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Pond Heaters vs. Pond De-Icer – What’s the Difference?

When it comes to winter pond supplies, one of the most important pieces you can buy is a pond heater. Or is it a pond de-icer? Wait a minute…

Some pond owners get confused when it comes to buying one of these products and are under the misconception that a pond heater will heat their entire pond, but this isn't the case at all.

The first thing to note is that pond heaters and pond de-icers are the same thing.

That’s right. Two different names, but it’s the same product and it achieves the same outcomes.So whether you buy a pond heater or pond de-icer, you will be getting a product that is designed to keep your pond from completely freezing over in frigid temperatures. The choice you have to make it whether to purchase one that is submerged or floating:

  • Floating pond heater/de-icer: located on the surface of your pond, these floating pond heaters/de-icers use heat to keep an area of your pond’s surface open during the winter. In addition, they are temperature programmed, so they only run when the water temperatures hit a certain point. Floating pond heaters/de-icers won’t keep your entire pond surface free from ice, but they will create a big enough hole for the exchange of gases to occur.


  • Submerged pond heater/de-icer: placed in the bottom of your pond and are used to heat the water at your pond’s lowest point. These are most beneficial in ponds less than 18 inches deep, because they will give your fish enough warmth to prevent them from freezing to death. You’ll want to monitor your pond’s surface closely, though, because a submerged heater can’t guarantee that it will generate enough heat to keep the surface of the pond from freezing over. If you notice that it isn’t doing enough on its own, you may need to purchase a floating version as well.


So there you have it. Pond heaters and pond de-icer are one in the same. You can buy versions that live at the bottom of your pond, or those that float across the top. Either way, your ultimate goal during winter needs to be to keep a small section of your pond from freezing over. Do this, and you shouldn’t have to worry about your pond life making it happily to springtime.

*Image provided by debs-eye on Flickr.