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Last updated: February 25, 2022
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In this article, we’re looking at the best pond sludge removers for your home, or for commercial use. Pond sludge can be a nightmare to get rid of, but these products are designed to make it much easier.
The API Pond-Zyme Sludge Destroyer Pond Cleaner has been named as our overall best pond sludge remover. It has some great features and it is easy to use. It is designed to get rid of fish waste and clean the pond in an organic way. It digests old leaves and clippings and can leave your pond far clearer. Also, the fact that it only needs to be sprinkled in a couple of times a week means there is minimal maintenance. There are 8 pond sludge remover reviews on our list as we bring you different options that have been made in different ways. This can ensure you get the ideal choice for you, no matter the size or type of pond you have.
Important features we’ve reviewed include the type (whether it is natural or not), the coverage area and how long the treatment works for. These will have an impact on how often you need to treat the pond, you won’t want to be doing this daily. Our information is broken down into an overview table, detailed reviews of our 8 choices and a buying guide explaining more about pond sludge removers.
Treatment’s duration: twice a week for two weeks in ornamental ponds for start-up, end of season, then once every two weeks for regular maintenance
Function: fish waste, pond sludge, dead algae, leaves and grass clippings
Weight: 0.5-9 lbs
More features: exclusively for use in ornamental ponds, summer & autumn treatment season
This sludge remover is relatively affordable when you consider the fact that it can cover over 1200 gallons in total. It is made out of an active ingredient that is totally natural, so you don’t need to worry about putting it in your pond.
When starting to use, it should be used twice a week from spring to autumn, but once the pond is looking cleaner, you can reduce this to once every two weeks. It will remove algae, fish waste and other sludge.
This is exclusively made for ornamental ponds. API has been making products like this for over 50 years so have an excellent track record as a company.
It is sold in 1 lb containers of granulated solution that can simply be sprinkled in the pond.
Type: Granulated, 8 pure strains of concentrated beneficial bacteria, including PSB bacteria and enzymes; contains marigold and vitamin B
Coverage area: 1300 gallons per scoop
Treatment’s duration: 1 week
Function: fish waste, uneaten fish food, organics such as leaves, sludge and unwanted debris
Weight: 0.27 – 1.1 lbs
More features: comes in different sizes, 3.0 billion CFU per ounce potency
This is a slightly cheaper pond sludge remover and therefore offers excellent value. The features are still impressive.
Like a lot of the pond sludge removers this treats fish waste, leaves and debris, and even unwanted fish food. The active “good” bacteria inside is designed to eat away at this sludge. It contains vitamin B and marigold.
It actually combines eight strains of bacteria in total to tackle all different kinds of issues. Also, there’s a 3.0 billion CFU potency, so all of the treatment is effective.
This is designed to be used once a week, simply scoop it and put in your pond. It can cover up to 1,300 gallons in total.
Why is it special?
Collection of 8 different bacteria
What are the flaws?
Can take a while of regular treatment to see results
Coverage area: 1 surface acre, 4-feet to 6-feet deep
Treatment’s duration: 30 days
Function: muck, sludge, dead leaves, odors and other organic material
Weight: 8.35 lbs/ 1 gallon
More features: safe for humans, fish, livestock, pets, birds, swimming, consumption and irrigation
The PondWorx Pond Bacteria is a liquid type treatment for pond sludge. It is healthy bacteria that is safe for pets including your fish (and humans). You can buy this as 1 gallon containers, and it has more of an industrial feel to it. On top of this, you only have to use it once every 30 days for effective sludge removal.
We’ve named this model as our ‘budget pick’. Not only is it cheaper than some of the others, the fact that you only have to use it once every 30 days can reduce your costs further.
This can treat an area as large as an acre, so you don’t need to worry about whether it suits your pond!
The bacteria used within seems more cheaply sourced, but it is still safe for human consumption, so it isn’t harmful.
Function: Dead algae, leaves and twigs, fish waste
Weight: 0.5 – 7.05 lbs
More features: comes in packages of 24/ 48/ 96/ 384 tablets, especially good for rocky bottoms
This much and sludge reducer is specifically designed to be best for use on muck and sludge at the bottom of the pond and on rocky surfaces. Rocks can be a nightmare. Dead algae can cling to the rocks and they even create crevices where leaves and waste can stick and prove awkward.
These are tablets, and though you need to apply regularly, one 384 tablet jar can treat an incredible 64000 gallons of water, or 16,000 gallons once a month, for four months.
It is made out of natural bacteria and enzymes, so the muckoff is pretty responsible.
This is a reliable remover and if you find you get lots of dirt on the bottom of your pond then something like this could be essential.
What makes it special?
Shelf life of 3 years, so will last for the coming years if not all used
Great for mucky rocks and sludge
What cons did we find?
