Muck Mop

Vacuums leaves, twigs, seeds, dead string algae and other small debris from the pond bottom. Designed not to harm plants, fish, snails, frogs, tadpoles or other critters. Adds no water to pond, removes no water.

Designed for larger ponds.

Gallons Muck Mop Usefulness
Less than 1,000 Not recommended. With the pump and hose in the pond there isn't a lot of room left for vacuuming.
1,000 to 3,000 Pretty darn helpful especially when heavy leaf or string algae loads.
3,000 to 5,000 Very helpful. Really starts to pay for itself in time saved over other vacuum methods.
Larger than 5,000 Indispensable, hands down, no question.
Lots of plants in the pond can also reduce how helpful any vacuum is because of the hose.

How the Muck Mop Works

When you put a running garden hose into a bucket of water the water in the bucket starts to rotate. The more water coming out of the hose the faster in the bucket spins. The water coming out of the hose bangs into water in the bucket pushing it. The Muck Mop works the same way.

The pump take in water from the pond and pushes it through the hose into a nozzle at the bottom of the Muck Mop. The nozzle directs several high speed water streams up through the inside of the Muck Mop and out the top along with pond water. That creates a current of water which pulls water into the bottom of the Muck Mop along with leaves, string algae and other debris. The current of water flows through the fabric bag trapping the debris in the bag.

The Muck Mop does not remove fine silt, it will travel through the fabric bag. This is true for all vacuums that use collection bags. The purpose of the Muck Mop is to remove large items. The Muck Mop can also be used to keep a clean pond clean by vacuuming once every few weeks to get the large stuff out before it decays into fine silt.


Pump 1000 GPH or more pump required. We have tested using 1/6 HP to 1/2 HP utility sub pumps (1000 to 2500 GPH). Current pond pump can be used if you can connect a PVC fitting to its outflow. We recommend the 1/6 HP FloTec Tempest II pump, model FPOS1250X, available at Home Depot for about $60.
Handle A standard metal swimming pool extension pole available wherever pool supplies are sold. Normally in 8' & 16' sizes and cost about $25.
Water depth min Works to some degree in as little as 6" of water but intended for 18" or more.
Water depth max Works to any depth without loss of power.
Pond size Because of the space taken up by the pump, hose and Muck Mop it isn't really recommended for ponds less than 1000 gal.

How to Build Your Own Muck Mop

Here are the instructions on how we built the Muck Mop. All the parts needed can be found at most hardware or building supply stores. These instructions assume you have experience working with PVC, cutting and drilling. Some of the cuts require experience working with saws and drills which can be dangerous.

Parts List

# Part Size Description
A Collar 6" dia x 0.5"L PVC pipe.
B Throat 6" dia x 4"L PVC pipe.
C Nozzle 1.25" PVC cap.
D Hose stub 1.25" x 3" For hose connection.
E Handle holder 1.25" PVC 45 deg electric conduit.
F Handle holder bolt 10/32 x 2" Bolt and lock nut.
G Pool pole bolt* 1/4 x 1.5" Bolt and wing nut.
H Glue Small amount PVC primer and glue.

* Handle for Muck Mop can be PVC or a standard pool equipment pole. Bolt and wing nut is only needed if pool pole is used.

Build Instructions

Shave a slice out of the handle holder (1.25" PVC electric 45 degree conduct).

Make one vertical cut in the collar (6"x0.5" PVC). Glue and stretch over outside of throat (6"x4" PVC) to form a collar at one end of throat. Clamp collar.

Drill a hole through handle holder for bolt (E). Its OK if handle holder extends off bottom of throat but make sure where handle holder touches throat is at least 1" below top of throat and 1/2" below collar. Bolt should be at least 1.5" up from bottom of throat and closer to 2-2.5". Glue and bolt handle holder in place.

Allow to dry for at least 30 minutes at 70F or more. Overnight is even better.

NOTE: Some pictures here show 2 bolts for the handle holder and others show 1. I've found 1 bolt to be plenty but you can use 2 if you like.

Drill a hole the same diameter as the nozzle's (1.25" cap) outside diameter. Hole should be through the bottom of the handle holder and 25% of the hole off the bottom of throat. This should also take care of any overhang the handle holder may have.

