How to Keep Fountain Water Clean for Birds? (Proper Method)


Written by

Clinton Atkins



George Dukes

how to keep fountain water clean for birds

Having a clean fountain doesn’t only look nice–it attracts more birds! Over time, they will learn that your garden is a place for clean drinking water and a good bath and preen session.

Additionally, a clean fountain keeps visitors healthy by ensuring no bacteria grow in the water. But how to keep fountain water clean for birds?

The best way is simply through regular cleaning, replacement of fountain water, and installing equipment such as pumps and filters. You can also use fountain algae control bird-safe solutions such as algaecides, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide.

Read on to learn more!

Ways to Keep Fountain Water Clean for Birds

It takes a little work to keep the water fountain from turning green. However, the more regular maintenance you do, the easier it is to keep algae from growing!

Here are several tips for keeping your fountain water clean without harming birds.


Prevention is better than cure. Keep algae from growing in your fountain by doing the following.

1. Keep Your Fountain in a Shady Spot

Keeping your fountain in a naturally shady spot in your garden keeps the water cool, slows evaporation, and minimizes algae growth.

Placing it directly under a tree or near your feeder won’t be a good idea, though, since lots of leaves, twigs, seeds, and other debris will fall into the water!

Also, don’t cover it with an umbrella or anything else for artificial shade. This limits birds’ accessibility to your fountain and makes them less likely to come.

2. Install a High-quality Recirculating Pump


Pumps are a great water feature cleaner that is safe for birds!

If the water in your fountain constantly flows, insects won’t get a chance to lay eggs, and algae can’t grow. Additionally, the glinting and sound of flowing water will attract birds to your fountain.

Consider investing in a good-quality pump with stainless steel components. Though more expensive, it will last much longer and work better than plastic pumps!

3. Install a Water Filter


Filtration systems filter out bacteria, algae, and protozoa lurking in your water. It won’t completely replace your regular fountain cleaning, but it can reduce the number of times you must do it by half!

4. Treat Your Fountain with Bird-safe Enzymes

Enzymes are proteins that break down leaves, animal waste, and other non-living organic materials that fall into your fountain. They will not kill algae, but they will make things easier for your water filter!

5. Skim Regularly


Much like using a net to regularly scoop out leaves in a swimming pool, use a mesh net scooper to “skim” your fountain regularly.

The quicker you remove debris, the less time bacteria and algae have to grow.

Cleaning Methods


Sometimes, you must be more aggressive to clear that water. No, the answer is not bleach or chlorine, which can harm birds! So what can I put in my fountain to keep the water clean naturally?

Consider this other fountain water treatment safe for birds.

1. Use an Algaecide

Algaecides are compounds that kill algae. Brands such as Fountec are fountain algaecide safe for birds, dogs, cats, and other mammals, so they can safely be used in your fountain.

However, although Fountec is an algaecide for fountains safe for birds, it is not safe for fish!

2. Spray White Vinegar

What fountain cleaner is safe for birds? Vinegar!

Vinegar in fountain water is an excellent disinfectant. Mix some in your fountain water, or spray some directly on any growing algae.

Vinegar is biodegradable and safe for birds but won’t be enough to tackle stronger, more dangerous bacteria.

3. Mix in Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide in the fountain is a stronger alternative to white vinegar but is a fountain cleaner safe for birds and your water pump.

A recommended ratio is 1-2 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 10 gallons of water.

Long-term Maintenance

Lastly, no pump or algaecide will beat simply cleaning your fountain regularly. Here are some fountain cleaning tips.

1. Replace Fountain Water at Least Twice a Week

It’s normal for fountain water to run out because of evaporation and birds’ splashing. Instead of simply adding water, though, it’s best to dump out old water and replace it with new.

It’s best to use distilled water since tap water might have bacteria.

2. Deep Clean Your Fountain at Least Once Every Three Months


Fountains must be cleaned more often in the summer and less in the winter.

Scrub the base with mild soap and hot water. If that doesn’t work, try cleaning bird baths with vinegar and water solution.

Don’t forget to remove and clean any ornaments in your fountain, too!

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean the pet water fountain?

Regular quick cleans are recommended, even a simple scrub and wipe-down every time you refill your fountain’s water.

However, it’s recommended to deep-clean your fountain at least once every three months. Fountains need to be cleaned more often in the summer than in winter.

How can I get rid of stubborn algae?


Try soaking your fountain for at least fifteen minutes with either

  • A solution of 1 part white vinegar and nine parts water, or
  • A very diluted bleach solution of 200mL bleach to 5 liters of water.

Whichever solution you use, rinse your fountain thoroughly after soaking and let it completely dry before refilling with clean water.

Does it work to put olive oil in a bird bath?

The theory is that oil will put a protective layer over water, preventing algae growth and insects from laying eggs.

However, birds may have better options since the oil will stick to their feathers.

Can copper pennies keep my fountain clean?

Yes, but only if you use pennies made between 1962 to 1982 because they are 90% copper. Newer pennies are mostly made of zinc, which is toxic to birds.

Copper pennies in bird baths stop algae growth and will not rust like iron. Instead, they form a “patina” or develop a greenish-blue hue that is not harmful to birds.

Additionally, the coins’ glinting will attract birds to your fountain!


Learning how to keep fountain water clean for birds is extremely important.

Thankfully, bird bath maintenance doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Though deep cleaning is required a few times a year, much bird-safe equipment is available to help you stay on top of the job the rest of the time!

Besides, what could be more rewarding than hearing and watching birds happily splashing around your sparkling clean garden fountain?

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