Even with advanced filtration and regular maintenance it is sometimes necessary to have your pond partially drained and cleaned out. We refer to this as a “Spring Cleaning” or a Pond Clean-out.
A pond clean-out usually involves removing the fish to temporary housing and draining the entire pond, then vacuuming the debris that has collected on the bottom of the pond. In some cases, a gravel-lined pond may need to have the gravel removed, washed and in rare cases replaced. This can be stressful on the pond’s inhabitants like the beneficial bacteria, fish, and plants.
Cleaning and Vacuuming the Pond
In most cases we will not recommend draining the pond entirely but rather, drain the pond 70-50% and focus on removing as much sludge in that area as possible. Partially draining the pond is less stressful on the ecosystem and will help preserve the beneficial bacteria which can help the pond recover from the stress of the clean-out.
On most average sized ponds, we can complete the clean-out within only a few short hours. In this time we can cover all the basics such as remove winter debris like leaves and twigs, remove sludge buildup, inspect the liner, skimmer, waterfall filter and any external equipment. We always suggest servicing the pump/s, filters, UV lights, aeration pumps and replacing any filter media as needed. These are all tasks we cover in our “Filter February” service.
After the pond clean-out is performed our technicians will treat the water for chlorine, add appropriate additives and acclimate the fish to the new water before releasing them back into the pond.
The Balancing Period
In some rare cases the pond will experience “new pond syndrome”, causing the water to resemble pea soup. This is normal and part of the nitrogen cycle that most new ponds go through. After a clean-out this “new pond syndrome” shouldn’t last long, given that the pond was well established with a healthy filtration system. Over the next few weeks after the clean-out it is best to not add any algae inhibiting products, like Algae Fix. We have found that adding these products only prolongs the stabilization process. During this time it is recommended to only add beneficial bacteria and clean the filters as needed. We suggest waiting until the pond has stabilized before adding any new fish or other aquatic inhabitants.
Some ponds are designed to need to be drained and cleaned out each year. This could be due to lack of adequate filtration, poor circulation, heavy leaf debris or an over populated pond. Our clean-out crew will be happy to discuss possible filtration upgrades and recommendations.
Tasks included in seasonal clean-outs are:
- Set up temporary pond for aquatic inhabitants (if needed)
- Drain pond (amount drained will be determined by the amount of debris in the pond and the over condition of the pond).
- Vacuum sludge buildup
- Remove leaves and other debris
- Re-stack and secure rock
- Trim and divide aquatic plants as needed
- Inspect mechanical seal on waterfall skimmer and skimmer
- Inspect for obvious leaks or damage in liner
- Inspect and clean submersible pump (if equipped with submersible pump)
- Inspect external pump (if equipped), replace lid and/or O-ring as needed
- Open and inspect external filter. Clean filter media if needed
- Inspect and/or replace UV light
- Inspect underwater lighting and replace lamps as needed
- Service aeration pump and inspect plumbing, tubing and air stones
- Recommendation on maintenance and repairs will be offered
With any pond clean-out or alteration to the water chemistry there is an inherent risk to the fragile ecosystem and the aquatic life that lives in the pond. We always do everything we can to ensure a healthy transition as the pond re-balances itself, however we cannot guarantee everything will go as planned.