Tuesday, 09 February 2016 00:00

Spring Cleaning your Pond

Written by

Spring Cleaning your Pond

by Shane Stefek- President Water Garden Gems


Your pond is a beautiful place.  It takes a little effort to keep it beautiful, but more importantly what does it take to keep it beautiful and healthy and when the time comes to clean it, how do you protect the ecosystem?  There are many ways to clean a pond...and most are wrong!  Be wary of attacking it yourself without knowing what you are doing.  Time and time again I hear the famous story of "I lost some fish this Spring when I cleaned my pond...I always do..."  Why?  Let us talk about your pond ecosystem and then we will discuss the proper ways to clean and care for your pond while you protect your fish and their environment in which they live.

The first thing we need to understand is your pond is not a pool.  It has a liing ecosystem in it and that in large part is what keeps it beautiful.  You want to protect that ecostem and that means no powerwashing, no harm cleaning chemicals, and preferably do not dry out the sides of the pond or the filter system.  We want to get in, clean out the junk and get out as fast and possible and without disrupting any more than we have to.  There are certain aspects of the pond we need to seperate from each other and discuss to better understand what and how we should clean...

1)Bottom sludge is made of fish waste and decomposed bio materials...we don't need or want this in the pond.  Your pond cleaning should focus around removing your sludge more than anything else.  Nitrates grow in the sludge as do fungus, bacteria, and protozoas.  We want to remove this as often as possible.  Properly built Koi Ponds have bottom drains for this very reason...constant removal of wastes into the filter so there is minimal to no sludge accumulation.  If you are not currently using a Sludge Digester, you need to start and this will reduce your build up and need to clean your pond as frequently.  STRATA Organic Digesters

2)Algae is not a bad thing.  It can be an ugle thing and it is ok to remove during your cleaning in certain situations and to a certain point.  Algae on waterfalls and in streams can be removed so your water feature is prettier and ready to give you all the enjoyment and beauty it had when it was built and this actually could be powerwashed if applicable or otherwise scrubbed off with a bristle brush.  However, the carpet algae on the sides of the pond is actually a major part of your healthy pond ecosystem so you should leave it intact and preferably not allow it to fry out too bad while you are cleaning the pond.  If you seperate good from bad algae and protect the good algae, your pond will be healthier and will rebound faster from the cleaning.

3)Filter Cleaning should not be done at the same time the pond cleaning is done.  If you are disrupting the pond ecosystem, you do not want to also disrupt the filter ecosystem.  Keep in mind your pond filtering agents are living beneficial bacterias that require moisture and oxygen.  You are killing much of your beneficial bacteria in your pond when you clean it so you need to protet the bacteria in your filter.  Wait a couple weeks to clean the filter until the pond stdarts to gain back some of it's filtering bacteria.

OK...so how do we clean a pond?  Your method of cleaning determines whether or not you need to remove your fish first.  If you are going to stir up the sludge in the pond and force the fish to breath it, you should remove them first.  However, if you are using a pond vacuum or have a method to cleaning remove the bottom sludge without releasing all those toxic gases throughout the water table, you can do so without removing the fish and thereby reducing the amount of stress the fish are incurring.  I recommend pond vacuums for this very reason...safer for the fish.  Also, they are easy to use so you are more likely to keep the bottom of your pond cleaner.    INVEST IN A VACUUM

pondmax vacuum    mcukvac2

The type of vacuum is determined by the needs of your pond...presence of leaves, how bad the sludge is, amount of time


If you are going to do a full emptying of the pond, here are a few helpful hints and steps to help you better protect your fish:

1)Remove the fish into a holding tank and give them moving water or an aerator.  Fill that tank with the pond water and keep them in the shade

2)Use a sump pump to empty the pond and scoop out/clean out all the sludge in the bottom of the pond.

3)Clean whatever waterfall/feature you are going to clean...no chemicals.

4)Leave the sides alone so the the beneficial bacteria can survive.

