You need to clean and maintain your pond. Now, some people prefer to not have filters in their outdoor fish ponds, mainly because of the cost and because outdoor filters can run into some big problems depending on the weather and climate.
Yes, it is possible to have a fish pond without a filtration unit, but you will need to find other ways to effectively clean it. After all, just because you do not have a filter does not mean that waste just does not build up.
Without a filter, things like fish waste, rotting plants, uneaten food, ammonia, nitrates, and a list of other contaminants can and will pollute the water. All of these things will hurt and kill your fish and plants. So, how to keep pond water clean without a filter is what we are here to talk about today.
Table of contents
- How To Keep Pond Water Clean Without Filter
- Commonly Asked Questions
How To Keep Pond Water Clean Without Filter
1. Don’t Overstock The Pond
One of the first things to keep in mind when you are not using a filter is to not overstock the pond. By this, we mean that you should not add too many fish into the pond. Fish eat a lot and they produce a lot of fish waste.
That waste is an eyesore, it mucks up the water, and it released poisonous compounds like ammonia too. The fewer fish are in the pond, the less waste is produced, and the less of these compounds will be present in the water.
Now, you obviously have your pond so you can have fish, so you do want to add a good amount, but if you are not using a filter, just do not overdo it. The amount of water in the pond compared to the amount of fish, when not using a filter, needs to be a lot higher than when you do have a filter.
Since there is no real way to filter these things out without a good filtration unit, keeping the fish population fairly low is necessary.
2. Don’t Overfeed Your Fish
The next thing that you want to keep in mind if you are not using a filtration unit in your pond is that you don’t want to overfeed the fish. If you overfeed your fish, there will be a lot of uneaten food present in the water. The uneaten food releases ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites, plus some other substances too.
These substances are harmful to fish, plus they can cause algae blooms too. This is also true for the fish waste itself. The more you feed the fish, the more waste will be produced.
Try to feed your pond fish just enough to survive, or a little more, but don’t spoil them with tons of food and treats that they won’t eat, or will eat too much of. It also helps to have the right kinds of foods, such as ones that do not contain phosphates.
If you own a family of outdoor (or indoor) goldfish or are considering either-or, we recommend you check out our best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish, on Amazon. It covers everything about tank setup and maintenance for all types of goldfish aquariums, no matter the location!
3. Engage In Regular Water Changes
One of the best ways to help clean pond water without using a filter is to actually just change the water altogether. You can safely change up to 30% of the total water volume in the pond without negatively affecting the fish or plants. Removing the old water is really effective because you are directly removing contaminants and debris from the water this way.
Just be sure to dechlorinate the water and treat it so that it is suitable for your pond fish before adding the new water into the tank. Chlorine is very harmful to fish, so you need to be sure that the new water you are adding to the pond contains absolutely none of it.
4. Clean Your Pond Regularly
The next way to keep your pond water clean without using a filter is to clean it manually. Now, the most important aspect here is to clean away all kinds of solid fish waste, algae, uneaten food, rotting plants, and dead fish too. All of these things decay and release bad substances like ammonia into the water. Since you don’t have a filter, these things will just build up.
A great way to control these substances is to remove the things that create them in the first place. It is called being preventative instead of reactive. Also, you probably want to remove decorations, plants, and ornaments from the water now and again to clean them as well. The cleaner you keep the pond, the less need there is for a filtration unit.
5. Use A UV Sterilizer
Now, when it comes to algae, a UV sterilizer will be a big boon for your filter-less pond. If you don’t have a good mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration unit, various substances which algae feed off will build-up, thus causing algae blooms.
However, algae need a lot of sunlight to bloom and multiply, so using a UV sterilizer to neutralize the sunlight will go a long way in keeping the pond water free of algae. Algae does not look nice, it suffocates plants and fish, and it smells bad too, so this is definitely a big part of keeping your pond water clean.
6. Use A Nano Media Reactor
Ok, so this is kind of cheating, but whatever, it is not actually a filter. A nano-media reactor is like a backup filtration unit that specializes in the removal of organic compounds like nitrates and ammonia from the water.
Yes, in a way it is a filter, which is why we said it is cheating kind of, but in reality, a filter and a nano media reactor are two different things. A nano-media reactor is a great thing to have if you have lots of fish that produce a lot of waste. It is also an effective tool in terms of algae control as well. We have reviewed our top 5 here.
Related Read: What Does A Bio Pellet Reactor Do? Do You Need One?
7. Use Pond Dye
Ok, so using pond dye is not exactly the best way to keep your pond water clean, but it does come with one main benefit. This benefit is that of algae control. Since algae need sunlight to thrive, blocking out as much light as possible will help control the algae growth (we have reviewed our top pond dyes over in this article).
Like we said before, algae stinks. It’s dirty, it discolors the water, and it suffocates pond inhabitants too, so this is quite important to keep in mind.
8. Have The Right Plants
Having the right plants in your pond is beneficial for keeping it clean too. Submerged plants act as natural filters and they help to draw out poisonous substances from the water.
Having a good amount of submerged plants in your pond will help to absorb waste products created by the fish. At the same time, having some floating plants will help stop some sunlight from making it to the water, thus also controlling algae growth (we have covered our 10 favorite plant options here that help to keep the water clean).
