There are several items you should have to make this job easier. A full Pond Clean out in the Spring is highly recommended for a good healthy pond, as it removes build up debris/sludge/muck, as well as, puts your pond water back in balance, should it have spiked in fatal areas such as ammonia, pH, nitrates and nitrites. Even if your pond water is CLEAR---your pond balance may still be dangerously elevated!
Did you know?: Cleaning your pond in the Spring actually simulates mother nature. In nature lakes which are fed by streams and rivers get flushed out when the heavy Spring rains fall. Man-made ponds clearly don't have the same kind of flushing-out system in place naturally. Cue Pond Cleanout/Maintenance Season!
- Cleanout Pump –We advise against using your waterfall pump for this, as there is a good chance your waterfall pump is a solids handling pump and has no protective strainer. Get a GOOD cleanout pump with a strainer protecting the intake, and enough hose to get your water where you want it to go so it doesn’t cover your lawn with a thick brown sludge.
- Nets, Tubs and Aerators – You will need enough tubs to house your fish so be aware of how many fish you have so that there is enough oxygen in each tub for them to share, as aerators can only help so much. If you fish are 12" or larger, you will need a quality sock net to remove them, as big koi can easily break their backs if you try to net them with a shallow net.
- Power Washer – Look for a wider spray pattern tip to use, as a narrow tip can act like a laser beam and slice your liner.
- Wet / Dry Shop Vac –
- Waders – Cleaning out a pond in the spring can be extremely cold and waders help to keep you clean, dry and ultimately a little bit warmer.
- New Filter Mats / Skimmer Mat – Depending on the condition of your mats last fall when you shut down the pond, you may want to consider replacing them during your spring opening. If they tear easily, it’s time to replace them.
- Startup additives – We use Cold Weather Beneficial Bacteria and Pond Detoxifier (both by Aquascape Inc).
- Small buckets for debris cleanup
- Pond Equipment that you removed for winterization (parts like skimmer or biofalls racks, checkvalve for your pump, control panel for an iongen, etc)
- Channel locks come in handy to remove biofalls plugs as well as tighten up check valve unions.
- Waterfall Foam – Used to reset rocks that have fallen from the waterfall, or for re-applying foam where it has dried or pulled away from rocks allowing water to escape behind the rocks.
- Replacement light bulbs –
- Replacement IonGen Probe (if you have an IonGen, its good to have a spare on hand)
- Place your cleanout pump in the pond. Depending on the pond size circumstances, you can either place it on the bottom immediately, or place it on a shelf to start. If you can’t reach the bottom because its in the center of a very large pond ( we don’t recommend throwing the pump), start on a shelf and drain it to that level, then move it to the next lower shelf.
- Direct pond water into holding tubs for fish. We use 100 gallon tubs and it is imperative that you net the top of the tub and use a bubbler in each tub that will hold fish because the fish are known to try to jump out of the tubs. An aerator is recommended because smaller volume of water means lower dissolved oxygen levels.
- Catch fish: Wait for the water to be 12″ or less before even attempting to net your fish. Chasing fish could stress them out and reduce their slime coat if you try when the water is higher than this.
* If you have larger koi, 12″-18″ plus sized fish you should be using a sock net. The other nets are for smaller fish and goldfish, and will not properly support the back of your larger koi. Koi can break their backs from being curled up in too small of a net. NEVER attempt to move more than 1 large koi at a time in a sock net because koi are more delicate as they get larger.
* Use this time to inspect your fish. Take a look at the fins and scales while checking the body for any parasites or ulcers.
- Continue to drain the pond and start to collect the debris and leaves that have settled in the pond into a bucket. Cut back some of the perennials.
- Powerwash. We usually turn the cleanout pump back on for this, as you will want to continually remove the dirty water. We’re powerwashing to remove algae stains and to dislodge jammed up sludge/debris from in between rocks and gravel. Be careful with the powerwasher where the gravel and bare liner, and be sure to use the tips with a wider spray pattern or a 30 degree tip. The gravel is blown EVERYWHERE if you are not careful and the zero degree (laser beam) tips will cut thru liner quick as a razor, so do NOT use them.
- Rinse all rocks and gravel one last time to get any detritus that splashed around down to the pump for evacuation from the pond. At this point we try to rinse an area until the water runs clear.
- Clean skimmer: You can put the cleanout pump right into the skimmer to drain the majority of water and vacuum the rest the water and sludge out with the shop vac. Be forewarned! You’re skimmer has the potential to really stink! If any mice or frogs got in there over the winter, you’ll be quick to find out! Vacuum them up.
- Clean Biofalls: Remove as much of the debris as possible, as anything left behind will usually only add to the nutrients that algae need to thrive. Your biofalls may have filled with leaves in the fall, you’ll want to remove those and any other debris that’s fallen in. If you haven’t already removed the 2″ plug (see step 1), you will want to do that now.
- Hookup biofalls and skimmer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For the Aquascape systems we typically service, this means putting the rack, then filter pads, and finally media bags filled with bioballs in the biofalls. And attaching the pump to the check valve and hooking them up in your skimmer, inserting the filter rack, and filter in the skimmer, and then finally installing the basket and lid for the skimmer. *TIP* Always be sure to plug in your pump for a quick spin up to make sure its moving BEFORE you install it in the skimmer. Many pumps may need a little “kickstart” after not running them all winter.
- Remove the cleanout pump from the deep end of your pond. A trick we use is to NOT unplug the pump until you have fully removed it from the pond. When you unplug it while it is still in the pond, water will backwash down and run back into the pond, usually bringing some muddy water (that you just worked so hard to remove) back with it. If you wait until the pump is removed and on the lawn, any backwashed water will not go into the pond.
- Add some Pond Detox and Cold Weather Beneficial Bacteria. This will help to neutralize any ammonia, chlorine or chloramine, as well as detoxify heavy metals and make the water safe for your fish.
- Now, if you have extra water saved from when you drained the pond, we start adding that back. You can also return the fish to the pond, carefully netting them out of the tub at this time as well. Usually its a quick 200-500 gallons, but its enough to fill the lower shelf and get the fish back in. Its also water that the fish have been used to (original pond water) and helps ease the transition, considering many times you change out 80% or more of the original water.
If you feel like this is a task is a bit much for you to undertake and you would rather have someone else do it--contact us!!! Dreamscapes Watergardens performs 200 koi pond and waterfall cleanouts/openings each spring, and our crews are the best in the business.
For more specific information on your koi pond and/or waterfall Spring Cleaning/Opening, please contact us directly!
Dreamscapes also carries a full line of pond supplies from water treatments and fish medications to pond pumps, heaters, fountains, plants and fish! Tadpoles and snails are also available at our Aquatic Retail Center in Lebanon, Pennsylvania seasonally while supplies last from May-August. If you think you need it, we have it!
Retail Hours: April 5th-October 27th 2018:
Monday-Wednesday: By Appt
October 28th-April 2019: HOURS BY APPT
2155 State Route 343, Lebanon Pa | 717-272-6555 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Dreamscapes Watergardens services koi ponds and waterfalls in the city of Lebanon, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill, Cleona, Cornwall, Fredericksburg, Indiantown Gap, Jonestown, Kleinfeltersville, Mount Gretna, Myerstown, Newmanstown Palmyra, Quentin, Reistville, Richland, Schaefferstown of Pennsylvania, PA