Best Pond Skimmer - Backyard Boss
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Best Pond Skimmer

Keeping your backyard pond’s water fresh and clean is an essential part of having this type of water feature. Without having some way to keep debris and vegetation out of the water, you could very quickly end up with bacteria, algae and other contaminants in your pond. That’s why a pond skimmer is a great addition to any body of water.

There’s a wide variety of pond skimmers on the market from fully automatic pump systems to simple nets. Picking the type that’ll work best for you can be a challenge if you don’t quite know the difference between all of these models. To help you out, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to the best available pond skimmers for your backyard pond.

Backyard Boss Top 5 Pond Skimmers for Debris-Free Water Features

Tetra Pond In-Pond Skimmer - Best Pond SkimmerTetra Pond In-Pond Skimmer
  • Material: Plastic
  • Size: 13.5 inches
  • Weight: 3.2 pounds
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Koolscapes Floating Pond Skimmer - Best Pond SkimmerKoolscapes Floating Pond Skimmer
  • Material: Plastic
  • Size: 9.5 inches
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds
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Waterscapes International PS4500 Pond Skimmer - Best Pond SkimmerWaterscapes International PS4500 Pond Skimmer
  • Material: Plastic
  • Size: 9 inches
  • 17 pounds
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OASE 57395 Aquaskim 40 Pond Skimmer - Best Pond SkimmerOASE 57395 Aquaskim 40 Pond Skimmer
  • Material: Plastic
  • Size: 40 inches
  • Weight: 5 pounds
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AnSun Upgraded Pool Skimmer Net - Best Pond SkimmerAnSun Upgraded Pool Skimmer Net
  • Material: Plastic and Fine Mesh
  • Size: 20 inches
  • Weight: 15 ounces
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Why You Should Trust Us

In my time as a general contractor, I installed and worked on a number of backyard ponds, fountains and other water features. Often, I would come back months later to do a different type of job and find the pond empty or in disarray. This would usually be because the owner had failed to heed my advice of getting a good pond skimmer that would make it easy to remove the debris that gathered on the surface.

Invariably, if the customer had taken the time to get a decent skimmer, their pond would be in great condition and they would be happy to have this excellent feature in the backyard. Whether you are going for an electric skimmer or a bare-bones net on a handle, having something to keep the water clean can make all the difference. It is much easier to maintain the water’s cleanliness than it is to do a deep clean on a regular basis.

Best for a Large Pond

Tetra Pond In-Pond Skimmer
    The Tetra Pond in-pond skimmer is a great choice for large ponds that need a lot of water circulation



Why We Like It: The Tetra Pond in-pond skimmer is built for large flexible or preformed ponds that have the potential to collect a lot of sticks, vegetation and other debris. Designed for use with water features up to 1,000 gallons, it has a 13.5 inch weir door that will catch almost anything that ends up on the water’s surface. The key is to catch these things before they sink down to the bottom and turn into algae or other bacteria.

The replaceable filter pad makes it easy to clean the skimmer when the time comes. Proper maintenance is the key to keeping your skimmer effective and if it’s easy to clean, you’ll be much more likely to do it on a regular basis.

Who Should Buy It: People who have large ponds and need to make sure they catch all debris while it’s still floating on the surface.

Best Floating Pond Skimmer

Koolscapes Floating Pond Skimmer
    This floating skimmer by Koolscapes is a good choice for smaller ponds that don't need a powerful stationary skimmer



Why We Like It: The Koolscapes floating pond skimmer is a simple, effective mechanism that takes up very little room but still makes for clean pond water with little to no effort on your part. The mechanical filter grid sits low in the hopper and allows the water to pass over the top with ease. Its specially designed trap basket is meant to catch any floating debris like leaves or twigs, but can also catch smaller contaminants like floating algae or mosquito eggs.

The pump that comes with this floating skimmer can move up to 500 gallons per hour, so it is rated for ponds that are 250 gallons or less. This kind of capacity should be good for small to medium ponds and can do a good job of circulating enough water when needed.

Who Should Buy It: People who don’t want or need an ultra-powerful side skimmer that requires a large pump that needs to be hidden from view.

Best for a Koi Pond

Waterscapes International PS4500 Pond Skimmer
    This skimmer by Waterscapes features a 9 inch weir door that's large enough for all kinds of debris and detritus.



Why We Like It: If you’re worried about your skimmer accidentally catching your fish, the Waterscapes International pond skimmer could be the solution you’re looking for. The 9-inch weir door is large enough to catch things like leaves and twigs, but floats right on the surface, out of reach of even larger fish like koi. Plus, it’s designed to be used with an exterior pump that sits outside of the pond itself. This allows you to place it further away in order to not disturb or frighten the fish.

The high-density polyethylene shell is built to withstand all kinds of abuse and won’t leach harmful chemicals into the water. The oil-free design is perfect for keeping your pond water as clean and safe as possible for living things.

Who Should Buy It: People who keep fish in their backyard pond and don’t want a skimmer that could accidentally harm or frighten them.

