Water is extremely vital for ducks and they need it for far more than drinking. In fact, water is essential for even the welfare and health of the duck, as they can be greatly distressed if they’re deprived of water and will show signs of unwellness as early as 8 hours without access to water.
The problem is, since ducks use the water for a wide range of reasons, the water can get very dirty with time. This makes it necessary for you to maintain the cleanliness of the duck’s water to keep your ducks healthy and happy.
If you want to know how to keep duck water clean, you’re in for a treat! In today’s article, we’ll provide you with a brief guide about duck water and how to maintain its cleanliness for your ducks’ health. Let’s jump right in!
Why Ducks Need a Clean Source of Water
Water is extremely vital for ducks and they must be allowed in water on a daily basis. This is because they need the water for various purposes, such as:
1 – Drinking and Eating
Drinking water is extremely necessary for almost all animals and plants. In fact, a duck can’t live without drinking water for longer than a few days.
However, a healthy duck will need water a lot quicker than that for other purposes, which is why a duck can go for about 8 hours before needing water.
Water is also essential for the vital functions of the ducks, as they need it to regulate their body temperature.
In addition to drinking, ducks also need water to facilitate their eating, as they use water to moisten the food and wash it down to avoid choking.
2 – Bathing
To avoid parasites, ducks usually bathe at least once every day, which is similar to dust baths that chickens have.
They also dig through dirt to find bugs that they can eat, so they usually dip their bills in the water right after in order to clean them.
3 – Activate Their Oil Glands and Maintain Feather Health
At the base of ducks’ tails, there’s an oil gland that is activated when they splash water. This gland secretes oil that coats the ducks’ feathers and maintains their health.
This doesn’t only keep their feathers healthy, but it also adds a hydrophobic layer that helps the ducks swim better.
What Makes Duck Water Dirty?
Since ducks will include the water in just about all of their daily routines, it’s easy to figure out why they can get their water dirty very easily and quickly.
As the ducks jump in and out of the pond, they’ll create mud around the pool, which transfers to the inside of the pool as they jump back in.
Not only that, but ducks bathe in water to clean themselves up from all kinds of debris and pollutants that they collect throughout the day. Moreover, they poo and release their oil gland secretions in the water.
How to Keep the Duck Water Clean
Now that you know more about your options to provide duck water and how essential it is for your ducks’ health, here’s how you can keep the duck water clean, whether you’re using a kiddie pool or a duck pond:
In the Case of an Artificial Pond
The problem with all kinds of artificial ponds, whether they’re hand-dug ponds, large pools, or simple kiddie pools is that they tend to get dirty very easily.
1 – Drain and Wash the Pool Regularly
The easiest and most affordable way to clean a duck swimming pool is by using one that has a drain in the first place.
This way, you can immediately clean the water and replace it with fresh and clean water right away.
To do this, you’ll need an arm’s length glove or a piece of solid wire to unplug the drain whenever you want to empty out the pool.
You can collect the pool water in buckets or connect the pond to a pipe that leads to your yard’s drainage system
From time to time, you might want to use a power washer or a scrubbing brush to remove any gunk or grime that is stuck to the pool itself.
Typically, you’ll need to change the water for your ducks anywhere from daily to every other day, or as soon as it’s too murky and dirty that they can’t clean themselves up in there.
2 – Install a Proper Filtration System
If you don’t mind spending a little more to avoid the tedious task of cleaning your ducks’ water just about every day, a filtration system is a suitable device for your needs.
This system connects your pool or artificial pond to biofilters through pipes. These biofilters will catch pollutants and degrade them, then release clean water back into the pond.
This system works continuously, just like a fish aquarium filter, to recirculate the duck water, you can also adjust the water returning to the pond so that it’s a little waterfall for aesthetic appearance.
3 – Add Some Water Lilies
Water lilies aren’t only harmless to duck, but they’re also incredibly beautiful and will constantly neutralize the duck water.
Moreover, since they block the sun, algae won’t grow in the bond, so it spares you the hassle of collecting all the green gunk that floats on top of the water.
4 – Sprinkle Surfactants on the Water
If you have a relatively large artificial pond or pool and you want to make the cleanup process easier, you can sprinkle some surfactants in the water.
First, you need to make sure that all your ducks are out of the pool before you add the surfactant so they don’t drink this water.
Surfactants, also known as “surface active agents”, reduce the water surface tension, which helps the water push the pollutants and duck poo to the edges of the pool, making it much easier to clean.
After adding surfactants, make sure to drain the treated water and refill the pool before allowing the ducks back in.
In the Case of a Natural Duck Pond
If you already have a natural or a self-cleaning duck pond, your job will be a lot easier because nature will simply do all the hard work for you.
