Out of the pond

Although it may seem like the right thing to do, draining water from your pond should only be used as a final option and is not necessary for cleaning it. The truth is that draining your pond can actually make it dirtier because it disrupts the ecosystem. If you possess the appropriate equipment, it is easy and effective to clean your pond without completely draining it.

Contents

When A Dirty Pond Is Healthy One

People wrongly assume that water that appears dirty needs to be drained away in order to clean a pond sufficiently enough. In most cases, this is simply not the case because when pond water looks dirty, it is working with the ecosystem of the pond providing it with a very natural and organic cleaning system and is actually very healthy.

Water in ponds are filled with literally millions of beneficial bacteria and helpful micro-organisms that help to reduce and eliminate the more harmful chemicals present, like nitrates and ammonia. This bacteria is crucial to ponds that are home to fish as they are the foundation for an effective nitrogen cycle.

When you start removing water from your pond, you are actually also decreasing the populations of much-needed beneficial bacteria. This in turn means that you can significantly decrease your pond’s biological and very natural filtration process. After you’ve drained your pond, adding extra water is even worse as this causes greater disruption. This is because water from your mains supply normally has a high percentage of chlorine. Chlorine is not only dangerous for your fish, but it is also poses a risk to that crucial beneficial bacteria.

When you clean your pond without needing to drain it out, you are ensuring the populations of natural bacteria are kept at a healthy level, allowing your pond to continue operating its natural bio-filtration. Even when the levels of waste in your pond are extremely high, you only need to remove some, not all of it, to allow the bacteria to start working properly again.

When Should I Clean My Pond?

Though cleaning can and should be performed whenever it is necessary, the best time to do it is towards the end of autumn, as this will help to winterise your pond. Another good time is at the start of spring.

One of the reasons for cleaning towards the end of autumn is to considerably reduce the levels of waste as winter comes along, to give your fish a safer and more comfortable hibernation. When debris and sludge is left in ponds, it creates all kinds of issues for the fish inhabiting them. Particularly if the water freezers over and there has not been measures taken to ensure that a gas exchange happens.

When this happens, the oxygen levels are reduced considerably and dangerous substances begin to rise. In the worst case scenario, your fish are very sick or dead by the time spring rolls around. Therefore, if you have goldfish or Koi, you should consider carrying out a deep clean of your pond towards the end of autumn.

Similarly, towards the start of spring, when your fish are starting more a lot more and the temperatures are slowly rising, it can be good to give your pond a small clean. While this may not be as intensive or thorough as the one you carried out during autumn, it is a good practice that can help to ensure your pond has adequate beneficial bacteria and helps get rid of any dangerous debris that remains.

Obviously, you should also give your pond a clean to remove excessive and overgrown plants like duckweed, to remove fallen leaves and algae.

Step by Step Guide To Cleaning Your Pond Without Draining Water Away

Step 1 – Use A Skimmer

The first step to cleaning your pond is to remove any floating debris there is, and it is best to use a pond skimmer for this. You should aim to do this before it sinks to the bottom and is harder to retrieve. It is wise to clean the floating debris before you work on your pond’s liner, because you’ll only end up cleaning it again when it sinks to the bottom.

Common floating debris includes insect larvae and dead insects, sticks, twigs and leaves. You can remove these using a cost-effective pond net; but if your budget allows it you should invest in an automatic functioning skimmer system. These ingenious devices ensure ponds are constantly kept free from debris.

Pond Net Or Skimmer?

A pond net is a cheap, but reasonable choice for helping to clean your pond. If you are going to go with this method, it is important to ensure you choose one that has a wide opening basket with fine mesh, to allow you to catch debris of all sizes with relative ease.

A skimmer could be a better solution in the long run, if there are a lot of fish in your pond or you have a constant battle against debris and want your pond water to be as clear as possible.

There are two main types of skimmers available:

Box Skimmers – Skimmers that have a higher capacity and can clean the surface water of a large pond very quickly.

Smaller submerged or floating skimmers – Smaller skimmers that are more effective with smaller ponds. They also cost considerably less than box skimmers.

Step 2 – Use a Pond Vacuum To Clean The Pond Floor

If you are looking to clean the bottom much of your pool but don’t want to drain the water away, pond vacuums are a good option.

When cleaning your pond, it is wise to clear sludge that collects at the bottom of the pond. Even though it is not crucial to remove it all, it could benefit your pond if you remove a little before winter comes along, to ensure your fish have a safe place to hibernate. This is the point in a pond cleaning that many people assume needs to involve draining the water from the pond, but you only need to do this if you are using a rake or net to manually remove the sludge.

Vacuums designed to be used on ponds enable you to clear the pond liner bottom without draining any water and many of the best models come with a selection of different attachments to allow you to get to those harder to reach places. If your pond is a deep one, you will need to find a model that has sufficient suction for deep waters and that has a telescopic handle that can be extended to make cleaning easier.

Basic vacuums, however, lose some suction when they you use them in deeper, larger ponds. While they may be okay for small ponds, they are less effective for large ones.

Furthermore, you need to choose a pond vacuum that has a discharge system that is reliable to give you continuous and easy cleaning.

Step 3 – Make Use Of Supplementary Beneficial Bacteria

Sludge removers feature natural bacteria that breaks down any organic matter present on the floor of your pond. Once you have given the sludge at the bottom a good clean, then, it is a good idea to use a supplementary natural beneficial bacteria product. This will help to tackle any waste that is still in your pond.

The majority of sludge removers use high concentrations of bacteria that easily breaks down the organic matter. In the same way as a pond’s own natural bacteria, the sludge remove does the same job – also helping to boost the populations after a thorough clean.

If your pond is home to wildlife, you may want to keep the majority of sludge. Instead of cleaning it out, you can simply add some complementary beneficial bacteria to enhance the nitrogen cycle. Sludge can benefit ponds with wildlife because it provides food for micro-organisms and insects and gives nutrients to the plants.

Step 4 – Manage and Remove Algae Growing In Your Pond

Although algae will die eventually, it becomes sludge and then you have to work to remove it. A UV clarifier allows you to remove it while it is still growing. Algae isn’t as big an enemy of the pond owner as you may think. It can benefit your pond to have some algae, as it provides snacks for goldfish and hiding places from predators. Algae really becomes a problem when you just leave it to grow and it starts to overrun your entire pond system.

Step 5 – Optimize Water Filtration

The last but by no means least step to take when cleaning your pond is to make sure you have effective and efficient water filtration in your pond that will reduce the amount of maintenance and cleaning you have to do in the future. When you have in place a good quality filtration system that is healthy and biological you will not have many problems with the quality of water. Also, if the filter has effective mechanical media you can reduce the levels of debris in your pond.

How to Clean a Pond Without Draining It

Can you really have a clean pond without draining it?

As a pond owner, I know that pond water contains lots of good nutrients needed for a healthy balanced pond.

I definitely don’t want to get rid of all that good stuff!

Perhaps you’ve wondered how to clean a pond without draining all the water out. This is what I did with great success.

Spring Clean A Pond Without Draining It?

I did not want to do my regular spring pond clean out. Over the past number of seasons many of my clients would question if it was really necessary for them to do the full pond clean out, that included draining at least half, or all of the water out. After asking them a few key questions I could determine their needs for the pond cleaning. In the end, MOST pond owners would opt for doing the full clean out. If the pond had been well maintained and the amount of cleaning was manageable, some would do a half drain of the pond water.

It did however get me thinking about how I could do a proper pond clean out AND not drain any of the water out, or at least as little as possible. I had decided it was possible with the right frame of mind. That is I could not expect that ‘just installed look’ I had become used to after I would clean out a pond. I could live with that!

First Step

Last fall I had cut back all my pond plants, put a leaf net over the pond while the trees dropped, and put my de-icer and air pump in for the winter. Those, obviously are the first things to remove.