Dry fit the nozzle (end cap), closed end on inside of pipe. Should be tight enough to be hard to insert and maybe require a little sanding. End cap's outside must be smooth, sand down any mold marks.

Glue nozzle in place. Best if part of nozzle can be glued to handle holder as well as throat. Clamp if needed. The close end of the cap should protrude about 1/4" to 1/2" into the inside of the throat.

Allow to dry for at least 30 minutes at 70F or more.

Using a 9/64" bit drill 11 holes in the nozzle. Angle the holes so each jet will generally target top center of throat. By drilling these holes after the nozzle is glued to the throat you have an easy way to hold the nozzle in place and because you have to drill down from the top its impossible to not end up with water shooting through the top. 3 holes in bottom most part of nozzle, 5 across center and 3 more through top pointing almost straight up is best.

That completes the Muck Mop head.

For the hose you can use a standard 1.25" pool vac hose. Cut the cuffs off and screw each end of hose into 1.25" PVC female threaded adapter. A short piece of 1.25" PVC (D) will now connect one end of the hose to the nozzle. You can glue one end of pipe BUT NOT BOTH. You'll need to be able to pull the pipe back out of the fitting later to clean the nozzle openings if they ever clog, and they will. If the pipe blows out while vacuuming you can add a threaded male and female fittings and all slip joints glued so the hose can be screwed in and out of the nozzle as needed. Or you can put a small set screw through the nozzle into the pipe to keep it from popping off.

The other end of the hose is connected to the pump's discharge. Adapters will be needed to fit your pump.

A standard telescope pole used for pool equipment fits inside the 1.25" elbow. Drill a hole through handler holder to line up with hole in pole and bolt to secure. You can also use 1.25" PVC pipe or PVC electric conduit if you prefer in which case standard PVC fittings can be used and bolt isn't needed.

A standard pool leaf bag purchased at most pool supply store is attached over the PVC collar to catch large debris. A laundry bag can be used, pantyhose or any mesh bag.

A fine mesh bag can be used to catch small muck and can also be purchased at a pool supply. A person on Pond Chat suggested using pantyhose as a fine bag which they were happy with when a float was added to the top of the pantyhose. But none of these bags are very good for removing silt, the fabric clogs too fast.

To operate: Start pump up and move Muck Mop slowly over the bottom of the pond until bag is full. Bags can fill very fast. Leaf bags in a few minutes, silt bags in just a minute or two. When pulling the mop out of the water for cleaning first spin the head 180 degrees to help hold the muck in the bag. This also helps you not get wet from the water shooting out the top of the Muck Mop.

When cleaning silt bags you will be surprise because the bag will be the size of a small child and weigh about the same. You'll be think, "Oh yeah, got me a real load of muck". But the bag is mostly full of water. The fabric catches the muck and clogs which traps water in the bag and almost stops the vacuum so the bag must be cleaned. Grab the bag and just kind of swish it a bit and the water should start to drain out pretty fast. A good bag will continue to hold the muck inside the bag. When drained of water the bag can be turned inside out and hosed off or washed in a bucket of water. Resist the temptation to fling the dirty bag to throw off the muck as its easier to hose off the bag than yourself, the dog, your house and the neighbor kids.

Muck is great for plants once composted. Muck is compost but like land based compost is in various degrees of decomposition so should be put into the compost pile to finish. Putting muck directly in the garden won't hurt plants. Fine silt however is so fine water may not be able to pass through until worked into the soil. So we suggest adding muck to the compost pile.

History of the Muck Mop

Our first Muck Mop design. Instead of a single nozzle there were 4, each with their own supply hose.

Cool looking but the current design is simpler, fewer parts to hunt down. Also in this design the collection bag tended to get caught in the nozzle hoses which Mr. Bill fixed by using a float in the bag, see below.

Modified version of first Muck Mop by Mr. Bill.

"I built your Muck Mop and used it with GREAT success. I have a water well so my water pressure is better than city water so I made the water supply through the handle. Also, since I am using the well water instead of a pump, I used 1/8 jets instead of 9/64 jets. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us."

"One additional revision is to add Styrofoam to the bottom of the laundry mesh bag so it does not wrap around the flex lines while moving it around the pond. I found after a gallon or two of leaves get in the bag, the bag stays on the bottom of the pond and quits collecting leaves. If it is held up it might hold more before needing emptied."