Like a closet that can accumulate clutter and eventually need cleaning out, ponds are can gather algae and decayed fallen leaves that could harm its fresh water. Oxygen content and water temperature aside, the water’s cleanliness and the material of the pond bottom have a direct effect on the life present in a pond. It could get tricky too since bigger ponds, ones larger than 2,000 square feet, need only a proper cleanout every after few years. For smaller ponds however, here’s what to do.
For regular maintenance, there are 3 tasks at hand to keep your pond in top shape. The following aid in taking care of the basic threats to your pond’s upkeep:
Filtration. Your filter works hard, 24/7, to keep your pond dirt-free. It therefore easily gets filthy and must be cleansed once a week.
Fallen Leaves. Dead leaves that find themselves on ponds’ surface could be harmful to the pond’s health. They come fast and if neglected could decay, damaging the quality of the pond’s water. Be sure to remove them on a regular basis.
Algae. Often check for algae growth. Algae can cause a major problem in ponds from water discoloration, green scum accumulation, and an ugly mat of green growth just a little beneath the water surface. It spreads quickly and can harm aquatic environment. One can treat them however as needed with liquid algaecides. But be careful! Some may hurt the pond plants. A UV sterilizer may be a better alternative to treat algae.
That being said, follow these steps for a successful pond cleaning:
- Decide what season to do your general pond cleaning. The perfect time to kick-start biological filtration is at the beginning of spring. Your pond, slowly awakening from a long winter slumber, will have its fish become more active each day and so will its environment.
- Prepare a holding tank before you start cleaning out the pond. This is of course where you will place your fish while getting rid of the accumulated pond filth. Drain the pond to roughly 8 inches of water to catch the fish safely and easily. The tank should be filled with pumped water from the pond to avoid shocking the fish from a rapid temperature change. Make sure that the water is not too high otherwise the fish might jump out. NOTE: Place the tank in the shade and place an aerator pump to help the fish breathe.
- Now is the apt time to trim the plants and shrubs surrounding your pond, thereby minimizing the debris into your water. Especially get rid of leaves and twigs. Also dedicate ample time trimming the aquatic plants that have died to cultivate new growth. A use of pond vacuum is recommended for the easy removal of sludge that might have built up at the bottom of the pond.
- A 1,500-psi pressure washer or a high pressure nozzle is recommended for pond cleaning but make sure NOT to over clean. Some bacteria are beneficial to the pond’s ecosystem. Make sure not to use soap or detergent of any kind.
- Turn off all the pumps and filters before taking them apart and cleaning per piece. Pump out the water in the skimmer and remove the stuck debris and sludge. Clean the waterfall filter box by hosing out and letting the water flow into the skimmer. Also clean the waterfall filter box, filter mats, and bags of any biological filter media used before re-installing them. Hose these down until the water runs them clean.
*NOTE: Lava rock, if used, is good for about 2 years before replacement. It is encouraged to replace only half of the biological media at any one time to prevent stripping the filter of all bacteria colonies. Clean the water filter box no more than once a year.
- When refilling the pond, remember to dechlorinate the water you add to the pond. When refilling, exchange a little water at a time between the holding tank and the newly filled pond to allow the fish to gradually get used to the new water. After which, start putting the fish back in the pond.
*NOTE: Most city water contains chlorine and chloramines and should be treated with a dechlorinator before fish are added.
- Pond cleaning can be stressful to fish hence proper acclimation is required to prevent the fish from having health problems or worse, dying. Prepare to reintroduce the fish after pond contains 1 inch of water, transferring them to smaller buckets of old pond water and having these buckets float on the pond. This will allow them to acclimate to the new pond water temperature. Do this for 15 minutes.
*NOTE: You may opt to add pond salt to help maintain the slime-coat that gets damaged by repeat transfers of the fish between the vessels. When using city water, make sure to add a dechlorinator to neutralize the chlorine.
- Finally, return the initial dosage schedule of beneficial bacteria in your pond after cleaning out the whole pond.