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How to Clean a Pond

Your pond is dirty, has green pond water, sludge and muck on the bottom and you want to know how to clean your pond.  You've come to the right place! 

Here's some tips if you're doing a big, 'Spring cleaning' if your pond is less than 50' x 50' in size.  If it's larger than this size, check out our large fish pond cleaning instructions.

  • First, if you have fish, get yourself a large Rubbermaid container, kiddie pool or large enough water-tight container and fill it with your pond water along with a small aerator. Make sure they have plenty of room and cover with a net so they don't jump out.  Have them in the shade so the sun doesn't beat down on them and make the water too warm. 

  • Next, sprinkle some Green Clean pond algaecide on any string algae which looks looks like long green hair.  Green Clean is an oxidizer and kills these algae cells on contact by almost blowing them up to pieces.  Follow the directions on the package as to how long it needs to sit.  Sometimes it's a matter of a few minutes or so.  You'll see it foaming up and starting to work right away.  You may also be able to do this step if you have fish in the pond but you may have to treat it in sections instead of all at once.

  • Take your garden hose and hose down rocks, filter pads and place your pump at the bottom of the pond to siphon out all the dirty pond water and muck.  You may need to 'babysit' the pump so it doesn't get clogged up.  Sometimes securing a piece of filter pad around the pump with a piece of nylon rope may be enough to block out large leaves from getting stuck in the pump.  You can also drill holes in a clean, 5 gallon bucket and place your submersible pump inside there and let the holes in the bucket act as a filter so leaves (or if you have fish in there still) don't get sucked up by the pump.

  • After your pond is as clean as you want it to be, start filling it back up with your garden hose.  If you still have that handy 5 gallon bucket, you can get some Super Activated Filter Carbonand a Filter Media bag (or even a clean painter's bag from Home Depot or Lowes) and place the activated carbon in the filter bag and put inside the bucket.  Rinse the activated filter carbon out first as it will have fine black particles that you won't want in your pond.  Then, put your garden hose into the top of the bucket so the water runs through the activated carbon and out the holes and into your pond.  The activated carbon acts a lot like our water filters we have for human consumption.  It removes chlorine and chloramine from the water and a whole lot of other chemicals and ammonia.  You should always have this set up available particularly if you have fish.

  • After your pond is full of water and you've run the water through the Super Activated Filter Carbon, try to let the pond water sit as long as you can before you transfer the fish back to it as the water will now be a totally different temperature and different water chemistry than when they were taken out. They can go into shock if not done properly and could die.  See our info on how to safely transfer your fish to your pond.

  • Once your pond is filled with water and you've cleaned and/or replaced any filter pads in your filtration system, it's time to turn the pump back on.  This should be on 24/7 for optimal aeration and circulation. 

  • After a day, add some good quality pond cleaning bacteria product to keep your pond clean and healthy.  We recommend PlanktoniX (available in different sizes) for large ponds and Microbe Lift (also available in different sizes and types) for small backyard ponds and water gardens. 

  • If your fish are still in their 'hospital tank' or Rubbermaid container and are doing well, you can transfer the fish back into the pond.  Remember to do so gradually and follow the transfer fish protocol we have as a guideline for you.

  • It is important to note that UV Clarifiers and Sterilizers will kill your pond cleaning bacteria and nearly anything else that goes through the UV unit so be sure to turn this off when you add the pond bacteria and keep it off for about 2 or 3 days until the bacteria has found it's 'home' on where to grow in the pond, in the pond filter padsor where it decides.  After 3 days you can turn the UV unit back on until you add your pond cleaning bacteria again.

  • Do yourself a favor and faithfully use one of our pond cleaning bacteria products!  They are designed to eliminate a lot of this pond cleaning tasks that you've now done manually.  They break down sludge, muck, fallen leaves, uneaten fish poop, dead aquatic plants and organic debris that's blown in.  THEY are your #1 Friend to helping you clean your pond!  Really!  People try to make this difficult or are persuaded by some advertising ploy about other pond chemicals but sooooo much of cleaning a pond can be to use the pond bacteria faithfully - and, try to eliminate as much debris and nutrients from getting in there in the first place.

  • Whatever you do - DON'T use any chemicals whatsoever to clean your pond!  No Comet, Bleach, Soap or anything else.  Just plain o'l tap water from the garden hose with a nice powerful spray, Some Green Clean - if you want - and a good o'l, VERY CLEAN broom with no chemicals on it. 

  • Remember - nearly every pond will turn a greenish color after it's been emptied and filled within about 2 weeks.  This is NORMAL and it's because the beneficial pond cleaning bacteria hasn't been established yet.  Give it some time and stay up on your dosage of pond cleaning bacteria to use.  Sometimes, almost overnight - the pond will appear clear again.  Follow the directions on the manufacturer's recommended dosage for starting up a new pond as to how much to apply and how often as it's always more at the start up of a new pond or a big cleaning like we just explained. 

  • Remember - it's all about the pond cleaning bacteria - not using pond chemicals (even though we sell them).  The pond cleaning bacteria such as PlanktoniX and Microbe Lift are your #1 Friend in cleaning your pond safely and effectively.
  • You can also add some organic barley straw, barley straw extract or pelletsto your pond.  Barley straw has been used for hundreds and hundreds of years to reduce string algae from growing in water - particularly in water troughs for farm animals.  It can work similarly in ponds but water should be running through it like in a filter or waterfall unit - NOT laying on the bottom of the pond and becoming stagnant.  It takes weeks to activate barley straw itself, so start early in the season about 4-8 weeks before you think you need to. :)  Then, add another dose in the summer before the fall begins and water temperatures start to drop.  Whatever you do, DON'T rip up string algae out of the pond - CUT it as it grows from spores and when you rip it, you release millions of spores throughout the pond only to grow more soon thereafter! :( 

I do want to note that throughout the warm/hot summer months - much of this is NOT needed to clean your pond.  You can simply add your pond cleaning bacteria, rinse the filter pads with POND water - not tap water (which will kill the beneficial bacteria that you're trying so hard to colonize and keep your pond clean).  IF you do a partial water exchange - which should not be necessary - be sure to run the new water through some Super Activated Filter carbon so it will take the chlorine, chloramine and other chemicals out of the water.  As a matter of fact, if you should ever accidentally 'overdose' your pond with a pond chemical, this Super Activated Filter Carbon will most likely remove it.  It can also help polish and make your water sparkle if you have some in the filtration system - if even in a fine mesh bag inside it or inside your waterfall unit. 

I hope this has been helpful to you.  Although we've been in business since the 1990s and have helped hundreds of thousands of customers over the years, we've recently started a Facebook page.  Please Like us on Facebook and Join our Newsletter to receive updated information throughout the year, be notified of sales and other great features.