Last updated on October 3rd, 2022
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So like many people, I have a love for being around water from kayaking in Scotland, just taking a day trip with the kids to the Lake District, or a stroll along the River Ribble at Brockholes nature reserve. I think my obsession with being around water comes from my passion for fishing which started well over 30 years ago.
This brings me to my passion for garden ponds. Like many other people who watch video after video on Youtube learning more about ponds and taking the DIY-style pond building route, I missed important features and simply didn’t realise I needed them. Or perhaps I just thought I could do that at a later date if I really need to.
For me, one of these important features is having a pond skimmer, although I’d look at a Pond UV Clarifier first if you don’t already have one. One thing I quickly realised is that I needed to choose the biggest skimmer that my budget and space would allow for.
If you’re debating if the model you are considering is big enough, I suspect bigger would probably be better. Most are sold with a recommended surface area. For example, the model I think is best for smaller ponds and probably most ponds, (assuming it’s not too large) is this Oase Swim Skim Skimmer 25, which is perfect for ponds up to 25m².
However, if your pond is bordering on 20-25m² or bigger. I’d definitely go for this Oase Swim Skim Skimmer 50 model instead. Even though it’s a fair bit more expensive it has a much better pump flow of 3,500 l/h. Compare that to the 2,500 l/h the 25 model has. Maybe, more importantly, is the basket size. The 50 model has a decent 4.5 litre basket which is quite large in comparison to the 0.9 litre basket on the smaller 25 models. To put this into perspective, the smaller 25 model usually needs emptying every couple of days, depending of course, on how much debris there is.
I’m not saying you need the larger model but just make sure you buy the best size for your pond. Another feature this larger Oase Swim Skim Skimmer 50 model has which is worth taking into consideration is if particles are deposited on the floor of the pond. They are swirled up by the integrated base function with 600 l/h and then pulled forcefully by the skimmer.
Here we have included a few useful tips if you decide to try the Swim Skim Skimmer models, which I personally recommend. They are designed to swim/move around your pond, unlike most other types that are fixed. However, I have noticed they can get trapped in corners and this can be rather annoying because they always seem to get stuck facing the wrong way with the debris inlet facing towards the walls instead of facing towards the pond.
The solution I found is to point the water jet nozzles underneath and set them so that the skimmer is forced to stay in one position against the wall like most skimmers do. This is a little bit of trial and error to get this set up but it usually works. You can also tie it to the side of the pond using the eye holes underneath the skimmer to hold it in position against the wall. This gives you a couple of options.
One last problem you might experience is the skimmer rising up out of the water, this can be frustrating. To resolve this issue, just make sure you switch it on and then hold it under the water until it expels all the trapped air and then it will float at the right level.
Here is a video Andy has kindly put together from The KOI Addiction – Well worth a watch!
The two pond skimmers I have already mentioned above are both floating pond skimmers. For me, these are by the easiest to install and sometimes only need a few tweaks to get them set up correctly. You literally, submerge them in the pond until they float correctly and switch them on. No separate pumps to connect, it is easy to empty and clean etc.
Built-in pond skimmers are probably the best. Usually, they have a much bigger debris basket (usually at least 12 litres), however, they ideally need to be installed during the pond build itself. If you already have your pond, this is usually not an option or if you still decide to go down this route it will take a lot of modifications to install.
That’s what I like about the floating pond skimmers. They are super easy to add to an existing pond. They’re great for preformed ponds and liner ponds, basically, where cutting a hole for a built-in skimmer box is not an option. I also like that you can easily remove or reposition them, something you will likely find yourself doing. For me, I really feel that most people would be happy with either this Oase Swim Skim Skimmer 25 or the larger Oase 50170 SwimSkim 50.
Now, if you need a pond skimmer to attach to an external filter or hook up to a waterfall feature, then this Tetra Pond In-Pond Skimmer is worth considering. Just make sure you connect it to a big enough pump and make sure you have a pump that enables a screw on adaptor to fit your pipe on. I have looked at some of the best pond pumps here as well as some all-in-one pond pumps with filters. This system works great, you just need to find something for it to sit on, so it’s at the right height in the water.
Something you may find useful for cleaning, especially the bottom of the pond where sludge, sediment, fish waste, rotting vegetation and other organic matter settles, is a good pond vacuum. I have some recommended models here. I have also talked about the need for a decent flood pump for emptying your pond for cleaning and maintenance.
The rest of this review looks at a couple more of the best pond skimmers as well as the models already mentioned in more detail, including their specific specifications. I detail each model’s pros, cons and features before making my recommendation. The Buyer’s Guide explains why a pond skimmer is beneficial to your water ecosystem and highlights the features of the best models if you need further information. The FAQ section answers the most asked questions about pond skimmers and is great for beginners.
