At Atlantis Water Gardens, we are often asked by our clients, “Do I need to clean my water feature this year?” (Water Feature can mean a pond, waterfall or fountain) There are certainly many factors that could bring about a yes or no answer to this question.

Typically, many of the concerns people have before purchasing and having a water feature installed revolve around the topic of how much maintenance will be involved. To be completely candid, from years of trade shows, garden tours and other events, when I am face to face with potential clients the first reaction when they see a water feature of any kind is, “That looks like way too much maintenance for me.” The good news is they are usually less maintenance than the lawn or garden they replaced. Better yet, manufacturers like Aquascape, Inc., have developed and tested many revolutionary tools to reduce the already low maintenance.

The topic of this article often creates a level of confusion because two terms are often used to describe the maintenance performed in the Spring months. One term is cleaning and the other term is opening, so lets dive into this a little deeper.

tranquility series koi pond by atlantis water gardens

Picture of the Tranquility Elite Pond Package offered by Atlantis Water Gardens in Morris County (Denville), NJ. Shown with backyard fish pond, meandering, natural stream and boulder style waterfalls.

We define the cleaning of a water feature as the process by which we restore the overall functionality similar to when it was originally installed.  The cleaning of your pond, waterfall or fountain may include the following:

-Drain the feature completely, remove the wildlife (Fish, Frogs, etc.) and safely place them into a holding tank.
-Wash the feature with a heavy spray of water (sometimes a power washer is required)
-Vacuum loose debris from the feature and trim back aquatic plants
-Move gravel, check lighting and install original supplied equipment
-Begin refilling the pond
-Safely acclimate and release wildlife
-Leave a detailed Water Feature Assessment for the customer.

For More Details On The Cleaning Process Click Here!

Water Feature Service & Maintenance, Denville NJ

What does a pond, waterfall, or fountain opening entail?

The opening of a water feature is usually a much simpler process than a full cleaning. Technically, the opening process is included in the cleaning process. The opening of your pond, waterfall or fountain may include the following:

(Pond debris being removed by hand during a pond drain & clean by Atlantis Water Gardens)

-remove debris from skimmer, pump chamber, or waterfall vault by skimming with a net
-install equipment and check lighting
-turn system back on and check the overall performance
-trim back aquatic plants if requested

There is less involved with the pond & waterfall opening as compared to a full pond cleaning. The water is not drained and any wildlife are not handled during the pond opening service. Usually customers choose the full cleaning unless the water feature was just recently installed or there was no debris in the bottom.


There are a multitude of reasons that customers request to have their water feature cleaned. Usually, the number 1 reason is that they’d like it to look as good as it did the year before and having it cleaned is normally something done at the beginning of each water gardening season. Here are some other reasons that you would want to clean your water feature.
(Picture of filamentous string algae)

holding string algae in hand

-The water color is brown from the breakdown of leaves or other organic debris (Looks like a giant cup of tea)
-The water color is green throughout from excess nutrients causing an algae bloom (Looks like pea soup)
-The water color is almost black with very little visibility, possibly from the death of wildlife (Looks almost like cola)
-When standing by the pond you smell a noxious odor similar to ammonia
-It was a very harsh winter and all wildlife, including your fish have died
-The size of the water feature has seemed to have shrunk from either excess plant growth or too much debris build up on the bottom of the pond
-You are constantly having to remove debris from your pump or filter media
-The flow of water in you fountain, waterfall or stream seems weak.
-You prefer to have an annual cleaning to keep the maintenance of the feature during the season as low as possible.
-It makes you feel much more comfortable to have a professional clean the pond, waterfall or fountain each year to make sure the equipment is functioning properly, the feature is in good condition and to fix an issues before they become much worse.
-You would like a new look, maybe redoing a waterfall or changing out some rocks
-And as stated above you really like when the pond, waterfall or fountain looks like it was just recently installed.


holding string algae in hand

(Small backyard fish pond with waterfall covered by green moss.)
There are many good reasons to have your pond or water feature cleaned each Spring, but admittedly there are also a few reasons why you might want to forgo a cleaning this year. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios that might deem it unneccessary to have your water feature cleaned this season:

-The pond or waterfall was installed late in the season the previous year and it just isn’t very dirty.
-The weather is too warm (Usually July & August) and it would not be worth the risk of handling your fish. Potential loss is possible in this scenario if special steps aren’t taken.
-You have a very old liner pond and stepping on the liner may potentially cause damage due to it being brittle.
-The cost of the cleaning is too much

Some of our clients choose to have the cleaning done biannually instead of annually.  We offer our best recommendations for the water feature and then the rest is up to you.  We keep detailed records of all our water features and the factors that may change the ability to keep the maintenance low.


Each and every year we are contacted by homeowners that have owned a home or just purchased a home with a pond, waterfall or fountain and seek us out for guidance. The typical inquiry that we get is, “Help! we have this water feature and have no idea what to do.” So here are some helpful tips to get you started with our consultation services.

1. Take pictures of the pond, waterfall or fountain for us to see and fill out our ONLINE CONTACT FORM where you can upload your pics and tell us a little about your water feature or space. (Typically we like a couple wide view pictures from different angles, shots of equipment, the closest electrical outlet or water faucet. Take as many as you think will be helpful for us to see.)
2. Try to take some measurements of the feature or be able to relate the size to something familiar. (i.e. It’s about the size of a mini van)
3. Try to have some measurements of the distance between the water feature and the power source and or water source.
4. Let us know what the access to the pond, waterfall or fountain is like so we know how easy it is to get to your water feature. (Do we have to pass through a gate? If so, how wide is it? Are there stairs to go up to access the area?)
5. The more information you can provide to us the better we will be able to advise you whether or not we would be a fit for your situation.

Owning a pond, waterfall or fountain certainly doesn’t need to be difficult, so be sure to contact us to see what we can do to educate you and set your mind at ease. For more educational information be sure to check out more of our Learning Hub or for more inspiration visit our Facebook page and start following us!

At Your Service,
Jaak & JoAnn Harju
Atlantis Water Gardens

Thanks for visiting our learning hub. As always, we hope you found this helpful. Please feel free to comment below.

gorgeous pondless waterfall by atlantis water gardens

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