Should I clean my waterfall spillway? If so how often?

I definitely recommend cleaning your bio falls every four to six weeks. If you don’t clean your bio falls, then your mechanical filtration (filter mat) will become clogged with waste.

I compare this to replacing the air filter in your car. The more gunk it has to filter out, the faster it will build up and block the airflow leading to reduced engine performance. However, instead of air in a car’s intake, we are talking about pond water getting filtered through a mechanical spillway. A clogged mechanical filter mat will create back pressure on your pond’s pump as it tries to force water through the media. Besides overworking your pump, this also reduces proper circulation in your pond.

The first step to cleaning your spillway is to remove the filter media from your skimmer. If you have any biological filtration media, then you should rinse it off with pond water and put it in a storage container filled with pond water to prevent it from drying out. Remember, if your bio media dries out, then the beneficial bacteria inside will die and you’ll have to grow another colony.

Next, remove the mechanical filter media and give it a few good squeezes and rinses with a hose to get most of the gunk out. Keep in mind, however, that while coarser mechanical filter media is easier to clean and reuse, the opposite is true for finer media. You’ll need to replace a high-density filter mat more frequently.

Then, it’s time for some good, old-fashioned elbow grease. Take some paper towels or a clean rag and wipe out any waste that may be present on the bottom of the filter tank. Do not use household chemicals to clean your filter, just simply wipe off any gunk.

Once you complete all that, place the mat and bio media back in the pond filter and you’re ready to go! If you are currently using lava rock in your bio falls and would like to make cleaning easier, I suggest switching from lava rock to something reusable like bio-balls. Plus, bio-balls have more surface area than lava rock, and they weigh a lot less too making them the best choice for biological media. If you get tired of replacing the filter mat that sits at the bottom, consider upgrading to the coarse Matala media (black one) as that is re-usable.

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