I knew that getting as much accumulated debris out of the pond was one of the advantages to cleaning a pond. Also when I drained the pond I could get rid of the accumulated winter build up of algae. This is the biggest challenge to clean a pond without draining it.

To start I had to both skim out as much of the leaves and stuff that got into my pond. Second I want to get that layer of mulm of the bottom of my pond. I decided to skim out the leaves first, I have a few large trees in the yard and somehow no matter how good my fall shut down of the pond over the winter months, a lot of leaves blow in. I wanted still water, no pump running. This at least slows down how fast the water clouds up and limiting my visibility while I work.

Using a skimmer net. Gently swirl the water near the bottom and you can get the debris resting on the bottom to start floating and manually lift it out of the water. This is especially helpful in ponds without a skimmer filter. I actually did this in two steps. I got the bulk of it out the first time. I then waited an hour or so till the pond settled again, repeated with the skimmer net.

Second Step

After letting the pond settle, a little longer this time, i wanted all the mulm and sediment to fall to the bottom. Then I will vacuum up the loose sludge.

A tool to simplify this even more than just using a skimmer net is by using a manual pond vac. It draws sludge and water up by suction, and then you can dump it out into a garden bed. Win win for the garden and you can get some of the sludge out without draining a lot of water. I actually find this method quite tranquil and satisfying. It does take a little bit of use to get the knack of using this type of pond vac, but after getting it primed and a little practice it can be effective for small ponds.

If your pond has a sludge layer that is very thick or deep (years of accumulation) at the bottom I suggest that you don’t stir it completely up, especially if there are fish in the pond. Stirring up this thick sludge layer will release the anaerobic bacteria and cause a water quality issue in your pond fast. Instead trying using an electric pond vacuum.

A pond vac works really well. You do lose water out of the pond but it is minimal. You suck up the debris and the trick is to move slowly, try not to stir the whole pond bottom up at once you need to see what you are doing. You can add the sludge water to your gardens as fertilizer. You will have to replace the lost water and add a dechlorinating water treatment. If your pond is small (small is 1000 gallons or less) a one time use of a pond vac should be enough. If your pond is larger, consider using the pond vac a few times over an 8 week period in conjunction with fine filter mats and sludge busting bacteria . This will gradually reduce the amount of sludge while not taking all the water out all at once. This is a much gentler way to clean the pond, and is less likely to get your pond out of balance.

Third Step – Get Rid Of The Sludge!

Next after the removal of the bulk of the debris, and the mulm is removed, you want to tackle excess algae and the remaining sludge on the bottom. I used a debris remover combined with a sludge bacteria. The debris remover actually dissolves any algae it comes in contact with. It works best in the top 6″ – 12″ of the pond. Follow the directions. This removed most of the problem algae near the surface. Caution – don’t get it on your plants it will harm them also! After killing any algae, quickly it is best to have a good supply of oxygen in the pond, by airstone or waterfall.

I then started using a beneficial bacteria that feeds on heavy debris and waste matter. There are several sludge busting type bacteria. A favourite of mine that I’ve had excellent results with is the Microblift Sludge Away Bacteria. I will say that this does take a while to work, it is not an overnight quick fix. If you have a heavy sludge layer, you may want to use this water treatment all season long.

Keep It Clean

This method is not instant like a top to bottom clean out of the pond.

Read How To Clean Your Pond Like A Pro

Arguably though it can be a better way to clean your pond IF it is combined with regular maintenance.

It can be less intrusive and shocking for your fish. It can be less messy for you!

Some of the regular maintenance and PRO POND HACKS are as follows.

Clean A Pond Without Draining It – Pond Filters

One of the simplest ways is to keep a good routine of cleaning your filter mats. I know it sounds easy, but so many people aren’t cleaning and rinsing their filters often enough. Especially if your pond has a lot of fish and/or a lot of debris from overhead trees. So regularly clean your filters. Also consider changing your filter mats if they are a couple of years old. Filter mats lose their density and become less and less effective. If your pond filters are hard to get at (like at the bottom of the pond) consider doing yourself a favour and add-on a filter like a pressurized filter canister that sits outside your pond. This will really solve a long-term problem of not rinsing out the filter because you can’t reach it. These are so much easier to clean (some even have a light to let you know when it’s time to clean it) and can be easily disguised to sit close to your pond but still hidden.

PRO POND HACK – Use Fine Filter Mats

Another good way to clean your pond without draining it is by adding a layer of fine filter media to your filters for a week or so. In fact to keep sludge at a minimum, regularly stir up the bottom while you are using your skimmer net. BUT before you do it add a fine filter pad in to your filter and it will catch that sediment. Just remember to remove the filter pad after a few hours or the next day. The fine filter media is super dense and so it picks up much more of the fine particulates in the water. Most fine filter mats are low-cost and disposable so you can just use them for a limited period of time and this will often solve your problem and clean your pond without draining it.

PRO POND HACK – Use Water Treatments That Work

I have had excellent results to clean a pond without draining it by using a flocculent water treatment. Flocculent are designed to attract and clump floating water particulates, getting them into your filters. After 24 hours or less depending on the brand of flocculent you choose to use, you will need to clean and rinse your filter mats. This is a quick fix that can last if your water quality is good in your pond. Please note, more is not better with flocculent, follow the dosing directions on the bottle for best results. Overdosing can cause serious problems to the health of your fish. Always follow the directions.

beneficial bacteria like the one above for sludge is a good addition to your pond. A general mix of beneficial bacteria especially in the first few months of spring is a good boost to your pond.

Barley straw or Barley straw extract helps control your string algae. It works best if you think of it as a conditioner of the water to slow the formation of string algae. Adding it after you have string algae problems is a slow, slow process, but it works.

This is the way I have used to clean a pond without draining it. It has worked well. I knew before I started it is a slower process. After a couple of weeks though I had the results I wanted. I know it was gentler on my pond life.

By Amber Downes

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If your pond is murky and full of debris, then it might be time for an old fashioned pond cleaning! But before you even consider draining your reservoir, let’s talk about how you can get your pond water back to being clean and clear in three easy steps.

A common misconception when your water starts to become murky is that you need to drain your dirty water and replace it with fresh water in order to correct the problem. In most cases, this is completely unnecessary, and could potentially do more harm than good.

Not only will replacing the dirty water cause problems in the future, but you will disrupt the natural ecosystem of the pond. Draining your water is only necessary in extreme cases, and should never be used as a general way of cleaning your lake.

The Power of Good Bacteria

Did you know? Billions of good bacteria and microorganisms live in your pond water? They can decrease the number of harmful chemicals that occur, such as nitrogen and ammonia.

When you drain your murky water, you also drain all of the good bacteria and microorganisms, which is a natural filtration system in your natural ecosystem. When you add water to your basin, most likely from the tap, you are compounding problems. Most tap water is chlorinated, a chemical that your good bacteria, microorganisms, and your fish won’t tolerate well.

To Drain or Not to Drain?

You’re probably wondering… Is there ever a time where I should drain my pond? Let’s rule out whether or not you need to drain the water.

First, you will never need to drain out the water entirely, especially if you have wildlife. It’s crucial for the health and benefit of the organisms you have in your water to allow some of the bacteria to remain in your lake.

Draining up to half of the water can go a long way in helping with the water quality. If your pond becomes overstocked, you may end up with poor water quality. Particularly during the summer when your fish produce more waste because of their metabolism is higher.

Good bacteria can sometimes become overwhelmed when there is too much waste build-up. And that imbalance will result in poor water quality, inevitably. In these conditions, a small water change may help improve the quality of your water, but you definitely do not need to drain all of the water.

Lastly, be sure that the water you refill your pond with has been properly dechlorinated to ensure the safety of your fish, good bacteria, and microorganisms.

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How To Clean Your Pond: Step by Step

Let’s get started. Shall we?

Step 1: Remove the Debris

The first step to cleaning your pond is removing floating debris. This step should be done on a regular basis, not only to keep your pond looking beautiful. But it will also catch the debris before it sinks to the bottom and adds to the sludge because that is harder to remove. If you start by cleaning the liner or bottom of the pond before you clean the surface, you’ll end up having to clean it again as the floating debris sinks.

