One of the main problems pond owners face is cleaning up the sheer amount of falling debris like leaves, branches, etc. Not only do these make the pond look like a swamp, but they also make it quite uninhabitable if left unattended. Pond skimmers are one of the best devices that one can have to deal with this problem.
Pond skimmers can immediately suck in a vast amount of dirt, debris, and organic matter. Some of them can even filter different materials making it easy for you to clean them. I believe they’re a must have component for a pond.
If you still have double thought over does your pond need a skimmer or not, then allow me to explain further below to make up your mind…
What are pond skimmers?
Skimmers are a type of filter that cleans the water surface with baskets, nets, or screens to capture and filter out various organic debris like leaves and branches that float on the water surface. Although they specialize in filtering out organic materials, they fare just as well against inorganic materials too.
The necessity of pond skimmer
Though there are a few alternatives that you can use in your pond to get rid of your floating debris, the skimmer is better than all of them for some specific reasons. They are :
- Disposing Debris: It is the best and most efficient way for you to remove your pond’s debris.
- Prevents ammonia build-up The leaves, branches, and other organic materials that fall into the water get sunk into it after a certain period. When underwater, these get decayed and produce ammonia gas which is extremely toxic and therefore deadly to the fish and other animals living in the pond. By filtering out the debris before they get sunk, the skimmers remove the possibility of the production of ammonia.
- Cleaning Fish Waste: Organic waste does not always come from outside. The waste materials produced by the fish inside the pond also produce toxic gas. Skimmers take care of this problem as well
- Mechanical filtration: There are few ways of biological filtration for your pond. But if we are talking about mechanical filtration, skimmers are probably the best option you will have.
- Circulating water: Getting rid of waste materials isn’t the only function of the pond skimmer. The pump housed inside it helps in the circulation of the pond water, keeping the oxygen levels up.
- Making the water beautiful: Not only does the skimmer clean the water, keeping it healthy, but it also keeps the water beautiful in the process.
- Being able to be installed in existing ponds: If you didn’t have a skimmer at the time of building a pond, but want to install it now, you can do it easily. You don’t need to install a skimmer when you are building a pond for the first time. As long as you have pond liners made of flexible rubber, you can install them at any time.
- Keeping other equipment functioning properly: As it prevents the debris from settling down, those can not clog the other equipment in your pond.
- Saving time: Having a pond skimmer will mean that 90% of the debris will be filtered out by it. This will save you both time and effort
How do pond skimmers work?
Before you start using a skimmer in your pond, you need to know how these things work.
Skimmers usually suck the debris from the water creating tension. Due to this force being created, the water goes into the device.
All skimmers have a box made of plastic with a filter in it. Some devices have a sponge instead of a filter, but both of them serve the same purpose. There is also a pump inside of it. The water that the skimmer sucks in goes into this box along with all the debris in it. It goes through a 6-8 inches big opening which is situated near the top of the skimmer for it to be aligned with the water surface.
The tension or force that was mentioned earlier, is created by the pond pump inside the skimmer and a weir. The weir is a kind of small door that floats near the entrance of the skimmer. Its function is to maintain the surface tension that is created and give the debris for it to be waterlogged and sunk after it enters the skimmer. It also provides an optimum amount of resistance so that too much water doesn’t enter the skimmer.
The larger pieces of debris are then caught by a basket or a net, depending on the model, situated under the weir. The debris becomes wetter and wetter, they become heavier and sink inside the basket or the net and afterward, separated from the water. These baskets are very easy to clean and get access to.
Then the rest of the water is filtered again by the sponge or something similar to remove the smallest parts of debris, such as pollen, algae, etc.
The water is then poured into the pond without any difficulty. Make sure to clean the basket regularly.
Types of Skimmers
There are 3 different kinds of pond skimmers available in the market. They are Fixed pond skimmers, Submerged pond Skimmers, and Floating pond skimmers.
Fixed Pond Skimmers
These are the most common types of skimmers. They are fixed on one side of the pond to be filtered. Although they are mainly installed when the pond is first built, they can also be retrofitted afterward.
Pros of Fixed Pond Skimmers
- They can blend into the surrounding of the pond seamlessly.
- They are easily accessible, which makes maintenance easier.
- They are usually very durable. You don’t have to check them frequently because they have larger baskets.
Cons of Fixed Pond Skimmers
- As they are fixed in the ground, you can’t move them if you somehow place them in the wrong place. In that case, you will have to use pond jets or additional pumps for directing the debris towards the skimmer.
- You have to constantly keep an eye on the water level. If the water level is lower than the skimmer, it might burn it out as water can not enter into it. An auto top-up has to be installed to solve this problem.
