The Complete Old Pond Guide: Draining, Refilling, and Maintenance

The Old Pond

Water features, like a pond, are a great place to keep your aquatic plants, koi, or goldfish at bay. Besides, seeing all your hard work pays off when creating a safe and healthy environment for your plants and fish is an overwhelming and satisfying feeling. But what happens if your pond is too old and you haven’t cleaned it for a while?

There are five ways to drain water from your old pond. You can either use a solar power pump, submersible pump, hand pump, a vacuum cleaner, or do it manually. Refilling your pond is as easy as filling it with water, but it’s important to treat the water before putting all your plants and fish back.

Before diving into the details on how to drain your pond, the first thing you want to do is determine the reason why you need to do so. A pond, especially an old one, has its vast ecosystem, like its microorganisms, insects, and good bacteria that are hard to duplicate.

These natural good bacteria and microorganisms help fend off dangerous diseases, like ammonia and nitrites, which can harm various fishes, like goldfish and koi. Also, if you don’t treat the water you refill into your pond, there would be no bacteria at all, which can also become harmful to your pets and the plants you have in your pond.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of draining your pond, the five ways to do so, and how to refill your pond. We will also tackle the importance of maintaining your pond’s quality and the different ways to maintain it.

Is Horsetail a good option for a pond? Click to read! 


Why Is It Important to Drain Your Old Pond?

If you’re thinking about cleaning your pond, draining it isn’t always the best thing to do. Like mentioned earlier, keeping your old water has its advantages, which can be beneficial to your plants and fish. However, sometimes, you need to take the water away from your reservoir.

The common scenarios where you need to lessen or completely drain your pond is when you’re:

  • Upgrading,
  • Renovating,
  • Or redesigning your pond.


Replacing or repairing your pond liner is one of the main reasons why you need to completely drain out your pond since you have to reseal the liner. If it’s not at the lowest point of your pond, then you can opt to lessen the water and refill it later on.

Just be mindful that if you’re not going to do the activities mentioned above, it’s not necessary to drain your pond. Instead, you can use a pond net, pond filtration, or pond skimmer to keep your pond clean and reduce its maintenance.


Where to Drain Pond Water?

Remember when we said that your old water has many good bacteria? Thus, draining your pond and throwing it away is a waste of all those good bacteria and microorganisms. Instead, if you have a garden, use this water to fertilize your plants as its content is more effective compared to commercial fertilizer.

If you don’t have a garden, you can still spread the water on your lawn. Your soil can greatly benefit from the water and help planted trees and plants to grow faster and healthier.


5 Ways to Drain a Pond

There are five ways you can drain your old pond. Three of these methods would require you to have a pump (hand pump, solar-powered pump, or submersible pump), another one is for you to have a vacuum cleaner, and the last one is to take the water out manually.

Keep in mind that the success of the task depends on the method that you use. So if you’re in a hurry, make sure that you choose the one that works best for your tended use.

  1. Use a Hand Pump

Draining a pond using a long hose and a hand pump is considered old-fashioned and requires manual labor. Depending on the size of your pond, it can take between a couple of minutes to many hours of manual pumping to completely drain out your reservoir.

You can expect a flow rate of 5 to 10 gallons of water per minute if you use a good quality hand pump, and around 2 to 10 gallons per minute when you use a siphon hose. If you want your work to be done faster and with minimal restrictions, you can opt for a lengthy hose with which you can immediately release the pond water onto your plants or lawn.

Overall, a hand pump is best used when you have a small-sized pond. If you have a medium to a large-sized one, make sure that you have the upper body strength and patience to pump out all the water.

  1. Use a Solar-Powered Pump

A solar-powered pump is an economical option to drain your pond. It doesn’t require any physical nor electrical work, but it’s important to ensure that you do this on a sunny day when there are little to no clouds to cover the equipment. The best time to use such a pump is during the summer, when the UV rays are at their peak.

Of course, since you’re dependent on the sun’s heat, you can’t expect a powerful output. To be effective, choose a solar panel with a large capacity and a flow rate of around 200 GPH to 500 GPH. Also, if you have a deep pond, it’s better to choose one that is a couple of feet in height head.