There are many pond cleaning products and tools available to help simplify the process of debris removal – pond rakes, pond nets, or pond skimmers. With smaller sized lakes, a simple pond net would suffice. Pond nets are significantly less expensive than skimmers and are a helpful tool for keeping your pond free of debris. When selecting a pond net, be sure it has a long enough handle that will allow you to reach over half the length of your pond, and a wide enough basket with fine mesh so that you can collect and an array of debris.

Skimmers

Pond skimmers are an automatic system that constantly keeps your pond surface clear of debris and foamy pond water. Skimmers go a long way in maintaining the overall health and cleanliness of your pond. If you have a larger pond, these will be a great investment as they will maintain your water and will keep it in tip-top shape. Skimmers work around the clock, continuously removing even the finer debris not visible to the naked eye.

There are two types of skimmers available. Box skimmers are best suited for large ponds because they have a higher capacity and will remove debris very quickly. If you have a smaller pond, floating or submerged skimmers may be more applicable for you. The costs are considerably less than box skimmers, and they work great on a smaller surface area.

Now that you have tackled the floating debris, we can move onto the sides and bottom of your pond. The sludgy layer! It’s actually not crucial to remove bottom sludge. But it’s helpful when your fish move into their hibernation period during the winter season.

This is the time that pond owners will typically feel the need to drain the water in order to remove the layer of sludge. However, this would only be necessary if you will be removing the sludge with a shovel or rake. As you now know, removing the water is harmful to your pond’s ecosystem. The best way to remove the sludge is with a pond vacuum.

A pond vacuum

Pond vacuums are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can get one that comes with several attachments that can help you to reach even the hardest to reach spots in your pond. This specifically designed vacuum will allow you to clean the bottom of your lake without having to drain the water. If you have a deep pond, be prepared to spend a little more for a vacuum that has good suction and maybe a telescopic handle if necessary. Basic models are more ideal for smaller ponds as they can lose suction the deeper they go.

If you have a wildlife pond, you should keep the majority of your sludge. Sludge provides nutrients for pond plants and food for insects and microorganisms. If this is the case for you, it would be best that you do not remove the sludge manually and instead add beneficial bacteria, which is laid out in the next step as a means to remove some sludge, not all of it.

Step 2: Beneficial Bacteria Treatment

Now that you have removed surface debris and as much sludge that you need to manually from your pond, your next step is to add some beneficial bacteria to maintain the health and clarity of your water.

There are two types of beneficial bacterial available. Pond sludge removers contain a high concentration of natural bacteria that break down lingering waste in your water. Like the natural bacteria and microorganisms that are already present in your pond, they give your environment a healthy boost to the bacterial population while eliminating as much waste as possible.

As mentioned previously, this is ideal if you have a wildlife pond since you may want to keep the majority of your sludge in order to provide nutrients for your pond plants and feed the microorganisms and insects.

In this case, you can simply add beneficial bacteria, which will enhance the natural nitrogen cycle. Sludge problems tend to occur mostly in ponds that contain fish as they produce ammonia, and too much can cause an imbalance in your water. If you do not have fish, simply adding good bacteria without vacuuming your pond will be a cost-effective way to clean your pond.

Step 3: Algae Control

Though algae is a natural and common occurrence in a healthy pond and provides shelter from predators looking for a tasty goldfish for a snack, it is good to keep algae growth under control. Too many algae can cause problems with water quality and can add to the buildup of sludge.

In the right conditions, algae blooms will occur and can take over your lake. The water does not have to be drained in order to control algae. A UV clarifier will remove algae as it grows. It filters the water and destroys the algae at a cellular level. Additionally, it minimizes the number of dead algae that adds to the sludge layer.

If your basin has a buildup of string algae that connects to the pond floor and does not fit through the UV clarifier, then you will benefit from a pond vacuum.

The natural approach to keeping algae under control is by adding oxygenating plants to your pond. Indeed, your plants compete with algae for the nutrients and will gradually slow the growth of algae over time.

Introducing snails is another natural and effective way to control the growth of algae in your pond. Keep in mind that they reproduce quickly, and an overabundance of snails will start feeding on your pond plants.

The filtration equipment

These are more long term solutions. For a quick fix, a pond vacuum, UV clarifier, even manually removing algae with your hands will suffice without having to drain the water.

Finally, you need to have a pond filtration system. Filtering your lake mechanically aids in removing debris. A habitat that has a healthy biological filtration system will not have issues with water quality. You shouldn’t have to clean the filter unless it were to become clogged. Cleaning your filter will disturb the natural bacteria that are present in the filter box. Over time you may need to replace parts that become damaged, so it is important to keep an eye on your filter.

Adding a water filtration system is vital to ensure the quality of your water. And, it enhances the overall health of your pond. Since it filters small debris, it will help to reduce the need for regular water cleaning.

With the combination of a filtration system, a UV clarifier, a pond skimmer or pond net, and beneficial bacteria treatments, you can ensure the health of your water and its inhabitants. With the addition of the use of a pond vacuum for deep cleanings to remove stubborn algae and sludge, you will have a complete overhaul of your reservoir without having to drain any water.

How Often Do I need To Clean My Pond?

Our experts recommend that you perform a thorough cleaning at the end of the fall. Then, do a lighter cleaning at the onset of spring. If you do not have a pond filtration system, you will need to clean your reservoir more frequently. Plus, the task will require more manual labor.

Performing your major cleaning at the end of fall will ensure your fish will have very minimal waste in their habitat when they move into their winter hibernation. The cleanliness helps in keeping them safer and more comfortable.

This is especially true in colder climates where lakes can freeze over, which causes little to no gas exchanges to occur. In those cases, oxygen levels are reduced, causing harmful substances to slowly rise. Plus, your fish may become sick and die by spring. Therefore, give your water a thorough cleaning at the end of the fall to greatly reduce risks to the health of your fish. Additionally, this cleansing will aid in keeping your pond thriving throughout the year.

As a kick-start to the warmer seasons, though your spring cleaning will not be as big as your fall cleaning, by removing old debris and sludge, you can ensure that your fish have a good start when they emerge from their hibernation period.

The first warm day or late winter or early spring is a good time to do a beneficial bacteria treatment. This will boost your pond’s ecosystem. Thus, it may keep a healthy balance when the waste from your fish increases as they become more active.

Most water gardeners are aware of the importance that good quality water plays in a pond habitat. Not knowing how to get or keep water quality can prove challenging to some pond owners. Your water may be clear, but your fish may not be acting like you’re used to seeing, which can signify that something might be a little off in your pond’s water. Follow our 7 tips below to help keep your pond water clean!

1. Maintain a healthy fish population

If you have more than 10” of fish for every 100 gallons of water, your pond is likely over-populated. Excessive fish waste can cause an imbalance in pond water. Consider finding some of them a new home. Many pond retailers and contractors will accept your fish.

2. Don’t over-feed your fish

When you feed fish more than they can eat, the uneaten food is left to decay in the pond. Be careful not to feed your fish more than once per day, and no more than they can eat in 2 to 3 minutes. Remove all excess, leftover food.

3. Create a proper balance of plants

At season’s peak, you should have no more than 40% to 60% of the surface area of your pond either covered or shaded by plants. Too many plants can cause oxygen deficiencies at night due to the photosynthetic process, when the plants take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide.

4. Choose the right size pump for your pond

You should be circulating the entire pond’s water volume a minimum of once every hour. Make sure your pump’s flow isn’t restricted by debris and be careful not to pump water higher than it was intended. Every pump has its flow limitations. Refer to the chart on the outside of the pump’s box to make sure you’re making the right choice for your pond.

5. Clean debris from pond before it has a chance to decay

Decaying debris, combined with fish waste and leftover fish food, can cause ammonia levels to spike in your pond. Clean out your pond and add beneficial microbes such as Aquascape’s Beneficial Bacteria to help keep it healthy and clean.

