider purchasing two or more outdoor pond heaters if heated water is your goal.
How big of a pond heater do I need?
The best way to decide what size pond heater you need is to look at the kW. kW stands for kilowatt, and it’s a measure of energy.
1 kW, or 1000 Watts, is enough energy to operate a heater for a pond up to 1000 gallons. Always round up rather than down if your pond is larger than 1000.
For example, if your pond is 2300 gallons, you’ll want to invest in a heater that can heat 3000 gallons. This would be a 3 kW heater.
How do you heat a small pond?
Heating a small pond is much easier than heating a large pond. Most smaller ponds will be maintained by a single heater.
There are two ways to look pond heaters and sizes.
For the most part, a single heater will heat up to 600 gallons. You can also look at kW, with 1 kW working for up to 1000 gallons.
How can I heat my pond cheaply?
When you look at both upfront costs and operation costs, each type of pond heater is almost identical. Which one is the cheapest for you depends on how you wish to spend your money.
Systems like oil, gas, and solar are more expensive upfront, but cheaper in the long run. Electricity is the opposite, costing more in the long run.
Of all the options, solar power is, for the most part, the cheapest. While the investment price is expensive, it’s the cheapest to run and maintain.
Do pond fish need a heater?
Even if your fish themselves are able to adapt to cooler water temperatures, you most likely still need a heater. This is because the heater isn’t so much for keeping your fish warm as it is for preventing ice.
You see, even though your fish live underwater, they need to be able to access the surface of the water. This allows for gas exchange that helps them breathe.
During the winter, if temperatures drop below freezing, the surface of your outdoor pond could freeze over. If this were to happen, no oxygen could reach the water.
As a result, your fish could possibly suffocate under the ice.
A heater is also important because you shouldn’t break the ice on the top of the pond. Doing so is like tapping on the glass of an aquarium and could send your fish into shock.
Picking the right pond heater for not just your pond but your lifestyle is important. When it comes to winterization, your choice in a pond heater will make or break the success and longevity of your pond.
As a result, it’s extremely important to take things such as costs, accessibility for maintenance and repair, and power into consideration. The last thing you want is a heater that you’ve invested in that won’t work for your pond.
The best thing you can do when picking the best pond heater is to do your research. While we’ve provided 10 unique pond heaters, there’s a chance that your pond will require something different.
While it may seem difficult at first, the right pond heater will actually save you a lot of time come spring. And if you plan on keeping fish year-round, a pond heater is a necessity not just for maintenance but for keeping your fish alive.