When you invest in a pond and fish that you love, you want to protect them. You want to protect your finned friends from any harm and ensure they have a pleasant environment.
As such, many fish owners are concerned about keeping the water heated during colder months. This guide is designed to help you learn more about pond heaters so you can determine the best option for you.
Table of Contents
- The Difference Between a Pond Heater and De-Icer?
- What Type of Pond Heaters are Available?
- The Importance of Insulating Your Pond
- Top 5 Pond Heaters for Small Ponds
The Difference Between a Pond Heater and De-Icer?
When thinking about how to heat a pond, people often find themselves deciding between a pond heater and a de-icer. Before you make such a decision, it’s important to understand the difference between the two.
A de-icer is a small heater that is placed on the water’s surface. It heats one area up to create a hole that allows gas exchange between the water and the air.
A de-icer is beneficial for assisting with ventilation and ensuring that there is no gas buildup beneath the ice. However, if you are looking for a product to actually heat your pond, a de-icer is not the solution.
A pond heater, on the other hand, actually heats the entire pond. The water runs through the heater, keeping it all at the desired temperature. It helps to protect your fish from harsh, damaging conditions.
What Type of Pond Heaters are Available?
When choosing a pond heater, you have a few options, including the following:
Inline Electric Heater
If you want to heat your pond, an inline electric heater is typically the best, most effective solution. They are often the cheapest to purchase and are easy to install and maintain.
The biggest pitfall is the ongoing cost as they aren’t the most energy-efficient choices. You can, however, lower this cost by insulating your pond, which we’ll get into below.
By insulating your pond, your inline electric heater will not use as much energy. Therefore, they can be a much more budget-friendly option than others.
Submersible Aquarium Heaters
Submersible heaters are just what you’d think – they hang out beneath the water at the bottom of the pond or on the side. They are usually not expensive to purchase, and they are easy to install.
However, they can sometimes clog too easily and malfunction, causing potential harm to your fish. And overall, they do not typically work as well or last as long as inline heaters, meaning you’ll likely have to replace them on a pretty regular basis.
Traditional Pool Heaters and Heat Pumps
Traditional pool heaters are typically expensive to purchase. They can also cost a lot to install as most require a professional for both installation and maintenance. Additionally, they are bulky and noisy. Generally, they require more money than necessary and are much more than what you need.
The Importance of Insulating Your Pond
At its core, heat is only truly effective if it stays in the area you want to heat. None of the pond heater options are particularly great ones if the heat is simply escaping.
That’s essentially what’s happening when you don’t insulate your pond. The heat might go into the pond, but it’s escaping through the bottom, the sides, and the water’s surface.
Think of insulating your pond as you would insulating your home. The four outer walls only provide so much protection.
If you do not properly insulate your home, any heat – or air, for that matter – will make its way out of your walls, ceiling, doors, and windows. Then, it costs more to heat or cool your home.
Additionally, without proper insulation, important aspects of your home can freeze. And no one wants to have to replace frozen pipes.
A pond is no different. It needs insulation – a blanket, so to speak – to help keep the heat in. And when it’s insulated, your pond heater doesn’t have to work so hard, keeping the energy usage to a minimum. A lot of the heat escapes from the top, so adding a cover such as a pool cover can really help prevent the pond from freezing up.
It’s important to note that there are many people that suggest heating and insulating a pond is unnecessary. Fish are cold-blooded and can, therefore, survive in colder temperatures.
In some ways, this is true. Most fish can live in cold water – they’ll typically just slow down and go into a sort of hibernation.
However, not insulating and heating your pond can cause other problems. For example, though they can survive, living in cold, harsh temperatures for long periods can make them susceptible to different conditions that can possibly lead to death.
Also, without insulation and heating, your pond may freeze. If it does, it can harm not only the pond itself but also the filter and the pipes. You will then be faced with replacing essential parts of the pond you have invested in and cherished.
The bottom line is that the best way to protect your pond, your fish, and your wallet is to insulate and heat your pond. The most important steps to take are to insulate the sides of the pond and to get a pond cover. Be sure to leave a small gap in the cover, though, that allows any gas to escape.
