Whether you’re watching your domesticated backyard flock or a few wild ducks at the park, it’s clear that water is one of the greatest pleasures of a duck’s existence. Ducks just look so much happier when they’re splashing around in a duck pond, puddle, or waterer.
Dedicated duck owners should consider installing a duck pond, even if it’s just a small one. However, standing water of any kind may cause issues if it’s not cared for properly; I’ve had to deal with an ongoing standing water situation – and trust me, water causes a lot of problems.
That’s all to say, installing a duck pond involves more than just digging a hole. There’s a big contrast between a smelly mosquito-ridden swampy area and a beautiful little duck pond – and these easy clean duck pond strategies make all the difference.
How to Make Duck Pond Cleaning Easier (The Short Answer)
Your duck pond probably isn’t the highest priority in your life, but there are lots of strategies for keeping a duck pond clean with minimal maintenance efforts. Try adding plants, fish, or bacteria to your duck pond, or installing a filtration system to get rid of duck waste buildup. You can also use chemicals if things get out of control.
Why Keeping Your Duck Pond Clean Is Important
Ducks can be incredibly messy, and it might be tempting to give up on keeping their pen looking nice. However, there are other good reasons to keep your duck pond clean.
- Ducks are hard on a duck pond. They’ll peck around in it, splash in it, and poop in it. A buildup of waste not only makes the pond look bad, but it could also change PH levels, cause algae growth, and create ecosystem issues.
- Dirty duck pond water can carry diseases. Ducks that get sick may transfer germs to the water, which can then be passed to other ducks, causing sickness among your whole flock.
- Standing water could cause a mosquito problem. Mosquitoes love standing water, and, if a duck pond doesn’t have anything to deter them, it quickly becomes an invitation to mosquitoes to move in.
How to Keep a Duck Pond Clean (My Hacks From Experience)
Whether you own a natural or artificial one, a duck pond inevitably brings issues. Here are some of my favorite hacks for how to keep a duck pond clean, healthy, and beautiful.
Consider Pond Type
You may already have a natural pond on your property, or perhaps you’re planning to install an artificial pond – but note that strategies for keeping them clean will vary based on that. Natural ponds already contain plants and bacteria that might help keep them clean, while you’ll have to start from square one with artificial ponds.
Chances are small that your land has a pond that will function as a duck pond, but if you have one, take advantage of it! However, even a natural pond can become pretty nasty when ducks start using it as a bathroom, so you’ll probably need to make an effort to keep it clean.
When ducks poop in the water, decomposition has to occur to break it down. Fungi and bacteria that decompose duck waste require high oxygen levels. So when a lot of ducks poop in the water, the fungi and bacteria may use up available oxygen to the point where the pond becomes dystrophic and doesn’t have enough oxygen to sustain life.
And when a pond becomes dystrophic, anaerobic bacteria that don’t need oxygen will take over, make the pond inhabitable, and create toxic gasses.
Aerators artificially add oxygen to the water so that the decomposition process can take place efficiently. They’re helpful in any natural or artificial pond that has living organisms in them, whether that’s plants, fish, or bacteria.
Introduce Fish and Scavengers
Herbivorous fish do a great job controlling plant, algae, and mosquito populations in a pond. They may also provide an additional food source for ducks.
Many people choose tilapia fish for their ponds, as they reproduce quickly and often. Consider raising tilapia – or other fish – alongside your ducks for eating; I owned tilapia for a few years and I highly recommend it.
You can also add freshwater scavengers like mussels, clams, tadpoles, and snails. They’ll feed on decaying organic material and keep the pond cleaner.
Introduce Water Lilies and Other Plants
Plants like water lilies look gorgeous and are also practical – by blocking light, they’ll help control algae growth in your duck pond.
Similarly, barley straw also helps reduce algae. Float bundles of it in your pond or use extracted barley straw liquid.
Dig Your Pond Deeper
I’ve dealt with a standing water problem for years, and I’ve noticed that algae grow quickly in shallow, swampy areas. However, I didn’t understand the science behind it until recently.
Because algae need light to grow, shallow ducks ponds grow more algae as more sunlight can reach the algae and cause growth. By digging a deeper pond, you can reduce the amount of sunlight they get and reduce algae populations in your pond.
Add Helpful Microbes
Duck poop contains high ammonia levels that harm plant and animal growth. However, bacteria from genera Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas can change ammonia to nitrate, which isn’t harmful at all – it’s actually beneficial for certain aquatic plants.
Consider adding fungi as well to accelerate decomposition processes.
Work With Nature
There are many chemicals available to control the problems that pond owners face, but try to avoid them as much as possible. Give your duck pond some time to adjust to the ducks themselves, and don’t expect any solution to work overnight. Added plants, fish, and microbes will slowly but surely make a difference, and your duck pond will naturally sort itself out over time.
Filter or Drain/Refill Your Pond
Sometimes natural solutions simply don’t work. In that case, you can install a filtering system to get rid of the mess ducks can cause in a duck pond. An alternate option is routine draining and refilling, which is cheaper than a filtering system.
Add Hydrogen Peroxide
I prefer to stick to more natural methods of algae control, but you can use food-grade hydrogen peroxide to reduce algae populations. Add about half a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide for every 100 gallons of water. This should only be used in an artificial pond that contains no organisms as hydrogen peroxide is harmful to aquatic life.
Use Chlorine or Surfactants
Use chemical duck pond cleaner only as a last resort, but it can be helpful in certain situations. Chlorine will kill pathogens in the water so that they can’t spread to other ducks. However, ducks shouldn’t drink chlorinated water – so only use chlorine in a man-made pond as part of the cleaning process.
Surfactants are chemicals that separate pollutants, pushing them to the outside edges so the pond can be cleaned more effectively. Never let ducks swim in a pond that has been treated with surfactants; be sure to drain and refill the pond so that ducks don’t come into contact with treated water.