Do I need to clean my fish pond or fountain?

Do I need to clean my fish pond or fountain?

Do I need to clean my fish pond or fountain? | Morris County NJ

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.

WHAT DOES A POND, WATERFALL OR FOUNTAIN CLEANING ENTAIL?
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.

REASONS FOR CLEANING YOUR POND, WATERFALL OR FOUNTAIN

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.

REASONS NOT TO HAVE YOUR POND, WATERFALL OR FOUNTAIN CLEANED

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.


WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO HAVE MY POND CLEANED AND WOULD RATHER HAVE IT RENOVATED BY A POND, WATERFALL OR FOUNTAIN PROFESSIONAL?

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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How to do a spring pond cleaning and opening

Do I need to clean my fish pond or fountain?

Do I need to clean my fish pond or fountain? | Morris County NJ

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

YOUR POND IS WAKING FROM ITS’ WINTER SLUMBER AND IT’S CRANKY!

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

TIME TO GET “DOWN & DIRTY”!

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.

or

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

FIRST THING’S FIRST, DRAIN THE POND
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….)

FIRE UP THE PRESSURE WASHER!
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

DON’T FORGET YOUR POND FILTRATION!
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!

“OTHER STUFF”
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

FILL ‘ER UP AND SEND THE FISH BACK HOME!
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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Is It Necessary to Drain & Clean My Pond Monthly?

Is It Necessary to Drain & Clean My Pond Monthly?

Cleaning my pond & waterfall | Denville, Rockaway, Morris County NJ

The reality is, if you fail to set your system up using our Ecosystem Pond recipe so that it’s working in harmony with Mother Nature, then you’ll be asking for a lot of related problems that may require you to drain and clean your pond out on a regular basis. On the other hand, if you decide to work in harmony with Mother Nature instead of doing battle with her, then draining and cleaning your pond should take place only once a year (twice at most). Clean-outs should occur in the spring, before the weather gets warm and the bacteria has an opportunity to set up. Ponds with heavy fish and plant loads might need a drain and clean before winter sets in.

Is it Necessary to Drain and clean my pond monthly

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Options for Pond and Waterfall Cleaning

Is It Necessary to Drain & Clean My Pond Monthly?

Cleaning my pond & waterfall | Denville, Rockaway, Morris County NJ

Ok. So spring is coming. You got a pond. And last fall the yard guys blew all the leaves right into it. Now you try to not get close. It stinks. You’re like oh man, what do I do?

Well.

YOUR POND IS WAKING FROM ITS WINTER SLUMBER AND IT’S REALLY CRANKY!

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 Morris, Passaic, Essex, Union, or Bergen county area pond since the autumn months. Atlantis Water Gardens in Denville, Morris County NJ offers professional spring pond cleaning and maintenance services to make your life easier when maintaining your water feature.

POND FILTRATION IS COMPLETELY INEFFECTIVE IN COLD WEATHER 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.

EVERY WATER FEATURE NEEDS CLEANING SOONER OR LATER

Don’t sweat it! Everybody’s got to do some sort of Spring Cleaning and that includes Mother Nature. Winter snow melts flush 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!​​

You’ve got 2 choices in this deal:

1.

Kiss that new manicure goodbye, ’cause “Algae is a color that really goes with my eyes” and you’re doin’ this thing solo!

2.

Pick up the phone and call the “ROCK STARS” from Atlantis Water Gardens 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…

Ok, you’ve thought about it

Number 2 it is.
(We knew you weren’t touching that thing)

Depending on what type of water feature you have, there are a few ways you can go:

FULL or PARTIAL pond cleaning

The usual Spring Pond Maintenance process in New Jersey minimally involves partially cleaning your pond by disassembling and thoroughly cleaning your filtration system. Most ponds have some type of skimmer filter and a biofalls (waterfall) filter, so those will need to have all the components removed and washed at the very least. After a long, hard winter, most people opt to have the entire pond cleaned to remove all of the decaying organics (that’d be a fancy term for dead rotten leaves) that have collected in the pond. Which option you choose depends on the state of your water feature.

Partial Cleaning:

Clean the skimmer and biofalls only:

1. Remove and clean all filter pads, bioballs, and nets or baskets.
2. The skimmer & biofalls will be completely drained and vacuumed clean.
3. Re-install all the above and restart the pond.
4. We can install activated carbon and liquid barley if you like, for an additional fee.

Full Cleaning:

Clean the entire pond:

1. Drain pond down to six inches in depth.
2. Remove fish and place in large containers with original pond water.
3. Drain remainder of pond and power wash pond and stream/waterfall.
4. Remove debris from the pond bottom..Clean all filter pads, bioballs, biofall unit, skimmer and pump as needed.
5. Clean all light lenses and inspect for burned out bulbs.*
6. Make necessary minor adjustments to rocks if needed.
7. Fertilized all potted plants. ***
8. Add dechlorinator if needed and start the pond filling.
9. Re-introduce fish.

Options:
Install EcoCarbon and Liquid Barley into each Aquascape biofalls. If you have multiple biofalls, each will contain carbon and Liquid Barley. Should your pond have no biofalls, they will be installed directly into the pond.

Notes:
*The majority of debris is to be removed. If the pond is ‘sterilized’, by removing all living bacteria (bio-film), the established ecosystem will be re-started .
**Defective underwater LED fixtures can be replaced at an additional fee.
***Plants will be divided and repotted upon your request for an additional fee.


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All that info make you tired?

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