5)Fill the water back and add your high level dechlorinator as the water is filling up...as soon as possible so you are neutralizing the chlorine as it enters the pond and before it kills the bacteria you left in the pond.  USE THE GOOD STUFF!  Fritz ACCR for example is a dechlor/dechloramine/heavy metals control/ammonia blocking agent...all in one!  It's what we use here on our fish.    ACCR              other great products to protect your fish

6)Return your fish once your pump is running and the Dechorinator has had time to circulate completely through your pond water neutralizing all the bad additives.


We do not want to clean our ponds...the fish donot want us to mess with their ecosystem.  If you need to though, you must for their health.  Let me however recommend you talk to us about your filter system, organic digestors, fish load, aquatic plants, and more ways of creating a healthier pond that does not require spring cleanings.

You may also want to learn more from other blogs like Winterizing Your Pond and Easy Pond Cleaning.  Shane's Blogs


Saturday, 15 November 2014 00:00

Buying the Finest Quality Goldfish

Written by

Buy the Finest Quality Goldfish

by Shane Stefek, President - Water Garden Gems

oranda - jade seal

When adding the next choice goldfish to your tank or pond, you want to make sure you are buying high quality fish that are strong and healthy. Their health and longevity of life will be determined by their bloodline and their environment.

Saturday, 15 November 2014 00:00

Quick and Easy Waterfalls

Written by

Quick and Easy Waterfalls

 by Shane Stefek, President - Water Garden Gems


In building a pond or water feature, often the most difficult and frustrating detail is creating the waterfall. In a waterfall, you want a realistic look and feel, the proper sound created by the correct cascading of levels in your waterfall, and a lead-free construction so you have no worries of draining your pond one day if something goes wrong. How about a waterfall you can have up and running in under 30 minutes!!!

Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00

How to SIZE up your Pond

Written by

How to SIZE up your Pond

 by Shane Stefek, President - Water Garden Gems

It is one of the most important pieces of information you can know about your pond…HOW BIG IT IS. We size up ponds in gallons and everything from the pump and filtration to fish load, fish health, and the times when you need to treat your pond for parasites rely on your understanding the volume of your pond.

Friday, 22 November 2013 00:00

Benefits of a Water Garden

Written by

Benefits of Water Gardens, Ponds, and Fountains

 final bog pic 640x517

Water Features are one of today’s hottest trends in landscaping. High maintenance, boring, cookie-cutter grass lawns are being transformed into beautiful, impactful, low maintenance water features. Home owners are looking for ways to separate their living space from the norm and with so many custom design options from water gardens to Koi ponds to disappearing water features, they can make their backyard become their unique Oasis Paradise.

Monday, 28 October 2013 00:00

Custom Cut Pond Liners

Written by

Custom Cut Pond Liners

...Make your project easier and cleaner...

 pond liner


Need a pond liner? Visit Water Garden Gems! We custom-cut pond liners for your specific application off full size rolls so you know you are getting the liner you need. EDPM Rubber liner and .20mil PolyEthylene liners available in all sizes cut just for you on the spot. Nowhere else in Texas can you find custom cut liners! No job is too large or too small. We have the liner ideal for you.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 00:00

Koi Pond Aeration

Written by

Koi Pond Aeration

matala air disc  hiblow double pic  3inch air stone


Aeration is one of the most important aspects of koi keeping and also one of the most overlooked.  Every living thing in the pond need high levels of oxygen, especially during the warmer months.  Just adding a small waterfall simply won't be enough for most koi ponds.  There may be enough oxygen for the koi to survive, but they won't thrive.    

BOG FILTRATION - The ultimate filter option

...let me prove it to you...

final bog pic


In helping thousands of people better enjoy their ponds, there are some underlying issues that are common throughout a high percentage of pond owners and probably the greatest request of all that I receive is for a higher level of filtration that is easier to maintain without spending a fortune.  Welcome to BIOFILTRATION.  A Bog filter is the ultimate "natural" filtration...no chemicals, not even a man-made concept...we are talking about filtering your pond how God built in the filtration for river, streams, and lakes...by using your natural filtering elements.

