Ice forming on the surface of your pond can kill your fish. Ice and snow accumulation on a pond greatly reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in available to the fish in it. Ice cover prevents oxygen transfer from the atmosphere to the water below, and snow can filter out enough sunlight so that oxygen-producing photosynthesis cannot occur. If enough oxygen transfer and production is eliminated, any fish in the pond will suffocate and die.
Pond heaters prevent this from happening by warming the water enough to prevent any ice or snow formation. These heaters are not particularly essential to garden ponds. However, if there are Koi or any other animals living in your pond year round, ice cover should be prevented.
In addition to keeping oxygen from entering the water in your pond, sufficient ice cover also stops CO2 and other gases created by living creatures from escaping into the atmosphere. While it’s not necessary to keep your pond water warm, stable water temperature in the pond is important to ensure the health of any pond fish.
There are several options in choosing the right pond heater for you. Pond heaters can be submerged or floating, powered by natural gas or electricity.
Submerged pond heaters are placed under the water of the pond and floating heaters are placed on top of the ice, melting a hole in the surface. While submerged heaters heat a larger area than floating models, floating heaters use less energy.
Floating heaters maintain a small hole in the top layer of ice that allows gas transfer between the air and water, releasing toxic gases from the pond and allowing oxygen in. These floating heaters are ideal for ponds up to 1,000 square feet, while submerged-style heaters are better for smaller ponds up to 200 square feet in size. Instead of maintaining a hole in the middle of the ice, submerged heaters keep these smaller ponds up to 80% free of ice.
Also with any winter, you may want to plan ahead for power outages and have a stand alone power supply ready for use. In case of emergencies, you may want to provide a generator or other source uninterrupted power in order to assure power to your heater. There are other supplementary things that you can do to protect your fish during the winter months. As long as you leave a hole for gas transfer, covering your pond with plywood helps maintain heat.
It is also important to keep in mind the additional energy cost of any type of pond heater. The purpose of a pond heater is to care for your fish, not to keep the pond heated to a summer temperature year round. No matter what type of heater you select, you should choose a heater enough for your needs that uses the least amount of energy.
Ponds are not just for the enjoyment of people who live in warm climates. You can enjoy all the benefits of having a pond in your back yard even if you don’t living in a warm weather location with the addition of a pond heater. As long as you keep a hole in the ice and the water at a stable temperature, your fish will be healthy and happy. Moreover, keeping the temperature of the pond at a stable temperature (not necessarily a warm one) will keep the flora and fauna healthy. Don’t let the winter months where you live prevent you from having all the delight and tranquility that a back yard pond can provide.