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Best Pond Skimmer for a Crystal Clear Pond (Reviews & Comparisons)

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A pond skimmer is the perfect complement to your pond filter, as they help keep the surface of your pond clean of any floating debris.

But pond skimmers come in multiple forms and from many different brands.

So, I want to make this as easy as possible for you...

I'm going to show you the 5 best pond skimmers on the market today and cover the main types of pond skimmers and how they all work, so you can easily find the best skimmer for your pond!

I'll even answer the most frequently asked questions and show you how to install your new pond skimmer!

Let's jump right in!

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Pond Skimmer Comparison Chart

Description Awards Price
Atlantic Water Gardens Skimmer Atlantic Water Gardens Pond Skimmer Best Pond Skimmer Box SEE PRICE »
OASE SwimSkim Floating Pond Skimmer OASE SwimSkim Floating Pond Skimmer Best Floating Pond Skimmer SEE PRICE »
Helix Pond Skimmer Package Helix Pond Skimmer Package Best Submerged Surface Pond Skimmer SEE PRICE »
TetraPond In-Pond Skimmer TetraPond In-Pond Skimmer Best Budget Pond Skimmer SEE PRICE »
ProTuff Silt & Leaf Water Skimmer Bundle ProTuff Silt & Leaf Skimmer Bundle Best Pond Skimmer Net SEE PRICE »

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5 Best Pond Skimmer Kits

Atlantic Water Gardens Pond Skimmer

  • Best Pond Skimmer Box

The Atlantic Water Gardens Pond Skimmer will house and protect your pump while it clears away any surface debris from your pond.

This model is my favorite pond skimmer box as it's extremely durable, super easy-to-clean, and it does its job as good as any skimmer I’ve tried.

It is slightly larger and heavier than some other similar box skimmers due to its reinforced polyethylene structure and super durable stainless-steel faceplate.

Not only does this filter come with a basket to catch larger debris, but it also has an extra layer of pond filter media designed to catch smaller debris

This pond skimmer is available in in 3 different sizes: 3000, 3900 and 4600 gallons per hour

Here’s a video from Atlantic Water Gardens on how to clean this pond skimmer with other helpful tips to clean your pond.

Pros

  • Extremely durable
  • Easy-to-clean
  • Multiple filtration methods

Cons

  • I have yet to find a con with this pond skimmer. Trust me, I’ve looked! I suppose that could be considered a pro?
Atlantic Water Gardens Pond Skimmer

Atlantic Water Gardens Pond Skimmer

Price:
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OASE SwimSkim Floating Pond Skimmer

  • Best Floating Pond Skimmer

OASE makes one of our favorite pond filters, so naturally one of their pond skimmers would make our top 5 list of best pond skimmers!

The OASE SwimSkim Floating Pond Skimmer does exactly as the name suggests, it floats around in your pond and effectively removes debris.

The compact design will work perfectly in any pond and unlike other pond skimmers, it can easily adapt to any water level above 16 inches!

Another feature that sets the Oase skimmer apart from others is its integrated aerator system, that effectively oxygenates your pond while cleaning it.

Pros

  • Great value for the dollar
  • Built-in pond aerator to oxygenate your pond
  • Easy to set up and clean

Cons

  • Small basket size that may need to be cleaned more often than other skimmers
OASE SwimSkim Floating Pond Skimmer

OASE SwimSkim Floating Pond Skimmer

Price:
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Helix Pond Skimmer Package

  • Best Submerged Surface Pond Skimmer

The Helix Life Support Pond Skimmer system is the 2012 Product of the Year as recognized by Pond Trade Magazine!

This award-winning pond skimmer is perfect for flow rates from 1500 to up to 8000 gallons per hour (GPH)!

The compact design does make it easy to conceal and it does not use a weir door like most box filters, which make it safer for ponds with fish.

This skimmer is made in the USA from an ultra-durable rotational molded HDPE material which allows it to handle even the harshest weather conditions.

Pros

  • Extremely durable design can handle harsh conditions
  • Safe for fish and other animal life
  • Award-winning pond skimmer
  • Large 8 x 8 basket to catch debris

Cons

  • I’ve read that this skimmer may need at least a 3600 GPH pump to even get it to effectively work due to its design.
Helix Pond Skimmer Package

Helix Pond Skimmer Package

Price:
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TetraPond In-Pond Skimmer

  • Best Budget Pond Skimmer

The TetraPond In-Pond Skimmer offers the most bang-for-your-buck as far as pond skimmers go.

This pond skimmer is perfect for ponds up to 1000 gallons and doesn’t require a larger, powerful pond pump (Use with pumps rated at 550 -1900 GPH).

The internal basket and filter pad are effective at catching small and large debris and can easily be cleaned.

Comes with a 2-year limited warranty.

In this video you can see a TetraPond skimmer in action.

Pros

  • Best priced skimmer on the market
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • I wouldn’t recommend for ponds with small fish
  • They cover it with stickers that you have to patiently peel off
TetraPond In-Pond Skimmer

TetraPond In-Pond Skimmer

Price:
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ProTuff Silt & Leaf Skimmer Bundle

  • Best Pond Skimmer Net

Not every pond owner wants or needs to install an electrical skimmer, which is why I included a skimmer net in this list.

In fact, I recommend having a pond skimming net handy even if you do run a quality electrical pond skimmer as they can help catch and remove debris or objects that your pond skimmer and filter might not handle. They even come in handy when trying to remove duckweed and control other pond weeds that are trying to take over your pond.

I like the ProTuff skimmer net which comes with a no questions asked lifetime guarantee! It’s strong, durable and dependable and may be all that you need to keep surface debris off your pond!

Pros

  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Makes it easy to remove large debris (and even tiny debris) from your pond
  • You can scoop the bottom of your pond if needed

Cons

  • Requires you to manually skim your pond
ProTuff Silt & Leaf Skimmer Bundle

ProTuff Silt & Leaf Skimmer Bundle

Price:
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Pond Skimmer Buyer’s Guide

If you were to ask 100 pond owners the most frustrating aspect of running their pond, we believe a significant percentage would talk about debris and having to manage leaves and other materials settling on the water. If we were to ask the same group whether they would go without a pond skimmer, we can almost guarantee that every single person in the room would say ‘no’... and in this buyers guide we want to explain why.

We also know the market has been inundated with pond skimmers recently and your search for the best one for your pond has probably left you frustrated. Luckily, we’ve compiled all the information you need in one easy to read guide. Without further ado, let’s get started!

What Is A Pond Skimmer?

If you’ve been reading so far without a clue of what pond skimmers are or what they do, don’t panic. Working alongside biological/mechanical pumps or filters, a pond skimmer will form an important part of a pond filtration system. If in an exposed area outdoors, your pond is likely to attract debris such as twigs as well as biological waste from plants, flowers, and/or pond fish.

Rather than putting up with the debris and allowing it to ruin your pond’s appearance, a pond skimmer will collect the debris and filter it through a net or screen. From here, the debris reaches a filter which can be removed and emptied every so often. This way, you don’t have to spend your Sunday with a handheld net trying to scrape all the debris from the water’s surface (hooray!).

How Does A Pond Skimmer Work?

A pond skimmer works by sitting on the surface of your pond and slowly drawing water in through its weir (a flapping door). As the water passes through the pond skimmer, any debris and/or foamy pond water is captured by the filter. The clean water is then pumped back into the pond. Some models even use a fine filter sponge which allows the water to pass through but will catch smaller particles including pollen.

Why is this important? When pollen and leaves are allowed to sit on the surface, they eventually get waterlogged and sink to the bottom of your pond. They then start to decompose, lowering oxygen levels, increasing ammonia and nitrite levels, and adding to the sludge on the floor of your pond. With a pond skimmer, your water remains clean (and aesthetically pleasing!).

did you know Did you know...

90% of pond debris comes from trees and other external sources. This debris typically sits on the surface of the pond for a short period of time. This shows the importance of a quality pond skimmer in keeping your pond clean!

Depending on the skimmer you choose, the water will either be returned along the bottom edge or at the bottom and this means you won’t even notice it working away. For those with a fancy waterfall in their pond, this is even better because the filtered water can be pumped in through the waterfall and all the work will go on behind-the-scenes.

Difference Between A Pond Skimmer and Pond Filter

For some of you right now, you’re about to frantically open another tab and see if there’s a difference between pond skimmers and filters. Allow us to help you, yes there is a difference. While pond skimmers are the primary filtration system on the surface of the water, a pond filter is normally installed under the water or outside of the pond. Rather than debris sitting on the surface, a pond filter will suck in dirty water, catch the impurities, and allow clean water to be pushed back into the pond.

Therefore, the two tools will act in harmony; while one covers the surface and prevents items from sinking and decaying, the pond filter cleans up everything below the surface. Like salt and pepper, rhubarb and custard, the two will work together and keep your pond as clean as possible.

How To Choose The Best Pond Skimmer

How do you know which pond skimmer to choose when there are so many available? Consider the following.

Pump and Skimmer Size

Firstly, the two main considerations should be the size of the skimmer and the size of the pump. Depending on the size of the pond, the skimmer will need to have a matching capability. Although slightly more expensive, we advise choosing a skimmer with higher filtration capabilities if you plan on upgrading the size in the near future (better to buy correctly than buy twice, right?).

Next, the reason we included pump and skimmer size under one heading is because they need to fit each other. Not only does the skimmer need to match the pump, the pump needs to work with the skimmer (as simple as that!). For the system to work correctly, the flow rate of the pump needs to be accommodated by the skimmer. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many complain that skimmers don’t work when, in reality, they actually have the wrong pump.

When too weak, it won’t be powerful enough to suck the debris towards the skimmer (despite a lack of trying which can cause the motor to burn out). On the other hand, we aren't saying get the world’s biggest pump and hope for the best because this can damage the skimmer and prevent efficiency once again.

Quality and Durability

Ever bought something for your garden and then had to either return it or buy a better model not long after? If so, you aren't alone so we recommend looking for a high-quality product that will offer durability. If you’ve got a large pond with plenty of fish and plants, you’ll probably need a heavy-duty skimmer; this is also true for those in colder climates. If you experience snow every winter, go for the advanced models that can experience freezing and thawing while still working effectively months later.

The Atlantic Water Gardens Pond Skimmer is a perfect example of an extremely durable, high-quality pond skimmer.

Atlantic Water Gardens Skimmer

Atlantic Water Gardens Skimmer

Price:
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Cleaning

Who wants to spend an entire afternoon cleaning a pond skimmer when there are so many other enjoyable things to be doing? With this in mind, look for clever designs and models that allow simple debris removal thanks to a flip top cover.

While all 5 of our recommended pond skimmers are easy to clean, the TetraPond In-Pond Skimmer is extremely easy to clean at a price point that makes it irresistable!

TetraPond In-Pond Skimmer

TetraPond In-Pond Skimmer

Price:
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Fish Safe Pond Skimmers

Finally, we assume you want to keep your fish safe so this should also be a consideration. Especially with Koi, you don’t want the curious fish to be sucked into the filter and then get stuck. These days, there are plenty of features that allow your fish to stay safe including a floating weir door, special netting, and a detachable door.

While some say that submerged skimmers are not the best option for ponds with fish, the award-winning Helix Pond Skimmer is an excellent choice for ponds not only with fish, but with spawn and fry.

Helix Pond Skimmer Package

Helix Pond Skimmer Package

Price:
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The Different Types of Pond Skimmers

There are three main types of pond skimmers from which you can choose. As with anything in life, we believe this choice to be an advantage because you can choose a product that matches your pond’s needs!

Pond Skimmer Box

With the mouth at water level, a pond skimmer box has a basket to collect leaves and other large debris. Due to the design, it should be installed into a hole off the bank before then attaching to the pond liner.

In our opinion, there are two types of people who benefit from skimmer boxes; those who don’t want an ugly skimmer changing the appearance of the pond and those who have fish. With regards to the former, you’ll be able to hide it with plants and rocks so nobody will even notice it. Additionally, we should also mention that it requires less maintenance and cleaning (always a good thing!).

These models work best when there’s sufficient water flow and you will need to invest in a strong pump.

Atlantic Water Gardens Skimmer

Atlantic Water Gardens Skimmer

Price:
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Floating Pond Skimmers

The aptly-named floating pond skimmer essentially floats on the pond while the water flow allows it to move around the surface. With no extra pumping required and found at an affordable price, this is the perfect option for those with a smaller pond. Due to the pump inside the skimmer, just drop it into the water and watch it get to work.

Unfortunately, we wouldn't be providing ‘everything you need to know’ if we didn't tell you that maintenance and cleaning can be more extensive. For those with larger ponds, we also recommend one of the other options.

OASE SwimSkim Floating Pond Skimmer

OASE SwimSkim Floating Pond Skimmer

Price:
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Submerged Surface Skimmer

Finally, the top of a submerged pond skimmer will barely reach the surface as it sits on the bottom of the pond. Attached to the pond pump, it takes water from the center of the pond and filters it discreetly (if you didn't know, you wouldn't notice it!). In truth, this one works in ponds in all shapes and sizes and can generally hold more debris than the floating devices.

As the opposite of the pond skimmer box, the design of this type of pump can make it unsuitable for ponds with fish (though this is a general statement and the submerged skimmer we recommend on this page is completely safe for fish and their spawn, you just have to adjust the height of the skimmer) and you may need to invest more time to clean.

Helix Pond Skimmer Package

Helix Pond Skimmer Package

Price:
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Do I Need A Skimmer For My Pond?

We’re often asked whether pond skimmers are essential, so we’d like to quickly address this.

Often, an argument against their use is that they aren't found in natural streams and rivers and therefore they aren't necessary in ponds. The problem with this is that natural bodies of water are normally moving, and this allows debris to be swept away with the currents. With ponds, on the other hand, most are closed water systems which means the only way for debris is down.

Of course, you could always choose to forgo a skimmer but all the debris on the surface will eventually sink and decay. The problem with this is the pond can become unsafe for fish, pond plants, or any wildlife because the decaying process itself releases ammonia and nitrates. As well as potentially causing harm or death to fish and plants, the toxic substances can look rather ugly and give off a certain smell.

Some pond owners opt for pond netting to catch surface debris before it hits the pond. This is a viable option, but can be unsightly and still requires manual removal of debris from the net.

So, are pond skimmers essential? For a healthy and happy pond (and pond owner), we always say ‘yes’ to this question.

Pond Skimmer Installation: How To Install A Pond Skimmer

Will you need a college degree just to install a pond skimmer? Not at all! Installing a skimmer, no mater what type you get, is pretty straight forward.

Since box skimmers are arguably the most popular type of pond skimmer (at least in our experience), we'll start with how to install this type.

Tips for the best and easiest box skimmer installation:

  • If you have a waterfall feature, position your skimmer on the opposite side of the pond as the waterfall so the debris will be pushed toward your skimmer.
  • Position your skimmer in a corner of your pond where there will be extra liner to cover it.
  • You'll want the pond water level to be about 3/4 to 1 inch below the top of the skimmer's water entry window (where the water enters the skimmer).
  • Be sure your skimmer is level!
  • Once you have the skimmer in place, make sure it is secure and does not move. You may have to place rocks in front of it to help secure it in place.
  • Stack a flat stone on top of the skimmer box to hide it for a more visually appealing pond.

With floating pond skimmers, these move around with no input so can just be placed in the water. If you’ve gone for a submerged surface skimmer, the instructions on the packaging will recommend a specific depth. Normally, the water will move around your pond in a circular motion, so we recommend looking around the outer edge for a strong current.