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9 Steps To Cleaning Your Pond Back To Beautiful

Would you agree that your pond is one of the most beautiful parts of your home?

The water can be so crystal clear you can count the rocks on the bottom. Aquatic plants can bring splashes of color, like with green lily pads and pink lotus flowers.

But something this beautiful has to have a catch. The catch for koi ponds is that, if left unattended for too long, they can get mucky:

  • Algae take over the pond
  • Water becomes cloudy
  • Plants overgrow
  • Debris clogs the filters
  • Organic matter (muck) gathers on the bottom

Ponds with even one of these symptoms can quickly become an eyesore.

Pond taken over by vegetation and other material

You can stop these from happening to your koi pond with regular cleaning.

Nobody deserves to feel embarrassed when they think of their pond. The good news is you don’t have to ever feel that way again.

There is a great pond cleaning process that even us professional pond people follow. It works so well that we felt as though we needed to share it with you.

Whether you choose to follow this process or have a pro do it, you are only 9 steps away from a beautifully clean koi pond.

Let’s explore these 9 steps and see how they can help your pond go from mucky to magnificent.

Tools For Cleaning Your Koi Pond

  • 200+ gallon tub for any fish
  • Sump pump
  • Vacuum pump
  • Pressure washer
  • Hose and spigot
  • Planting supplies
    • Pot
    • Plant fertilizer
    • Dirt
    • 1-3? gravel

1. Remove Any Fish And Drain Your Koi Pond

Now there are certain cleaning methods that allow the pond to still have water in it. We like to drain the pond instead so we can do a more detailed clean.

There are some worries that this method can hurt your pond’s ecosystem, specifically the beneficial bacteria. Don’t worry, if done correctly the draining will not have any lasting negative impact on your koi pond.

Here is how to drain your koi pond:

  1. If you have fish, use the sump pump to drain 1’ of water
  2. Put some of the pond water into the tub for the fish (it puts less stress on them)
  3. Now move your fish to the tub
  4. Finally, drain the rest of the water out

But don’t start cleaning it just yet.

Multiple sump pump drains the water for cleaning a koi pond

2. Check Your Koi Pond For Problems

Sometimes small problems can become more recognizable when the water is gone. That makes this is an excellent chance to look for any problems with your pond:

  • Overgrown plants
  • Broken materials
  • Liner damage
  • Non-organic debris
  • Shifted rocks

It’s better to fix these issues now rather than let them become major complications later.

Pond drained of water

3. Clean The Pond Shelves And Walls

Plant matter and muck, in general, can worm its way between the rocks. It gunks up your pond and makes it look…messy.

You can flush that muck out using the sump pump and your pond water. It’s both convenient and environmentally friendly.

Now you just have to use the vacuum pump to remove the waste.

Cleaning the shelves and walls with sump pump water

4. Power Wash Your Koi Pond

Scale, algae, and debris are still left clinging to your pond. Left alone it can build up and hurt your pond’s look and ecosystem.

But you have a pressure washer.

Holding it too close to the rocks can damage them, the beneficial bacteria, and the liner, so take care! 8” or more is enough room to clean the rocks with damaging anything.

The pond part of the pond is now clean, but the rest isn’t.

You can learn the importance of rocks and gravel to koi ponds >>

Pressure washing the pond shelves and walls during cleaning

5. Care For Any Aquatic Plants

Left uncheck, aquatic plants can be just as bad as algae. They can clog your pond and make it look disorganized and untidy.

This is where you grab your shears and any repotting materials. Trim back any plants that are overgrowing their area and any dead plant matter.

If your plants are growing out of their pots:

  1. First, put plant fertilizer into a plant pot
  2. Next, put in a few inches of dirt
  3. Then, cut a bulb from the existing plant
    • it should be the diameter of a cantaloupe and trimmed at the top
  4. Plant the bulb
  5. Cover the bulb with a thin layer of dirt
    • gently pack the dirt so it isn’t loose
  6. Finish it off with a thin layer of gravel

Your plants should now be under control and ready to grow. Check out the video to see this process as it happens.

You can also discover some of the best aquatic plants for koi ponds >>

Step 6: Cleaning The Biofalls & Putting It Together

Your waterfall which makes the most relaxing sound needs cleaning too.

That’s because it also serves as a filter for your pond’s water. The biofalls (biological filter waterfalls) is made of 3 parts appearing in this order:

  • Bioballs
  • Filter mats
  • Rack

Take each part out and clean with the hose and/or sump pump. Then you’ll want to put it back together in reverse of the above order.

Now your biofalls should be beautiful and working smoothly.

Cleaning bioballs part of waterfall/biofalls

Step 7: Cleaning The Skimmer Parts

Leaves, plant matter, and debris are all caught by the skimmer (mechanical filter).

This one needs cleaning every so often because it catches larger debris. The filter mats also need cleaning.

You’ll notice something different though: a pump is attached to the bottom of the basket.

  1. Unattach the pump
  2. Take out the skimmer
  3. Clean the parts as you did with the biofalls

Put it back together and now you have a clean skimmer.

Skimmer unit during a koi pond cleaning

8. Refill Your Pond And Put In Your Koi Fish

Don’t put the fish in yet!

Putting fish in new water right away can be harmful. It’s chock full of chlorine, fluorine, and other types of -ines.

Thankfully, you can prepare the water for your fish with a pond detoxifier. Neutralize those harmful chemicals and get your fish back home!

You can see and learn the process for re-introducing your fish >>

Putting bag of fish in pond with top out so as to acclimate the koi fish to the new pond

9. Enjoy Your Amazingly Beautiful Pond

You deserve to feel proud of your pond. It should have clear water, beautiful plants, and happy fish.

Now it does.

Enjoying A New Pond

Bonus Step: Netting For Fall Maintenance

Your pond has a new enemy during fall: leaves.

They can easily clog filters and obscure the water. Left alone they can break down and become the muck laying on the bottom of your koi pond.

The best course of action is to stop them from getting into your pond using netting!

A Clean Koi Pond Is A Happy Koi Pond

And happy koi ponds have happy owners. You too can be the happy owner of an amazing pond! The good news is, you don’t have to do it yourself if you don’t want to.

You can check out our pond cleaning services instead >>