How To Clean Your Pond Without Draining It (Seven Steps)

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Sometimes we leave our pond to marinate for a little too long, and it ends up needing a good clean. With a little TLC, you can get it back to it’s appealing and healthy state!

It may seem like a daunting task to look after your pond every other day (if not every day), but there are 7 easy steps that will make cleaning easier and may help to ease your stress.

1. Remove The Debris

The first, and easiest step, is to remove anything that is floating on the surface and within your immediate line of sight. Not only is cleaning aesthetically pleasing, it drastically improves the healthy and environment of your pond. Any large pieces, such as twigs or leaves that are floating on the surface, should be removed first.

Consider using/purchasing a net in order to reach the center of your pond, or even to make the process move along more quickly instead of using your hands. Excess shade from these elements is not good for the health of the pond; this should be done as often as is needed to keep the pond healthy and decrease excess algae growth.

To prevent this from being too much of a problem or hassle in the future, consider adding pond netting. It can be used all year round if its necessary, or just during the summer and fall time to prevent leaves from getting into the pond easily.

Pond netting can also deter predators from the fish that may reside in your pond. It may not prevent everything from falling in, but will help create less of a problem when cleaning and help to keep your fish alive and safe from other animals.

2. Scrape Away Algae

Algae can provide oxygen to your pond, which is beneficial for the fish and plant life within the pond. However, an excess of algae can create carbon dioxide, which quickly depletes oxygen levels, thus resulting in the death of plant and animal life. Some algae can release toxic compounds, which are harmful to the entirety of the ecosystem.

With that being said, don’t scrub away all of the algae. It is important to control the amount of algae in the pond, but not to remove all of it. Most of the algae will be resting on top of the water, which can be picked up either by hand or by using nets.

Aquatic plants such as lotus and lilies help to drastically decrease the overall build-up of algae. These plants help to provide shade to the water by floating around, which will slow down the rate of algae growth within the water. To control algae growth within the water, consider adding plants such as anacharis and hornwort.

Tadpoles are also great alternatives to chemicals when it comes to cleaning up excess algae growth inside and outside the pond. They feed off of the algae, but will also bring more life to the pond itself. They also eat insect larvae that rest on top of the water, which is beneficial to the overall life and health of the pond.

3. Clean Up Plants And Weeds Around The Pond

It’s not uncommon for weeds to grow and become out of control, which can get in the way of the health of the pond, so begin by pulling those out of the ground. Next, cut away plants that dangle into the water. If you’re looking to replant some of the overgrowth, do so in the spring, which has optimal weather for new plant growth.

Pulling weeds and cutting away excess overgrowth should be done on a weekly basis. Weeds grow at a rapid rate, and can cause an excess of shade, which then causes an excess of algae while simultaneously depleting oxygen levels. If you want to learn more, check out our separate article about protecting your pond from weeds.

If your pond appears overcrowded with lotus and lilies, pullout and cut away those that bring too much shade. Your fish and aquatic plants still require a small amount of sunlight in order to survive. As stated previously, it also cuts back on the algae.

4. Remove Fish (If Necessary)

If your pond has fish in it, remove those after all of these steps have been completed. You don’t want to disrupt your fish for too long when it comes to cleaning your pond. Leave them in until the above steps have been taken care of.

In order to remove them, simply fish them out and put them into a bucket with water from the pond itself. They need to stay within the same environment that they have grown used to.

When it comes to clearer water, don’t over-feed your fish. An excess of fish food can encourage algae growth, which can get out of control quickly, thus depleting oxygen levels and killing off life within the pond. If you can see food, consider either scooping it out and presenting new, or wait until the fish are ready to be fed again.

Only after all of the steps below have been completed can you add your fish back to the pond.

5. Clean Water Filters

Your water filter prolongs the time between needing to clean out the entirety of your pond. You will notice that your filters need to be cleaned when the algae gets so out of control the water is murky and green. This indicates that the filter is clogged and in need of being taken out and rinsed.

DO NOT clean your filter with harsh chemicals such as bleach. Incorporating bleach into your pond’s ecosystem will instantaneously kill all life.

Your water filter doesn’t need to be cleaned every day, and not necessarily every week either. It should be cleaned when it is noticeable that the algae is taking over, or the bottom of the pond can’t be seen. If you are continuously cleaning your filter, you could be disrupting the natural bacteria of your pond, which is not beneficial for healthy algae growth and oxygen levels for aquatic plants and/or fish.

Natural bacteria help to break down organic waste, which keeps the water clean and clear. You can purchase natural bacteria, but be careful as to how much you add. Natural bacteria also needs oxygen, which means excess natural bacteria takes oxygen that is essential for fish and aquatic plants.

Ensure that you are adding the correct dose of extra chemicals if you think it’s necessary for the health of your pond and its ecosystem.

6. Add Appropriate Chemicals

All Season Liquid Bacteria

It is important to know that not all chemicals are bad for your pond. Some chemicals are important in keeping your pond healthy. One of these chemicals to add regularly is All Season Liquid Bacteria.

This chemical helps to remove elements such as ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, phosphates, as well as sludge. It helps to clear water without the overpowering chemical smell. An excess of these chemicals encourage algae growth, deplete oxygen, and create murky water.

It doesn’t need to be added every day, and in fact, that kind of frequency would be harmful. It is most beneficial to use it during spring and summer time. Optimal water temperatures for this additive are anything above forty-five degrees Fahrenheit. It isn’t necessary to add this during the winter, depending on where you live, because of the temperature. Heat tends to breed algae, bugs, and weeds.

Barley Straw Extract

To improve the overall clarity of your pond, add in Barley Straw Extract. Barley Straw Extract helps to kill off bacteria that cause your pond to look murky and dirty. It also helps to restore the balance of bacteria within the pond.

You can normally add Barley Straw Extract in liquid form, but some other forms are barley pellets or small straw bales of barley. It’s been found that when barley starts to rot and ferment, it produces its own natural extract that helps to clear pond water without the need of chemicals. All forms of barley are helpful for the ecosystem of your pond, it is entirely dependent on personal preferences.

7. Consider Adding An Ultraviolet Clarifier

A UV Clarifier is what helps to keep the water from looking green and smelling pungent. It is a more natural way of keeping your pond clear than having to add unknown chemicals that may be harmful to the aquatic life in the long-run. Ultraviolet Clarifier’s are best for ponds that are under 2,000 gallons. They clear up the murkiness of the water, which algae attributes to, as well as bug larvae.

Do not submerge your UV clarifier. It is waterproof, but not necessarily beneficial to be entirely underwater. Consider attaching it on a dry surface, such as your pond filter. Once installed, expect it to take up to five days for the murky water to look less green.

You may notice that the water looks more grey after a day or two, but expect it to take longer for the water to look more clear. It is a nine watt bulb that can last up to eight thousand hours, which is almost an entire year! You can run it year round if you choose to, but it isn’t really necessary for extremely frigid climates.

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We always wanted a fountain of some kind at our house, but professional installation was just too pricey. So, we decided to make our own little fountain and after learning how, we thought we should share our experiences to help people in our same situation.

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