Am I on the right track about pond vacuums?

kennym_2010March 24, 2014

I'm very new to watergardens (installed new pond and stream last fall). I have read numerous post about the subject of pond vacuums. Most posts I have found were 2-8 years old. None seemed to fit my situation real well. So I'm hoping to get some clarification from the experienced ones here if I can.
Concerning pond vacuums, most all I've seen was about heavy (years build up?) muck. My approach upon installation was to put a filtered skimmer and filter fall in. Both are twice the recommended size for my pond. The cleaning I'm seeing this spring is just a thin coating on bottom that (most of it anyway) can be stirred up, clouding the water. I just want to vacuum that "silt" (I guess it's called). I'm thinking if I do this once or twice a years I won't have a thick muck problem. Am I correct in my approach?

If I am correct, then my question is: what type vacuum do you think would do the job in 1-2 hours? There are so many vacuums on the market, everyone says theirs is the best. My thoughts are why spend $300-$400, when $100-$200 will do what I need? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, type of thing.

My pond
My pond is approximate 12 ft x 8 ft x 3 ft max depth.

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Sorry, iPhone didn't let me finish for some reason.

Approximate gallons is 1,500.

I was considering Oase Pondovac 4 and Matala Pond Vacuum II. Im also looking at a shop vac, which would be less expensive but may still do the job?

I really appreciate any ideas you may have based on your experiance.

Thank you

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 9:27PM
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nmpondguy(z7A NM)

1500 gallons is about the size of my pond. I've had my pond about 10 years now. I got a shop vac in the early years and found it to be lacking. vacuuming 2 1/2 to 3 feet deep was very slow going and took a lot of water out of the pond. Plus you had to constantly empty the thing. What a pain.

Next I got an Oase pond-o-vac II (at that time that was the new version). Vacuum power was a little better and it shut off when full and emptied itself. But still a lot of stop and go and still took a lot of water out of the pond.
I've tried a lot of home made contraptions too. None of them did what I wanted.

The problem is that I thought vacuuming the pond was going to be about as easy as vacuuming the living room. It is not nearly that easy. It probably isn't easy for anyone with a pond larger than about 4 ft in diameter and maybe 2 feet deep.

I know you don't want to hear this, and probably won't listen. Just like I didn't listen to whomever it was who told me (I don't remember now): Save your money and scoop the mulm out with a net. it does a better job and you don't have to replace any water or worry about sucking up your fish!!

Both of my vacuums are sitting in the shed. I almost never use them unless I'm cleaning out my filter tanks (much smaller and easier to manage). Once you realize that a pond is not an aquarium and will never be as clean as one, you can stop stressing and enjoy it for what it is. Of course, it takes some people years of failure to reach that conclusion. I know it took me at least a couple of years. LOL

Best Wishes,

Here is a link that might be useful: nmpondguy's Watergarden Retreat

This post was edited by nmpondguy on Tue, Mar 25, 14 at 23:06

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 11:01PM
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Phil thanks for the enjoyable response. It got me chuckling. You make since to me. It's not an aquarium. Didn't look at it that way. I put the filter fall and filter skimmer in for a reason. The skimmer does a great job collecting the leaves. The few left on the bottom, as you suggest, net them out. I've been reading other articles, forums etc. That snails are great for clean up.

Your reasons for not using a shop vac makes since. I have a small pond (125 gallon)/waterfall. Shop vac works fine for that. I dreaded the thought of using it on the pond I just put in though! Water loss and slow!! Nix that. The cost of the Pondovac 4...I can get allot of snails and still not be close to that price and THEY do the work. My concern, which you addressed so nicely, speed of sweeping...not like a living room...still chuckling. It isn't going to be like a 125 gallon either.

Everything makes since. Snails are on the list!!

Thanks again, cheers


    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 12:20AM
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Hey Ken and Phil, I'm glad someone said it before I did. My first experience with a pond vac. was a $100 MucVac. a total waste of money, the suction capacity, well I want to say sucked. Next I figured I'd buy something good and expensive, I got the Oase Pondvac 4. This I spent about $400 on. It's an overrated shop vac, it is a little better than the Mucvac but not worth the money. If you want to buy something, get a low pressure powerwasher, and a skimmer net. Ponds should be periodically cleaned out. It's a messy job, once a year to two years, but your pond will look great.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 4:30PM
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rapidwiz(Zone 5)

There are a couple of DIY pond vacuums on youtube, these probably tend to work than the commercial ones and might be cheaper.

here are a couple, watch video 3 for the vacuum in action

Here is another with a shop vac

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 6:46PM
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Maybe the other thing to remember is that a well functioning pond has a proper balance of how much muck is produced and how much of that muck is broken down and utilized by the plants. So if the number of fish producing waste and the amount of plant debris that is allowed to settle to the bottom are in balance with the number of plants utilizing the nutrients, most of the excess muck will take care of itself. I think the worst of our pond problems can be attributed to a misbalance somewhere, and if we recognize and fix that, the pond maintains itself.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 9:06PM
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Craiggery-How do you use a power washer on the pond? Can I use it to blast the crud loose from the bottom so it can be scooped out?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 5:26PM
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nmpondguy(z7A NM)

You're welcome Kenny. Glad to help.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:26AM
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Hi Essie, I clean out my gravel pond at least once every two years. This gives me a good chance to do any major maintenance, clean out plants that have become too evasive and move fish around. I do not power wash my liner bottom pond nor do I let the stream hit the liner of my gravel bottom pond with a garden hose..
Lets face it, we have all heard the dangers of over populating our ponds. However, who can let go of any of our babies from previous years unless we know its to a good home.
First I lower the water to 6 inches and remove my koi, then drain the pond. First thing is removing any plants I need too. Now you will really see the muck of the pond. Once you do this, you will see the amount of muck in your pond. There is no way to destroy all of the good bacteria. Power wash only the big rocks to get the slim and crude off. You will need a sump pump placed at the lowest end. Then just start washing behind the rocks and cleaning the gravel.
I would not clean a bog filter. For those with bio-filters, store your bio media in a garbage bag over the winter, in a cool place. A moist environment is better, so I periodically add water through out the winter months. I've had a friend culture a bio media in the hospital I work at. Bacteria, good or bad is a mean mofo, it will survive.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:50AM
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Haven't looked at my thread for awhile. Thank you all for your input. I've been talking to pond stores and viewing other forums on the subject of clean ponds. What I'm finding out parallels what I basically am hearing from most everyone here. BALANCE is a BIG factor. If I strive for and get a good balance, (between, plants, snails, fish, filter system) the muck for a vacuum will be very minimum. The fish population will make a big difference. I'm interested in having a water garden that happens to have a few fish as opposed to a fish pond that has a few plants in it.

As was said by Phil. "it's not an aquarium". The vacuuming isn't a weekly thing. I thank you all for saving me money on an expensive vacuum that will sit in my shed. I'll surely study the home made models, as it appears at first glance, they do an equally well job for allot less money.

Thank you again

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 12:27AM
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