Pond Owners Handbook
Spring Pond Clean Out!
Cleaning out a pond in the Spring or Fall is a dirty job! Sometimes the only way to describe the contents in a pond at the beginning of spring is YUCK!
A spring pond clean-out is very important for the health of your pond. In nature ponds, streams, and lakes often flood in the spring. This is Mother Nature’s way of providing fresh water and a flushing away of excess nutrients, debris, and possible toxin buildup.
Ideally we want the same thing to occur in our backyard water gardens. Here is more on the clean-out process:
We start by draining the pond as low as possible with a pump, and relocate some of that water to a basin for fish storage.
With the water level lowered, the fish are easier to catch. The less time we spend chasing fish with nets, the better for both parties involved. A quick catch and transfer to water of the same condition reduces stress, and in turn reduces fish mortality. We recommend a holding tank with a bubbler or small pump running for aeration while the fish are out of the pond.
You can find a large volume of buildup at the bottom of the pond. This includes leaves from both trees and pond plants as well as sludge that can accumulate. This is the most important part of a proper clean out.
Cut back and thin out water plants that would otherwise contribute to the debris we just removed from the bottom of the pond. Focus on branches, leaves, and stems that are dying or dead. Plants such as Bullrush and other marginals can be left over winter for an attractive look in an otherwise barren landscape. It’s important to cut Bullrush etc. back in the Spring to prevent it’s eventual breakdown into the pond.
Take the opportunity to locate and address any issues that could be affecting your underwater lighting. Cleaning lenses and testing the power of each light to identify faulty bulbs, seals, and other components is easiest with less water in the pond.
A pond’s filter system should see a major cleaning at least once a year. Clean all mechanical filters (Filter mats/floss/pads, nets, etc.) well with a hose to remove trapped debris and sludge.
We won’t forget about your Fish, – making sure they are safe during the clean out process by checking on them regularly. Stressed fish can jump from a holding tank so being certain to look around the holding tank as well as inside during our checks is paramount.
Pressure washing the rocks and liner in a pond are advised. It’s suggested that you only pressure wash an empty pond. We start from the top and work our way down to prevent going over areas multiple times. A quick rinse brings all of the sludge and debris to the bottom of the pond.
Removing this runny sludge by hand can be difficult. A Pond-Vac is an indispensable tool here, as it can pick up solids and liquids to bring them out of the pond easily. A standard wet-dry vacuum will work in a pinch, but carries some risk and extra work to achieve similar results.
Obviously the extent we take during this cleaning to is up to you, but realize that you will reap the benefits of a proper clean out year after year.
Refill your pond with de-chlorinated water by adding de-chlorinator directly to the pond and filling from the hose. Don’t worry about any cloudiness, or water clarity issues as this can be normal after loosening so much debris – it will settle or be filtered out in due time.
Double check your external connections and filters are back in place and ready to run, then power on your pumps, filters, and other related accessories.
After properly circulating the water for at least 20 minutes, test the water by adding a small fish first and watch their reaction before adding the remaining animals.
Pay attention to the fish’s gills for signs of stress; an uncomfortable fish will breathe heavily and show rapid gill movement.
Surface breathing is an easy to identify issue, which usually indicates low oxygen levels or otherwise gill irritating water conditions. Correct by introducing air into the water via aerator, fountain or waterfall.
Clamped fins are another indication of irritation. If a fish lies motionless with it’s fins withdrawn to it’s body, it isn’t a good sign.
Flashing or erratic swimming is a definite indicator that something is amiss with your water chemistry. If on introduction a fish swims rapidly to the surface causing splashing or darts about feverishly, attempt to remove it ASAP. Finally we add your remaining fish and use a skimming net to remove any debris that may remain in the pond at this point.
Does this seems like a daunting task?
At Cole’s Pond Store, we try our best to offer the very best in customer service. That includes hopping into your pond and getting our hands dirty, so you don’t have to. Our crews is extremely thorough and experienced, ensuring the best possible work.