What is a Pond Heater?

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  • Written By: Dan Blacharski
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2019
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Back yard ponds provide endless delight, providing a serene and beautiful setting for hours of enjoyment. But they aren't just something for areas with warm weather year-round. Even homeowners who live in a cold climate can enjoy a back yard pond with the addition of a pond heater. Keeping your pond warm, and keeping an opening in the ice during the most frigid months will help keep your pond healthy and your fish happy.

There are two types of pond heaters, submerged ones and floating ones. In addition to electric heaters, pond heaters are also available that use natural gas, or oil. A floating pond heater is designed to rest directly on top of the ice once your pond freezes. It melts a hole in the pond's ice cover, allowing gases to escape during colder months. A submerged pond heater is a device that sits under the water's surface and heats a larger area. The floating type of heater consumes less energy.

Winterizing your fish pond begins with monitoring the temperature. In addition to tailoring your fish's diet to the winter months, you will also want to change the water, and cover the pond with a mesh covering to keep out falling leaves. Once the ice starts to form, the mesh should be removed and your pond heater should be installed. The heater doesn't actually warm the water; rather, it is designed to keep ice from forming on the surface.


When it is cold enough for you to install your pond heater, you should also remove the pump for cleaning. The pump to a pond heater should be shut off during the freezing winter months. If the pump is left on, it will lower the pond's temperature and work against the pond heater; it will also hinder a fish's natural ability to slow down its metabolism to survive the winter.

You may also wish to cover a portion of the pond with a piece of plywood, to help heat the pond and prevent heat from escaping. When covering your pond, you must make sure that some space is left open for gases to escape.

Other things that can be done to help your fish survive center on aiding their diet. When the pond temperature drops below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need to reduce the amount of protein they eat by switching to low-protein fish food. When the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, fish should eat wheat germ based food; and when the temperature dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you can stop feeding them altogether.

You may also wish to prepare for unexpected emergencies and unusually cold spells by installing an uninterruptible power supply or generator to keep the pond heater going in the event of a power outage.


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Post 4

We have used a pond heater in the past with our waterfall in operation. One year the fan tailed gold fish were fine the following year they died. We do not feed them. Three years ago we tried the heater alone and they died. The pond is about 400 gallons. Can a heater and pump be in operation together? What size heater would we need northern Iowa.

Post 3

I have a pond that is 18 inches deep and want to keep my fish in it through out the winter. I will use a pond heater for a 50 gallon pond. I live in the western NY area and hope it is possible.

Thank you Bill Lynott

Post 2

same size pond do I need a heater

Post 1

I have a 50 gallons pond which is 18" deep at one end. It is buried in the ground. Do I need a floating pond heater or on that goes on the bottom of the pond?

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