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Maintain your Fish Pond Without Draining

Posted by on Oct 29 2018

A pond is such a statement feature in a garden that you will want to do everything in your power to maintain its glory and keep it looking gleaming.

A well-designed and regularly maintained garden pond might never need a full clean-out. However, if and when the time arrives for deep cleaning your pond, you will want to do so with minimal distress to your fish, little disruption to the surrounding flora and fauna and you will want the job doing thoroughly the first time around.

A few distinguishing factors that might signal your pond might be ready for an extensive clean include dark, discoloured or opaque waters, thick layers of sludge on the base of the pond or algae on the water’s surface.

This isn’t exhaustive and it is likely that you will know just from looking at your pond if it needs deep cleaning or just regular maintenance. Whether you are going in for the kill or just carrying out a bit of garden pond maintenance, you need to know the best way to approach the situation for the wellness of your pond-life.

Contrary to popular belief, “dirty” pond water doesn’t need to be fully drained. What appears to be "dirty" water is often an excellent accompaniment to the pond's natural ecosystems and can help to keep the pond and its nitrogen cycle in balance.

The "dirty" water will also be providing natural ‘good’ bacteria that help pond fish to live a happy and healthy life in your garden pond.  There are many methods and pond cleaning supplies that will help you to thoroughly clean your pond, its base and the water’s surface without the need to thoroughly drain your pond:

  1. Remove Pond Fish

If you want to give your pond a deep clean, you should still remove your fish from the pond even if you don’t plan to drain the water, the reasons for this will become clearer shortly. If you have a small pond fish you will be able to use a standard fishing net, but for large pond maintenance, you might need to invest in a more specific fishnet.

Before you catch your fish, get a holding tank ready that is big enough to home your fish for an hour or so, and be sure to fill the holding tank with pond water before you begin the process of catching your fish!

2. Skim Debris from your Pond’s Surface

This is a particularly necessary step if you are undertaking autumn pond maintenance and have fallen leaves floating in your garden pond. Using a regular skimming pond net, begin to sieve any external debris from the surface of your pond's water such as leaves, sticks and dead insects, for example.

Skimming is a critical role in how to maintain a pond successfully, and even if you are not doing the full shebang, you should skim the surface every few weeks as a minimum or else such debris will sink to your pond’s floor and contribute to sludge at the bottom of your pond.

3. Tackle the Floor with a Pond Vacuum

Fish pond vacuum cleaners are worth their weight in gold when it comes to giving your pond a deep clean without the need to entirely drain your garden pond. A garden pond vacuum cleaner can remove the thick layer of sludge from the floor or your pond with minimal effort to you, the pond owner.

The sludge on your pond’s floor will have been manifesting and gathering for an extended period, so removing the sludge is a very messy (and smelly) task, but a pond vacuum will eliminate this slightly dirty job. When you use a fish pond vacuum cleaner, the completion time is also significantly slashed to a fraction of the time and a more thorough job will be completed, compared with using rakes and nets.

P.S. this is why we recommended removing your fish from the pond first - we wouldn’t want any fish to be accidentally sucked up!

4. Add Beneficial Bacteria back into your Pond

Although your surface does need skimming, and your sludge does needs abolishing, in the process of doing so you will be removing some of your ponds healthy bacteria that is beneficial for your fish and the surrounding wildlife. Therefore, we recommend using some pond cleaning chemicals, additives and treatments such as filter starters, dechlorinators and algaecides that will help to manually stimulate the levels of good bacteria within your garden pond and keep them thriving, while also helping to clean your pond.

5. Re-introduce your Fish to their Refreshed Home

By this point, your fish will have been away from their pond for a good hour or two, so we think it's time they came home. You can begin adding your fish back into their natural habitat and watch them appreciate their nice, shiny and clean pond.

6. Clean and Service your Pond Filter System

Cleaning and maintaining your pond filtration system at the same time as the rest of the pond cleaning seems like the correct thing to do, right? Here at CD Aquatics, we recommend leaving this step until after a week or two has passed.

Even if you add pond additives and treatments into your pond water, cleaning the sludge and skimming your surface water will mean a lot of good bacteria is lost all at one time, so it is best not to lose this healthy bacteria from your ponds filter system, too. After your fish have been reintroduced to their nice clean pond for a week or two, a wholesome level of bacteria will have been built back up and so it is now the perfect time to tackle your filter!

Occasionally cleaning your ponds filter will help to reduce the need of cleaning your pond too often, which in turn helps to keep a nourishing level of bacteria (it also saves you lots of work) and an efficient pond filtration system will also keep the optimum water quality to allow your fish to thrive and live a healthy life.

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