Clean – Outs!

This time of year we are knee deep waist deep in pond clean outs.  Most of our pond owners like to start the year with a clean out.  How much of a clean-out is necessary is the often asked question of the season.  I always give my clients options.

Full Clean

A full clean would consist of pumping all of the water from your pond and putting the fish into a holding tank with some of your pond water.  All of your filter pads/media would be removed and rinsed out if you have a skimmer or bio-falls.  If you have a wetland filter, it would be back-flushed with pond water.  All of the loose debris and dead plant material would be removed from the pond, any over-grown over-spreading plants would be thinned and all of the rocks and gravel would be pressure washed.  The pressure washing would result in more debris in the bottom of the pond which would also be removed.  Over the year, due to walking in the pond, fish digging around and our pressure washing, some of the gravel tends to work it’s way off of the upper shelves and down to the bottom.  We redistribute the gravel throughout the pond to ensure a nice layer about an or two thick.  Thicker gravel just causes more problems.  Any rocks that may have moved over the year are reset.  All of the lights in the pond are checked and repaired or replaced.  Many people are replacing the old halogen lamps with new LED lamps.  We then wash down the pond one more time with a garden hose to wash away and pump out more of the muddy yuck on the bottom.  You don’t need the pond to be completely clean, it is a pond and a pond void of all bacteria and enzymes is not well balanced.  So, a bit of muddy yuck is OK, but muddy yuck thick enough to scoop out with your hand is not.  Any and all filter boxes are washed out and the pump, filter pads, media, etc. are installed.  We put barley bales in the bio-falls along with a good dose of start-up bacteria and enzymes and some de-chlorinator if we will be filling with city water.  As we are filling, we will re-introduce your fish.  Once the pond is full, we test run it and we are done.


Partial Clean

With a partial clean, we pump your pond down to the first level, pressure wash only the upper rocks, skim as much debris as possible out of your pond and fill it back up.  The fish are not removed.  All debris that we can get and dead plant material is removed.  All of the filter pads/media are removed and cleaned, the boxes are cleaned and the pumps and media re-installed.  Barley, bacteria and de-chlorinator is added just like the full clean and the pond is filled and started.


Minimal Clean

No water is removed, the filter media is cleaned and we remove as much debris and plant material as is possible with a net.  Barley and bacteria are added, your pump is installed and we run the pond.


Which type of clean-out or start-up you need depends on you and your pond.  If you really like things clean, go with a full clean.  If you like things quick and easy, then go with the minimal clean.  What are you comfortable with?  If your pond bottom is full of last years leaves, many of your fish or all of your fish died, your water looks murky and you found a dead squirrel in your skimmer, then you may want a full clean.  If on the other hand, you enjoy working on your pond, your pond is well balanced, your water quality was great last year, you cut down the plants last fall and you’ve kept the bottom free of debris with your net, then you can probably just start it up and let it run.

The better balanced your pond is, the less cleaning it will need.  The big problem is usually debris build up on the bottom.  For many people, the fall leaves really overload the pond and make a spring cleaning necessary.  Some folks net their ponds in fall to avoid this problem.

In the end, it’s a balance between what the pond needs and what the owner wants.


Happy Pondering,


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