Best Pond Skimmer Reviews
1. Oase Swim Skim Skimmer 25
The Oase Swim Skim Skimmer 25 is suitable for small ponds with up to 25m2 of surface area. This triangular-shaped unit has a built-in water pump that circulates the water at 2500L/hr. This isn’t the fastest flow rate of the models in this review, however, it is adequate for small ponds. It is probably the best and easiest pond skimmer to get set up for the majority of pond enthusiasts.
A useful feature of this Oase model is that it automatically readjusts to any changes in water level as it’s a floating model which makes setting everything up a little easier. There is no range that it operates between – it can adjust to whatever the water level becomes. This is handy because you don’t have to constantly monitor the level of water in your pond.
Another useful feature is the injector that puts extra health-giving oxygen into the water. This is to the advantage of both your plants, fish and other aquatic wildlife in your pond. The only downside to this is it seems to be a little noisy, especially if you don’t have a waterfall or even separate pumps running. With a little modification, you can block the little air inlet valve up with a little foam and the noise stops but the skimmer feature still works fine. It also works alongside the continuous water movement to help prevent ice from building up in the winter months.
Filtration is carried out through a (replaceable) bio-mechanical foam with a fine mesh. The real issue with this model is the small size of the collection basket at 0.9 litres. This means you might frequently need to clean all the collected debris basket off every couple of days, especially large leaves in the autumn. This is where I would recommend the larger Oase 50 SwimSkim because it has the larger 4.5 litre basket.
This model does come with a long 10m power cable so it has plenty of reach to be able to connect it up to a power source. The skimmer does move around in the water at the end of the cable, as already mentioned, so I would consider tying it against the wall in a permanent position.
- Triangular shape pond skimmer for ponds up to 25m2 surface area.
- The recirculating pump pumps 2500L per hour of water.
- Injector for putting oxygen into the water.
- Mechanical-biological filtration via a fine foam sponge.
- Built-in pump.
- Removable collection basket.
- Automatic adjustment to any water level.
- The power cable is 10m long.
- Two-year guarantee.
- Fills up quickly with large debris such as leaves, so may need emptying frequently.
- It may need fixing in one position.
The Oase Swim Skim Skimmer 25 is, for me, one of the best pond skimmers for small to medium-sized ponds. It’s a complete unit because it comes with a built-in pump so it’s easy to set up with nothing else needed.
Just plug it in and you can start skimming your pond right away, however, it is worth noting that it doesn’t come with a plug on the end of the power cable. This is an easy fix by getting a 3 pin plug or hard wire it in. What I did was attach a plug, and then plug it into an RCD Socket Adaptor like this one and into a Tapo smart timer so I can control when it’s running.
2. Tetra Pond In-Pond Skimmer
The Tetra Pond In-Pond Skimmer is a model that doesn’t come with an integral pump – you need to supply your own pond water pump. However, if your pond equipment is already part of the Tetra range of supplies, this skimmer is compatible with the TetraPond Water Garden Pumps and TetraPond Waterfall Filter. That being said, it will work with other brands of pump, you might just need to get some adaptors to make sure it will connect to your pump.
This rectangular pond skimmer is suitable for ponds with volumes between 1900L and 3800L. The filtration system is mechanical through a (replaceable) filter pad. The collection basket is large enough to collect a decent amount of debris, including leaves.
As this model doesn’t come with its own pump, there’s a pump intake 1-1/4 inch adapter and also a hose adapter to send the water back out to the pond. A 1m hose for this task is supplied but you can obviously attach this to a waterfall system or filter system. As this skimmer works in line with the pump, you don’t need electricity to run the skimmer itself, and hence no power cord comes with it, but you obviously need power to the separate pump.
Something to keep in mind, you do need to weigh down the skimmer to the ground and it’s only suitable for pumps. Its design allows for this with four corner pockets to put sand or gravel into. In addition, make sure to follow the recommendations to place the skimmer on a shelf or on blocks in the pond. All of this makes it secure and enables it to function efficiently.
- A rectangular pond skimmer for large ponds of 1900L to 3800L in volume.
- Pre-filter stops your pump from becoming clogged.
- Needs to be placed on a pond shelf or blocks in the pond.
- Four corner pockets to add sand or gravel to weigh down the skimmer.
- A pump intake adapter is included.
- Floating door to maximise debris collection.
- Filtration is through a filter pad.
- Tubing is 1m long.
- Doesn’t include the pump.
- Lightweight construction.
The Tetra Pond In-Pond Skimmer is a good choice for larger ponds if you already have a water pump in your pond system or want to install a pump and connect it to a waterfall system. The pre-filter system in this unit stops the pump from becoming clogged up, while the pump intake adapter serves as the connection spot for the pump. You may need to add additional weight to keep this skimmer from floating around and will need to find a way to get the right height using blocks etc. If you want to connect and also have a waterfall, this is a great skimmer to connect up and use.
