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How to Clean a Fish Pond

| Updated September 26, 2017

Cleaning a fish ponds is a necessary task for removing debris and maintaining a high level of water quality. There are several different levels of cleaning ranging from surface to deep cleaning. You must determine the needs of your pond. A neglected pond may require draining to fully clean the area. You must consider the fish and take measures to avoid stressing or killing your fish as you clean the pond.

Surface Cleaning

Simple surface cleaning is accomplished with a seine net. Dip the net and pull it across the surface to remove leaves and debris. The net has a fine mesh that captures small particles and removes them from the pond. Clean the pond with the net several times each week to prevent excessive buildup of organic materials. Consider installing leaf netting over the surface for easy cleaning of outdoor ponds. The netting will capture leaves and prevent them from clogging pumps and filters.

Filtration Systems

Install a filtration system to maintain your pond. Ponds without filtration become stagnant and require intensive cleaning on a regular basis. A skimmer will pull water from the surface while filtering debris and maintaining water quality. In addition to the filter, add an aerator to create oxygen. Oxygen helps breakdown fine particles while creating a healthy environment for your fish.

Full Cleaning

Drain the pond if algae buildup and heavy debris accumulation has overtaken the environment. Remove the fish first, then drain and clean the pond as quickly as possible. Use an electric pump to remove the water. Manually remove leaves, algae and debris from the rocks and bottom of the pond. Throw them in a trash bin for disposal. Use a stiff bristle brush to scrub algae from the rocks. Spray the rocks with a pressure washer and manually remove the remaining algae. Refill the pond.


  • Wear rubber gloves and boots for cleaning. The boots help your feet grip slippery rocks and the gloves make it easy to gather mucky pond debris.

Removing Fish

Removing fish from your pond causes stress and requires a careful approach. Fill a large bucket or trough with water from the pond to ensure the pH is acceptable. Place the temporary holding tank in a cool, shaded area. Place an aerator in the tank to prevent suffocation from a lack of oxygen. Capture the fish as the pond drains and they become accessible. Use a large, mesh net to catch them and quickly transfer them to the holding tank. Do not use a nylon net as the material is abrasive and can harm the protective slime coat.