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Is a Total Water Change Necessary?

Is a Total Water Change Necessary?

When your pond has major water quality issues that don't seem to be resolved by easy troubleshooting or water treatments, a total water change can provide a fresh start. Remove all of the water from the pond and manually clean out debris and algae. Total water changes are not always necessary; they often remove the good bacteria in that water and can stress out fish, making it a last resort option. Learn more about how to know if a total water change is necessary.

What is a Total Water Change?

A total water change is when you completely drain your pond, remove debris and muck, and manually scrub away algae. Afterward, you refill the pond, and after treating it with a chlorine remover and waiting 24 hours, add back your fish and other pond life. A total water change is typically a last resort, as it also removes the beneficial bacteria--which can cause new pond syndrome. 

Partial Water Change

During a partial water change, you drain less than 50 percent of the water typically and add fresh water to maintain water quality. Some pond owners regularly do a 10 to 20 percent water change in their ponds as part of their monthly maintenance routine. Partial water changes are a good way to dilute contaminants in the pond quickly. Adding more than 50 percent new water can be dangerous due to chlorine levels in the pond. 

Restoring Water Levels

A water change is different than replacing water due to natural evaporation, which is more common in the summer during warmer months. During the summer, your pond's water levels will drop due to evaporation, and you will need to add water back into the pond. You'll only need to add less than 5 percent each week. If the water levels drop too low, the pond can have water quality issues as the water gets too warm and shallow. 

When Is a Total Water Changeover Necessary 

Before doing a total water changeover, test your water to see what is going on beneath the surface. Regular water tests will help you monitor and treat elevated contaminant levels, which can harm pond life and cause water quality issues. 

High Levels of Contaminants

A total water changeover is necessary when the pond's contaminants (ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates) or pH levels become dangerous for your fish. If the levels are too high and can damage your fish's health and safety, the quickest way to restore balance is to do a water change. 

You can first do a partial water (30-50 percent) change to dilute the pond's contaminant levels immediately. Chlorine removers typically take a full day to make your pond safe for your pond fish once you do the water changeover. A partial water change can be helpful while your fish are waiting to go back into the pond.

Debris Overload

Ponds can quickly become unbalanced if there's more debris that can be filtered out or broken down by the good bacteria in the water. Before deciding to do a water changeover, try removing what debris you can. Scoop debris from the surface of the pond using a skimmer fish net. You can use a pond vacuum to remove debris and sludge from the bottom of the pond. 

After removing all the debris, you can use a water treatment like the Barley Clarifier or Sludge Remover. If manually cleaning and water treatments do not work, a water changeover gives you the opportunity to deep clean the pond.

Algae Takeover

Algae can become very problematic, especially when reopening your pond in the spring and during the summertime. When algae bloom, they can quickly take over the pond, seemingly overnight.

If you have tried using the smartpond Green Stop or Algaecide algae treatments, but the algae won't go away and are starting to affect your pond life, a complete water change may be necessary. After doing a total water change, be sure to follow some of these preventative measures to help stop future algae blooms


Tips for Water Clarity

A total water change will allow you to clean your pond and scrub away debris and algae, but it will not prevent further water quality issues. Knowing the cause of your water quality issues is essential to prevent them from happening again in your newly cleaned pond.


Common Sources of Water Quality Issues:

  • Pond Pump Problems
  • Overcrowding and Overfeeding of Fish
  • Lack of Aeration
  • Not Enough Filtration

When water treatments are not enough, a total water changeover can help give your pond a fresh start. It's important to remember that a total water change will not stop future problems, and try to figure out what caused your issues to begin with so you can stop them from happening again. Water changeovers can eliminate the good bacteria in your pond and stress out your fish, but they are sometimes necessary.

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