Today was the first clean. We pumped out the whole thing because:
1. It is difficult to guide the poop to the pump - mostly you just stir it up.
2. We tried feeding them peas and half of 4 lbs of peas we fed them over the week were in the bottom of the pool. Apparently it is too deep for them to want to pick the peas off the bottom. No more peas in the pool (can't wait to try goldfish when it is warmer though... In the past the fish didn't have a chance and were gone in an instant... in this pool, I think the ducks may have to work for their food )
If it wasn't for the peas, it could have probably gone a second week. The water was obviously not drinking water (for me anyway) after 5 minutes and didn't get that much worse over the course of the week: by day 3 you couldn't actually see the bottom, but you are looking through 2-1/2 feet of water at a dull brown floor. Coming out of the hose the water looked clear which is much better than I can say for the kiddie pools I pumped. The droppings on the bottom were about a 50% covering at maybe 1/8".
It took about 3 hours to pump it down to about 200 gallons which is where our current sump pump starts sucking air. This was through a garden hose which worked fine for the large kiddie pools, but we might get a bigger hose later to speed it up. Doesn't really matter. I turned on the pump in the morning and we went out to eat and did a little shopping got back did a couple other chores and it was done. It took about another hour with the shop vac to vacuum out all the peas and most of the poop. There was almost no OTP in the pool other than the junk we threw in. There is another pump at our feed store that will pump down to 3/8" of water and I think that might work better if we follow a strict policy of not throwing non-floating food to the ducks.
The pool took 4 hours 22 minutes to fill (again with the garden hose) This probably won't change, but knowing the time, we can just set an alarm for say 4 hours and otherwise ignore it. At around 4 hours, the water is touching the bottom of the ramp, so I took the obstacles off the ramp so the ducks could go back in while the last couple hundred gallons were still filling. They had been in kind of a funk all day because now they knew what the big blue thing was and were deprived of it for 8 hours.
Here is a clip from a few minutes after the ramp was open to the ducks. I apologize in advance for Kaine, he has only one thing on his mind...
So at this point, I would say doing a pool change took about an hour of our time actively and we can probably get that down to 20 minutes if we don't throw peas in the pool. The pool was out of commission about 8 hours and that can probably be reduced to 5-6 hours (pump side will get shorter but fill side won't). This replaces about 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening every day that we spend with the kiddie pools so 70 minutes / week. So far it really isn't that much more work total and it is much more fun to watch the duckies when they can dive and go nuts. We will see how it goes when it is warm enough to possible have algae problems.