Not as easy to spread around the pond as some other removers
Coverage area: 8 scoops per acre (8 oz scoop is included)
Treatment’s duration: 2 weeks
Function: Pond and lake bottom muck, pond odors
Weight: 11.3 lbs
More features: contains high levels of nutrients
This is a great, natural way to clean your pond. It has pond dye, cleans and is even a bacteria booster within so it is designed to be an all-round treatment in order to help the health of your pond.
The pellets are pretty easy to apply, you just have to throw them across the surface of the pond. Measure the pond. 2 scoops should be used per ¼ acre. It even comes with a scoop.
The treatment lasts for two weeks at a time, so you should reapply every 14 days for the best results. It is really effective for algae and if you are looking for something with a pond dye built in then the Natural Waterscapes Muck Remover Pellets could be an answer for you. You will usually notice significant differences to you pond’s health.
Why did it make our list?
Improves clarity in the pond
Comes with scoop and clear instructions
Includes pond dye
What is not ideal about it?
Can only be used when the pond is above 38 degrees F
More features: sold in a water tight bag, packaged in a user-friendly box
The Macro-ZymeTM Time Release Muck Block is a smart idea, and a great way to keep your pond consistently looking clean. If you’ve ever used those fish foods that gradually release into the water over time, this is basically the same thing.
This is sold in 12 lbs packs, which is 2 x 6lb blocks that can be used in your pond. They last for 30 days and can provide coverage for up to two acres. They come in water-tight, sealed bags, so that you don’t have to worry about them starting to disintegrate before you need to use them.
The slow-release bacteria means that it is like new treatment is being applied each day. This means that you have a fantastic, clean pool all the time.
These muck blocks are expensive, though, and there’s no option for smaller pools. A full block might be overkill for a tiny pool.
What are our favorite features?
Easy to use. Just drop it in and let it do its thing
Type: Water soluble packets x 70-75, 1 oz, blend of enzyme producing pond bacteria
Coverage area: 1000 gallons
Treatment’s duration: 6 months
Function: Organic bottom sludge & muck, murky water caused by organic wastes, unpleasant odors
Weight: 5 lbs
More features: contains barley straw powder
We’ve named this as the best overall pond sludge remover if you need to cover big areas. It has a 1000 gallon coverage area, and you can buy 5 lbs of the product at the time, meaning it can treat big ponds. Up to 3000 gallon capacities over 6 month periods can be treated.
It comes in water soluble packets that you can just drop in and they will dissolve and attack the sludge. It also contains barley straw powder for natural enzymes.
It’s excellent at treating natural odors and improving the clarity of your pond.
Not many other brands offer these convenient packets and they make life easier, you don’t have to scoop out individual portions to throw in the water.
Type: 3-pack, Sphere, natural bacteria and enzyme blend
Coverage area: 1000 gallons
Treatment’s duration: 30 days
Function: Excess nutrients, sludge and ammonia
Weight: 25.7 lbs
More features: ideal for stock tanks, koi ponds and small ponds, will naturally decompose over time while at the bottom of your pond
The Healthy Ponds 51117 Aquasphere Pro Biodegradable Pond Treatment can be a good treatment for ponds either big or small. It treats excess nutrients and sludge and can also neutralize ammonia, so if you have a pond that smells bad then this could be the ideal solution.
This is another slow-release sludge remover. It comes in three individual biodegradable containers that means 24/7 cleaning. This is ideal for koi ponds and also means fish won’t consume any pellets due to the fact that they are released from inside a ball-style design.
You can combine this with other treatments made by the same company, such as pond dyes and supplements, for a healthy pond. The treatment works out relatively affordable as you only need to add one sphere each month. These can treat up to 1000 gallons of water, with ease.
What makes it stand out?
Great for koi ponds
Safe, natural bacteria
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Only works at over 34 degrees F
May not reach all areas of the pond equally
Things to Consider
If you’ve had a new pond installed or are experiencing sludge for the first time, you might have a lot of questions about sludge removers. What are they? Why do they help? Is there any point?
A pond sludge remover is more than just cosmetic, and as you may have seen if you have read through our list, there are lots of different types of remover that you can choose from. No two ponds are the same, and our buying guide is designed to help you make the right choice for yours, whether you have fish or not, and however large or small your pond is. Don’t make your decision to buy before you’ve educated yourself.
What is pond sludge, why does it appear and why should it be removed
Pond sludge does not look good, but the cosmetic look of it is not the number one reason to get rid. Pond sludge is the build-up of all the unwanted elements within your pond, that have nowhere to go. They’re effectively waste. As well as fish waste and unwanted food, things can grow, such as algae, and contribute to the pond sludge.
The sludge then further contributes to more algae growing as there aren’t the right bacteria to break them down. Eventually, pond plants and even your pond fish can suffer. They may even die if you get too much sludge. It isn’t worth taking the risk. Sludge removers are an effective way to get rid of this sludge and replace the “good bacteria” that you need for the ecosystem within your pond.
