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How to Empty a Pond (With or Without a Pump)

How to Empty a Pond (With or Without a Pump)

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Emptying your pond might be daunting, especially if it’s your first time doing it. However, sometimes draining your pond is a must to maintain a healthy environment for your fish.

Whether you’re making structural repairs, addressing health concerns, or on a deep cleaning mission, draining your pond can be a step forward to maintaining a thriving aquatic life.

Though, the process isn’t about just emptying the water. You need to consider the pond’s ecosystem, the welfare of the inhabitants, and the preservation of beneficial bacteria.

Despite these challenges, draining your pond should only take a few hours or less with the right equipment and technique. In this guide, we’ll explain how to empty a pond.

Let’s dive in!

Do You Need to Empty Your Pond?

Even though emptying your pond is somewhat simple, it shouldn’t always be the first solution to your problems. That’s because there are several risks associated with pond draining, especially if you’re draining the whole pond.

Mature ponds feature complex ecosystems. They include several types of bacteria, fish, plants, insects, and microorganisms. Draining such ponds can harm aquatic life, as it takes time for the ecosystem to regain its balance.

Koi and Goldfish, for example, thrive on healthy bacteria to stay safe from toxic chemicals such as nitrates and ammonia. When you drain the pond, the freshwater doesn’t contain these types of bacteria, which causes fish stress.

On the other hand, sometimes draining your pond is the only way to fix problems. For instance, if your pond has excessive algae, debris, or sludge, it might be necessary to drain it for deep cleaning.

If you’re making structural repairs such as fixing leaks, replacing the pond liner, or renovating the pond layout, full drainage might be necessary.

In short, you might need to empty your pond in the following cases:

  • Deep cleaning
  • Health concerns such as disease outbreaks
  • Pond reconstruction
  • Replacing pond liner
  • Checking fish for injury or illness

The risks associated with pond draining include the following:

  • Loss of beneficial bacteria
  • Stress for aquatic life
  • Wasting water, as draining a pond consumes a considerable amount of water

Where Should I Drain Pond Water?

Before you drain your pond, you should consider where the water goes and how it might impact the surrounding environment. If there are sewer drains near you, getting rid of the excess water shouldn’t be an issue.

What if this isn’t an option, though?

Luckily, pond water is rich in nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates, which are ideal natural fertilizers. As such, you can drain the pond water into your garden, lawn, and flower beds. That way, you provide a natural boost for your greenery without wasting water.

Make sure to spread the water evenly to avoid over-saturating a specific area.

How to Drain Your Pond

There are several methods to drain your pond. Using a pump is the most efficient approach, especially if your pond is large.

There are several types of pumps available, and they all do a great job draining water. Let’s discuss each type.

Hand Pump

While using a hand pump may sound like a huge hassle, it works for small ponds. Electrical equipment may be expensive, and it may not be worth it if your pond is small. You won’t be draining your pond every day anyway.

Hand pumps can transport water at a rate of 5-10 gallons a minute. So, if you have 100 gallons of pond water, you can drain it in 15-20 minutes at most.

If you’re willing to put on some effort, hand pumps are excellent for draining your small pond.

Submersible Pump

Submersible pumps are an excellent option for draining large ponds, or if you want the draining process to be much faster.

You need to place the submersible pump in the deepest part of the pond for maximum efficiency. Then, connect a discharge hose to direct the water to your desired location, preferably your garden.

When shopping for a submersible pump, ensure it’s rated for the size of your pond. If you have a deep pond, you need a pump that’s powerful enough to lift the water out of the pond.

Every pump should have a head height value, which refers to the maximum height for the pump to lift water.

Solar Power Pump

If draining time isn’t an issue, you can opt for a solar power pump to empty your pond. Even though it doesn’t have the draining power of an electrical pump, a solar pump is handy for small and shallow ponds that don’t require much draining.

It’s also a cost-effective option as it doesn’t require electricity to operate. It relies on energy generated from solar panels to power the pump and move the water.

Solar pumps are also versatile, as you can place them in remote places where traditional pumps don’t fit. Moreover, they come with their hose piping system, so you won’t need to purchase extra hoses unless the drainage location is far away.

When purchasing a solar power pump, we recommend looking for pumps with a flow rate of 200 GPH to 500 GPH. A higher GPH means the pump has a higher maximum head height.

External Pump

Another way to drain your pond is by using an external pump. External pumps are similar to submersible pumps, but they’re more energy efficient.

Moreover, you don’t have to place them deep down in the water. They also have better flow rate and height potential than any other pond pump.

However, installing an external pump might be tricky. If your pump is below the waterline with a fixed intake, it won’t drain much water below the intake height.

To fix this, you might need to purchase a hose extension and fix it to the intake. Then, place the pump at the deepest water point.

Vacuum Cleaner

A pond vacuum cleaner is typically used for pond-cleaning purposes such as sucking sludge, removing algae, scrubbing, and washing. Though, some vacuum cleaners have a discharge system that allows water draining while cleaning.

So, if you have a vacuum cleaner, check its capacity to suck water while cleaning. Some models are capable of draining and cleaning simultaneously, while other models have a separate discharge mode.

Vacuum cleaners have separate chambers; they can suck water into one chamber while another chamber empties. The water drains through an external outlet hose to your drainage location.

Even though vacuum cleaners aren’t designed for water draining, they can make your job a lot easier by cleaning and draining your pond simultaneously.

How to Empty a Pond Without a Pump

If you’re tight on budget and buying a pond pump is problematic, you can still siphon your pond water without a pump. However, this method only works for small ponds.

Let’s see how to siphon water out of your pond.

  1. Use a garden hose that’s long enough to reach from the pond to the discharge area
  2. Plug one hose end into your faucet, and extend the hose to where you’ll empty the water
  3. Connect a nozzle to the other end of the hose and turn on the water source
  4. After the hose is filled with water, close up the nozzle and turn the water off
  5. Disconnect your garden hose and hold it vertically to ensure that water doesn’t leak
  6. Identify an area that’s lower than the pond’s water level to create a proper siphon effect, this area is preferably where you’ll discharge the water
  7. Now place the nozzle of the hose on the ground and put the other end in your pond
  8. It would be best to place your hose at the deepest part of your pond to maintain a siphon effect and keep the water flow
  9. Ensure the hose’s end stay submerged in water throughout the process, you can use a rock or a brick to weigh it down
  10. Now remove the nozzle, and water should start flowing out of your hose

How Long Does It Take To Drain a Pond?

The time it takes to drain your pond depends on various factors, such as the pond size, draining method, water flow rate, and more.

For instance, if you’re using an electric pump, the time it takes to drain the pond depends on your pond’s size and the pump’s capacity.

Pumps are usually rated by GPH (gallon per hour). So to get an estimate of how long it’ll take to empty your pond, divide your pond volume by the pump flow rate. That means if your pond has 2000 gallons and the pump’s flow rate is 500 GPH, it’ll take around 4 hours to drain your pond.

Keep in mind that using pumps is the fastest way to drain your pond. If you opt for siphoning, vacuum cleaning, or manual emptying, it’ll take much longer.

Final Thoughts

Draining a pond might seem like a hassle, but with the proper equipment and basic knowledge, you can do it in no time.

So, how to empty a pond?

There are various methods to drain your pond. Using electric pumps is by far the most efficient method, and works best for small and large ponds.

If you have a small pond and don’t want to spend much on equipment, you can opt for vacuum cleaning or siphoning. These methods are pretty time-consuming, but they won’t cost you much.


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