Full Spring Pond Cleanout

Steps for a Full Spring Pond Cleanout and Water Change

1) Disconnect the Plumbing
Unplug pump and allow the pipe and components to drain.

2) Drain the Pond
In nearly all cases it is fine to use your main pump to drain the pond.  Don't forget to fill a separate container with pond water for the fish. The larger this temporary fish holding facility is the better. We suggest using something like an inflatable kiddy-pool. Make sure the fishes' temporary home is in a shady area to avoid excessive water temperature changes.

3) Catch the Fish
Drain the pond to roughly eight inches of water in order to catch fish easily and safely. Place the fish in a container you filled with pond water in step 2. Be sure to use water from the pond to avoid shock from rapid temperature change, and cover the container with a screen or net to prevent the fish from jumping out. 

4) Remove Debris 

All large debris, such as leaves and twigs, should be removed from the pond basin by hand. Take this time to trim those aquatic plants that have died back to encourage new growth. Scrape or scrub all the sludge from the bottom of the pond.

5) Wash the Pond
A 1,500 psi pressure washer or a high pressure nozzle on a garden hose is good for pond cleaning. Do NOT over clean your pond. Some algae on the rocks will prove beneficial in developing your ecosystem. So avoid trying to scrub all the algae away. Do NOT use soaps or detergents of ANY KIND.

6) Rinse the Pond
Rinsing down and removing debris from the rocks and gravel will be the most time consuming part of the cleanout. Use the water coming directly out of the garden hose to wash the gravel. A power washer or high pressure nozzle is unnecessary and may actually be counterproductive at this point.  Rinse the pond from top to bottom until the water begins to clear.

7) Clean the Filters
Pump out the water in the skimmer and remove all lingering debris or sludge. Clean the waterfall filter box by hosing it out and letting the water flow into the skimmer. Then clean the skimmer box by hosing it out and pumping the water out. Also, make sure to clean out the net and hose down the filter mat. Clean the waterfall filter box filter mats, and bags of whatever biological filter media that is being used before re-installing them. Simply hose these down until the water from them runs clean. If you are using a natural media, like lava rock, it may need replaced. Lava rock is good for about two years before it needs to be replaced due to clogging. 

8) Refill the Pond
Begin refilling the pond. If you don't know how much water your pond holds, now is the time to figure out your pond's water volume. The simplest method is to use the water meter on your home. Ensure that water is not being used for any other purpose during the time you are filling the pond. Also, check your water bill to see if your meter is in gallons or cubic feet, or some other unit (one cubic foot of water is 7.48 gallons). 

9) De-Chlorinate the Water
Most city water contains chlorine and chloramines and should be treated with a dechlorinator before fish are added. Dechlorinator works almost instantaneously so you don't have to wait long before you can begin moving your pond inhabitants back into their nice clean home.

10) Acclimate the Fish
A spring cleanout can be stressful to fish. Proper acclimation is required to reduce stress which can lead to fish health problems or even fish death. Once the pond has 1" of water you can prepare to reintroduce the fish by transferring them to smaller buckets of old pond water and floating the buckets in the pond, allowing them to acclimate to the new pond water temperature for approximately 15 minutes. A great way to help reduce the stress on your fish is to add pond salt. This helps them build and maintain a slime-coat that gets damaged by repeat transfers of the fish between vessels. If you have city water, it's imperative that you add a dechlorinator to neutralize the chlorine in the water. Fish should not be left outside the pond in a holding container for more than a few hours, or in the full sun.

11) Add Beneficial Bacteria
It is very important that you return to an initial dosage schedule of beneficial bacteria in your pond because you just cleaned most of the bacterial colonies out. Follow the directions on the beneficial bacteria product for initial dosing information. It is also advisable to add other algae preventatives at this time such as barely straw or ClarityMax+.