Cleaning Fish Ponds

Fish ponds became an eighteenth century addition to the stately mansion gardens of the day. The rich developed huge lawn gardens sprinkled with arboretums containing statues, benches, and reflecting ponds. It was a common sight to see the groundskeeper cleaning fish ponds.

Now even the smallest backyards can have a nice fish pond, but along with a fish pond comes the responsibility of cleaning it, as murky fish water takes away from the beauty and smells bad. Although there are some good chemical and natural fish pond cleaning additives on the market, take into consideration these tips for keeping your fish pond fresh and your fish healthy:

When cleaning fish ponds, first remove any built up algae by scraping it off the surface. A pool skimmer works great for this, or you can save some money by stretching an old pair of pantyhose across a wire coat hanger. This is the best form of prevention, but you would still do well to remove the fish once a year and give the empty pond a good scrubbing.

Using half water from the pond and half clean water (be sure to use a de-chlorinating tablet), remove the fish and place them in a container large enough to hold them comfortably while you clean. You may have to use several smaller containers. It is important to save some of the "dirty" water from the pond as it contains good bacteria. Drain as much of the water as possible out of the pond before cleaning fish ponds, it is harder for them to run from you this way! Remove any pond plants and set them in another bucket or in the shade.

Scrape all the debris and any silt from the bottom of the pond. You can throw it directly into your garden if you'd like as it makes an excellent fertilizer and you don't have to worry about where to dispose of it this way.

Use a dry, clean brush with no detergent to scrub down the sides of the pond and remember to clean the filtration system, generally by spraying it with a hose. Never use detergents on the filtration system of any other part of cleaning a fish pond unless it is an approved material from a fish supply store.

When your fish pond is clean, pour back in the "dirty" water and fill the rest of the way with clean, de-chlorinated water. The fresh pond water needs to be the same temperature as the water in the holding tank, so wait until it is relatively the same before reintroducing fish into their clean home. You should not have to clean your fish pond more than once a year--it takes that long for healthy bacteria to build up. If your pond tends to get murky quickly (this could be because of its positioning. If it's in direct sunlight algae will accumulate faster.) Try increasing the amount of scavengers that live there by one scavenger for every square foot of fish pond. Mussels, tadpoles, snails, and "sucker fish" are all excellent algae eaters.