Opening and Cleaning of Ponds By Bryan Bateman

Rock-Lined Ponds

  •   Equipment needed: good sump pump with hose, nets to catch and cover fish, fish-holding facility, pressure sprayer (optional), buckets, rubber gloves and boots, de-chlor, aeration.
  •  Procedure: remove fish (use pond water and air stone), empty pond, hose/ agitate rocks shallow to deep (thoroughly!), re-fill, de-chlor, replace fish (this is a good time to inspect your fish!)

    Filter Preparation

  •   If you’ve been running one all winter, it should be OK other than routine maintenance.
  •   Most filters are shut down. These need to be thoroughly cleaned prior to start-up. Avoid any contamination to pond from these filters while cleaning. Start filter as soon as possible.


  •   Do not feed until water is consistently above 50 degrees
  •   First meal should be liquid- fat — low protein (Kenzen). Soft food is best (soak in water) because their gut is very vulnerable to injury now.
  •   As soon as fish are eating and water is around 55 or warmer, feed grapefruit section twice per week for immune system.
  • Feed Sho-koi or similar immune stimulating food.
  • At 60 degrees, normal food is OK. Once per day until it hits 65 degrees.
    Watch ammonia and nitrite build-up carefully. Filter will take awhile to catch up.

    Fish Health

  •  You WILL have fish health problems in the Spring; no immunity + active pathogens = trouble in River City.
  •  Minimized by proper fall preparation and covering of pond.
  •  Don’t even consider treating for anything until pond is pristine clean.
  • Begin now by salting to .3%, or 3 lbs/100 gal in 3 increments. Leave in for 2 weeks, then gradually lower with water changes. (remove sensitive plants) This will eradicate most parasites, its cheap, safe, and doesn’t harm the filter.
    • Sales pitch: Potassium Permanganate (KMNO4), available from most hardware stores.
    • Has the most extensive ‘kill’ list of any treatment available
      • Is safe if used properly
      • Cautions:
        • Do not use below 60 degrees. It degrades cuticle layer (slime), which will not be replaced at low temps.
        • You MUST know your pond volume before using.
        • Do not allow contact with eyes.
        • Kills ALL bacteria, including beneficial, so be sure to bypass filter.
      •  Benefits:
        • Cleans up organic debris.
        • Kills bacteria, fungi, and parasites
        • Is easily neutralized with hydrogen peroxide.
        • Organisms cannot develop ‘resistant’ strains to this stuff.
        • It’s cheap, cheap, cheap

Potassium Permangante Regimen

  1. Establish your total pond volume. (Don’t even think about using unless you know this!)
  2. Shut down or by-pass filters; remove plants.
  3. Add plenty of aeration.
  4. Dose initially with 1 level teaspoon per 1200 US gallons. Dissolve in water and disperse over surface of pond. This will give you a 2 ppm concentration.
  5. Check the water color. It will be purple at first, but will quickly turn to pink. Using a white container, check color periodically. When it changes from light pink/champagne color to more of a tea color, go to step 6 (this should take from one to two hours).
  6. Dose with 1/4 teaspoon per 1200 gallons same as in (4) above. Check color periodically. It should change to tea color after another hour or so.
  7. All subsequent doses will be .5 ppm, or 1/4 teaspoon per 1200 gallons. These doses should be given each time the color changes from champagne to tea color. This will be roughly once per hour. (note: if the color is changing to tea or brown very quickly, you have too much organic debris in your pond. Discontinue treatment until your pond has been properly cleaned!).
  8. The total time for the treatment is 10 hours unless fish become obviously stressed (i.e. gasping for air, rolling over, etc.), in which case go straight to the next step.
  9. Neutralize with 1 qt. hydrogen peroxide per 4000 gallons. This will turn the pond clear within seconds. Turn your filter back on and replace all plants.
  10. Repeat the entire procedure after five days.