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Ponds & Water Features

Seasonal Tips - Spring Cleanout

Maintenance tips for the Spring...
The spring rains fill streams and rivers, which in turn flush out the lakes and ponds.This is nature’s way of preparing for a new season of life.Your man-made pond needs your help in order to duplicate this same process.

The Early Spring Cleanout: By replenishing the water in your pond, and giving it a good cleaning at the beginning of each season, your pond can begin each new season fresh. Early spring, before your pond awakens completely from its winter dormancy, is the best time of year to perform your cleanout. Ideally, the cleanout should take place before the water temperature creeps above 55ºF. As long as your water is cooler than 55ºF, the beneficial bacteria that grow in your filter and on your rocks will not yet be established. If a cleanout is done after bacteri a colonies form, your ecosystem will be thrown out of balance and your pond will go through a “green phase” before your bacteria colonies reestablish themselves again.

Clean It Yourself of Hire a Professional?

Before you jump into the process of cleaning your pond, consider the possibility of hiring a professional. Many professionals, maybe even the one who may have installed your pond, offer pond maintenance and cleaning services. Whether you clean your pond or hire a professional is really a matter of personal preference.

If you do it yourself, you can mark it down for your daily exercise, you can be proud of what you’ve done, and you can learn a little more about what’s lurking beneath the water. Sometimes it isn’t pretty, but isn’t that the beauty of pond ecology?

Now if you decide to have it done by a professional that you know and trust, there’s a good chance it’s going to be done right, taking little or no time away from your day. Plus, if a professional happens to be washing out your filter media and finds a problem, they can address it right there. The trained eye of the contractor could even prevent a problem before it occurs.

So will you go for the personal satisfaction of cleaning out your pond, or will you trade your hip boots in for the TV remote and let your contractor do it? The choice is yours.

Limiting Fish Stress: Spring cleanouts should be performed start to finish on the same day. Fish should not be left outside the pond in a holding container in full sun for longer than a few hours. Fish are weak after a long winter, but they’ll do just fine if you limit the stress of a cleanout by completing it in a timely fashion.

Checklist of Materials for Your Pond Clean-out
If you’re planning to get your hands dirty with a spring clean-out, here is a list of materials that may be helpful when you’re in the trenches. Being prepared ahead of time will prevent the need to run to the store in the middle of your clean-out project. Here’s a handy list of things you may need before strapping on you hip boots and wading in:

  • Kiddie pool (or similar, large container to hold fish and frogs)
  • Net to cover fish container to prevent them from jumping out
  • Fish net to catch the fish before the clean-out
  • Lily tabs – might as well fertilize those lilies while you’re in there!
  • Two-five gallon buckets for collecting leaves and debris
  • Wading boots or old clothes you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Rubber gloves
  • 25 feet of 1.5 to 2-inch discharge piping
  • A high-pressure nozzle for your garden hose or a power washer
  • Garden shears for trimming plants
  • Bacteria
  • Dechlorinator if you’re filling your pond with city water
  • Extra rocks/pebbles to cover exposed liner
  • Expanding foam to fill in any necessarily spots
  • New filter mats, if needed

Now that you know why you should do a clean-out, your next step is to learn how to do a clean-out. Now don’t worry – it’s really not as complicated – just a little dirty. If you follow a few easy steps, your clean-out can be done quickly and easily. Check out these easy-to-follow steps.

10 Steps to a Successful Spring Clean-out

  • Start Draining the Pond – An inexpensive pump or a sump pump is sufficient. Be sure you use some of the pond water to fill a container with pond water for the fish.
  • Disconnect the Circulation System – This will allow the water in the plumbing to drain out.
  • Catch the Fish – Drain the pond down to the lowest shelf in order to catch fish easily and safely.
  • Remove Debris – Once the pond is drained, remove the large debris like leaves and twigs.
  • Wash the Pond – A 1,500 psi pressure washer or a high-pressure nozzle on a garden hose is recommended for pond cleaning.
  • Rinse the Pond – Rinse the pond from top to bottom with a garden hose without the high-pressure nozzle. This will help wash any remaining pond debris from under the rocks. As the dirty water accumulates on the bottom, continuing to pump it out.
  • Clean the Filters – Spray the filtration media until relatively clean and rinse down the inside of the filter units.
  • Refill the Pond – Pull the clean-out pump out and begin re-filling the pond.
  • De-chlorinate the Water – Most city water contains chlorine and chloramines and should be treated with a de-chlorinator before fish are introduced.
  • Acclimate the Fish – A spring clean-out can be stressful to fish, so proper acclimation is suggested to decrease stress and avoid future health problems. In order to properly acclimate your fish, you’ll want to slowly introduce it to the water by floating them in the pond fish and adding pond water little by little before letting them in.