6. Choose proper filtration for your pond

Your filter should match the size of your pond. Remember, most manufacturers rate their filters based on ideal circumstances, and if you exceed those, your filter becomes less effective. Always up-size your filter so that it can handle more than the capacity of your pond. Also remember to clean your filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Keep your pond cool during the dog days of summer

When pond water exceeds 75º Fahrenheit, it has a more difficult time retaining acceptable levels of dissolved oxygen. This is why it’s important to have your pond shaded by aquatic plants (see tip #3). Fish need oxygen to survive. If you see them at the pond’s surface gasping for air, add an aerator to help them during times of extreme heat.

Guide to Cleaning Fish Ponds without Draining Water (updated 2020)

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Fully draining pond water should always be a last resort, and it’s certainly not something you need to do if you want to clean your pond. As a matter of fact, draining your water can actually make the pond dirtier in future as the natural eco-system will be disrupted, especially in wildlife ponds. Even though heavily draining water may be required under some circumstances, in terms of general cleaning, it is rarely a necessity so long as you have the right equipment at hand.

Do I need to drain my pond water to clean efficiently?

Even if pond water looks “dirty” in appearance, it doesn’t always mean it’s poor quality and needs to be drained.

A common misconception among some pond owners is that “dirty” water needs to be drained before ponds can be properly cleaned. In-fact, the opposite is often true, with water that appears dirty actually being very healthy and working with the pond’s eco-system to provide a natural cleaning service. Pond water is filled with micro-organisms and millions of beneficial bacteria which are constantly at work to break down harmful substances, such as ammonia and nitrites. These are essential to ponds with fish, and form the basis of the “nitrogen cycle“, which helps keep the pond in balance.

Removing pond water means you’ll also be reducing the natural beneficial bacteria populations, which will cause a reduction in your ponds biological filtration process. Topping up with more water after draining can cause even more disruption, as mains water is usually high in chlorine, which is toxic to much of the natural micro-organisms living in ponds.

Cleaning a pond without draining will ensure that your natural bacteria populations are maintained, allowing them to continue providing bio-filtration after the worst of the waste is removed. If waste levels get too high, you will just need to manually remove enough waste so bacteria can get back to work again – no total drainage required!

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Should I perform a water change when I clean?

Water changes can be useful for heavy stocked ponds, but water needs to be treated so it’s safe for fish.

Water changes (removing and adding water) may be beneficial in some circumstances, but we never recommend a full pond water change (full drainage) as you’ll be effectively resetting the nitrogen cycle. If you have a heavy fish stocked pond it can be difficult to maintain water quality as fish produce so much waste, especially in summer when their metabolisms are high. In cases such as this, performing a small water change during cleaning can help keep ammonia levels down and improve overall water quality. Beneficial bacteria can only do so much and can easily be overloaded in ponds with massive amounts of waste build-up, so water changes can sometimes be a good option for maintaining water condition.

For ponds without fish, water changes should not be required unless your water quality is particularly poor; which you can determine using a water testing kit. For general cleaning, which includes bottom muck, algae, and floating debris, you should not need to remove any water to get the job done. If your pond water testing shows positive results, removing water may cause a drop in water quality and make it more difficult to maintain cleaner water in future.

If you do decide you want to perform a water change, however, you should make sure water is safely dechlorinated before adding to the pond or you could have problems later down the road.

When is the best time to clean a fish pond?

Cleaning can be performed when needed, but the end of autumn is a good time to prepare for winter.

Although cleaning can be carried out whenever you need to, the best times for fish ponds would be at the start of spring and the end of autumn. Cleaning at the end of autumn ensures waste levels are minimal moving into winter so fish have a more comfortable (and safe) topor/hibernation period. Leaving sludge and debris in ponds over time can cause all sorts of problems for fish, especially if water freezes over and no gas exchange can take place. In instances such as this, harmful substances will slowly rise and oxygen content will be reduced, eventually leading to fish becoming sick or dying come spring. Performing a deep clean at the end of autumn is common practice for fish keepers, and should be something you consider if you have koi or goldfish.

Likewise, a small clean can be carried out during spring when temperatures begin to rise and fish become more active. Although it won’t be as large a clean as your autumn one, it is useful to supplement the pond with beneficial bacteria and remove any lingering debris for the best kick-start to the year. Other times when you may need to clean your pond would be to remove algae overgrowth, fallen leaves, or excess plants, such as duckweed.

How to Clean a Pond Without Draining it of Water (Best Methods)

Wide-brim pond nets are an easy way to manually remove floating debris.

First thing to clean in a pond is any floating surface debris, as this will eventually sink and contribute to sludge at the bottom of the pond floor. Removing as much floating debris as possible is always better before cleaning the pond liner or you’ll just be cleaning it again later as it sinks. Floating debris includes things like leaves, sticks, twigs, and dead insects or larvae. These can be removed manually using a basic pond net, or you can make use of an automatic skimmer system for constant clean-up.

If you’re going for a pond net, make sure to pick one up with a wide basket opening and a fine mesh so you can catch all sizes of debris easily. Pond skimmers are a good long term solution if you’re constantly fighting back debris that falls into your pond, or if you have lots of fish and want maximum water clarity. Box skimmers will work to clean the water surface quickly and have a high capacity for larger ponds, whereas smaller ponds can benefit from floating or submerged skimmers due to their lower purchase cost.

Unlike nets, skimmers are better long term investments as they can remove much finer debris which isn’t always easy to see and are also able to work 24/7 to keep the surface clean. If you have a small pond, however, and don’t mind keeping on top of daily cleaning, a pond net should be more than enough!

Step 2) Clean the Pond Floor with a Vacuum

Vacuums are a good method of cleaning bottom muck, and won’t require you to drain pond water.

Next step is to combat any bottom sludge you have, and although you don’t need to remove it all, it can be beneficial to reduce most of it before winter so your fish have a safer hibernation period. This is often the step where you may feel draining the pond would help, but this is only necessary if you’re manually removing sludge with a net or rake. Another way to remove bottom muck, which is also much faster and easier, is to invest in a quality water vacuum.

Pond vacuums will allow you to clean the bottom of your pond liner without having to drain water, and the best models will have a variety of different head attachments for cleaning hard-to-reach areas of the pond. If you have a particularly deep pond, you’d want to look for a model which can keep suction at good depths and which has an extendible handle for easier cleaning. Basic models will lose suction the deeper you go, and although they may be ideal for smaller ponds, they may not be up to the job of cleaning the deepest points of larger ponds.

On top of this, you’ll want to have a vacuum with a reliable discharge system for constant cleaning and to make it easier to remove waste. The two vacuum models we recommend are the Oase PondoVac 4 and the Matala Power Cyclone, as they include all these features and will work for both small and very large pond builds.

Step 3) Supplement with Beneficial Bacteria

Sludge removers contain natural bacteria which works to break down organic matter on the pond floor.

After cleaning out most of the bottom sludge, you can then supplement with a natural beneficial bacteria product to help break down any lingering waste. Most sludge remover treatments work using highly concentrated bacteria which is able to break down organic matter throughout the pond. Just like a ponds natural beneficial bacteria, sludge remover bacteria works in the same way and can help give the natural populations a boost after a deep clean.

If you have a wildlife pond and want to keep most of your sludge, you can instead just add extra beneficial bacteria to complement the nitrogen cycle. Sludge can be beneficial to wildlife ponds as it provides nutrients for plants, as well as food for insects and micro-organisms. Problems with excess sludge occur mainly with fish as a by-product of its natural decomposition is ammonia, which is highly toxic to koi and goldfish. Without any fish in the pond, adding more beneficial bacteria is a cheaper and better way to control sludge in comparison to removing it all with a vacuum.

For more information on the top sludge remover bacteria and how to use them, check our main article on this here.

Step 4) Control & Remove Growing Algae

Algae will eventually die and contribute to sludge, but can be removed with a UV clarifier.

