Pond Heaters? Only for Rich Koi Keepers

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Page Summary:  By far the majority of koi pond keepers and fish pond keepers in general will not need or want a sophisticated pond water heater. Heating pond water is an expensive exercise and the only justifiable reason for heating a koi pond is if the koi pond owner wants to maximise fish condition, and growth opportunities and if the owner cant bear the thought of his or her fish lying motionless on the pond bottom in a complete state of inactivity. Koi and goldfish prefer a period of hibernation and in so doing they prepare themselves for the onset of Spring when longer days, more sunlight and higher temperature promote the breeding urge of the koi and goldfish kept in ponds.

Need a Pond Heater? No

One of the best things you can do for your pond koi or gold fish is to build up their immune systems by providing high quality food.

Wheatgerm is a great food for use in the autumn months and for those days in winter when the sun shines, conditions are windless, the pond water warms and the fish start to move.

Koi in breeding ponds undergo extreme winter conditions and few koi keeping locations have more severe winter conditions than the koi breeding capital of the world... Japan.

Anyway just in case you still fancy a heater here are some important considerations.

By the way dont confuse a pond heater with a heating device designed to keep ice from forming on the pond surface.

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Floating ice preventer

There are simple low cost devices that allow a hole in the koi pond water ice surface to be maintained to allow these noxious gases to escape from the pond.

This spring get a spawning brush. Breed your own koi.

In the case of pond heating we mean applying heat to increase or maintain the whole water body at a controlled temperature.

Installation of large capacity gas fired or oil fired pond water heating systems are complex and potentially dangerous installations and should only ever be carried out by experienced and qualified companies.

I remember seeing Nigel Caddocks koi and its pond water heating system in the UK some years ago and even as a chemical engineer I was fantastically impressed by the engineering and control complexity built into the oil fired water heating system he had installed.

The whole outdoor koi pond water heating and filtration plant (for that is what it was) was in a large underground chamber into which you descended by a vertical steel ladder. In addition to the gas fired heating system there was also an array of vortex filters and complex flow control loops. If I remember correctly the whole installation cost more than Pds100,000. Thermostatic temperature control was sophisticated

Do You Really Need a Fish Pond Water Heater?

Quite simply no but...

If you want to enter koi competitions at the highest level then there is no doubt that year round control of koi growth rates and koi conditioning is required.

Floating ice preventerThere are simple low cost pond water heating devices that allow a hole in the koi pond water ice surface to be maintained to allow these noxious gases to escape from pond water. These low wattage (100 Watts) "pond heaters" maintain a hole in the ice surface. This picture is of an even simpler device that just floats on the water and keeps a hole open.

Koi will literally stop eating at about 10 degrees C or thereabouts and this is the major factor that determines whether serious koi keepers in colder climates heat their pond water or not.

By heating pond water and maintaining temperature conditions such that koi and other pond fish swim around as in warmer weather then a feeding regime can be used to maintain or improve a kois condition.

There is another reason for favouring warmer pond water and that is the biological filtration process efficiency is significantly enhanced at higher temperatures.

When pond water cools to very low levels pathogen activity becomes slow and this can create a problem as seasons change from winter to spring and if the pond environment is suited to pathogen activity then the weakened state of the koi or gold fish my well result in infections. So it pays to be vigilant.

What Happens When the Whole Pond Freezes Solid?

The good news is that your pond wont freeze solid except in the most extreme conditions of prolonged freezing conditions and if your pond is relatively shallow. The reasons why the fish pond will not freeze solid are explained in depth in one of my other articles and the reason is quite fascinating and is to do with water having an unique relationship between its density and temperature. You can read about this cold water property and its importance to koi and fish pond keepers here...  Pond Care in Freezing Winter Weather

If You Do Go for a Koi Pond Heating System

Be aware that it will be very expensive in terms of capital and running costs when done properly where the intent is to heat the water and them maintain a water temperature irrespective of the ambient conditions.

The importance of pond water design from a safety perspective cannot be overstressed. The use of hydrocarbon fuels to heat circulating water in a pond environment is potentially very dangerous.

Solar heating of koi fish ponds in climates such as those we experience in South Africa can be very effectively used and at a lower cost and within an improved safety regime

Frankly my advice is forget about heating your pond... just enjoy the seasons that come and go and which your koi and other pond fish are happy to experience

Other articles about koi and fish pond care in winter

Pond Heaters. Heating koi ponds winter growth feeding benefits

Koi pond heating using gas electric in UK temperature control

Bringing fish and pond and water out of winter into spring

Koi goldfish pond covers over winter. How to look after pondfish

Over-wintering koi goldfish hibernation cold freezing water ice

Koi pond heating using gas electric in UK temperature control

Should I heat my new koi pond this winter. What temperature?

Temperature swings. Koi Goldfish Feeding & water temperature

To Feed or not to feed your pond fish or koi or goldfish

How Do I care For My Garden Fish Pond In Cold Winter

Frozen Koi Ponds & Fish Ponds. Ponds Freeze in Winter. Pond Care in Freezing Winter Weather

Interpet Koi Pond Test KitWhat the Does pH of Koi Pond Water Mean? Should I measure Pond pH