Best for a Small Pond

OASE 57395 Aquaskim 40 Pond Skimmer
    This adjustable pond skimmer can be installed up to 22 inches underwater for a discreet operation.



Why We Like It: The OASE 57395 Aquaskim 40″ Pond Skimmer is a small skimmer that’s designed to fit in all kinds of pond depths. The flow rate is enough to skim a pond surface up to 430 square feet, although it’s absolutely meant for smaller ponds than that to ensure proper cleaning. If you’re looking for a skimmer that can be adjusted to the depth of your pond should you want to change it, this could be a good choice.

The mechanism is easy to install and won’t take up a lot of room in your backyard water feature. The filter basket can hold a fairly large amount of debris and will be able to handle the needs of a smaller pond.

Who Should Buy It: People who have small ponds and don’t want to skim them manually with a net.

Best Skimming Net

AnSun Upgraded Pool Skimmer Net
    Simple manual pond skimmer works well for people who don't want a complicated installation.



Why We Like It: The AnSun upgraded pool skimmer net is a great, low maintenance way to keep your pond’s surface clean and clear. This model features extra fasteners that hold the net itself to the frame and make sure it stays in place. This is a great feature if you’re regularly needing to pull larger debris like twigs and branches out of the pond.

The wide mouth of the intake section is perfect for being able to skim a wide surface area in one stroke instead of several small ones. The mesh of the net is also fine enough that it can catch small debris like pine needles and dirt that ends up getting blown into the pond. If you have a relatively wide variety of vegetation that ends up in your pond, this could be your best option for making sure you get all of it out.

Who Should Buy It: People who don’t want to waste their time with small nets that require more back-and-forth strokes around the pond, but instead want a larger intake to get more of the surface area clean.

How Does a Pond Skimmer Work?

Dirty Pond
Image credits: MChe Lee via Unsplash

If you have a backyard pond, fountain, or other water feature, you’ve probably heard that you need a pond skimmer. While this is mostly true, skimmers are really only necessary if you have vegetation near the feature that can fall into it and create harmful bacteria and algae. If this is the case, a pond skimmer can help keep that water free of dirt and debris and keep it safe for animals and humans.

A pond skimmer works in tandem with a pump to create tension in the water that draws it into the skimmer. Some skimmers come with a built-in pump while others will need a separate pump that’s placed away from the pond. On the inside of it is a sponge or filter that catches all the dirt and debris that may have fallen onto the surface. You’ll have to clean out this sponge or filter fairly regularly to make sure it stays clean enough to effectively clear out the debris and let water flow through.

There are a few different types of pond skimmers but they all effectively work on the same principle. Floating skimmers float about halfway below the surface of the water and use a basket-type mechanism to catch debris as they make their way around the pond. A stationary skimmer is usually shaped like a box and has a door called a weir door that opens and closes as the water splashes against it to grab onto any leaves or twigs that are floating on the surface.

How to Choose a Pond Skimmer

The type of pond skimmer that you need will depend on a few different deciding factors. One of these factors is the size of the pond you are trying to keep clean. If you just have a small water feature, a floating skimmer or submersible skimmer should be sufficient to keep debris and detritus off the surface of the water. However, if you have a large pond that’s above 500 gallons or so, you may need a stationary skimmer with a separate pump that’s powerful enough to turn over the water.

Another factor that will come into play when you’re choosing a skimmer is whether or not you keep any animals in the pond. Fish like koi can be sensitive to noise and disturbances, so for these types of ponds you may not want a floating skimmer that can create a nuisance in the water. Instead, a stationary skimmer with a pump located away from the pond is probably your best bet. Just make sure the weir door of the skimmer is small enough that it won’t accidentally trap any fish if they get too close to it.

You can also make the decision whether you need an electric skimmer at all. For some people, a simple manual skimmer, which is essentially a net on a pole, is more than enough to keep their water clear of debris. Using a manual skimmer will require a little more dedication to cleaning the pond, but might be worth it just for the sheer ease of operation and the lack of maintenance.

Water Lilly
Image credits: Couleur via Pexels

How We Picked

We dug through a massive amount of pond skimmers available on the market to find our list of the best five. In going through these skimmers, we looked for a few essential things such as:

  • Construction
  • Efficiency
  • Power
  • Longevity

Essentially, what all these factors boil down to is whether or not a skimmer is going to be dependable. What you don’t want is to end up with a skimmer that requires a lot of maintenance and work after it has been installed. All of the skimmers we looked for were built to last and be a “set and forget” type of installation.

Large Backyard Pond
Image credits: Mike via Pexels

Best Pond Skimmers: Final Verdict

While all of the skimmers on our list are going to be worthwhile for several types of ponds, we favor the Tetra Pond In-Pond Skimmer for its simplicity, heavy-duty construction and ability to work with all kinds of pond sizes. No matter what type of water feature you have, this skimmer will be able to handle the clearing of all types of debris.

Keeping your pond clean and free of contaminants is the best way to make sure harmful bacteria and algae doesn’t grow. This will save you massive maintenance projects and cleanings that can be a real drain on your enjoyment of a backyard water feature. By choosing the right pond skimmer, you can simply set it up and keep your pond worry-free.