How to dip

What you need

All you need to survey your pond is a sieve and a tray to put your pond animals in.

Sieves are good because you can get in amongst the plants at the edge of the pond – where most animals live – much more easily than with a dipping net.

A white tray
It’s really important to use a white tray because it’s much easier to see pond animals when they are on a white background.

You can make your own tray in 5 minutes by sticking a sheet of white paper onto the bottom of a baking tray. Don’t worry that the paper will get wet. Put a centimetre of water in the tray to keep the animals happy – keep the water shallow so you can see the animals easily.

If you’re going to dip your pond regularly it may be worth getting a special white tray. You could also use a large (empty) white ice cream tub or such item – have a look in your recycling bin and be inventive!

A sieve
Don’t forget to cut the hooks off the sieve – it’s difficult to get into all the little nooks and crannies where animals lurk if you don’t.

Where to dip
To find all the different kinds of animals in your pond its important that you check all the habitats they may be living in. Here’s where to look.

Most animals live at the edge and amongst plants- not in open water.

Here are the places to dip:

How to dip

Use your sieve to gently disturb the plants, sweeping up the animals into the sieve as you dislodge them from their hiding places.

Don’t dredge up lots of mud at the bottom of the pond. There won’t be many animals in it and it will make your tray very muddy.

Too much


There’s too much plant and algae in this tray to see anything properly. You only need a small amount of plants to make sure you can see the animals clearly.

Just right

This is about the right amount.

Don’t forget to look in all the different places around the pond where the animals might be lurking – if you just dip in one spot you won’t find everything that’s living in the pond.

Turn your sieve upside down over the tray to empty out the animals. Spread out any bits of plant and other debris with your hand. Don’t fill the tray up with plants and sludge or you won’t be able to see anything!

Now wait a moment and look into the tray to see if there is anything moving around. Can you spot any beetles, tadpoles or dragonfly larvae?

Use the pictures on the Big Pond Dip Form to help you decide what you have found, and calculate your score, and see our animals in your pond page to learn more about them. Then have a look at our what your score means page to see what advice we offer based on the current condition of your pond.