Even though algae isn’t technically waste, it should still be controlled and cleaned out so it doesn’t cause issues with water quality and sludge build up. Small amounts of algae in ponds are actually beneficial, providing hiding spots from predators and making good snacks for goldfish. Problems with algae occur when it’s left to grow uncontrolled and rapidly takes over the pond system. Algae blooms will cause issues with sludge as old plants die and sink to the bottom, with this gradually reducing oxygen content as bacteria work to break down the new waste.

You don’t have to drain a pond to combat algae, and even string algae attached to the pond floor can be removed with the right mix of treatments. To combat free-swimming algae we recommend installing a UV clarifier which will filter water and destroy algae at the cellular level. For removing deeper string algae that won’t fit through a clarifier, using a pond vacuum will make short work of the nuisance plants.

Algae can also be controlled in the long run by adding more plants to your pond, as they directly compete with algae for nutrients, gradually slowing it’s growth. For fast control of algae, however, a combination of a UV clarifier and a vacuum should be enough to remove almost all of the plants without the need to drain any water.

Step 5) Clean & Optimize Water Filtration

A final thing to do when cleaning a pond is to ensure your water filtration is the best it can be to reduce future cleaning and maintenance. A pond with a healthy biological filtration system will have little problems with water quality, and a filter with efficient mechanical media will reduce overall debris in the pond. Although filters should be rarely cleaned as it can harm bacteria living in the box, it’s sometimes necessary if the media has become completely clogged. Likewise, mechanical media can become damaged over time and may need replacing every few years to ensure optimum filtration is taking place.

Having an efficient filtration process in place will help reduce overall cleaning and also improve water quality for pond fish. For further information on optimizing water filtration, cleaning, and what equipment to use, see our articles below:

  • Cleaning and Optimizing Water Filtration
  • Best Filter Media for Ponds
  • How to Keep Leaves Away from Pond
  • Ultimate Guide to Algae Control
  • Removing Duckweed Naturally

Your pond is a peaceful haven, a place where lily pads float languidly and the sun glints off darting koi. Until it gets all gunked up, clouded by algae and murky from clogging debris. Yuck.

Just like your refrigerator, your oven and your garage, your pond needs an occasional cleaning.

Let’s take a look at what your pond needs, why cleaning is important, and what the professionals do when they tackle the job.

Ponds Get Dirty — Here’s Why

Your pond isn’t under a glass dome, so lots of things fall into it. Leaves, twigs, grass clippings.

This organic matter starts to decompose when it enters a pond, releasing nitrates and other materials that diminish the water quality.

The decomposition process lowers the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, which threatens the health of any fish living there. Over time, your clear, inviting pond starts to look more like a muddy pool of tea.

What Does The Pond Cleaning Process Entail?

Professional pond cleaners have a method to their madness to ensure your pond returns back to its glory days of clear water and happy fish. In eight (not-so-easy) steps, here’s a snapshot of how to clean a pond:

  1. Pump the murky water from your pond, first removing any fish, if you have them, and relocating them to a temporary holding tank.
  2. Remove all the debris, from decaying leaves and twigs to dead frogs to plants that are growing where they shouldn’t be.
  3. Power washing and rinse is next.
  4. Trim back and fertilize aquatic plants.
  5. Check and replace underwater light bulbs or fixtures.
  6. Readjust rocks and gravel.
  7. Remove debris from the skimmer, clean filters and the skimmer box.
  8. When everything is tidy, replace the water. (Chlorinated city water will kill fish, so adding a dechlorinator before reintroducing fish to the pond is necessary.)

The Best Time To Clean A Pond

When should I clean my pond? — that’s a question we hear regularly from homeowners. Opinions differ on how often a pond needs cleaning.

Your eye is a good judge of whether the water is clear or dirty, but it’s a good idea to at least consider it once a year. Spring and fall are both great times for pond cleaning.

Fall Pond Cleanup

Cleaning in the fall removes the muck at the bottom that can create a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. This muck can also decompose, releasing ammonia and other chemicals that can be trapped under the winter ice. This buildup can kill your fish over the winter.

Spring Pond Cleanup

Cleaning the pond in the spring can reduce diseases and parasites that evolve as the pond warms up for the summer. Cleaning in the spring will also deter algae growth.

Is It Necessary To Hire A Professional Pond Cleaner?

You could tackle the cleaning chore yourself. But it’s a wet, muddy, smelly job. The algae and slime that build up on your pond’s boulders and liner is slippery and can send you toppling into the muck.

And you’ll need to amass some equipment:

  • power washer
  • pump and hose to remove the pond water
  • waders, rubber gloves, and safety goggles
  • nets and buckets
  • a dechlorinator (You get the idea.)

Professionals show up armed with the best tools for the job and the experience and skills to complete the cleanup quickly and efficiently.

They know to leave a bit of algae behind, as it’s good for your pond’s ecosystem. They’re also trained to spot any underlying problems that could become big issues later on if ignored.

Leave Your Pond Cleanup To Neave

Neave Aquatics offers the best water feature maintenance services in the area. We’d love to hear from you. If you’re in the Hudson Valley, call us at (845) 463-0592. If you’re in Westchester County, call (914) 271-7996; from Connecticut, dial (203) 212-4800. Or, fill out our simple web form, and we’ll contact you about setting up your free consultation.

Our maintenance teams are trained beyond the industry standard to keep your water features in perfect condition while also proactively inspecting and tracking concerns so you don’t have any surprises.

Neave Aquatics offers cleaning and debris removal; water cleansing and balancing; inspection of all piping and electrical systems; winterization; aquatic life health inspections; repairs, replacements, and enhancements.

Images: Murky koi pond water

With warmer weather comes my itch to get outdoors and spruce up my gardens. I love nothing more than spending an afternoon in the flower garden, pruning back dead leaves or planting new blooms. With that in mind, I thought about adding some water features this year. I love a good water feature. To me, there is nothing more relaxing than sitting by a body of water and just lazing the day away. So, I started looking for some DIY garden ponds to add to my flower garden. I found 15 of the most amazing DIY garden ponds that are so cheap and easy to build that you are definitely going to want to put in one of these this spring.

I love cheap and easy. Anything that fits into my budget is a winner in my book and all of these DIY garden ponds are low cost to build and to maintain. If you really want to add some decorative features to your flower gardens, you just have to take a look at some of these. From upcycled tires to outright digging it yourself, you have so many options with regards to how you can build your garden pond. And, these DIY versions are so much less expensive than having one put in by a landscaping company. You’re also going to want to check out these 70 summery backyard DIY projects. There are things in here that you will absolutely want to add to your lawn and garden this year.

I can’t wait to get started on adding a beautiful and relaxing new garden pond to my backyard this spring. I may even add another to my front yard – I have flower gardens in both! These would look so gorgeous in the middle of a flower garden or you can just put them wherever you want to add some extra décor. You should also take a look at these 17 DIY garden edging ideas that you can make out of really inexpensive materials. They will be perfect for edging in your flower garden.

Table of Contents

1. DIY Backyard Pond

You can build your own backyard pond in a weekend with the right tools and supplies. This one uses patio pavers or rocks as well as a traditional pond liner, all of which you can get at your local home improvement store. Your actual cost will depend on the materials and tools that you already have on hand but you can make this one really budget friendly if you have a few bricks or patio pavers that you can repurpose.

Tutorial: diynetwork

2. Repurposed Plastic Storage Tote Garden Pond

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a premade backyard pond form. You can simply turn an old Rubbermaid plastic container into your garden pond and save that money for other things. This one is really easy and if you have a rather large plastic tote that you can use, it is also really cheap to build. Add a fountain, some river rock and something for the edges and you have a gorgeous garden pond on the cheap.

