Last year I used 2 pond breathers for the harshest NJ winter I can ever remember. All my fish lived....This year instead of the pond breathers I think I am going to use 2 Pondmaster AP-20 pumps with a garden hose. I know if you are reading this you are saying why would you fix something that isnt broken...Well. Essentially all my fish made the winter BUT I wasnt too thrilled about how the pond breathers reacted during a week or more severe cold front. It seemed as though the water froze over in the breather tube and the small pump on the breather got mucked up rather badly by the end of the winter. Im sure they worked "somewhat" but I think I will have total assurance with the Pondmaster AP-20's. I used cold water good bacteria every few weeks I bought online from the arctic so Im not sure if that kept them alive or the breathers or a mixture of both. Seeing how they froze over makes me skeptical....Some guy I was speaking to in my local pond store also recommended the AP-20's over the breathers. My question is do I use the diffusers that come with the AP-20's or do I just put the garden hose on the bottom. It seems as though the diffusers can get mucked up rather easy. I doubt the open garden hose will get mucked up. Advice on this is greatly appreciated since I want my guys to make it this winter once again.