5 Things to Know When Spring Cleaning Your Watergarden Pond

5 Things to Know When Spring Cleaning Your Watergarden Pond

Why are Koi Pond Kits So Popular? Reading 5 Things to Know When Spring Cleaning Your Watergarden Pond 10 minutes Next The Problems with Conventional Pond Skimmers

When looking around online about spring cleaning your watergarden type pond – most tell you to clean your water garden pond just once per year – but they don’t provide much information on what you will need when doing it. They tell you to catch all your fish, put them in a holding tank, drain the pond, pressure wash all the rocks and gravel, and to drain and dismantle the biofalls waterfall filter box for cleaning. Then refill your pond and put the fish back in. Here are five things to know when performing an annual cleaning of a watergarden type pond:

Use a net to catch the fish from your pond
1. Fish don’t want to be removed from their home – so they will rapidly swim away from you and the net you are using to catch them. They will bang into rocks and things, and they may harm to themselves in the process. But, once you do catch them, you will have to put them somewhere. So you will have to have some sort of holding tank for them.
Use a temporary fish holding tank when spring cleaning your pond

(You can find temporary fish holding tanks on Amazon and elsewhere online) We recommend that you have a sturdy net to place over the holding tank to prevent them from jumping out. If you don’t cover the tank with a net the fish WILL try and jump out. So absolutely make sure your holding tank is covered!! Once you have your holding tank and cover net – when you catch your fish they will be very stressed, and some will have small abrasions from being caught. To help calm your fish, and to help any abrasions heal, we recommend using HydroClear Total Control™ which is a stress reducer, dechlorinator, and slime coat enhancer in one convenient bottle. Use HydroClearTotal Control™whenever handling pond fish of any kind to enhance their slime coat. Use it in the holding tank to help calm them down, and then again when the pond is refilled for dechlorination. Another needed item for your holding tank is aeration. We have several small, affordable, efficient aeration kits to keep the water and fish in your holding tank oxygenated and healthy.

Biofall waterfall filter boxes with filter pads and media nets are not easy to clean
2. Most Watergarden type ponds kits have some sort of biological waterfall filter box - also known as Biofalls, Purifalls, and other names - but they ALL function the same. The most popular type of biofilter media inside biofalls waterfall filter boxes are filter pads of some kind and nets filled with lava rock or some other type of bio media. Many filtration and pond kit manufacturers and/or retailers instruct you to clean the biological waterfall filter box just once per year. This, in my opinion, is bad advice simply because when you do decide to clean the waterfall filter box –  it will have an entire year of fish poop, debris, and detritus – called “sludge”. When left inside the waterfall filter box for an entire year – it gets really gross and really smelly.

Annually cleaned waterfall filter box with sludge filled media nets and filter pads
That is why we here at Russell Watergardens invented and patented the Hydro Vortex Backwashable Waterfall Filter that can be easily backwashed and cleaned without disassembly. But, until you are able to upgrade to our Hydro Vortex Backwashable Waterfall Filter – this is what you’ll need to do with your waterfall filter box: Drain the waterfall filter box – most don’t have drains so you’ll either empty the filter through the pond skimmer, or you need to pump the water out of the waterfall filter box.

Removing heavy sludge filled media nets from an annually cleaned waterfall filter box

Remove the lava rock nets and filter pads and prepare to pressure wash them. You will need to open the media nets and pressure wash the lava rock pieces individually.

Removing a sludge filled filter pad from a biofalls filterRemoving a sludge filled filter pad from a mini biofalls filter

Close-up of a sludge filled filter pad from a biofalls filterLooking inside a sludge filled lava rock media net from a biofalls filter

Sludge and muck from inside a biofalls filter after media nets and filter pads have been removed

Hand muck out the remaining sludge. Wear arm length rubber gloves because this can get pretty gross. Maybe use a clothespin on your nose for the smell too! Once you have cleaned the lava rock, filter pads, and the inside of the waterfall box – go ahead and place them back inside the biofalls waterfall filter box. This annual cleaning will get rid of the good bacteria along with getting rid of the bad bacteria. What I mean by that is that the pressure washing will kill and remove all the nitrifying bacteria inside the bio falls waterfall filter box and the filter will need to be re-seeded with HydroClear™ Nitrification Cycle™ to get the “bio” in the biological filter up and running again. HydroClear™ Nitrification Cycle™ beneficial pond filter bacteria works by converting toxic fish waste into non-toxic compounds.

The nitrification cycle is the conversion of ammonia to nitrite, and then nitrite into nitrate which is released as nitrogen when the waterfall is running.

