The Pond Cleaning Process Even The Pros Use

A backyard pond installed by Grass Roots.

Cost: Around $500 to $1,500

Time: 1 day

Difficulty: Advanced

Keep Your Pond Pristine

Have you ever wondered how the pros keep their garden ponds looking pristine? Are you tired of battling algae growth and murky water in your own water garden?

In this blog post, you’ll learn the pond cleaning process that even professionals use to maintain beautiful ponds.

By the end of this post, you’ll have the knowledge to transform your pond into a clean, healthy oasis for both wildlife and plants!


  • A clean-out pump with an appropriate length of discharge hose
  • A container or kiddie pool to temporarily hold fish and any other creatures you find during the clean-out
  • Netting or something similar to place over the fish container to keep them from jumping out
  • Large buckets to collect leaves and debris
  • Dechlorinator to remove chlorine and chloramines from tap water prior to putting fish back in the pond
  • Beneficial bacteria
  • Other amendments such as sludge reducer, fish treatments, etc.


  • A power washer or garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle
  • Pruning shears for trimming plants
  • A fish net to collect fish
  • Gloves
  • Galoshes
  • Shovel or scooper to remove organic debris
  • Plastic bags to reintroduce fish
  • Pond vacuum

Grass Roots Pond & Garden’s Pond Cleaning Process

1. Set Up The Fish Tub

Koi fish in a temporary holding container

Begin by filling a large container or kiddie pool with pond water. This will temporarily hold your fish and other pond critters while you clean. Make sure to cover the container with netting to prevent any escapees.

2. Drain The Water

Cleaning an artificial pond in the garden using a pump

Start by turning off the existing pond pump. Then, use a clean-out pump to remove the pond water, making sure to keep an eye on the water level as you don’t want to harm any fish or wildlife.

3. Remove Any Fish

Koi fish in a net

As the water level drops, use a pond cleaning net to carefully catch and transfer your fish into the prepared container.  Don’t forget to place the fish container in a shady area so the fish don’t overheat in the sunlight.

4. Take Out Any Pond Accessories

Take out any pond accessories, including winter pond accessories such as de-icers or floating covers, so they don’t get damaged during the cleaning process.

5. Scoop Out Muck And Debris

woman cleans a artificial fish pond from slime and water plants

Remove sticks, leaves, and decaying organic material that has accumulated on the bottom of the pond. Remove it with your hands (with gloves) or use a shovel.

6. Power Wash The Rocks

cleaning the pond with a pressure washer

Using a power washer or high-pressure nozzle, clean the pond liner, rocks, and any other surfaces to remove algae and debris.

Start at one end of the pond and methodically work your way to the other side, being sure to spray water into every crevice and crack to dislodge all the muck and debris.

7. Clean The Filters And Skimmer

Remove and clean the pond filter and skimmer to ensure they function properly and maintain water quality. Rinse the filter mats, bioballs, and filter containers clean with the garden hose.

8. Rinse The Pond

After power washing, use clean tap water to rinse the pond. This will help remove any remaining debris and prepare the pond for refilling.

9. Repump The Leftover Water Out

Use the clean-out pump to remove any remaining water, including the rinse water.

10. Vacuum Up Any Leftover Muck

With a pond vacuum, remove any leftover pond sludge and muck that has settled on the bottom.

11. Check The Condition Of The Pond System Equipment

Skimmer floats on surface of water in pond.

Examine your pond’s essential components, including pumps, filters, skimmers, and UV sterilizers.

Ensure that all parts are clean and operating efficiently.

Promptly replace any deteriorating components to prevent potential damage or the development of further issues.

Additionally, verify the functionality of pond lights if you have them installed.

12. Start Filling Up The Pond

Begin refilling your pond with tap water. Keep an eye on the water temperature, ensuring it’s within a safe range for your fish and plants.

13. Add Water Treatments

Add dechlorinator to remove chlorine and chloramines, as well as beneficial bacteria and any other necessary water treatments.

14. Put Plants Back

Floating pond plants

Carefully trim and replant your pond plants, including floating plants, to create a healthy and visually appealing environment.

15. Check The Health Of Your Fish

Colorful schools of koi and goldfish

With your fish still in the temporary holding container, now is the perfect time to check on the overall health of your fish.

Parasites are commonly found in ponds, so watch for indications of parasitic presence, like white spots on fins or scales, worms, or excessive erratic movements.

Typical fish parasites include flukes, anchor worms, gill maggots, among others.

Should you notice any unusual signs, promptly reach out to an aquatic veterinarian.

16. Reintroduce The Fish

Once the water temperature is stable and safe, gently reintroduce your fish back into the pond.

Start the process by placing one or two fish in a plastic bag and floating it in the new pond water for 10-15 minutes.

Gradually add small quantities of the new pond water to the bag until it’s almost full. Finally, release your fish back into the pond.

17. Fully Refill The Pond

Continue filling the pond until it reaches the desired water level.

18. Plug In The Pump

Finally, plug in the pond pump and watch your garden pond come back to life!

Additional Pond Maintenance Tips

A dog lies next to a pond full of fish

Perform Regular Cleanings And Maintenance

Regularly remove plant debris and excess fish waste using a pond net to maintain water clarity and prevent green algae blooms.

Keep Fish Population At Appropriate Levels For Pond Size

Monitor fish populations and avoid overcrowding or introducing too many fish, which can lead to poor water quality and increased algae growth. If you are interested in building a fish pond, be sure to check out our step-by-step guide on how to build a koi pond.

Use Plants To Inhibit Algae Growth

Flowering algae pond in the spring

Utilize floating plants, such as water lilies, to provide shade and reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the pond, discouraging excessive algae growth.

Use Beneficial Bacteria In Your Pond

Introduce beneficial bacteria to help break down organic waste and promote a balanced pond ecosystem.

Clarify Your Pond Water With Barley

Consider adding barley straw to your pond as a natural and safe way to combat algae.

Verify Pond Filter And Skimmers Are Clean And Working Correctly

Regularly check and clean your pond filter and skimmer to ensure proper water circulation and filtration.

Monitor Your Pond’s Water Temperature And Winterize During Cold Weather

Maintain the proper water temperature for your pond’s inhabitants, especially during seasonal changes or when your pond freezes over in colder climates.

Regularly Inspect Your Pond Liner

Backyard DIY water feature project with a pond and waterfall under construction

Inspect your pond liner for damage or leaks, as a well-maintained liner is essential for a healthy pond.

Check The pH And Other Quality Levels Of Your Pond Water

Monitor and adjust the water chemistry, including pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, to maintain a healthy environment for your fish and plants.

Even Wildlife Ponds Need Regular Maintenance!

Don’t forget to keep a check on wildlife ponds, as they also require maintenance to ensure a thriving habitat for native creatures.

Grass Roots Pond & Garden Are Your Local Pond Experts

A backyard pond installed by Grass Roots with their vehicle next to it

By following the pond cleaning process and maintenance tips outlined in this post, you can achieve a clean, healthy, and beautiful garden pond that even professionals would be proud of.

Remember that Grass Roots Pond & Garden is here to help with all your pond cleaning and maintenance needs. You can learn how much our pond maintenance services cost here.

If you need assistance or have any questions, don’t hesitate to fill out our contact form today or give us a call.

Together, we can transform your pond into a stunning water garden that will be the envy of your neighbors!