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How to Clean Your Pond

Materials Needed:

  • Holding Tank
  • Net to Cover Holding Tank
  • Pump and Tubing (Could use your pond pump)
  • Fish net to catch fish and scavengers
  • Pond Thermometer
  • Chlorine/Chloramine Remover, such as Ammo Lock


  • Set up your holding tank next to the pond
  • Now start pumping the water out of the pond. First fill the holding tank, and then the rest can go into the lawn or flower beds. Great Fertilizer! When the pond water level is down to a point where it is just covering your pump, turn the pump off so you don’t burn it up–the water keeps the pump cool!
  • Set up a small pump to aerate the water in the holding tank. This can be the pump from the pond if you have completed the above step, or you can save time by using a second pump while the pond pump is being used to drain water from the pond.
  • Remove your fish and scavengers and put them in the holding tank. It will be much easier to do now that the water is so shallow. Trying to catch fish too early only stresses the fish and could injure them. Now cover the holding tank with the net to prevent the fish from jumping out.
  • Remove all plants and put them in the shade or cover with wet newspapers or towels.
  • Bail out or shop vac (my favorite) the remaining water.
  • Using a strong blast of water, now hose down any rocks or loose dirt on sides and bottom of pond. No need for any chemicals for the cleaning part. Rinse and drain the pond again using a bucket or shop vac.
  • Start filling the pond with new water. Depending on the size of your pond, now could be a good time to attend your plants. Repotting and adding fertilizer.
  • When the pond is full start up the filter and pump system. Add chlorine/chloramine remover to make the water safe for the fish. You could also add beneficial bacteria to your filter and water to speed up the process of keeping your ponds naturally balanced.
  • Now add some of that treated pond water to the holding tank to help get the water in the holding tank to within 3 degrees of the pond water. Use your pond thermometer for this.
  • Release your fish and scavengers back into the pond and enjoy!

By Bill Watts, Beltsville Aquatic Manager

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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