Submerged Pond Skimmers
These ponds are usually connected to the pond pump that is currently existing in your pond and you can install a secondary pump and hook it up with the skimmer.
Pros of Submerged Pond Skimmers
- Unlike the fixed ones, they are easier to add to an already existing pond.
- Where pond liners are rigid and performed and you can not cut a hole for the skimmer box, they are an excellent choice.
- Can easily be removed or positioned again during various seasons.
Cons of Submerged Pond Skimmers
- The basket is relatively smaller than the fixed skimmers. So you have to check it more often. This will affect its durability.
- As it is submerged, it is harder to access.
- Doesn’t blend into the surrounding of the pond very well.
Floating pond skimmers
These skimmers collect leaves and other debris by floating around the surface of the pond. Depending on the model, you may or may not have to supply a pump for them.
Pros of Floating pond skimmers
- You can add them to your pond very easily, irrespective of the pond being new or old.
- They can effectively get rid of debris from the pond surface as they are very mobile
- You don’t have to cut your pond liners to install them.
- Their functionality doesn’t depend on the water surface.
Cons of Floating pond skimmers
- Have to be checked on and emptied frequently as they have small baskets.
- It doesn’t look very aesthetic when a basket full of trash floats around in a pond.
- Because of their high mobility, winds can displace them easily. Sometimes they are pushed into a corner by the wind, affecting the effectiveness.
Can you make a DIY skimmer?
If you don’t want to spend too much money buying a skimmer, you can always make one yourself. Even the original skimmers had been made from garbage bins which were repurposed. DIY skimmers are way cheaper than any skimmer that you will find in the market. While making a skimmer by yourself, keep the following things in mind.
- Make sure to make the skimmer large enough so that it can house a pond pump.
- Ensure the water is shallow enough for the device to be able to create tension.
- Make the opening small through which the water is going to be funneled.
- You can use large rocks to channel the water towards the skimmer.
- Use a small piece of the liner as a weir.
You can easily build an effective skimmer following these steps. This will cost you only a small fraction of the price you had to spend if you intended to buy one from the market.
Different Pond skimmer sizes
Another issue that most people are faced with is choosing the right-sized skimmer for their ponds. Usually, it is efficient to use larger skimmers because they have larger baskets. But if the skimmer is too big for your pond, the chances are that the skimmer will run dry which will result in burnout.
So, before choosing the skimmer, first, calculate the surface area of your pond and buy the skimmer that matches or is close to that surface area.
Also, calculate the volume of water in your pond. This will tell you how much the flow rate of your pond is. Buy the skimmers whose specified flow rate is equal or close to the flow rate of your pond.
Best Pond Skimmer brands
If you don’t have the skill to build a skimmer by yourself, or you just don’t want to go through all that hassle, here are some skimmers that you can get yourself.
- Aquascape Signature Series 200: These skimmers are great for ponds with an area of up to 200 square feet or 60 square meters. The pumps up to 3000 GPH can be handled by them.
- Signature Series 400: They are used for ponds with areas of up to 400 square feet or 120 square meters and pumps of up to 4000 GPH.
- Signature Series 1000: For up to 1000 square feet of 305 square meters area and 10000 GPH pumps, these skimmers are the best
- OASE floating skimmers: These floating skimmers come with a built-in aerator and a 55 cc basket. They can work in ponds up to 270 square feet of area and have a built-in pump of 580 GPH.
- Laguna Pond Skimmer Box: These skimmers weigh about 18 pounds and are very easy to install. They come in various pond and pump sizes.
- Atlantic Water Gardens PS4600 Pond Skimmer: Although this skimmer is a bit more expensive than most others, it makes up for it in compactness, variety, and durability. It can also be used in ponds of different sizes and with different-sized pumps.
These are just a sample few that immediately came to my mind. Although I have an entire article on the best pond skimmer that covers different types of skimmers for various kinds of ponds and price ranges. I believe you’re a smart person, so you should definitely check that out if you’re interested.
Pond Skimmer Alternatives
Pond skimmers aren’t the only things that can clean the pond from debris. If the pond is small enough, you can clean the debris by yourself. You can even leave a small amount of debris alone as they will provide necessary nutrients for the plants in your pond.
You can also apply some enzymes which are specifically developed to eat away the muck that has been created by the debris.
You can also use a net once or twice a year to clean your pond.
Another way of cleaning the pond off the debris is to use pond vacuums. You can even use sump pumps, although it is not recommended as they use up way more electricity and make too much noise.
A Final Verdict
I’m sure you’ve pondered a lot about does your pond needs a skimmer or not. While it does not NEED one, but compared to other alternatives available, it is cheaper, more efficient, and also the most versatile.
So in my opinion, it is better to have a pond skimmer, whether it is bought from the market or a DIY one, to clean up your pond.