Tutorial: thegardenglove

3. Lighted Zen Container Pond

This container pond is perfect for placing on your patio. It is a really easy one to set up and you add a light so it is the perfect garden pond for relaxing beside on those warm spring and summer evenings. You just need a large container and a few other supplies to make this one and it’s a pretty cheap garden pond to build. A relaxing DIY Zen garden is the perfect addition to any backyard.

Tutorial: diyncrafts

4. DIY Bubble Container Pond

Here is another beautiful container pond that is perfect for adding a bit of unique style to your garden. You need a couple of containers for this one and you can pick up rather cheap ones from the Dollar Tree or Dollar Store for this. The fountain bubbles above the pond, giving it the perfect relaxing sound. You can easily have this one completed in an afternoon.

Tutorial: scatteredthoughtsofacraftymom

5. DIY Paver Pond With Fountain

Those patio pavers or river rocks are perfect for creating this DIY garden pond that has a handmade rock fountain at the top. This would be beautiful in the center of your flower garden or you could place it anywhere that you want to add a bit of style and design. Add some water lilies when you’re finished and it’s a beautiful addition to any landscaping. A DIY Paver fountain is a beautiful way to decorate your outdoors.

Tutorial: familyhandyman

6. Repurposed Stock Tank Garden Pond

To make a garden pond, you simply need something that will hold water. An old stock tank makes a wonderful choice. This one is so easy that you can have it set up in just a couple of hours. You can bury the tank so that it is ground level or just level it up and add water. Add some rocks and plants around it and you’ll have a quick and easy garden pond that costs just a fraction of one that is professionally designed.

Tutorial: penick

7. River Rock Covered Pond

If you happen to have a garden pond form – you can pick these up at home improvement stores and they aren’t that expensive – you can build a gorgeous custom garden pond by just inserting the form into the ground and adding some beautiful river rock or slate. River rock can be found in so many places and if you are lucky enough to have it near your home, you can often get it for free.

Tutorial: ohmy-creative

8. Low Budget Waterfall Pond

Those rocks that you pick up out of your yard make the perfect base for a gorgeous garden pond. This one has a lovely waterfall, that you also create from rock. If you happen to have a lot of rock on your property, you can build this one for just the cost of the liner and pump. If you don’t have any rock to use, check with friends and neighbors. Chances are that they will gladly give it to you if you simply remove it from their yards.

Tutorial: remodelaholic

9. DIY Recycled Tractor Tire Pond

If you have an old tractor tire, you can use that to create a lovely outdoor pond. This one is really easy to build and if you have the tire on hand, it doesn’t cost much at all to get it up and running. There are so many things that you can do with an old tractor tire. Recycled tire DIY projects are wonderful and they help you to reuse those old tires and keep them out of the landfill. There are so many beautiful ways to upcycle old tires.

Tutorial: diyncrafts

10. DIY Ecological Liner-Less Natural Garden Pond

If you want something really simple and really ecological, this liner-less natural garden pond is it. You don’t need any sort of liner, which makes the setup much easier than most garden ponds. Bentonite clay acts as the liner to keep water from being absorbed into the ground. This one is really gorgeous when it is finished and you can build it for just the cost of the clay, which isn’t much.

Tutorial: hyperbrain

11. Easy DIY Garden Fish Pond

If you want to add goldfish or Koi to your garden pond, this is a great one to build. It is so easy – you just dig it out, add your liner, and then choose the rocks and other decorations that you want to add. This is great for keeping those little fish and you could easily add a waterfall feature as well if you want. Just be careful to block the pump with mesh to keep your fish from being sucked into the waterfall.

Tutorial:

12. DIY Rectangular Pond With Wooden Deck

Some old pallets can be recycled to make the deck for this modern rectangular pond. I love DIY pallet projects. Or, you can use any boards that you have on hand that are left over from other projects. The pond itself is really easy to build and it is perfect if you are looking for something a bit more modern and contemporary than traditional round ponds. This would also be perfect if you wanted to add a few goldfish or Koi.

Tutorial: selbst

13. DIY Multi Basin Recycled Tire Pond

This tire pond is not just one tire, it is several. You can use tires of different sizes to create different basins and give your garden pond a really unique and natural look. You just need a collection of old used tires and a few rocks, as well as your liner and there are many options for a liner that are cheaper than a traditional pond liner. Just design your pond with as many basins as you have tires available.

Tutorial: handimania

14. DIY Pond And Stream With Waterfall

If you have the outdoor space available, this DIY pond and stream would be beautiful in your garden area or backyard. You can make the stream go as far as you want it to go and the waterfall is absolutely gorgeous at the end of it. This one really isn’t as complicated to build as it looks and it really does look like a natural stream when you get it finished.

Tutorial: diynetwork

15. Simple Preformed Garden Pond

If all else fails and you just don’t have the time or the inclination to dig the pond yourself, you can buy a preformed garden pond and just drop it into the ground. The trick with this one is to find the perfect shape for the look that you are trying to achieve and to lay out your rocks to make it look gorgeous. It’s simple and you can have this one finished in just an afternoon.

Tutorial: learningasigotips

Update Your Yard with This Beautiful DIY Paver Fountain

An outdoor fountain is a beautiful addition to any yard. If you tend to do things yourself and prefer the DIY way, you can build your own paver fountain to update your yard and you can build it in just one weekend.

The most difficult part is ensuring that you get the hole dug evenly. After that, it is just a matter of installing the pump and adding the decorative touches that you want.

Flat landscaping stones are a great choice or if you live in an area that has a lot of river rock, you could use those as well. Remember to even them up when you lay them.

Not only will this liven up your yard just a bit, the sound of a water fountain is very relaxing so you can enjoy your fountain to help you unwind in the evening after a hard day’s work. The fact that you built it yourself is just icing on the cake.

How to DIY this Super Decorative Mini Terracotta Fountain

Fountains are beautiful and making your own is probably a lot simpler than you think. You can build your own lovely terra-cotta fountain that will fit right on your outdoor tabletop and you can do it in just a couple of hours.

You will need a few terra cotta pots and saucers of varying sizes, a pump to push the water through, plastic tubing to carry the water and a drill and file. Once you have all of the supplies, you can get started creating this lovely fountain that will look great indoors or out.

When you have finished putting the fountain together, adjusting the water and ensuring that everything is in place, you can decorate with decorate rocks, pea gravel, potted plants, silk greenery or really just anything that you want.

You will adore the sound of water gently trickling over the fountain and friends will be amazed that you built the fountain yourself.

Having a garden fish pond is awesome, but cleaning pond water can be a huge struggle! Well guess what… maintaining a pond doesn’t have to be difficult. In this post, I will share my detailed fish pond cleaning instructions, and give you tips for keeping your pond clean.

When I tell people that I have a fish pond in my garden, one of the first questions I get asked is “How do you clean a fish pond?”. A common question indeed.

I’ve struggled with how to keep my pond clean in the past, and I’m here to tell you that the struggle is real! My pond got so bad one year that I was ready to pull it out and fill in the hole. But once I learned how to take care of a pond, and why the water got so gross in the first place, cleaning it became much easier.

Why Is My Pond Water Green (Or Brown)?

Green pond water is usually caused by the overgrowth of algae in pond water. Fish pond water turns brown when leaves and other plant materials, as well as fish waste, are left in the pond too long and start to decompose.

It’s normal for pond water to have a green or brown tint to it. However, it’s not healthy when the water becomes thick and mucky or starts to smell bad. So it’s very important to control algae growth and keep plant materials from breaking down in the water. If algae is taking over your fish pond, learn how to get rid of green algae in a fish pond naturally.

Fish Pond Cleaning And Maintenance

Before we get started with the details of how to clean a fish pond (and keep it clean!), I wanted to mention a few things. First, you don’t necessarily need to drain the water to clean your pond. In fact, if you maintain the pond regularly, you shouldn’t have to drain it very often, if ever.

However, if the pond water is really dirty or muddy, or has never been cleaned before, then draining it will make cleaning it much faster and easier.

