How to Remove the Bottom Sludge Pump in Fish Ponds

Sludge pumps are generally used at the bottom of fish ponds to suck away waste, sunken debris and other contaminants. The pumps are attached to a discharge tube and a power source. Generally, if one becomes disconnected, the other stays intact. In rare cases, however, the sludge pump can become completely disconnected from anything that could be used to pull it out. Most pond-sized sludge pumps for personal use, not commercial use, are less than a foot tall and a foot wide.

Drag-and-Pull Method

Dirty pondwater may require a sludge pump to remove offending underwater contaminants.
  1. Find the removal tube and the power supply cord that lead to the sludge pump. Many pond owners tuck the removal tube and power supply cord out of plain sight to enhance the natural look of a pond.

  2. Grasp the discharge tube and gently pull it toward you. Allow slack to drop on the ground behind you. If you pull the discharge tube and the end comes out of the water unattached to a sludge pump, set it in a safe location. Do not put it back in the water.

  3. Grasp the power supply cord and gently pull it toward you. As with the discharge tube, allow its slack to drop on dry ground behind you. Since the power supply cord is generally more securely attached to the sludge pump, it should drag the sludge pump to the surface and within your reach. If the power supply cord has become disconnected, however, the sludge pump will not be removable by the pull method.

Scoop Method

  1. Put on wading boots. Holding a pond skimmer, enter the pond and locate the sludge pump. If the pond is too deep to enter using wading boots, use a flotation device and enter the pond with a pond skimmer in your hand. If you are uncomfortable with this method or suspect the pond water may be toxic, contact a pond professional for help.

  2. Prod the sludge pump with the handle of the pond skimmer to ensure it is not lodged on the bottom of the pond. Since sludge pumps are usually placed at the lowest point of a pond, rocks or other large pond objects may fall on top of it. If something is holding the sludge pump in place, push the object away using the handle of the pond skimmer.

  3. Wedge the netted side of the pond skimmer beneath the sludge pump. If you can reach the sludge pump with your hands, reach down and pull it from the water. If you cannot reach the pump with your hands, work the pond skimmer back and forth until the pump falls into the net. This may take several attempts.

  4. Pull the pond skimmer to the surface of the water with the sludge pump inside.


  • Always disconnect the power cable from its power source before handling a sludge pump.