Sprinkling Hydro Vescence rock cleaner directly onto all rocks and gravel in the pond

3. Apply HydroClear™ Hydro Vescense™ Effervescent Cleaner to your waterfall stones, streambed, and all submerged surfaces in the pond. The Hydro Vescence™ will go to work scrubbing the rocks and gravel for you and make pressure washing easier. Then pressure wash all the rocks, boulders, and gravel in the pond. Keep rinsing and pumping out the dirty water until the water runs clear.Hydro Vescense rock cleaner going to work on a waterfall stone

Using a pump to drain the pond during an annual cleaning

Pump draining discharge pipe

Pressure washing the pond and rocks in an annual spring pond cleaning

Or ……. You can easily clean and backwash your Hydro Vortex™ waterfall filter by using your existing pump and two valves to reverse water through the filter and out the drain at the bottom. Watch this video to see how to easy it is to clean and backwash a Hydro Vortex™ filter.








Compare waterfall filter boxes with Hydro Vortex™ waterfall filters here by clicking this link.

Typical pond skimmers with square or rectangular inlets with weir doors

4. Clean the pond skimmer. Most pond skimmers have a leaf net, or basket and either a filter pad or filter brushes. Most pond skimmers have holes cut in them for the plumbing, but those holes also let in debris and soil – especially during rain. Also, the filter pads in these pond skimmers are always underwater. So you will have to bend down and reach into the water inside the pond skimmer to remove the filter pad for cleaning. Also, make sure to check all the screw holes around the skimmers' inlet faceplate to make sure none have started to corrode and then possibly leak.

Typical pond skimmers are difficult to clean and require you to put your hands into the water to service them

Compare these typical pond skimmers with HydroClean™ pond skimmers. HydroClean™ pond skimmers have “Dry-Hands” servicing. The brush rack and leaf net have handles above the water line. HydroClean™ pond skimmers come standard with three outlet ports and an auto water fill valve port built in. All connections to HydroClean™ pond skimmers are with fittings – no holes cut into the sides – so no debris can wash into the skimmer. Also, HydroClean™ pond skimmers utilize a round water intake without a fish killing weir door, and no underwater metal screws to corrode and leak.

Hydro Clean pond skimmers' leaf net handle is above the water lineHydro Clean pond skimmers' filter brush rack handle is above the water lineHydro Clean pond skimmers attach to pond liner with one stainless steel nutHydro Clean pond skimmers are fish safe and can be installed away from the ponds' edge Hydro Clean pond skimmers feature 3 interchangeable outlet ports and an auto water fill valve port Hydro Clean pond skimmers can be remotely installed away from the pond edge A Hydro Clean pond skimmer installed ten feet away from the pond's edge

HydroClean™ pond skimmers are the only pond skimmers on the market that attach to standard pipe sizes for remote installation. You can have your pond with a patio right next to the pond, and have the pond skimmer on the other side of the patio.  The round inlet creates a suction wave that eliminates the need for a weir door. HydroClean™ pond skimmers are fish safe, easy to clean, and can be installed away from the pond’s edge. No other pond skimmer on the market can say all that!

Now that you have cleaned your waterfall filter box, pond skimmer, and the pond itself – this is what to do next and what you will need to maintain the pond.

5. Fill the pond back up and turn the pump back on.  Add the appropriate amount of HydroClear™ Total Control™ for your water volume.  If you need help on calculating your water volume, click here for help on How to Calculate Pond Water Volume. It is important to use HydroClear™ Total Control™ prior to reintroducing your fish back into the pond to eliminate all chlorine and chloramine from the pond.

When you start your pump back up, any remaining soil or debris in the plumbing will cloud the pond water.  Add HydroClear™ Hydro Floc™ to the cloudy pond water – the flocculent will bind all the particles from the cloudy water that will get trapped in the waterfall filter box for the next cleaning.  Or, if you have a Hydro Vortex™ waterfall filter, simply backflush it.

Start adding HydroClear™ Nitrification Cycle™ into the skimmer to get the bio filter started.  At the same time, start adding HydroClear™ Spring Pond Starter  to the skimmer intake and at the waterfalls to get the pond started and balanced for the health of your fish and the ecosystem.  After the biological waterfall filter and the pond itself has been started with these beneficial bacteria and liquid barley, the pond should then be maintained in the spring months with   HydroClear™ Spring Maintenance powder with pulverized barley. Later, in the summer months, you can switch to HydroClear™ Summer Maintenance which is the same as Spring Maintenance, but without the barley. Then as the summer fades to fall, switch to HydroClear™ Fall & Winter Maintenance. Maintaining your pond throughout the year with HydroClear™ products will help keep your pond more clean and healthy. It will also reduces some of the cleaning in your annual pond cleaning.

If you would like information on how to upgrade your waterfall filter box to an easy to clean, backwashable Hydro Vortex™ waterfall filter, click on this link to see a Filter-Ectomy.

If you would like information on how to upgrade your typical pond skimmer to a fish safe, easy to clean HydroClean™ pond skimmer, click on this link to see a Skimmer- Ectomy.

If you would like information like; “Compare Pond Kits”, “How Many Fish Can I have in my Pond?”, or “What Flow Rate Do I Need for my Waterfall?” and “How to Calculate Water Volume”, “How to Calculate the Electrical Cost of my Pump?”, “What Type of Koi Do I Have”, “What Types of Koi?”, we even have a Glossary of Koi Terms - plus a whole lot more – click on our Resources Link here.



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