Features to consider when choosing a pond sludge remover
Sometimes, a pond filter is not enough to keep the water as clean as you want. So, what features do you need to think about when choosing a pond sludge remover? Are they all the same? What are the superior features of the top pond sludge removers? The truth is that it is all about matching up the pond sludge remover to your own unique needs and pond. There are different varieties that do slightly different things. Though all of the sludge removers on our list are good at removing the sludge, they may have different application methods and functions.
When referring to the type of sludge remover, we are talking about the way it is packaged and dispensed into your pond. They can come in different varieties, in pellets, liquid form, even slow-release blocks. The type of your remover depends on what you are looking for. Do you want something that is super easy to scatter around the pond, such as pellets?
Some people opt for blocks, these are designed to slowly dissolve into the water and create a 24/7 cleansing. They add bacteria daily, but only need to be applied (dropped into the pond) once a month, or sometimes more frequently. The Macro-ZymeTM Time Release Muck Block is a great example of a monthly treatment.
The coverage area is one of the more self-explanatory features of pond sludge remover. Before the product is sent to market, the manufacturers will work out how much pond sludge it can handle! This sis measured in the form of gallons, so you can match it up to your pond.
You can use multiple methods to work out the pond capacity you have if this is something that makes you nervous. Alternatively, if someone installed it for you then they should have told you the size. Fear not, you only need a fairly accurate estimate to know how much space the pond sludge remover can cover.
As well as gallons, consider the acres, too. It’s no use having a block style sludge remover in one end of a 2 acre pond as it won’t reach the whole thing. Most small garden ponds are relatively modest in size.
How long does the treatment last? This is another guideline the manufacturer will have given you. Some products need to be applied weekly, some need to be applied monthly, some every two weeks. It really does vary. Our editor’s choice product, the API Pond-Zyme Sludge Destroyer, needs to be applied twice a week to start with while it makes a big dent in your sludge. Eventually, once the pond is much clearer, you can change to applying once every two weeks.
What does it treat? Pond sludge actually comes in different forms, and the “function” section of our pond sludge remover reviews refers to what it specifically targets, for instance, some will have the function to target ammonia and unpleasant smells, some will target fish waste specifically, others will target leaves and other organic sludge that can build up.
If you are experiencing a very specific problem with your pond, make sure that you look at the function. For instance, if you are trying to avoid a smell, you should find a product that targets this. Some pond sludge removers do not have the required bacteria to treat this.
Performance on different bottom surfaces
Ponds have different surfaces on the bottom. Some may have rocks or pebbles and this can be a difficult place to get rid of sludge. It can hide away in crevices and areas that are hard to reach. If you have rocks on the bottom of your pond, we recommend the CrystalClear MuckOff – Muck & Sludge Reducer. As well as having a humorous name, it does such an effective job on the bottom of the pond, even if you have stones there.
For other types of pond, this might be less of a difficult pursuit. Some sludge removers are suitable for all different types of sludge.
The weight of a pond sludge remover isn’t its most vital function, but you should think about how much you are buying. Some of the options on the list are sold in 5lb containers, and you may not need this much. Buying this much can also lead to a whole heap of waste. Sludge remover has a shelf life, usually 2 or 3 years. Buying in bulk may seem like a good idea, but in a few years time you will not be able to use the product you bought due to the fact it has deteriorated and isn’t effective anymore.
Does the sludge remover have any extra features? Most do not come with any specific added extras, but some do have functions like biodegradable casing, as it is in case of Healthy Ponds 51117 and even pond dyes included to add a little extra clarity.
Always consider how much you are able and willing to pay for your pond sludge remover. Some products are undoubtedly made for large, communal ponds and using them on a small home pond can be expensive and unnecessary. Some products on this list cost under $50 for 3-6 months supply. This makes it more affordable in the long run.
How to remove and prevent the reappearance of the pond sludge?
Once your pond starts to look great again, it can be tempting to stop treatment. It feels like the issues have been solved. This is where most people go wrong. The key is to treat your pond as much as possible, and keep using the treatments and adding those good bacteria long after you appear to have solved the problem.
There is always sludge being created from organic matter. With nowhere to go, you need to make sure you are killing it off by using a pond sludge remover.
Any type of pond! There are certain types of sludge remover that suit different types of pond better, but in theory, you can use a sludge remover in whichever pond you like. The product is simply an organic “good bacteria” that stimulates the pond to naturally get rid of the sludge that has built up.
Some sludge removers are not perfect for use in the winter. As we’ve mentioned in our sludge remover reviews, some of them have issues working at certain temperatures. When the temperature drops below 40 degrees F, some of these removers stop working effectively. If this is the case with the sludge remover you choose, you should address the issues again come springtime, and have a break over winter – or use a pond heater.
The API Pond-Zyme Sludge Destroyer is our overall best pond sludge remover with a rating of 9.9/10. It can be used as an intensive course twice a week to get rid of the sludge quickly, and then can be used throughout the summer and autumn months for a clear and healthy pond.
The PondWorx Pond Bacteria is in third place. In spite of being a budget pick, it still gets 9.5/10 and is one of the best pond sludge removers which requires only once every 30 days application for effective sludge removal.