9. Take Advantage Of Cover
Sure, having your pond under a tree may cause leaves to fall into it, but that is not a huge deal in the long run. Having your pond under a tree will help to block out sunlight, thus controlling algae growth.
However, if you have a tree where lots of birds make their homes, you might want to avoid this, as bird waste is full of ammonia and you definitely do not want them to defecate in your pond (we have covered some tips here on keeping birds away from your pond).
10. Use Special Additives
The final thing that you can do to help keep your pond water clean without a filter is to add special additives to the pond, mainly beneficial bacteria. Beneficial bacteria will work to break down ammonia and nitrates, thus reducing the need for biological filtration.
It is actually one of the best ways to keep your pond water clean if you do not have a filter and do not plan on getting one.
Commonly Asked Questions
Do I Need A Filter For My Pond?
You might be wondering, “do ponds need filters?”. Ok, so it is beneficial to have a filter in your pond, as it is the best way to keep it clean, keep the levels of ammonia and nitrates down, and ensure that the pond has properly oxygenated water. However, there are ways of maintaining a healthy pond without the use of a filter, although it is a bit harder.
If you have a fairly large pond with only a few fish in it, the bioload may be light enough so that you can do without a filter. Moreover, live plants are a big deal too, because some good pond plants will help provide some water filtration, and will help provide some oxygen to the mix as well.
Furthermore, ensuring that you do not overfeed your fish helps, so they don’t create as much waste, and having a cleanup crew, such as snails, will go a long way in removing excessive algae, waste, and food remnants.
You can also add some beneficial bacteria to the water on occasion, which will help control ammonia and nitrates. So, while it is much easier and very beneficial to have a pond filter, it is not always 100% necessary.
How To Make A Pond Filter Without Electricity?
To be quite honest, making your own pond filter is going to be a challenge, both in terms of constructing and maintaining it, now let’s add a lack of electricity to the mix, and things get even harder.
One thing you could actually do is to get a pond filter and hook it up to a solar system to provide it with power. Yes, it still uses electricity, but you aren’t plugged into a power outlet. One of the best ways to filter pond water without electricity is to use natural pond filters.
A good layer of substrate at the bottom, such as a combination of gravel and sand, will allow waste and rotting plant matter to move downwards, but the best way is to use natural pond filter plants.
There are a few great plants out there that go a long way in filtering pond water. However, the bottom line here is that unless you are a diehard pond enthusiast, and you have a ton of technical knowledge, you won’t be making your own filtration system.
Can Goldfish Survive In A Pond Without A Pump?
A Pond without filters and pumps is quite hard to maintain, much harder than if you have those things.
However, that being said, goldfish may be able to survive in pond water without a pump, but there are various factors to consider and various steps you will need to take if you want to make this work.
- If you have a lot of fish in the pond compared to the amount of water, you might need a pump and filter to provide enough oxygen for them to survive, plus to provide the water with adequate filtration too.
- This is related to the overall bio load in the pond. The more plants there are in comparison to the amount of fish, the more filtration and oxygenation you will have. Plants do make a big difference here.
- Generally speaking, fish can survive in a well-maintained pond for quite a while without a pump and filter, but when it comes down to it, sooner or later, you will run into big problems. It’s best to have a pump.
How To Get Crystal Clear Koi Pond Water?
Let’s go over some quick tips on how to maintain clear koi pond water.
- Never overcrowd the pond with too many koi fish. The more fish there are, the more waste they produce, which then requires cleaning and maintenance.
- Do not overfeed the koi fish. The more they eat, the more waste they produce, and the dirtier the water gets.
- Try to have a lot of good pond plants in the pond, as they help to filter out the water.
- Have a good filtration system, one that can easily handle several times the amount of water in the pond per hour, preferably one that engages in all 3 major types of filtration to clear out as much waste and as many unwanted substances as possible.
- You can always add some beneficial bacteria to the mix, as these will help to speed up the nitrogen cycle, break down waste, and eliminate poisonous substances such as nitrates and ammonia.
- Having a few snail in the pond never hurts either, as snails make for an excellent cleanup crew.
How To Clean Pond Water With Fish In It?
If your pond is really dirty, you may have to remove the fish from it before you clean the pond water, but this is not always necessary.
Let’s go over a quick step-by-step process on how to clean pond water with fish in it.
- Step One: Use a pond cleaning net to skin the pond water surface and remove as much floating debris as you can. Remove anything that should not be in there.
- Step Two: Remove the pump, filter, and decorations from the pond, so you can wash and clean those separately.
- Step Three: Use a pond net or a special pond vacuum to carefully clean the bottom of the pond of any debris that should not be there, being careful to work around the fish.
- Step Four: If there is an overgrowth of algae, you will want to use something like a toilet brush, or something similar, to remove excessive amounts of algae.
- Step Five: Clean the pond filter, the pump, any decorations, and then slowly return them to the pond, making sure not to disturb the fish.
As you can see, you do not actually need a filtration unit for your pond. Ok, so having a filter is definitely better than not having one, but if you engage in all of the tips and tricks we have discussed above, you should not have any problems keeping your pond water clean. Sure, it might be easier to keep a pond clean with a filter, but it is totally doable without one. That being said, you do need to be very diligent and cautious if you are going to go the route of not using a filtration unit in your pond.
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Featured image: Zhukova Valentyna, Shutterstock