Also, you don’t necessarily need to remove the fish from the pond in order to clean it. You’ll find this as an optional step in my fish pond cleaning instructions below. Depending on how dirty the water is, you may want to remove the fish before you clean the pond so they won’t be shocked or harmed.

I would recommend removing them if the water is thick or muddy, or if there’s a huge pile of muck on the bottom of the pond. Of course, you will definitely need to remove the fish if you plan on draining the pond.

My backyard fish pond

Fish Pond Cleaning Equipment

In order to clean your pond, you’ll need a few fish pond cleaning tools…

  • Pond cleaning net
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Rubber gloves (optional)
  • Large container or bucket (if removing the fish)

How To Clean A Pond Step-By-Step

Here are the steps I take for cleaning my fish pond…

Step 1: Skim the water surface – Use your pond cleaning net to skim the top of the water, removing any floating leaves and other debris from the top of the water.

Using my pond cleaning net to skim the top of pond water

Step 2: Remove the pump, plants and decorations – Removing the pump (be sure to unplug it first!) as well as any plants and decorations from the pond will make it much easier to clean the sides and bottom. At this time it’s also a good idea to remove any dead leaves from your pond plants.

Keeping the plants well maintained will help the pond stay cleaner longer. Simply prune off any dead leaves, stems and roots. You can also rinse the plants with water to get rid of any muck or debris that came out of the pond with them.

Step 3: Remove the fish (optional) – Again, this is a totally optional step. If the water is really dirty, smells bad, or if there’s a lot of muck on the bottom, then I would recommend removing the fish before you start the next step. For light pond cleaning, you can just leave the fish in the pond and safely skip this step.

If you plan to remove the fish, fill up a container that’s deep enough to hold them with water from the pond. Only use the water from the pond to fill the container, do not use water from the hose or tap water because the chlorine will kill the fish. Transfer the fish into the container, and cover it with netting or lightweight mesh so they can’t jump out (don’t seal the container though!). Keep your fish out of the sun until you’re done cleaning the pond.

Fish swimming in my clean garden pond

Step 4: Clean the bottom of the pond – To clean the bottom of my pond, I use my pond net. I simply drudge the bottom of the pond, and scoop out all of the leaves and muck that I can. Be sure to get into all the corners and clean off all any plant shelves too. You could also try using a small pond vacuum cleaner or pool skimmer if you have one available to you.

Step 5: Remove overgrowth of algae – You don’t want to remove all of the algae from the sides of your pond. Most pond water algae is beneficial to the fish and the pond ecosystem. But, if there is an overgrowth of algae, then you’ll want to clean some of that out. I find a basic toilet brush works great to clean the sides of my pond when algae overgrowth becomes a problem.

Step 6: Clean the pond pump and filter – Clean all of the debris out of the pond pump and filter. It’s a good idea to fill a 5 gallon bucket with pond water (or use rainwater) to rinse the pump and filter rather than chlorinated water from the garden hose. Otherwise the chlorine will kill the beneficial bacteria. You can simply fill up a small bucket with pond water and use it to rinse the pump and filter. But, many times I’m in a hurry, so I’ll just use the hose to give my pond filter a quick rinse.

By the way, if you don’t have a pond pump and filter yet, I highly recommend getting one. It’s much, much harder to maintain a healthy and clean fish pond without a pump and filter. I bought a basic submersible pond water pump for my small pond and waterfall, and the filter I use is a universal pond pump filter box.

Cleaning the pond pump filter

Step 7: Put everything back in the pond – Now that you’re done cleaning the pond, you can put the pump, plants, decorations and fish back into the water. If you drained the pond to clean it, and filled it back up with chlorinated water, be sure to let it sit for at least 24 hours before putting the fish back into it. Chlorinated water will kill your fish, and you don’t want that to happen!

How To Keep A Fish Pond Clean

Once you do the work to clean your pond, you want to keep it clean as long as possible, right? The key to keeping it clean is to maintain it on a regular basis. A well maintained pond will stay much cleaner than a neglected pond.

It’s crazy how fast muck build up or algae can take over a small garden pond. So, keeping it maintained regularly is very important – especially if you don’t enjoy cleaning out a pond that’s mucky and stinky. And who enjoys that?!

My small fish pond after cleaning

Here are a few tips for keeping a pond clean…

  • If you don’t already have it, buy a pond pump and filter to keep the water aerated and cleaner longer.
  • Rinse the filter every other week (or weekly if your pond tends to get dirty faster).
  • Add a barley straw bale in early spring to prevent algae growth in the pond.
  • Remove leaves and debris on a regular basis. This is especially important in the fall when the leaves are dropping, and in the spring when tree seeds are dropping (like those dreaded maple tree helicopters!!).
  • Put bird netting or pond netting over the top of your pond in the fall to help keep the leaves out.
  • Be certain to clean out as many leaves as you can in the fall before the pond freezes to prevent the water from going bad over the winter.

Helpful Pond Cleaning Products

There are tons of products on the market these days specifically made for cleaning fish pond water. It’s always a good idea to pick up a pond water test kit to test the water before treating it. Testing the water will tell you exactly what you need to add to your pond water.

One product that I use and highly recommend is barley straw. Barley straw is a pond clarifier that kills invasive algae, and also works to prevent algae overgrowth. You can buy barley straw bales, pellets or as a liquid extract.

Another great all natural pond cleaner that I recommend using is an enzyme pond cleaner. It contains a naturally occurring bacteria that consumes pond sludge and muck to help keep the water clean.

Just be careful when using any type of synthetic fish pond cleaning chemicals, even if they say they’re safe for fish. I personally prefer to use the natural and organic pond water treatment methods I recommended, they work great!

Cleaning fish ponds isn’t the funnest job, and sometimes it can be downright disgusting. Proper maintenance is the key to keeping your pond clean. If you follow these fish pond cleaning and maintenance tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your pond again in no time!

Products I Recommend

More Posts You Might Enjoy

  • How To Winterize A Pond Step-By-Step
  • What Is Rainwater Harvesting? (And How To Get Started)

Share your fish pond cleaning tips and advice in the comments section below.

How to Clean a Garden Pond

It can be all to easy falling into the trap of letting your garden pond fend for itself. However, if you want your pond and its inhabitants to flourish – and to keep attracting wildlife – you’re going to need to learn the basics of cleaning a pond.

First of all you need to decide if your pond requires a full pond clean or if a general clean/tidy will suffice.

If your pond has a large thick layer of sludge at the base, the water is dark and discoloured and the pond environment has fallen into a state of disrepair, then a full-clean out will be the best course of action. The best time to perform a full pond clean is in the early spring, prior to your pond waking up from its winter dormancy.

Read on below for our 4 easy steps to performing a full pond clean and keeping your pond healthy.

Step 1 – Removing Fish

To avoid causing the fish stress and injury, it’s important to remove them from the pond first. Begin by transferring some water from the pond into a suitable holding tank, such as a large bucket or plastic bin (depending on how many fish you have).

Continue by starting to drain the pond until there is around 12 inches remaining. At this point remove the fish from the pond and place them into the temporary container in a shaded area.
Add an aerator or a small pond pump into the container – if your pond is small and cleaning is minimal, you fish will be fine without for a couple of hours – Make sure to place a net over the top of the tank to prevent the fish from jumping out.

Step 2 – Removing Plants

Removing pond plants is the next stage in the cleaning process. Trim any dead or damaged foliage and place plants into buckets of pond water for temporary storage. If necessary re-pot or divide marginal plants and lillies using suitable pond planting baskets and aquatic compost.

Step 3 – Emptying and Cleaning Your Pond

It’s now time to empty the rest of the water from your pond and finish the cleaning process. We would suggest using a pond vacuum to remove any unwanted sludge and algae quickly and easily – If you do not possess a pond vac you can also bail or syphon the water from the base of the pond.

Make sure to scrub the bottom and sides of the pond liner or preformed pond, plus any rocks to loosen algae. You’ll also need to check over any pond pumps, skimmers and pond filtration units, giving them a thorough clean – Making sure pond media is cleaned using pond water.
Once you’re happy, pump or bail out any remaining dirty water or debris.
Tip: Your old pond water is a fantastic natural fertiliser for garden plants and vegetables!

