Choosing a Pond Skimmer

One of the key pieces of equipment that should be included in any water garden project is a pond skimmer. Skimmers are a type of mechanical filter, which means that some sort of net, basket or screen is used to capture debris as the water passes through.

Pond Skimmer Drawing

Equipment Recommendations by Size

Waterfall Rocks

1) Small Ponds - Atlantic Oasis Series

Smaller Ponds with Submersible Pumps - The Oasis Series is Atlantic's line of user friendly products made to contractor-grade quality. Excellent for DIY water gardeners, or professional contractors putting in a smaller pond. Features a strong top lid, a steel-framed trap net for capturing debris and Matala filter mat for secondary mechanical filtraiton.

ModelWeir DoorSize (WxDxH)Flow RatePrice 
PS3900 6" 17.75" x 19.5" x 19.5" 1000 - 3000 gph $249.00 More Info
Waterfall Rocks

2) Medium / Large Ponds - Atlantic Big Bahama Series

Larger Ponds with Submersible or External Pumps - The Big Bahama series is Atlantic's line of professional products made for contractors, or DIY water gardeners wanting the best. Features over the Oasis series above include thicker walls, larger size for larger pumps, and a heavy-duty brush panel providing more advanced mechanical filtration. Comes in three sizes for ponds of all sizes.

ModelFlow RateWeir DoorSize (WxDxH)Price 
PS4600 2000 - 4000 gph 6" 19.5" x 26" x 22" $364.99 More Info
PS7000 4000 - 7000 gph 9" 25" x 30" x 24" $459.99 More Info
PS15000 7000 - 15,000 gph 14" 28" x 33" x 31" $689.99 More Info
Waterfall Rocks

3) Small to Large Fish Ponds - Helix Pond Skimmer

Fish-Safe Helix Skimmer - The Helix Pond Skimmer was the recipient of the 2012 Pond Trade Show Product of the Year Award for revolutionary design. It's one of the only skimmers on the market where fish can simply swim in and out of the skimmer without getting trapped. The Helix automatically adjusts to the pond water level and flow rate making it ideal for small fish ponds all the way up to large Koi ponds.

ModelFloating WeirSize (WxDxH)FaceplatePrice 
Helix 15" 19" x 18" x 35" 12" $499.99 More Info
Waterfall Rocks

4) In Pond Skimmer - For Adding Skimming to an Existing Pond

Smaller Ponds with non-penetrable liners - The Oase in pond skimmers are an easy way to collect debris off of the surface of your pond. You just add the skimmer into the body of water without needing to attach it to the edge of a pond/liner. Use these if you have a concrete pond, a fibre glass pond or a pre-existing pond. They are not ideal for larger ponds as their debris baskets are much smaller, thus requiring more frequent debris removal. We have two models available: The free floating Oase SwimSkim with aeration and the Oase AquaSkim that connects to a pump.

ModelSizeFlow RatePrice
Oase AquaSkim 14" diameter x 32" high 1600 - 4200 gph $104.00 More Info
Oase SwimSkim 13"L x 12"W x 10"H 800 gph $104.00 More Info

Decaying Leaves
Fall leaves beginning to decay.

Why you Need a Pond Skimmer

Because ponds are usually located outside, there are numerous ways the water can collect debris over time. Some of these ways include trees dropping leaves and sticks into the water, wind blowing grass, mulch, garbage and other yard waste into the water, as well as clutter from water plants like flowers and buds. If left alone, all this debris will eventually sink to the bottom and begin to decay. Unlike a river, which is constantly renewing itself with fresh water, a pond is a closed system, which means anything introduced into the water will affect your water balance if not filtered out.

Pond skimmers are usually installed at the surface of the water and will capture any leaves/sticks or other floating debris. Depending on how much debris is floating on the surface of the water will determine how often the basket or filter will need to be emptied.

Skimmer Placement

Depending on the design, your skimmer can be placed anywhere as long as the flow or current of the water encourages debris into the skimmer. This is usually accomplished by placing the pump inside of the skimmer in the case of a submersible pump, or by placing the pump intake inside of the skimmer in the case of an external pump. Either way, the water will naturally flow into the skimmer if installed this way. As the water flows into the skimmer, the water will enter the pump, leaving behind any floating debris in the filter basket.

typical pond skimmer
A Skimmer Made by Atlantic
In Pond Skimmer
An In-Pond Skimmer

Choosing a Pond Skimmer

There are many different brands of pond skimmers. When choosing which one is best for you consider these points:

Ease of Emptying

Depending on the amount of trees near your pond, you may be emptying your skimmer quite frequently in some seasons. For that reason, choose a skimmer that is easy to empty, and is also easy to access in your landscape.


Some low quality pond skimmers will not hold up well over time, especially when the weather gets cold and low quality plastics get brittle. Have a good look at the durability of the removable basket and choose one that slides in and out easily so as the basket won't get stuck in various weather conditions.

Pump Size

To ensure that your skimmer can always keep up with your pump, choose a skimmer that is rated to a similar flow rate as the pump. If your skimmer is matched to your pump, then it will be no problem in the future if you decide to squeeze a little more flow out of your pump (to build a bigger waterfall for example). One of our favorite brands of skimmers are made by Atlantic. To see more info about them, please see the images below with links to our store. For more information on flow rates and choosing a pond pump, click here.

Fish Considerations

If housing fish, you may want to consider a skimmer with some kind of floating door on the intake to prevent fish from entering and getting caught inside your skimmer.

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