All About the Pond Vacuum

There are three basic ways to create a pond vacuum.

1) Using an attachment that fits onto a hose and acts as a siphon.

2) Using a special wet-system vacuum cleaner that can also act as a shop-vac

3) Using your existing pump (depending on the nature of that pump)

Existing Pump Systems

Caution - this works on pumps that can handle "solids" and it has to be one of the larger pumps that normally sits in a big filter. Small pumps that sit on the bottom of the pond are simply not large enough to do this job.

To empty the pond, connect the "in" side of your pump to a length of pipe that will reach into the very bottom of your pond.

Connect the "out" side of your pump to a length of pipe that will discharge water somewhere in your garden (vegetable garden is good) that is downslope of your pond. Do not go through any filters with either the inflow or outflow.

In other words, eliminate any of the filters between the water - the pump and the outflow.

Turn on your pump. The water is now emptying from the pond.

As the water empties, use the garden hose with a strong jet of water to hose down the sidewalls of the pond, dislodging any dirt from rocks or the bottom. You'll find the pond will very quickly become very dirty and skudzy (a scientific term for really, really gross) :-) but your pump will be sending the dirty water out of the pond.

You can keep washing the sidewalls and rocks until the discharge water is fairly clean.

You're cleaning your pond and you haven't had to buy any other equipment!

A Siphon System

A siphon system works (buy the extension system on this one too) but many folks with really big ponds will use other systems. They do clog up if you have large solids and it does take a suprisingly large amount of water going through the siphon to create a sucking action so the siphon will work. But with smaller ponds, they do work.

Frankly, I've never bothered with this kind of system but if you have a small pond, they may be what you're interested in.

Vacuum Cleaner Style

The heavy duty vacuum cleaner style also works and depending on the unit, *may* do double-duty in the garage. You can clean the pond this way either by sucking up the bottom "stuff" and empty it out of the pond or do it with the pond still filled with water

Pond Waste Water

Yes, you can empty this pond waste water onto the garden. It really won't hurt anything and might help a bit with the decomposing organic matter. Yes, it might smell "fishy" for a few hours before it dries out.

About The Fish and Plants

I note that doing this assumes you've caught the fish - fish can be easily sucked up by vacuums or pumps without filters and they seldom survive going through a mechanical pump.

You don't have to remove the bigger plants - they'll just sit on the bottom in their pots or growing beds and look unhappy until you fill the pond again. But if you intend to split lilies or lotus, then do this in the very early spring.

You DO want to remove the floating plants and oxygenators if you can. These will get sucked into the pond vacuum and again, either clog up the pump or get chewed into small bits.

After the pond is cleaned and empty of water, do any maintenance to the plants they require.

Fill the pond again, toss in the oxygenating plants and let everything settle out.

Shopping Resources for Pond Vacuum Systems

You can see the various options in a pond vacuum here to get some sense of the cost - particularly if you don't have a big enough pump or you're using a pond-filter combination in a small pond.

Heavy duty vacuum cleaner style

A siphon system