Successfully Clean Your Pond for Spring

Spring is simply the most exciting time of year. Birds return from their southern migration, furry critters waken from their winter slumber, trees are budding, and your pond fish are stretching and warming up their fins for summer swimming! The best thing you can do for the health of your pond this season is to clean your pond – whether it’s a deep cleaning or just a bit of sprucing up.

Take a good look at your pond and ask yourself, “Does my water feature need a full clean-out this season, or does it just need to be tidied up a little?” To help you decide, it’s worth knowing what to look for. First, if there is a layer of “crud” at the bottom of the pond and the water is dark in color, it would be a good idea to do a full clean-out.

How to Clean Your Pond

On the other hand, if there is just a small amount of debris that you can stir up and capture with a net and the water looks clear, a little tidying up is all that’s in order. If you’re going the full clean-out route, plan on spending a half to a full day to complete a pond clean-out. A Pondless® Waterfall will take considerably less time. You can, of course, hire a pond pro to clean your water feature for you.

The best time to perform a pond clean-out is the early spring, before your water garden completely awakens from its winter dormancy – ideally before the water temperature in the pond creeps above 55º F. If a clean-out is performed when the water is warmer, after bacteria colonies form, the balance of the ecosystem will be thrown off and your pond will go through another period of algae blooms before the bacteria colonies become re-established. Be patient, your pond will naturally balance itself provided you don’t have a fish overload.

Here’s what you need to clean your pond:

  • A clean-out pump with approximately 25 ft. of discharge hose
  • A high-pressure nozzle for your garden hose, or a power washer
  • Garden shears for trimming plants
  • A child’s swimming pool or a similar sized container to hold fish and any other critters you find during the clean-out
  • A net or something similar to place over the fish container to keep them from jumping out
  • Two five-gallon buckets to collect leaves and debris
  • A fish net
  • Aquascape Pond Detoxifier to remove chorine and chloramines from tap water prior to putting fish back in the pond
  • Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria

Drain the Pond Water

  • Place the clean-out pump in the deepest point of the pond in order to remove the water.
  • Drain the water into the surrounding landscape. Be sure to relocate the pipe two or three times to allow the water to seep into the ground and not flood the yard.
  • If you have fish, use some of this pond water to fill up the holding pool. The fish can be removed from the pond using a net once the water is low enough so you can easily catch them.
  • Don’t keep the fish in the holding pool for more than several hours. Keep them in a shady spot with a net over the top of the pool to prevent them from jumping out.

A Gentle Cleaning

  • Rinse the inside of the pond. You can also use a pressure washer to help remove debris from the rocks and gravel.
  • Don’t try to scrub all of the algae away. Some algae on the rocks will prove beneficial in developing your ecosystem. For an average size pond (11′ x 16′) this should take around 15 minutes.
  • Use the gentle stream from a garden hose to rinse the rocks and gravel. Start at the top and work your way down to the bottom. Periodically turn the clean-out pump on to remove the dirty water. You can discontinue the periodic pumping once the water rinsing down to the bottom begins to look clear. Remove the pump and begin filling the pond.

Cleaning the Filters

  • Remove any debris from the bottom of the skimmer. This can be done by hand or by using the cleanout pump.
  • Remove the media nets and filter pads from the BioFalls® Filter. If you have the optional drain kit attached to your Signature Series™ BioFalls® Filter, you can open up the valve and rinse the media and filters. Once the filters have been removed rinse them free of accumulated debris.
  • The filter media and mats can be put back into place and the waterfalls pump can be reattached in the skimmer.

Acclimating Pond Fish

  • After filling the pond with your garden hose, add Aquascape Pond Detoxifier to the water so it is safe for your fish.
  • Dip a five-gallon bucket, or similar sized container, in the fish holding tank and fill it with water.
  • After you’ve caught a fish, place it in the bucket and set the buckets in the clean pond water (this prepares the fish for the temperature of the pond water).
  • After about 15 minutes, periodically begin splashing some pond water into the bucket.
  • By now, the temperature of the pond and the bucket water should be close to the same. You are ready to gently release the fish into their spring-cleaned home.

For additional spring maintenance tips, watch our video with helpful tips to get your pond off to a good start: