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Why are fish pond skimmers useful

Having a beautiful, clean pond is the aim of all pond keepers. Just doing regular water changes will not keep your water crystal clear, there are many external factors that can downgrade the quality.

Most ponds are situated in back gardens, surrounded by shrubbery and trees. When autumn falls the trees will disperse their leaves onto the pond water, this in time will make the pond look quite untidy. Not only that if the leaves and debris are allowed to fall to the bottom of the pond, they will decay, this in turn will start to pollute the water as toxic gases are released. So how can this problem be overcome, quite simply by installing a pond skimmer.

There are three types of water filtration – mechanical, biological, and chemical. All good pond systems will have a decent filter fitted into the chain, but without a skimmer the life of the filter can be reduced as debris and large particles pass through the pump. Clogging it up which in turn will slow the efficiency of the flow rate right down.

Pond skimmers are used as a pre filter, removing the debris so that the main filter should not clog, believe me I can not think of a worse job than unclogging a pump that smells if left too long.

Most pond skimmers are designed to be seated in the actual pond so that they draw water from the surface level; because of this only the top of the skimmer is normally visible. On some models they even incorporate a designed lid that can look like a paving slab or similar, this helps the skimmer to blend in with the surroundings. If situated in the pond correctly, the skimmer can also assist with the water flow.

The basics of different skimmers are usually the same. In the skimmer there is a space for placing a submersible pump to draw in the water. Once the water has entered the skimmer there is a basket for collecting the larger debris, normally leaves, twigs etc., once the water has passed through this it will then be filtered through a finer mat for collecting the smaller particles. After this has taken place the water is then passed onto the main filter via tubing, or even onto a waterfall or other features.

Fitting the skimmer is quite a simple process. A hole has to be dug directly next to the pond which the skimmer will sit in. The depth of the hole has to be set so that the water level is at the correct height for the skimmer to run at its most efficient. Some models are supplied with face plates that are removed for fitting, the liner is placed over the plate housing, and then the face plate is re-attached. Once the plate is in position it is simply a matter of cutting away the liner to reveal the inlet area.

There are some skimmers that just lay on the bottom of the pond, removing debris after it has sunk, this method is even easier to use as it doesn’t involve cutting the liner but from personal experience I didn’t find them to be as effective.

Prices can vary quite a lot for the different models available, but the general rule is always buy the best that you can afford, it will pay big dividends in the long run. The most basic of skimmers can start off at 50 pounds (100 dollars), going into the more advanced models you can pay anything up to 200 pounds (400 dollars).

Laguna produce a range of different size skimmers, dependant on the pond size. The power flo series also provide biological filtration along with mechanical filtration. This is done by additional chambers built into the housing, into which plastic bio balls can be added. They are rated for ponds up to 5000 US gallons, so they are well able to cope with most of the larger ponds. Enclosed in the face plate is a floating skimmer door, the idea being this will prevent any fish being accidentally sucked through the system. Also supplied is a sturdy leaf basket, filter matting & plastic bio balls the makers claim that this model will remove 85% of debris before it sinks to the bottom of the pond. The price for this model starts at approx. 125 pounds (250 dollars), a larger version with the addition of a 40w UV sterilizer can be purchased for 225 pounds (450 dollars)

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Savio skimmers are a slightly cheaper price range, a more compact design as well, though this does reduce their pond rating a little.

The makers also claim an 85% skim rate for removing debris before it sinks, and included is a biological filtration chamber. The top covers are sturdy and completely lockable for security. Prices range from 60 pounds (120 dollars) up to 80 pounds (160 dollars for the larger version. A smaller compact version is also available, roughly 2/3 thirds of the size of the original, this makes it ideal for the smaller ponds and it still has the capacity to add on a UV unit. The larger of the compacts is rated at 3500 gallons per hour, while the even smaller compact is rated at 2000 gallons per hour.

Atlantic produces a PS3000 model which can be used as a primary skimmer or in conjunction with another higher rated skimmer to improve performance. This smaller unit can be used to skim awkward areas in your pond. Its rating is 3800 gallons per hour, not bad for a small unit and it even comes with a lifetime guarantee. The price of this is approx. 90 pounds (180 dollars).

This company also produces the larger units. These also come with a lifetime warranty for the outer casing, and the mechanical filtration is either provided by filter matting or brushes to trap the debris. There are optional extras available; the covers for the top can be bought in a rock design to blend the unit into the surroundings. A media kit can also be purchased if you wish to add biological filtration. Prices range from 75 pounds (150 dollars for the smaller units up to 400 pounds (800 dollars) for the highest rated ones. Smaller units are rated at 4000 gallons per hour, the largest unit is rated right up to 20,000 gallons per hour.

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