Cleaning a fish pond is a dirty job, but it must be done if you want to keep your pond attractive and its residents healthy. Luckily, most fish ponds don't require a complete cleaning very often, once a year is probably enough. Spring and fall are great times to pull on those galoshes and rubber gloves and get to work cleaning your fish pond.
Remove the fish and other animals from the fish pond. Start by suctioning or bucketing out the pond water, reserving some for the holding tank or wading pool. The less water left in the pond, the easier the fish will be to capture in the net. Fill the wading pool with about a half and half ratio of pond water and fresh, de-chlorinated water.
Pull out pond plants carefully from ledges and place in a shady area in pots. While cleaning the pond, it is also a good time to fertilize the plants using a special pond plant fertilizer. Gently spray them with a water hose to remove any debris or algae that may have accumulated on the plants.
Drain the remaining water out of the pond. Be sure to search through the muck for any pond animals you may have missed, such as snails or tadpoles.
Take out any large rocks or decorative pond items and spray clean with the water hose. If rocks line the bottom of the pond, it may be virtually impossible to remove all the debris. If things have gotten extremely messy, now may be a good time to consider replacing the rocks with new ones.
Scrub the lining of the pond gently with a brush. Use only fresh water to clean. Soap or other chemicals will destroy the good bacteria needed to keep a fish pond's chemistry in balance. Brush all the debris downward so it accumulates in the bottom of the fish pond.
Vacuum out the remaining debris from the bottom of the pond using a wet-dry or shop vac. Save the remains if you would like to use it for compost or fertilizer.
Spray down filters and pumps with a water hose. Some filters and pumps may have special cleaning instructions, so be sure to check their user manuals. Check and replace any parts, batteries or hoses as needed and return to the pond.
Replace all plants, rocks and other decorations back to the fish pond.
Add other additives and chemicals to the pond if needed. If you are cleaning the pond in the spring, it may be a good idea to add a water conditioner that reduces nitrates and ammonia, since these are more prevalent in the warmer months.
Return the fish and other pond life to their freshly cleaned habitat. Follow the same instructions for acclimating fish to a new fish pond when returning the fish to the clean pond. The transition should be gradual so that the fish can get used to the new water chemistry.