However, if you want to boost the level of cleanliness in the pond, here are some of the best methods:
1 – Benefit from Friendly Flora in the Pond
One of the main reasons why natural ponds are superior to pools and artificial ponds is that it has a bacterial flora that already maintains the balance of the water.
For example, the Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas bacteria are capable of breaking down the ammonia in duck poop and convert it into nitrate, which is a form that aquatic plants like lilies can consume, cleaning up the water.
Luckily, even if your pond lacks this rich flora, you can easily buy them at gardening and pond accessory stores.
2 – Use an Aeration System
The more decaying matter in the water, the more oxygen is needed to break it down through decomposition.
If your pond stagnates easily, adding an aerator will increase the concentration of oxygen in water, which allows the pond’s flora to break down the poop quicker.
3 – Introduce Freshwater Scavengers
There are some tiny organisms that are responsible for constantly cleaning out freshwater bodies by feeding on all decaying matter, such as duck feces.
This includes snails, clams, tadpoles, and freshwater mussels. By adding some of these harmless creatures to your pond, the water will stay fresh and clean after ducks hop into it.
4 – Add Ornamental Fish to the Pond
Ornamental fish, such as tilapia and carp, are known for their ability to reproduce in captivity and live for a decently long time.
Similar to freshwater scavengers, these harmless fish feed on all plant matter that can form in the water, such as algae, which helps in keeping the water fresh and clean for longer. Moreover, they add an aesthetic element to your duck pond.
5 – Add Barley Straw
Barley straw is known for having some algae-preventive properties that make it an excellent cleaner for natural ponds.
The best thing about these barley straws is that they float on water, so they can be easily scooped out and replaced. If you prefer clean looking water, you can use barley straw extract, which works the same way.
Should You Add Chlorine and Other Chemicals to Clean Duck Water?
As we all know, chlorine is a vital chemical when it comes to disinfecting water and killing pathogens that lurk in the water. However, a lot of people are wondering whether it’s safe to use chlorine and other chemicals while cleaning duck water.
Ideally, if you treat the water of the artificial pond or pool with chlorine, make sure that you keep its concentration under 25 parts per million (ppm).
At this concentration, chlorinated water should generally be safe not only for swimming and bathing but also for drinking.
If you have a sick duck, it’s essential to let them swim alone in the pool and treat the water with chlorine right after to kill all pathogens and prevent them from infecting other ducks.
With that said, you should avoid adding chlorine to a natural self-cleaning pond unless one of your ducks is infected and swims in the pond.
How Much Water Does a Duck Need?
One of the biggest misconceptions about duck water is that ducks need a huge pond in order to thrive.
While a bigger pond is always better for the ducks’ welfare and cleanliness, you can still do with a relatively smaller body of water.
If you don’t have enough space to create a large pond for your duck, always keep in mind that a hand-dug pond or a kiddie pool will still be good enough to provide the ducks with liveable conditions.
This way, you’ll meet the minimum requirements that ducks need from their water, which is to be deep enough that they can submerge their entire head inside to clean it up.
Why Is It Important to Keep Duck Water Clean?
Ducks are extremely connected to their ponds or pools and they need it for a wide range of activities, as explained above.
Since ducks will drink from the same pond that they splash, it can be quite unhealthy and unhygienic for them to stay in uncirculated water because this can make them very ill.
For that reason, the best way to avoid that is by keeping the duck water as clean as possible all the time.
How Often Do You Need to Clean Duck Water?
The frequency of cleaning duck water depends on a variety of aspects. For example, if you already provide them with a clean source of water, you don’t have to worry about your ducks drinking from the pond.
Additionally, if the pond is artificial you’ll need to clean it more often than natural ones. This is because natural ponds already have various means of maintaining cleanliness without any human intervention.
Instead of setting a schedule for cleaning, always keep an eye on the water and make sure that it doesn’t get too murky or muddy between cleanups.
What Should You Do With the Duck Manure Water?
Surprisingly, the dirty water that is riddled with duck manure doesn’t have to go to waste! In fact, this water can be used as a natural fertilizer that improves the productive quality of wetlands in addition to field irrigation in general.
Additionally, you can use this water in a variety of aquaculture systems, such as hydroponics and aquaponics, which is often referred to as “duckquaponics” in that situation.
With that said, you now know how to keep duck water clean, whether you have a natural or artificial pond.
As you can see, water is extremely critical for the health of the ducks and they use it for a wide variety of reasons, such as drinking, eating, cleaning themselves, and even bathing to get rid of harmful parasites.
Luckily, there are various ways to keep your duck water clean. However, the best approach here is to combine many of these methods together to keep your ducks healthy and happy!
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house. Growing up, I had pet dogs, cats, deer, sugar gliders, chinchillas, a bird, chickens, fish, and a goat.