If you’ve ever had to clean your pond out from time to time (and most likely you have) then you know it’s not the most enjoyable job. A pond vacuum can make the task quite a bit easier but it’s important to choose and use the one that’s best suited to your needs and in truth, they’re not all created equal. Let’s explore some of the more common options and how they differ from one another.
Light Duty Muck Vacs
Muck vacs are very simple devices that use pressure created from an attached garden hose and they work well to pick up light debris and, as the name implies, mucky stuff. The water pressure necessary to run most of these will need to be at least 50 psi which is normal for most households. Usually when muck vacs produce poor results it comes down to very low water pressure which limits suction, or the task at hand is just to much for it to handle.
It should be mentioned that this type of vacuum doesn’t add water to a pond, but like all vacs, it will discharge some of the water and the debris it picks up. This waste can be routed away from the pond through a discharge hose.
When heavy leaf build up or compressed muck is involved most light duty vacuums will wilt a bit and you’ll want to move up to something more powerful.
The original muck vac, and the most widely sold brand is from a company called Odyssey. Thousands of these are now in service and helping clean small ponds and it’s estimated that only about 10% of these are returned due to poor performance.
The best way to use a muck vac, or any pond vacuum for that matter is to use them routinely. Doing so will limit the build up of muck and debris and make the pond easier to clean each time you use the vacuum. It’s best to determine what routine works best for you, whether it be every few days, weekly, or ever two weeks, and stay with that schedule throughout the season.
Powered Pond Vacuums
For many people, and particularly those with a larger backyard pond, a powered vacuum will likely be a better choice. In a general sense, the larger the horsepower or the wattage of the motor, the more powerful it will be. If you intend to use the vacuum quite regularly or have some demanding work for it, then you’ll want to opt for a larger motor to meet this demand.
One of the more popular models of powered vacuums is called the Oase Pondovac. These use dual chambers where one is designed to bring water and debris in, and the other is intended to expel or discharge material. With this system, you never have to turn the unit off to empty and and suction or cleaning as well as the discharge is continuous.
Other more traditional vacs are much like the shop vacuums you might be used to. They’ll suck up water and debris and then need to be switched to send the accumulated contents out through the discharge hose. These are usually less expensive then the dual chambered models.
Most of these vacuums come with a variety of attachments that make them versatile for cleaning. There are nozzles that make getting into cracks and crevices pretty easy and most are liner friendly, meaning then won’t damage the rubber membrane found in most small ponds. If you have rocks lining the bottom, some also have attachments to keep these from getting sucked up into the machine, although if the pebbles are very small, they may be difficult to clean with any kind of vacuum.
(Editors note: rather than putting very fine rock at the bottom of a pond we suggest using larger pebbles or even flat rock to improve the aesthetic appearance but still provide an easy to clean surface)
Another type of powered vacuum has emerged on the market which actually has the motor embedded in a submersible housing allowing it to be placed near the vacuum head. The Pond Mosta model is designed in this way and it’s specifications show that it will operate at a much deeper depth than other powered designs. With a two inch discharge hose it will handle heavier leaf debris as well.
Pond Vac Limitations
Pond vacuums offer a viable way to keep a pond cleaner during the seasons of operation. As we’ve noted, they vary in capabilities and some of them are very capable machines. With that said, they are best used for routine cleaning of muck and other things that fall into the pond from time to time. Limiting this build up will usually keep a pond cleaner and in better shape and make it a healthier place for your koi or gold fish if you have any.