Thursday, 12 September 2013 00:00

Get More Out of Your Water Lillies

Written by

If your water lilies are not blooming as well as you would like or the pads are smaller than they were earlier in the season, it may be time for a little TLC on your part.  You can easily revive the bright colors and quick growth of your plant and enjoy them at their peak performance for months to come.

Monday, 18 May 2015 00:00

Farm Pond Aeration

Written by

Farm Pond Aeration

Adding Oxygen solves your pond problems

Farm ponds can range in size from small 1/8th acre tanks to large stock “lakes” in the many many acres and millions of gallons. Depth can also vary from unfortunate shallow water that warm up quickly and possibly go dry in the heat of the summer to 20’ deep tanks that can grow large varieties of fish and plants and provide water for liverstock regardless of the amount of rainfall. Regardless of pond size, shape and purpose, issues can arise and regardless of the issue, there is one great answer for creating a healthier, cleaner, clearer pond…AERATION.



Main issues in farm ponds:

1)Fish Kills

2)Algae control

3)Water Clarity

4)Stunted fish growth

5)Decaying odor

6)Gas Build-up



There are two options for aeration…surface aeration and subsurface aeration. Subsurface is a much better option as it diffuses more oxygen into the water table, getting a higher level of oxygen saturation in your pond and getting oxygen at all depths. Floating surface aerators can provide a nice visual fountain effect, but are not effective in aeration the depths of the pond and thereby not providing adequate aeration results.


There are a few main reasons we aerate ponds. First, all fish and plants require oxygen in the water to survive and grow. We want to make sure there is ample oxygen, especially on hot, windless days and nights during the summer. Second most important and related to the oxygen levels in the pond is that we want to keep the water as cool as we can because oxygen molecules hold in cooler water better than in hot water. So by cooling the water, we are not only adding the immediate air bubbles, but they are getting more completely saturated into the water and staying in the water table longer. Using subsurface aeration takes this element one step further by pushing air to the bottom of the pond and having the aeration bubbles rise up through the different depths of the pond we are in fact pushing the cooler water from the bottom of the pond up to the top and displacing the warmer surface water back to the bottom of the pond for cooling. What happens within a few days is a unifying of water temperatures throughout the depths of the pond. Instead of having 90 degrees surface temperature and 65 degrees bottom temperature in a 10’ pond, we will have 78 degrees throughout the pond. This is a very healthy ecosystem set up for your fish. This also brings us to another critical purpose of adding an aeration system…by equalizing the water temperature, we eliminate the potential for “pond turn overs” and fish kills due to anaerobic gas exchange.   Add to these three ecosystem benefits that now your fish and plants will grow faster, healthier and have higher immune systems due to the higher oxygen levels because as the O2 levels rise, fish metabolism increases, leading them to feed more frequently, grow faster, and have more nutrients in their systems for strong immune systems.



Now after the basic reasons to aerate a pond, we have a series of sub-benefits…clearer water created from having more beneficial bacteria and enzymesas well as healthier filtering aquatic plants due to the added oxygen levels; reduced smell issues with the pond as you will no longer have decaying plants due to lack of oxygen in the summer; healthier amounts of Diatoms to breakdown bio and fish waste on the bottom, reducing sludge build up; and lower nitrate levels from increased plant and bacteria life.

matala aeration group    matala disk

Whether you are fighting water clarity, fish kills, odor, stunted fish growth or hot water, aeration is your first answer. Check out Water Garden Gems to get the proper sized system from pump and tubing to frame and diffusers so you get the most out of your investment.  Located outside San Antonio, Water Garden Gems specializes in water gardens and ponds.  We have helped countless ponds with Oxygen issues...we can size up your pond for you in minutes.  Aeration done wrong is not helpful...so let the experts help you so that you invest wisely.





Page 1 of 2

Article Search

Login To Your Account

E-Mail Address:


Shopping Cart

Your shopping cart is empty!


Sign up for our FREE newsletters now!