Winter is at last starting to gasp it’s waning breaths and releasing us from it’s icy grip, which means Spring is not far off! Finally, we’ll be able to free ourselves from our heated abode’s and enjoy all that a new Spring season has to offer!

how to do a spring cleaning and opening in denville nj
cranky sleepy bear


Just like a bear coming out of hibernation, your pond is tired of the cold weather and SOMEBODY wants to EAT! That somebody is ALGAE and its’ food source is nutrients that have found their way to the bottom of your pond since the Autumn months.

Your filtration is completely ineffective in cold weather months so dead leaves, sticks, fish waste and other wind blown debris have had lots of time to decompose and transform into sweet, sweet pond sludge while you haven’t been paying much attention to your frozen backyard paradise (It was too freakin’ cold to go out there in my slippers and Superman pajamas!). A majority of water feature owners are coming out to their favorite aquatic sanctuary to find that they now have wall to wall carpets of algae in their fish’s underwater living room and they’re realizing that this won’t be a simple “Plug In The Pump and it’s Waterfall Time!” type of deal.

Don’t sweat it! Everybody’s got to do some sort of Spring Cleaning and that includes Mother Nature. Melting Winter snow flushes out natural bodies of water, sweeping away a lot of the “Yucky Stuff” that accumulates over the Winter in natural ponds. Backyard pond owners don’t have that luxury with our closed ecosystems, so it’s on us to get in there and kick a little pond scum butt!​

string algae in stream


You’ve got 2 choices in this deal:

1. Kiss that new manicure goodbye, ’cause “Algae is a color that really goes with your eyes” and you’re going to give it a go on your own.


2. Give the Pros at Atlantis Water Gardens a shout and we’ll gladly do battle with the “Green Beast” in your backyard escape, ’cause we eat algae for breakfast! (well, sometimes it does get in your mouth when pressure washing….)

If you’re feeling froggy and don’t mind gettin’ “Down & Dirty”, here’s what you’ll need to know:

– It’s best to do your Spring Pond Cleaning when the outside temperature is still cool. It will be less stressful on your fish due to a lower temperature differential between your pond water and tap water.

– You’ll need a cleanout pump, pressure washer, waders, shop vac, nets, holding tank(s), aeration, fish net, gloves, detoxifier, plant fertilizer tabs, scissors and possibly replacement filter pads/media.

It sounds like a lot of stuff…..because it is! Most of it can be rented if you don’t have it and you could use a cheap, blow-up pool for your holding tank if you’re in a pinch.

cleaning a pond in morris county nj

Start by setting up the holding tank with aeration for your fish and pumping it full of pond water (raise the pump off the bottom of the pond to avoid pumping debris into the holding tank.

Pump the water down to approx 6-8″ from the bottom to catch and transfer your fish to the holding tank. Trying to catch the fish with the pond full of water will surely stress them and possibly cause damage.

Fish Can Jump! Make sure to put a net securely over the top of your holding tank so that your fish don’t end up doing “The Bacon” on your patio. Find a nice, shady spot for your temporary fish condo and place bottom aeration in the tank to keep your fish happy for the next few hours while you get pond scum in your eyes, hair and teeth (and possibly some other hard-to-reach places….)

Listen, this doesn’t mean that you need to go all “Willy Nilly” with your pressure washer and strip the fossil layer off the rocks in your pond. A light pressure washing to knock off the heavy algae and pond scum is all you need to do. You actually want to leave a thin layer of bio-film on the rocks to help jump start the ecosystem in your newly cleaned pond.

Follow this up with manually removing any of the heavy debris in the pond and then using just the garden hose to rinse the pond down to the bottom where you can place your cleanout pump to remove the “Pond Scum Stew”. Once you have rinsed the pond down to the point where the water is now running clear by the cleanout pump, pull the pump and start filling your pond. You can add Pond Detoxifier at this point to neutralize any chloramines in the tap water.

pressure washing a pond in northern nj
cleaning an aquascape skimmer in nj

Take all of the filter material out of your waterfall filter and skimmer and inspect it. If it’s falling apart or looking kind-of worn out, now would be the time to replace it. If it’s still in good shape, use the hose from your cleanout pump to wash everything down pretty good, so that water is flowing freely through the filter material. Now you can use the vacuum to clean out the bottom of the skimmer and waterfall filter box, then re-install your filter material.

Make sure you give your pump the once-over and check the intake for any blockage or impeller problems. Your check valve should be inspected as well to see if the flapper may have been broken, if so you will need to replace it. Once you’re happy, re-install your pump assembly into the skimmer and get ready to fill your pond back up!

If you have “Other Stuff” in your pond like an Ion Gen System, Auto-Dosing System, Underwater Lighting, etc.., spend the time to make sure it’s all in working order before you refill the pond. Draining the pond again to replace a few bad light fixtures is super fun, I know, but if you can avoid it you’ll have more time to listen to the sweet sounds of your waterfall instead of stomping your feet and cursing around the backyard while you kick over your fake, plastic heron because you forgot to see if the dang lights were working!

cleaning a pond in denville nj, atlantis water gardens

At this point the pond is clean, filters are back in place and you’ve started to fill the pond with your hose. Now you can start pumping the water from the holding tank back into the pond and re-introduce your fish. Check the temp in the holding tank and in the pond, as long as the difference is less than 5 or 8 degrees, you can net your fish and carefully place them back into the pond. Once everyone is back home and accounted for, go ahead and finish filling the pond, plug in the pump and watch that beautiful water start cascading again for another enjoyable water gardening season!

Pond by Atlantis Water Gardens - Mendham NJ-24

If you’d had enough, and don’t even feel like reading or searching for more info, just give us a call. We’ll help you out.

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