You can also use a timer with an inline electric pond heater to have it run outside of peak hours. This means that the electricity rates will not be so high when it’s heating the pond.
Additionally, you don’t have to set the temperature too high. Typically, setting it between 50 degrees and 60 degrees will be perfect for your fish. If you insulate your pond, use a timer, and keep it at a moderate temperature, you can get all of the advantages of the inline electric pond heater without high energy usage.
Top 5 Pond Heaters for Small Ponds
There are many choices available to heat your small pond. We gathered five of the best to help make the choice easier.
1. Elecro Nano Cygnet Aquatic Heater
The Elecro Nano Cygnet is an incredibly effective pond heater that takes up very little space. It is made with a titanium flow tube and heating element, making it a long-lasting and durable option. And even with all of its power, it provides a silent operation.
You can easily control the temperature with the thermostat dial. It is designed with over-heating protection, providing the utmost safety.
The Elecro Nano Cygnet comes in four models: 1KW, 2KW, 3KW, and 4KW. The 4KW must be professionally installed, but each of the other three is easy to install on your own.
Keep in mind that when you insulate your pool, you do not need a very powerful heater. Many ponds do well with only a 1KW option.
2. HITOP Submersible Aquarium Heater for Large Fish Tank
The HITOP Submersible Aquarium Heater is another great option. It is important to note that it is built for a large fish tank, so it will heat 10 to 150 gallons of water. Depending on the size of your pond, you might need more than one. Many people who prefer submersibles use two or more to heat their pond.
The HITOP is a budget-friendly option, but it can get expensive if you need to purchase several of them. You can choose from a 100W to a 400W, depending on the amount of water you need to heat. The HITOP Submersible is designed with shatterproof materials. And it comes with a detachable protective cover, ensuring your fish do not get hurt. It also has overheat protection.
This option is easy to install, as you simply use the suction cups to place it on the side of your pond. Keep an eye on it as it can become dirty and stop heating as well after a few months. If you notice a change in its performance, unplug it, remove the heater, and clean the heating element.
3. Marineland Precision Heater
The Marineland Precision Heater is another submersible option. It comes with an adjustable temperature dial, an easy-to-see temperature display, and a thermal switch designed with safety in mind.
If the heater reaches a specific internal temperature, it automatically shuts off. After cooling off to a safe temperature, it turns back on, keeping your fish safe in the process.
You can choose from several different options from 50W to 400W. The 50W heater heats up to 12 gallons of water while the 400W heats up to 125 gallons. Again, you might need more than one, depending on the exact size of your pond.
4. Cloverleaf Pond Heater
The Cloverleaf Pond Heater is easy to use and comes with everything you need to install it in a new or existing pond. These come with both flexible and rigid pipe connections to suit your needs.
This pond heater comes with both a low-pressure flow switch and easy to view temperature control. These allow you a high level of control over the heater’s operation.
You can choose from either a 1KW or 2KW heater, according to your desired power. Don’t forget, though, that when you insulate your pond, you can get by with a much lower power.
The Cloverleaf Pond Heater is a higher initial investment than the submersibles on this list. However, it is durable and highly efficient, making it worth that investment.
5. Orlushy Submersible Aquarium Heater 500W Fish Tank Heater
The Orlushy Aquarium Heater is an effective submersible option that comes in several options. You can choose up to a 500W heater, which will heat up to 75 gallons of water. As with other submersibles, you will need more than one if you have more than a small pond.
This option comes with a reliable thermostat and automatic shut-off when the internal temperature is rising too high. It is also designed with 2mm quartz glass, providing another safety feature.
The Orlushy also comes with an additional thermostat, helping you keep an even better eye on the temperature. And the 6ft cord makes it easier to use.
When it comes to heating your pond, submersible and inline heaters can both meet your needs. Each comes with its own benefits and expenses, though. This is why it’s important to consider your needs carefully before choosing.
For example, someone with a small pond may find a submersible option the best choice. However, those with somewhat larger ponds may find that purchasing more than one submersible is not worth the expense. In short, think about what you truly need and calculate the overall cost before making any decisions.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.