Although it may seem like the right thing to do, draining water from your pond should only be used as a final option and is not necessary for cleaning it. The truth is that draining your pond can actually make it dirtier because it disrupts the ecosystem. If you possess the appropriate equipment, it is easy and effective to clean your pond without completely draining it.
People wrongly assume that water that appears dirty needs to be drained away in order to clean a pond sufficiently enough. In most cases, this is simply not the case because when pond water looks dirty, it is working with the ecosystem of the pond providing it with a very natural and organic cleaning system and is actually very healthy.
Water in ponds are filled with literally millions of beneficial bacteria and helpful micro-organisms that help to reduce and eliminate the more harmful chemicals present, like nitrates and ammonia. This bacteria is crucial to ponds that are home to fish as they are the foundation for an effective nitrogen cycle.
When you start removing water from your pond, you are actually also decreasing the populations of much-needed beneficial bacteria. This in turn means that you can significantly decrease your pond’s biological and very natural filtration process. After you’ve drained your pond, adding extra water is even worse as this causes greater disruption. This is because water from your mains supply normally has a high percentage of chlorine. Chlorine is not only dangerous for your fish, but it is also poses a risk to that crucial beneficial bacteria.
When you clean your pond without needing to drain it out, you are ensuring the populations of natural bacteria are kept at a healthy level, allowing your pond to continue operating its natural bio-filtration. Even when the levels of waste in your pond are extremely high, you only need to remove some, not all of it, to allow the bacteria to start working properly again.
When Should I Clean My Pond?
Though cleaning can and should be performed whenever it is necessary, the best time to do it is towards the end of autumn, as this will help to winterise your pond. Another good time is at the start of spring.
One of the reasons for cleaning towards the end of autumn is to considerably reduce the levels of waste as winter comes along, to give your fish a safer and more comfortable hibernation. When debris and sludge is left in ponds, it creates all kinds of issues for the fish inhabiting them. Particularly if the water freezers over and there has not been measures taken to ensure that a gas exchange happens.
When this happens, the oxygen levels are reduced considerably and dangerous substances begin to rise. In the worst case scenario, your fish are very sick or dead by the time spring rolls around. Therefore, if you have goldfish or Koi, you should consider carrying out a deep clean of your pond towards the end of autumn.
Similarly, towards the start of spring, when your fish are starting more a lot more and the temperatures are slowly rising, it can be good to give your pond a small clean. While this may not be as intensive or thorough as the one you carried out during autumn, it is a good practice that can help to ensure your pond has adequate beneficial bacteria and helps get rid of any dangerous debris that remains.
Obviously, you should also give your pond a clean to remove excessive and overgrown plants like duckweed, to remove fallen leaves and algae.
Step by Step Guide To Cleaning Your Pond Without Draining Water Away
Step 1 – Use A Skimmer
The first step to cleaning your pond is to remove any floating debris there is, and it is best to use a pond skimmer for this. You should aim to do this before it sinks to the bottom and is harder to retrieve. It is wise to clean the floating debris before you work on your pond’s liner, because you’ll only end up cleaning it again when it sinks to the bottom.
Common floating debris includes insect larvae and dead insects, sticks, twigs and leaves. You can remove these using a cost-effective pond net; but if your budget allows it you should invest in an automatic functioning skimmer system. These ingenious devices ensure ponds are constantly kept free from debris.
Pond Net Or Skimmer?
A pond net is a cheap, but reasonable choice for helping to clean your pond. If you are going to go with this method, it is important to ensure you choose one that has a wide opening basket with fine mesh, to allow you to catch debris of all sizes with relative ease.
A skimmer could be a better solution in the long run, if there are a lot of fish in your pond or you have a constant battle against debris and want your pond water to be as clear as possible.
There are two main types of skimmers available:
Box Skimmers – Skimmers that have a higher capacity and can clean the surface water of a large pond very quickly.
Smaller submerged or floating skimmers – Smaller skimmers that are more effective with smaller ponds. They also cost considerably less than box skimmers.
Step 2 – Use a Pond Vacuum To Clean The Pond Floor
If you are looking to clean the bottom much of your pool but don’t want to drain the water away, pond vacuums are a good option.
When cleaning your pond, it is wise to clear sludge that collects at the bottom of the pond. Even though it is not crucial to remove it all, it could benefit your pond if you remove a little before winter comes along, to ensure your fish have a safe place to hibernate. This is the point in a pond cleaning that many people assume needs to involve draining the water from the pond, but you only need to do this if you are using a rake or net to manually remove the sludge.
Vacuums designed to be used on ponds enable you to clear the pond liner bottom without draining any water and many of the best models come with a selection of different attachments to allow you to get to those harder to reach places. If your pond is a deep one, you will need to find a model that has sufficient suction for deep waters and that has a telescopic handle that can be extended to make cleaning easier.
Basic vacuums, however, lose some suction when they you use them in deeper, larger ponds. While they may be okay for small ponds, they are less effective for large ones.
Furthermore, you need to choose a pond vacuum that has a discharge system that is reliable to give you continuous and easy cleaning.
Step 3 – Make Use Of Supplementary Beneficial Bacteria
Sludge removers feature natural bacteria that breaks down any organic matter present on the floor of your pond. Once you have given the sludge at the bottom a good clean, then, it is a good idea to use a supplementary natural beneficial bacteria product. This will help to tackle any waste that is still in your pond.
The majority of sludge removers use high concentrations of bacteria that easily breaks down the organic matter. In the same way as a pond’s own natural bacteria, the sludge remove does the same job – also helping to boost the populations after a thorough clean.
If your pond is home to wildlife, you may want to keep the majority of sludge. Instead of cleaning it out, you can simply add some complementary beneficial bacteria to enhance the nitrogen cycle. Sludge can benefit ponds with wildlife because it provides food for micro-organisms and insects and gives nutrients to the plants.
Step 4 – Manage and Remove Algae Growing In Your Pond
Although algae will die eventually, it becomes sludge and then you have to work to remove it. A UV clarifier allows you to remove it while it is still growing. Algae isn’t as big an enemy of the pond owner as you may think. It can benefit your pond to have some algae, as it provides snacks for goldfish and hiding places from predators. Algae really becomes a problem when you just leave it to grow and it starts to overrun your entire pond system.
Step 5 – Optimize Water Filtration
The last but by no means least step to take when cleaning your pond is to make sure you have effective and efficient water filtration in your pond that will reduce the amount of maintenance and cleaning you have to do in the future. When you have in place a good quality filtration system that is healthy and biological you will not have many problems with the quality of water. Also, if the filter has effective mechanical media you can reduce the levels of debris in your pond.