Additionally, one of the advantages of having a solar-powered pump is that you don’t need to attach it to any electrical outlet, which means you can place it anywhere you want. If you have a large pond, note that it can take some time before you drain all the water out, so patience is key when using this method.

  1. Use a Submersible Pump

The best option to drain an old pond is to use a submersible pump. This equipment comes in different sizes and capacities that you can use depending on the size of your reservoir. Like a solar-powered pump, the higher the head height, the more power it has to suck up the water and drain any reservoir.

If you have a deep pond, a submersible pump and a long hose can be most beneficial as you can put your pump at the deepest part of the pond and not worry about where your water will pump out. It’s vital to ensure that your pump can handle the weight of the water since there’s a possibility that the equipment loses power before you even start.

  1. Use a Vacuum Cleaner

What we like about pond vacuums is that they can clean ponds and/or drain water too. Pond vacuums are specifically created to control the pond algae, suck up sludge, and remove any debris. But thanks to constant innovation, there are now pond vacuums that can also drain the water from your pond.

If you don’t have a pond vacuum cleaner yet, it’s best to choose equipment that can do both tasks at the same time. Although, some of this equipment is not designed to work simultaneously, so if you’re not in a hurry, you can choose this cheaper option.

  1. Siphon Method (Manual)

This is a simple method that won’t require you to suck any water out at the end of the hose. Although, it may be a bit complicated, so we’ll try to make this sound as simple as possible. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to drain your old water pond without a pump.

  1. Depending on how deep your pond is and how far your spigot is, connect a spigot to your hose. Make sure your hose can cover up the space between the pond and where you would want to release the water. If you think that you have a short hose, you can buy an extension hose or another hose and just connect it.
  2. Connect the nozzle to the other end of your hose.
  3. Turn the spigot on and wait until the hose is filled with water at the end of the nozzle.
  4. Once it’s full, turn off the spigot and tighten up the nozzle until no water comes out. The hose must be full of water for this to work.
  5. The next thing to do is disconnect the spigot and the hose. Make sure that you hold the end of the hose as high as you can and as quickly as possible to ensure that a minimal amount of water comes out.
  6. Take the nozzle using your free hand and bring both ends of the hose somewhere lower than your pond. Ideally, this should be the place where you would dump the water. Then, place the nozzle end on the ground.
  7. Put the open end of the hose to your pond and place it where the pond is at its deepest. Make sure that you tie it up with a brick or stone so it can stay in place. That is essential if you want to drain the water completely.
  8. The last step is to remove the nozzle so that the water will quickly rush out. For this to work the place you dump the water must be lower than the bottom of the pond.


Using a siphon hose is a faster way to collect and drain the water than using a regular hose. Keep this in mind if you want your work to be done faster and easier.


How to Refill Your Old Pond

Refilling your pond with tap water can cause irrevocable damages to your pond, its ecosystem, and the wildlife you put into it, which is why it’s important to do a couple of things before continuing with your work.

Here some things that you should consider first.

  1. Dechlorinate the water

Tap water is harmful to aquatic life because of its unique chemicals. Some of the issues you’ll probably find with chlorine water are that it kills good bacteria, creates fish burns, and can poison the fish. There are four ways to dechlorinate tap water.

a – Let the water sit

Fill out a bucket with tap water and let it sit for at least 48 hours. Naturally, chlorine in the tap water will rises and escapes into the atmosphere. Although, there’s no scientific basis to this. Many pond owners test the water with its chlorine level or use other methods before doing anything else.

Other than that and the fact that it might take you a couple of days to refill your pond if you’re looking for a costless and effective way to remove chlorine, this could be the best option for you. Although, it’s important to note that this method doesn’t remove chloramine, which is also dangerous to the wildlife you put into your reservoir.

b – Pond Dechlorinator and Conditioner

It’s a good idea to use a pond dechlorinator and conditioner after letting your tap water sit for 48 hours to ensure that all the chlorine is removed and that it’s also effective against chloramine and nitrites.

With many options on the market, choose a product that can remove chlorine, chloramine, nitrites, and ammonia just to make sure. This method is easy to implement and an effective way to solve your problems.

c – Carbon Filter Hose Attachment

One of the most convenient methods to dechlorinate your pond water is to use a carbon filter hose attachment. It’s as easy as attaching it at the end of your hose, where the water will come out and spill onto your pond.

