When you have a koi pond, you know just how much organic matter can build up. Not only does this cloud up the water and make it harder to see your fish, but all this muck also adds nutrients to the water that encourages algae growth and reduces the oxygen for your fish.
A good pond vacuum can make cleaning out this organic matter much simpler for you. Without a vacuum, you’d need to drain your pond in order to clean the bottom and remove all this organic matter. This guide will go through what you need to know about pond vacuums so you can answer the question: What IS the best pond vacuum to buy?
Need to Just Skip to the Goods? Here’s the Top Picks…
|Top Top Top||Matala Pond Vacuum II Muck Vac||Most Economical||Buy Now|
|Top Top||OASE Pondovac 5-Dual Pump||Most Heavy Duty||Buy Now|
|Top Top||The Pond Guy ClearVac||Best Value||Buy Now|
Pond Vacuums Overview
Much like other vacuums, pond vacuums can suck up debris from the bottom of your pond. These are just designed to work underwater. The pond vacuum will draw in water and pass it through a filter to catch any dirt and debris.
Once the water is pushed through the filter, it is returned to the pond with an output hose. There are many models on the market that have different features that might make them a better vacuum for koi pond.
Vacuum for koi pond features
All vacuums have features that you will want to think of when you pick the best pond vacuum for your needs. This quick list will give you an idea to keep in mind while you read the reviews to follow.
Single vs Dual Chamber
A single chamber vacuum needs to eject water before you can vacuum more of your pond. A dual-chamber model can filter while you keep vacuuming. Its considered a continuous operation style vacuum.
Size and weight
These criteria are important when determining how easy its going to be to use and move your vacuum. Look for models with wheels to help move it around.
The Best Pond Vacuums
OASE Pondovac Classic Pond Vacuum Cleaner
This is a single chamber pond vacuum with a maximum suction depth of 6 feet and a hose length of 13 feet. It comes with multiple heads that allow you to clean gravel, flat bottoms, and remove string algae. The cord is 13 feet. There are no wheels, but the length means that you can reach very far out into your pond.
The output goes through a filter bag in order to clean. You will need to empty this somewhat frequently, but you can buy a larger bag so long as you are fine with hauling the extra weight.
One of the best features is that the vacuum will automatically empty when the cleaning chamber is full. This means less hassle for you. This feature as well as its reliability makes it a nice simple option to help clean the bottom of your pond and keep your fish healthier.
This model also features an adjustable nozzle so you can be sure you don’t accidentally suck up any smaller fish or pond residents while you’re cleaning up.
|Pros||• Good to 6 ft depth||Cons||• Single Chamber|
|• Adjustable nozzle|
OASE Pondovac 3 Pond Vacuum Cleaner
This dual-chamber option is great if you feel that the previous option would be too much of a hassle for you. It offers 7 feet of suction depth for cleaning deep ponds and a 1600W motor for extra power. It has wheels, so you won’t be hauling a heavy motor around.
The dual-chamber system will help you clean twice as fast as a single chamber model. If you had a single chamber pond vacuum and want to upgrade, this can be a great choice. If you’re anything like me, the faster you get the cleaning done the less likely you are to put it off.
The suction hose is 16 feet, this means that you can clean a larger pond without having to move the vacuum base around. This makes it great for ponds with lots of landscaping around them that make it difficult to find a spot to place the vacuum base. The adjustable nozzle option means you won’t risk sucking up smaller or younger fish.
|Pros||• Good to 7 ft depth||Cons||• Lighter duty than Pondovac 4|
|• 1600W motor|
OASE Pondovac 4 Vacuum for Ponds and Water Gardens
This is an upgrade of the Pondovac 3. It has aluminum parts where the 3 has plastic. The motor is also stronger at 1800W. If you have larger ponds or even a pool, this can be a great option to clean the bottom of your pool or pond. It has many of the same benefits as the 3 but can handle a larger pond.
This means for anyone with more fish, this can help bust through your cleaning faster and at a deeper depth. The aluminum parts will also last longer, so you don’t need to worry about finding replacements quickly. Given that many koi pond owners have deeper ponds to help protect their fish from predators, this added power can be very helpful or even necessary.
Features include a bigger mesh bag to catch more debris, a clear tubing section to monitor your cleaning, and wheels for ease of movement of the heavy unit. If you want to clean quickly, the added power can help bust through the chore quicker.
|Pros||• Heavier duty than Pondovac 3||Cons||• Pricier option|
|• 1800W motor|
|• Longer life|
OASE Pondovac 5-Dual Pump
The Pondovac 5 is another dual-chamber option meant for large ponds and heavy cleaning. It includes 5 nozzles to match all your cleaning needs. The floor nozzle is adjustable so you won’t suck up small fish while you clean. The tubes are made of aluminum and include a clear section to monitor your cleaning while you work. It will work for ponds up to 7.5 feet deep.
With a cleaning hose of 16 feet, it will reach far enough to clean larger ponds, and a 32.8-foot discharge hose can either go back into the pond or be discharged into your garden to allow you to use it to fertilize your plants. The stronger suction can help you clean more quickly.