Seasonal Tips - Winterizing Checklist

Water Treatments-
Stock up on products that control algae in cold temperatures

  • AquaClearer Extreme Cold Water Bacteria
  • ECOBLAST- String Algae Control

Pond Netting-
Keep out the falling leaves
Available Sizes: 7' x 10', 14' x 20', 28' x 30'

Floating Heater-
Keeps a hole open in the ice to maintain gas exchange

Bubbler –
Oxygenate with a pump sitting below the surface of the water

Call Us to Order. Shipped direct to your door in 3-4 days.
740-264-7627 or 304-748-7625

Leave It Running Or Shut It Down?

Winter is fast approaching, and you still aren’t sure what to do with your pond. Should you keep the pump running all winter or shut it down? Can you even keep a pond running all winter through freezing temperatures?

Maintenance is usually the determining factor in whether or not a pond owner keeps their pump running in the winter. The primary maintenance responsibility at this time is to make sure there is enough water for the pump(s) to operate properly.

Pump size is also an important consideration when determining a waterfall’s ability to operate during the winter. A pump that provides at least 2,000 gph can be operated throughout the winter without a problem, as long as it runs continuously. The moving water will usually keep a hole open in the ice around the waterfalls and in front of the skimmer.

There is nothing more breathtaking than a waterfall covered with ice formations and snow during the winter. You must, however, be careful with ponds that have long or slow-moving streams. In such cases, ice dams can form and divert water over the liner.

And then there are your fish friends. What will become of them over the winter months? Do they hibernate like a bear and wake up in the spring when you’re there to greet them for a clean-out? Can they survive in only two feet of water? Won’t they freeze solid into little precious fish-cicles?

The fact is that ornamental fish will do just fine in two feet of water, as long as some form of oxygenation is provided, and a hole is kept in the ice to allow the escape of harmful gases. It’s recommended to place a waterfall pump in a basket, bucket, or pump sock and surround the intake of the pump with stones to prevent clogging. Place the pump on the second or third shelf of the pond so the surface water is broken by the aeration. The agitation from the pump will prevent freezing and provide oxygen.

Another option is to use a floating heater/de-icer in combination with a small submersible pump (at least 150 gph). You can place the small re-circulating pump on the first shelf of the pond, bubbling at least one inch above the surface. Floating heaters are the most common method of keeping a hole open in the ice. Unfortunately they won’t provide oxygen for the fish, and some can be expensive to operate.

Do not confuse a floating pond de-icer with a water heater. A pond de-icer won’t heat the water; it will simply keep a small hole open in the ice. Be sure to place it away from re-circulating water to avoid moving the heated water. Just remember that although they seem like they’re sleeping down there, they still need oxygen in order to keep going and to meet you when the ice melts!

If you feel that you can tackle the responsibilities of keeping your pond running during the winter, then go for it, because there’s nothing quite like the breathtaking view of the winter pond in all its glory!

Winter Maintenance Tips

When the leaves begin to fall and blow, cover the water’s surface with a net to catch them. The net discourages the debris build up on the pond bottom, which would otherwise decompose, create toxic gasses, and prove harmful to the fish during their hibernation period.

Watch for the 55°F mark. Before that time, avoid missing any fish feedings because the fish are in the process of packing on nutrition, and getting ready to hibernate. But when the temp starts to regularly dip below 55°F, it’s a sure sign to stop feeding your fish because their metabolisms have slowed down to a point where they can no longer handle the nutrition safely.

At this time, dying foliage on your aquatic plants should be removed. This helps to minimize debris build up on the pond bottom. If you have potted tropical aquatic plants that you want to save for next season, this is the time to remove them from the pond, and take them indoors for the winter.

Winter Shutdown

If you decide to shut your pond down for the winter, you’ll need to remove the pump from the skimmer box, place it in a bucket of water, and store it somewhere that is protected from freezing.

You’ll also need to remove the filter mats from the skimmer and the Aquafalls filter and clean them off. Saving this task for spring could delay your spring cleanout. The water in the skimmer and Aquafalls filter takes longer to thaw and the filter mats could be frozen inside. Place an Aerator (GP35 is recommended) at the bottom shelf of the pond. This will agitate the water’s surface, oxygenating the water and helping keep a hole in the ice, which will allow gasses to escape while the pond is iced over. This keeps the fish safe during their hibernation phase.

In extremely cold temperatures, an aerator may not be enough to keep a hole open in the ice. Under these conditions, it may be necessary to supplement the pump with a floating heater. A low voltage heater runs only enough to heat the water that surrounds it to 32°F, ensuring that a hole will remain open during most frigid part of the winter. Floating heaters should never be used alone, as they do not oxygenate the water.

Keeping It Running

If you choose to keep the pond running all winter, you’re in for a treat when the ice formations begin to take shape in and around the falls. This scene is tailor-made for an ambitious winter photographer. You’ll also need to keep an eye on any slow-moving streams where ice dams can form, diverting water out of your pond and creating potential problems you’ll want to avoid.

You’ll still need to employ an aerator floating heater in order to keep a hole in the pond’s surface for the sake of fish safety.


Professional Lawn & Landscape, LLC


Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association Unilock Authorized Contractor Certified Aquascape Contractor
PO Box 791 Steubenville, OH 43952
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