It works by dechlorinating the water that passes through the filter. These filters offer different capacities in terms of how much water they can filter, so if you have a large pond, make sure that your filter can handle the job. In most cases, a filter can remove a high rate of chlorine, chloramine, pesticides, and metals in tap water.

However, it’s important to note that not all carbon filters are made for pond use, so choose one that fits your needs.

d – Activated Carbon Filter Media

Unlike carbon filters, which you attach to a hose, an activated carbon filter media is placed directly on the pond and stays there until you need to replace it. It works by letting the contaminants stick to the carbon filter media and stays there unless you remove it.

This method is best if you want to continuously check the chloramine and chlorine levels of your pond. It also helps maintain the chlorine level when you fill the pond with new water.

  1. Putting in pond bacteria

As mentioned earlier, you also remove good bacteria if you drain out your pond, which means you need to replicate what you’ve lost. Thankfully, some pond bacteria products can help you achieve a healthy ecosystem.

For some homeowners, using pond bacteria is not necessary as the water will fill up with good bacteria in the long run. But if you’re in a hurry to put back your aquatic plants, goldfish, and koi, then we suggest that you use this method.

  1. Pond water quality test

The last thing you’d want to do is test the quality of your pond water to ensure that the pH, nitrites, KH, and ammonia levels are right for your plants and animals. It’s best to test it before draining, and after refilling the pond, and compare the data that you get. Make sure that you come close to the quality level that you took before you drained the water.


Why Is It Important to Maintain Your Backyard Pond?

With all the hard work you put up in your pond, including taking care of your plants and animals, you shouldn’t put your pond to waste. It’s vital to do a scheduled maintenance on it, even after draining, refilling, and dechlorinating it.

Make sure that you do the right maintenance depending on the seasons. Here’s a quick guide on what to do.

1 – Spring Maintenance

The best time to do maintenance and clean up is in the springtime, before your water pond reaches above 50°F, while your fish are not active. You should also take away the collected debris during winter.

2 – Summer Maintenance

One of the most crucial moments of doing maintenance is in the summertime. The heat can cause problems to your plants and fish, not to mention all the falling debris on your pond. Here are some tasks that you can do during this season:


  • Maintain the water level
  • Add floating and marginal plants
  • Trim large plants
  • Feed your fish timely
  • Neither clean nor remove the filter pads
  • Fertilize your lily plants and lotus
  • Add good bacteria
  • Control any runoff


3 – Fall Maintenance

Make sure that you’re well and prepared to do constant maintenance in the fall. Because of your plants and trees, there’s a bigger chance for you to find more debris build-up, which can cause bad water conditions and algae.

4 – Winter Maintenance

In the winter, most ponds will go dormant and fish will hibernate, so make sure that you create a hole for aeration and for gasses to escape. Also, ensure that your water pump is operating properly and that your fish are provided with the right amount of oxygen.

Now that we’re done discussing the importance of pond maintenance, let us look at the ways you can take care of and maintain the quality of your pond. Read this article to read more about preparing a pond for winter.


9 Ways to Care For and Maintain a Backyard Pond

Cleaning your pond regularly, letting your water plants grow, maintaining the right water level and temperature, and keeping the water chemistry at the optimum level are just some of the things you need to do to maintain your pond.

  1. Manage your plants near the pond

Make sure that the trees and plants near your pond are well-maintained. Use a trap net to cover your pond so that you can catch any falling leaves and debris. Regularly empty the net to avoid debris build-up.

  1. Regularly clean your pond

As it happens, you can’t catch all the leaves that fall into your pond. These leaves contain toxic gases when left on the water, which can cause ecological imbalance on your pond. You can use a skimming net to remove any leaves and debris that go through your net.

Also, sludges are another thing that you need to take care of to reduce the number of algae that may grow around the walls and on the floor of your pond. For that, you can use a pond vacuum cleaner to remove sludges and other decaying matters on your reservoir.

  1. Maintain your water plants

Water plants are a great addition to any pond because they act as oxygenators to your fish. Some plants that you could choose to plant during the summer include marshes, marginals, and floaters. How many water plants do you need? Click to find out.

