Cleaning Fish Ponds

Cleaning fish ponds is one of those “interesting” but necessary chores we face when we choose to keep fish. Here’s the deal.

If you’re removing your fish to winter them indoors, then clean the pond in the fall. - otherwise you get to pick the fall or wait until spring. See below for why I like fall.

Reduce Water Level with Pump

Gradually lower the water level (use your pond pump system to pump the water out rather than put it through the filter/skimmer system) and net the fish.

Once all the fish are caught, then you start cleaning the pond in the normal way and pumping the excess water from the bottom.

Strong Jet of Water

I use a strong jet of water to wash out the crevices between the rocks in pond bottoms. This water flows down to the centre of the pond (the lowest part if you built properly) and that’s where my pump is sitting to pump out the dirty water. The dirty water is removed from the pond and I continue to forcefully hose down the sides as they are exposed.

Bottom and Sides

When I get to the bottom of the pond sides, I work the hose jet into the bottom crevices and continue to stir up the dirt - the pond keeps working and the dirt is flushed out of the pond.

Cleaning fish ponds doesn’t have to be a big chore, it can be a somewhat “earthy” smelling chore but if done in the fall before the leaves have a chance to start rotting, then odors aren’t bad.

Tree Leaves

And yes, I do wait until after the leaves have fallen from nearby trees to clean the pond. There’s little sense in my mind to clean the pond and then let the trees muck it all up again.

The final step in cleaning fish ponds is to fill them back up again. I always leave my pond filled in the fall.

Questions and Answers

Question: Do I have to remove the fish to clean out the pond? I have a lot of fish.

A: No you don’t but… if your pond is really dirty, then you’re going to be stirring up all kinds of clouds of “stuff” and you won’t get it all out. The big fish will tolerate short bursts of dirty water (and the heavy particles will all settle out quickly) but you won’t get your pond fully cleaned if you don’t remove the fish. Or, you’ll spend more time cleaning the pond than you would have if you had removed the fish.

I can’t catch all my fish because they’re too small.

A: Hmm. Well, you might get a finer net or you might simply decide to eliminate them by pumping them along with the dirty water.

What about cleaning fish ponds in the spring?

A: No problem. You can do it in spring or fall. Fall has the advantage of you having to catch your fish and overwinter them indoors. Spring has the advantage of starting fresh with a new season and you’re probably more enthusiastic.

I prefer the fall as you get the season’s dirt cleaned out before it starts rotting and stinking really badly. But it really is your choice.

Click here to ask about cleaning fish ponds


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