Have you ever looked at koi ponds and wondered how they look so clean? The water is crystal clear and the pond surface has a polished look to it.
Chances are there is a pond skimmer installed as part of the filtration system.
When it comes to water quality problems with your pond, one of the best ways to help combat this is to install a pond skimmer.
How does a pond skimmer work?
The skimmer box weir edge entrance sits at the water level and draws in water to your filters. This draw also sucks in any floating surface debris like leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and dirt that is floating on the surface of the pond.
The floating weir or floating door at the front of your pond skimmer rises and falls with the water level to make sure the flow is good.
The floating debris is then collected in a skimmer basket that is easy to clean, simply remove it and empty it into your compost pile.
Some skimmers have a layer of filter mat or filter pad in the collection chamber that helps with the first stage of biological filtration and become a home to millions of beneficial bacteria that are great for your pond balance.
This mechanical filtration also helps remove large debris from the pond, By breaking the surface tension of the water you are also helping circulation which is a must for a healthy pond.
Does my pond need a skimmer?
A surface skimmer will make a huge difference to the maintenance of your pond. By catching all the floating debris in the debris basket and removing it before it sinks to the bottom of the pond you are saving yourself a lot of time cleaning. The only real work you have to do with a skimmer is empty the debris basket every so often and you are done.
By adding a skimmer to your pond you are helping to keep the pond bottom clean and this becomes pre-filtration for your pond filtration system.
What is the best type of pond skimmer?
There are a few different options when it comes to pond skimmers.
In Pond Skimmer Descriptions
You could opt for an in-pond skimmer that is built into the sidewall of your pond. The weir door is half-submerged in the pond below the surface of the water and water is drawn into the skimmer box via a pond pump or can be gravity fed to your filter system. Debris is collected in a wastebasket and once cycled the pond water is returned to the pond.
This type of surface skimmer has a flat side that is attached to the wall of the pond with a plate that sits over the pond liner and has a rounded shape on the back to hold the debris basket.
A couple of great options for this type of skimmer would be:
Aquascape Signature Series 400
The Aquascape Signature Series 400 Pond Skimmer is top of the class when it comes to build quality and functionality. The skimmer has a large volume heavy-duty basket that is both easy to remove and clean out.
The skimmer box also has an area for a filter mat that can act as a pre filter for your pond – capturing a lot of the waste before it ever gets to your main filters. This mechanical and biological filtration is a great step towards a clean healthy pond.
There is a protected area for a submersible pump that can be connected directly to the pond skimmer to get the water flowing.
Installation is straightforward and the norm is to set the skimmer so the water’s surface is about halfway up the faceplate. It comes with additional fixings to install where you have a pond liner.
The overall construction is solid heavy duty plastic and it comes with a durable lid that can be blended into your pond landscaping to hide the skimmer box. The rounded shape of the skimmer box makes for one solid unit.
If you find that the koi ponds skimmer debris basket is letting too much rubbish through then you could add a trap net to the basket to filter out some of the finer waste from the water.
We highly recommend the Aquascape signature series range of pond skimmers. Perfect skimming performance for ponds of all shapes and sizes.
Where should a pond skimmer be placed?
A few things you need to consider when installing this type of skimmer is the placement and water flow. They are designed to clean the pond surface but will need a little help pushing the floating waste towards them. In most water gardens you will have a waterfall or at the very least a way of returning the clean water to the pond from your filters. Make sure the skimmer is at the opposite end of the pond so the water will naturally be pushed towards the skimmer weir door.
You also need to look at the flow rate in your garden pond. Have you enough power in your pump to create a draw on the water and pull the weir door back to drop the water level and get the skimmer to work at all?
They are fairly easy to install once you are comfortable with cutting a hole in your liner. Most skimmers like the Aquascape signature series and the Atlantic skimmer come with detailed instructions and solid backing and front plates to help seal everything up nicely once installed.
Floating Surface Skimmers
Another type of pond skimmer for fish ponds is a floating skimmer.
How do floating pond skimmers work?
These floating debris collectors float in the pond with a weir door that rises to adjust to the level of the surface of the water. The skimmer flow rate is controlled by a pump that sits on the bottom of the pond and can either draw water into a filter or just return it to the pond.
A pump with an adjustable flow rate is best suited here so you can tune the skimmer for optimum performance. This type of mechanical filtration really helps keep dead leaves and other waste from sinking to the bottom of your pond so helps with ease of maintenance.
These types of skimmers are very easy to install as they don’t require you to cut a hole in the liner. They can be used in any type of pond or water garden once you have enough space to install it. They are very easy to clean – just remove the debris basket and dump the waste and you are good to go. Some come with a built-in pump and filter mat setup as well.
A great option here would be:
The Oase Aquaskim is an option for those who do not want to cut a hole in the liner or are maybe using a preformed koi pond and do not have a flat side to work with. This type of skimmer needs a separate pump to pull water into the basket so you should ideally go for a pump with variable flow rates so you can tune the skimmer suction.
This skimmer can clean a pond with a surface area of up to 40m and because it is not fixed to the pond you can move it about your ponds to get to any dead spots in the pond and help circulation.
- Powerful suction cleaning of pond surfaces up to 40m
- Clearly improved water and viewing depth
- Base with large-surface receptacle for rocks as ballast
- Easy maintenance with an easily accessible coarse basket
- The basket can also be taken out from a distance via grip hooks
Here is a video showing you just how easy it is to assemble the Oase skimmer
Does a pond need a skimmer?
I would always say yes to a pond skimmer because I like to keep pond maintenance to a minimum. Having the ability to remove waste from a pond before it sinks to the bottom. Water clarity is also a big thing for me because I keep Koi in my pond. Skimming the water provides a clean, dust, and foam-free water surface and lets you enjoy your fish because the water will be cleaner and visibility will be better..
How important is a pond skimmer?
In terms of overall water quality, a pond skimmer is the next thing I install after a filter. The filter is the best way to clean the pond water with both mechanical and biological filtration – without one, you will definitely suffer water quality problems.
Every water garden has a balance – the balance of nutrients in the pond v’s the waste that builds up over time that gives off bad gasses that can harm your fish.
The filter creates an environment for beneficial bacteria to grow that help remove these gasses but by installing a skimmer you are providing a way to remove a lot of the waste – especially floating waste like leftover food and leaves before they sink and become a problem.
How do I keep fish from getting in my pond skimmer?
A worry a lot of pond owners or people with water gardens have is how to stop fish from getting into the skimmer.
The solution to this problem is built into the design of each pond skimmer. The weir door is designed to float just below the surface of the water. Most weir door designs have a foam insert that helps this process.
Even to most inquisitive fish will swim close to the skimmer but never into it. The current on the water is not strong enough to suck them in. Make sure to adjust your flow rate on the pond pump to avoid this ever happening.
I have one koi that spends half his time trying to tease floating pond sticks out of the frame of the weir but has never ended up in the skimmer.
Where should a pond skimmer be placed?
The ideal location for pond skimmers is opposite a waterfall or pond return so the water is pushed towards the floating weir. Flow rate and stream type – if you have a stream as part of your design all come into play with locating your skimmer.
Different water gardens call for different solutions and a varied water level will