Make sure that you fertilize the plants to encourage their growth and keep them healthy. Keep an eye out for any plants that may die, and if that happens, remove them immediately to avoid any contaminants in your water.

  1. Control algae growth

Algae is a good source of food for your aquatic pets, but if not controlled, it can excessively grow and cover almost the entire area of your pond. Luckily, there are two ways to control algae growth.


  • Natural way – You may plant aquatic plants, like lilies, that block some light from reaching algae, or use hyacinth or lettuce that produces a large number of nutrients to counter the growth of algae.
  • Artificial methods – Using a rake to remove algae on the walls or floor of your pond is an effective way to control these non-flowering plants and do minimal exercises too. For an easier option, you can buy a dye or algaecides that darkens the surface of your pond and reduces the light coming through.


  1. Control build-up of ice during winter

Ice build-up during winter can be troublesome for pond owners since it can cause some serious damages to your aquatic animals and plants. To control the ice, make sure that your pond’s surface doesn’t freeze. A solid surface can result in low temperatures and limited oxygen, which can be dangerous to any fish.

To avoid this, you can use a de-icer or let a ball float on the surface. You can also use a heater to ensure that your water has the right temperature and oxygenation. If you notice any ice build-up, you can use a hot pan to melt the ice.

If you want to avoid doing any of these, you can cover your entire pond with lumber or PVC. This will insulate the air inside and prevent the cold air from coming through your cover. It’s important to remember to use a transparent or clear material when covering your pond so that sunlight can still come through.

  1. Repair and troubleshoot any leaks and damages

A leaking problem can make your water levels low, which in return, lowers the oxygen level of your aquatic pets. If you’re not sure, it’s best to look at the surrounding areas of your pond. If it’s wet, then you just confirmed that there are damages within your pond.

When repairing leakages to a pond, make sure that you first drain out the water and follow the steps mentioned in the previous section. If you think that the damages are too severe for you to fix them on your own, it is best to contact a pond repair professional to do the job.

  1. Maintain the right water level

A low water level means low oxygen for your fish. This is a common scenario during the summer, which is why it’s important to constantly check your water level. If you see this happening to your pond, you can do a top-up or use a water supply system to keep your water level in check.

It’s important to remember to dechlorinate the water that you put in your pond. Avoid using tap water directly since it contains harmful chemicals that can damage your pond’s ecosystem.

  1. Make your pond well-aerated

Providing adequate oxygen to your pond creates a healthy environment for your aquatic animals and plants. It can boost their growth, remove odor formation, reduce algae growth, and facilitate overall wellness in your water garden.

You can improve and maintain the oxygen on your pond by improving the water and air movement around it by putting up fountains, waterfalls, and bubbles. You can also use an air pump or air system to maximize the aeration in your pond.

  1. Keep the water chemistry at an optimum level

At some point, debris, leaves, and small chemicals might come into your pond, which can be harmful to your aquatic life. To avoid this, test your water pond every now and then to check its chemistry. If there are any changes, you can use detoxifiers and alkaline solutions to balance out the chemistry.

  1. Maintain a good fish population

100 gallons of water with at least 10 fishes in it is already considered overpopulated. Make sure that you know the right capacity of your pond to avoid overpopulation. This will ensure that your fish are happy and healthy in your reservoir.

  1. Never overfeed your fish

Uneaten food decays when it stays in the pond, which can result in algae and unwanted chemicals releasing into your water. Make sure to feed your fish what they can finish in about 2 to 3 minutes. Also, it’s best to choose fish food that floats when it’s not eaten rather than something that sinks. This will make it easier for you to remove any excess food that’s not eaten.

  1. Choose the right pond filtration

Choose a filtration depending on the size of your pond. Always remember that a filter works best and is more efficient if it’s one size higher than what your pond requires. A filter can remove small debris, create good aeration, and break down any bacteria that may harm your aquatic pets.



It’s possible to relive an old and dirty pond with some hard work and sacrifices. Determining the reason why you’re lessening or draining your pond is the first step to ensure that you’re doing the right thing for your reservoir.

Follow the steps mentioned above when draining and refilling your pond, and we’re sure that your aquatic plants and animals will be satisfied. Also, taking care and maintaining the quality of your water is essential for your backyard pond to be successful.

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