One thing to note is that there is not an attachment for gravel. It will fit gravel nozzles from other brands, but it is meant for ponds that have a flat bottom or at least not gravel. The price is high, but anyone with a large pond should consider this model seriously if they can budget for it.
|Pros||• Good to 7.5 ft depth||Cons||• Pricier option|
|• Heaviest duty model|
Matala Power-Cyclone Pond Vacuum with Dual Pump System
This is a dual pump option that gives you continuous cleaning of your pond. It offers a very long hose that can work well for large ponds. The inner filter bag helps catch debris without the risk of it being spit out back into your pond. This model is meant mainly for smaller debris, so if you don’t end up with lots of leaves in your pond, this can be a great option.
The way this works also makes it a bit safer for fish that get sucked up since they will end up in a catch bag inside the unit that allows you to rescue them quickly.
However, there is no clear section in the tubing that would warn you that you have sucked up a fish. It has 4 different heads for cleaning multiple surfaces in your pond. Many owners have moved to this after owning a Pondovac and been happy.
One thing to note is that the unit is heavy and does need to be tipped over to fully empty it after use. If you have strength issues, a different vacuum may be better for you.
|Pros||• Dual-chamber||Cons||• Weight: 70 lbs|
|• Good to 8 ft depth|
|• 1HP pump|
Matala Pond Vacuum II Muck Vac
This model from Matala is a great option if you have sticker shock from some of the other models on this list. If you are just getting started with pond vacuums and don’t need anything fancy, this can be a great model. It isn’t recommended that you use this to pump the water back into the pond since there is no filter, but it does allow you to do an easy water change that will help oxygenate your water and keep your koi healthier.
It is a single chamber option, so it will take longer. It will shut itself off to drain for about 15 seconds then resume vacuuming. This unit is really best for full cleanings rather than spot cleanings. It works great for large water changes and annual cleaning.
It is very well rated for picking up muck. If you’ve had issues with other vacuums giving up with leaves or muck, this might be a better option for you.
|Pros||• Auto fill and drain cycle||Cons||• Single-chamber|
|• 1.5 HP motor|
Alpine Corporation Traditional Pond Vacuum
This lighter model is a great option for those who feel that the previous models will be too bulky for them to use. This is also quieter, so if you have neighbors who love to complain about noise, this should help with that.
It has two brush heads and states that you don’t need to remove your fish to clean. This is good since you don’t need to stress your fish or worry about missing one hiding away somewhere.
It works great for most pond debris, and the telescoping handle lets you deep clean without struggling with an excessively-long handle. It has a 16-foot cable, so you can get quite a bit away from an outlet.
This unit is more compact and easier to use. If you have a smaller pond, this is a good option. It won’t work for doing water changes since the output comes out near the suction head.
|Pros||• Ideal for small ponds||Cons||• Light duty|
|• 250 watt motor|
|• Quit operation|
The Pond Guy ClearVac
This is a dual-chamber option that has a clear tube to let you monitor the debris you’re picking up. It will work great for smaller debris as well as doing a partial water change.
It includes 4 heads to let you clean multiple surfaces in your pond, and advertises that it can be used without removing your fish. This is great so you don’t need to stress them out more than necessary while you clean.
This option is best for regular maintenance. If you let your pond go, it will take a long time to clean up. It does work very well, but keep in mind that it will only take debris up to 3/8 inches.
Anything larger will cause clogs that you need to shut down the machine to clear. This is still one of the best on the market and will work great for anyone who is already on top of their maintenance and just needs to get it done faster.
|Pros||• Dual-chamber||Cons||• Fewer extension tubes|
|• Good to 7 ft depth|
Muck has GOT to go! We all know that but which vacuum you choose will depend on your situation. Is your pond small? big? deep? shallow? full of fish? sparse?
The importance of removing muck cannot be overstated. In fact, if your pond has too much muck for too long, toxic gasses can actually build up over time and be released all at once.
There have been cases where a koi pond owner wakes up in the morning to find all their koi dead because of the release of toxic gasses overnight.
There’s lots of good reasons to get muck and algae out of your pond so I hope this review of pond vacuums has helped you make a decision that is right for your pond.
Below I will attempt to address some of the more commonly asked questions regarding pond vacuums. I hope you enjoyed this review and are closer to making a decision on your next vacuum.
How do you vacuum a koi pond?
Here is a helpful video by OASE to help you understand the procedure for vacuuming your pond.
Can you use a shop vac to clean a koi pond?
The short answer is yes! BUT…you are going to be very limited with this approach. A shop vac will suck up everything and drop it in the vac. It won’t separate the muck and debris from the water and return the water. So yes, its possible for very small ponds (if you don’t mind frequently emptying the shop vac).
Should I put gravel at the bottom of my pond?
Yes, you should. Not only does it make your pond look great it provides tons of surface area for beneficial bacteria colonies to flourish and help maintain a chemical balance in your koi pond. Just make sure you get gravel larger than the nozzle size of your pond vac!