Step 4 – Refilling Your Pond

When refilling a pond, we suggest adding pond treatments such as beneficial bacteria and enzymes to regulate the water and keep your pond as healthy as possible for longer periods.

During the refilling process, make sure to use a dechlorinator to remove harmful chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals which are contained in tap water. Once the pond is full, reintroduce your pond plants and fish to their freshly cleaned environment.

Remember, it’s important to keep on top of your pond maintenance, so make sure to venture out into the garden and periodically check your pond’s health! This includes the regular use of a pond testing kit to check Ammonia, Nitrite, pH and other important water parameters and make adjustments as necessary.

Have you had trouble cleaning your pond? Did you use our handy guide for help?
We’d love to help further and see your results, so reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Do You Know How To Clean Your Pond?

April 7, 2016 | Gardening

Melting ice and spring bulbs mean it is time to start your pond. While you may be tempted to start feeding your fish as soon as the ice melts, fish cannot properly digest food when the water temperature is below 60. Bacteria and aquatic plants do not thrive until the water temperature is above 50. While you are waiting for the temperatures to warm it is a good time to consider your maintenance plan.

A good spring clean up is essential to a healthy, beautiful pond for the summer season. It is also a great time to inspect your pond lighting, filtration and consider any renovations. The first step is to assemble your tools; A large tote or bucket to hold fish (if you have them) during the cleaning, a pump to remove water, pressure washer or garden hose with a spray nozzle, and waders (can help keep you clean and dry, but are not essential).

Start to drain the pond. Depending on the size of your pump and pond this process can take a few minutes to an hour or more. As the water level drops start to transfer your fish. If you have small fish a nice trick is to allow the water level to drop and leave less space for the fish to hide (remember to count your fish before you begin so you don’t forget any.) Before the water is below the skimmer height, try installing the pump and testing it. If it doesn’t turn on right away don’t worry. Aquascapes recommends trying a vinegar bath to clean deposits from the pump. Use a 5 gallon bucket and regular white vinegar diluted up to 50:1 with water. If after cleaning it still doesn’t work, it may be time for a replacement.

Once the fish are safely stored you can begin to remove any loose debris that may be floating on the pond or settled on the bottom. If your pump can handle solids (usually labeled as a trash pump) you can clean as the water level is dropping, no need to wait until it is fully drained as the pump will help to remove the suspended debris. (If your pump is for clean water only it is best to drain the pond fully first.)

It is not necessary to remove all algae and debris from the pond, however many of our clients like to start the year with a clean slate. The leftover debris and algae can provide a good level of bacteria to re-colonize the pond and set up a strong ecosystem.

Once you are satisfied with the cleaning, inspect the infrastructure. Turn on your pond lighting and check for burn out fixtures and make adjustments to placement. If boulders or gravel settled, put them back in place or consider adding more. (Tip: If you are adding gravel, be sure to wash it before installing to remove dust and dirt.) If you do not have lighting, this is a great time consider adding it. Contact Us – We can help determine what would work best for your pond.

With a clean, strong set-up you can begin to refill your pond. This process can be long. Most garden hoses fill at a rate of 25-60 gallons per minute. With a 1,200 gallon pond (8’x10’) you are looking at almost 45 min. Larger or deeper ponds… this is a good time to grab a snack! Once the water level nears the skimmer you can start to introduce the fish. If the water temperature of the pond before cleaning was more than 15-20 degrees above the temperature of the new water, you may want to temper the fish. Place them in a bucket set in the pond and let the water adjust to the pond temperature.

With the water level above the bottom of the skimmer inlet you can restart the pump. With the pump running you can add your spring bacteria or any other chemicals. Always remember to check the instructions as each manufacturer may have different recommendations as to when to add, dosage or reapplication period.

Now, sit back and enjoy your beautiful, clean water feature.

A strong ecosystem is the best way to keep your water clear and algae level to a minimum. While many do not want to care for fish, they are a great way to help keep up a pond with minimal additives. As the season progresses, keep an eye on the water level. Evaporation can drop water levels and lead to premature pump failure, however if you are losing more than an inch or two a week (3 to 4 inches is extremely hot, dry weather) a leak may have developed. If you feel you have a leak, give us a call and we can help with troubleshooting. Leaks are frustrating and we will work with you to determine the cause as quickly as possible to help you get back to enjoying your water feature.

Ponds are an investment, both financially and time. But the aesthetic value, wildlife attraction and soothing sounds of streams and waterfalls make the investment payoff.

Enjoy the season.

Other Resources:

Paradise Pond Shop – http://www.paradisepondshop.com/

Aquascapes Resources – http://www.aquascapeinc.com/own-a-water-feature-resources

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Pond maintenance tips to keep a nature pond healthy and clear.

A pond with an established culture and a natural balance between plant and animal life will need less attention than one where there isn’t, but even nature ponds need maintenance to ensure they remain healthy. Here are a few tips to help maintain your pond through the seasons.

Small ponds need cleaning about every five years, large ponds about every 10 years.

Natural ponds and man-made ponds designed and built to attract and sustain wildlife should not be cleaned to often and never completely cleaned out at all. It can take years to develop a balanced ecosystem and just a day to destroy it. It’s a fine balance between cleaning a pond and ruining it.

The best time to clean ponds, is from winter through to early Spring when most pond life is less active.

Equipment you will need to clear out a pond.

  • Container to keep the fish in.
  • A pump to empty the pond.
  • Buckets and a shovel to clear the silt and decaying pond plants.
  • Spade and loppers to divide and trim overgrown plants, maybe a saw to divide plants like Irises with thick roots.
  • A scrubbing brush to clean the liner and water features.

Pond cleaning tips

  • Fill a suitable container with water from the pond to put the fish, oxygenating weed and deep water plants into whilst you are cleaning out the pond. Marginal plants can be stored in old plant pots, buckets and washing up bowls etc. .
  • Pump the water out off the pond by disconnecting the hose from filters or water features and pointing it to a downward slope away from the pond. Even small ponds hold a lot of water and if there’s nowhere to drain the water to, without it running back into the pond or flooding borders or you don’t have a pump, you may need to hire a pump with a long hose to drain the pond water into drains. Removing the water manually with buckets takes for ever. Save as much of the water as you can to return to the pond.
  • As the water level drops, remove fish with a net. Try not to disturb plants as this may muddy the water, making it difficult to see and catch the fish.
  • Remove plants. Check all the fish have been caught, one or two fish will hide in the silt and can be caught later when you scoop it out from the bottom, look out for them wriggling. Lift the pond plants out and place them on the edge of the pond to allow smaller creatures to escape back into the pond, then into containers.
  • Put any larger pond life into the container. Providing there’s cover in the garden, frogs are best left to hop away, they will return to the pond when its finished.
  • When all plants and fish are safe, scoop up the silt with buckets. Silt is a great organic fertiliser for borders and vegetable plots.
  • keep a few buckets of silt and pond water to add back to the pond to help re-establish tiny organisms.
  • Clean the liner with a scrubbing brush and fresh water,( I don’t scrub the liner, there ‘s no need too) never use chemical cleaners or washing up liquid in a nature pond. Bail the remaining dirty water out with a bucket.
  • Replant the pond plants and position the marginal on the shelves, placing stones on the roots to stop them floating or falling of the shelf.
  • Reconnect the pump to the water feature, Its a good idea to place the pump on bricks just off the bottom to stop it getting clogged up.
  • Important. Pour the saved silt and pond water back in to the pond and top up.
  • Check everything is working and the plants aren’t floating.
  • Return the fish and any other creatures to the pond. The muddy water will clear within a few days.

Depending on how much silt and water was returned to the pond, a cleaned out pond can take several months or even years to return to a balanced ecosystem. Repairing leaks in ponds tips

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