3. Oase Built-in Surface Skimmer Biosys Skimmer +
The Oase Built-in Surface Skimmer Biosys Skimmer + is designed for those who have larger ponds with up to 50m2 of surface area but, more importantly, need a built-in skimmer. This means less maintenance because it is bigger and can hold more debris before needing to be emptied. This is not a floating skimmer like most of the other models in this review. This Oase Biosys skimmer sits in the soil, directly on the side of the pond. It’s known as a surface skimmer but will take more work to install and it ideally needs to be installed whilst you are building the pond.
Position this skimmer on the side of the pond that the wind usually blows towards or the opposite side to where water flows. This ensures that the debris ends up at the skimmer. Dig it into the ground, leaving just the lid above the surface. The lid is covered by a plastic natural-looking rock finish, so blends in well with most pond landscaping. Use a flange to attach the unit to the pond liner for stability and security. This is a little simplified but there plenty of youtube videos on installing a built-in pond skimmer.
The (easily removable) collection basket has a large capacity of 12L for debris collection. This holds a lot of stuff from your pond which is what makes it a better option, less maintenance. This lets it skim off fallen autumn leaves as well as sticks and other fairly large organic matter. This model will remove coarse dirt and grit especially well. Just lift out the basket for emptying and cleaning.
The water pump isn’t included in this model. However, there’s space in the unit to put a pump in and to make it all self-contained, which is great if you’re building a pond in a more confined area. In terms of pumps, the AquaMax Eco 6,000L/h (minimum) to the AquaMax Eco 16,000L/h (maximum). Whatever pump you choose, just make sure that its flow rate fits into the 6000l/H and 16000l/h range for the best working of this skimmer.
- A rectangular box pond skimmer for pond surfaces up to 50m2.
- Fits into the ground on the outside of the pond.
- Handles water level changes of up to 10cm.
- The lid is covered by a natural-looking rock cover that sits above the surface level of the water.
- The removable basket just lifts out for cleaning.
- Filter capacity is 12L.
- All connections provided and holes already cut.
- Designed to fit the (not included) pump in the skimmer box.
- Pump not included.
If you have or are building a large pond and are looking for a surface skimmer to keep it clean, the Oase Built-in Surface Skimmer Biosys Skimmer + is a good choice. It operates on a wide range of pump flow rates (pump not included), and there’s room to put the pump inside the unit, making it self-contained. The large collection basket means that you won’t have to empty it too often unless your pond really does need a lot of cleaning.
4. AllPondSolutions Standing Pond Skimmer
Unlike the flatter designs of the floating pond skimmers in this review, the AllPondSolutions Standing Pond Skimmer stands alone as a rod in the water. It covers medium-sized ponds of up to 40m2 in area. A handy element of this upright design is that you can adjust its height to between 0.7m and 0.9m. This lets this skimmer work in ponds with a variety of depths.
The pump is not included as it’s not a fully built-in system, and I recommend that you use a pump with a flow rate between 8000-16000L/hr. This gives you quite a bit of flexibility in how strongly you want the water to run through the skimmer, perhaps depending on the level of debris, the pond contains.
This is a simple (and one of the more affordable) model that uses a plastic mesh screen to remove debris from the water. Simply remove the basket, empty it and then rinse it to keep the skimmer running well. The hose attachment for this unit comes with three adapters of different sizes – 25/32/38mm. You’re not limited to having a particular size of hose in your system.
- Stand-up pond skimmer for ponds up to 40m2 in area.
- Adjustable skimming height of between 0.7m and 0.9m.
- Fits three diameters of flexible hose.
- The collection basket is easily cleaned.
- Filtration is through a flexible plastic mesh screen.
- Gravel tray supplied for weighing down the skimmer in the water.
- Pump not included.
- Doesn’t detail what kind of filtration pad is used.
The AllPondSolutions Standing Pond Skimmer is a simply designed skimmer that handles ponds of up to 40m2 of surface area. The pump is not included so this stand-up model fits into your existing pond filtration and cleaning system. It uses a straightforward mechanical system to filter out the organic debris. This is a good choice of pond skimmer to use in addition to a larger filtration system.
5. Oase SwimSkim 50 Pond Skimmer
The Oase SwimSkim 50 is the only pond skimmer in this review to clean up debris that’s fallen underneath the water to the bottom of the pond. It’s an upgraded and larger version of my best pick and is better suited to larger ponds. I would say anything above 20m2 but below 50m2. This collection of fallen debris is in addition to the surface debris that all the other models also handle. As mentioned, this model handles ponds up to 50m2 and it also has a low power consumption of 45 watts per hour making it more affordable to run.
The integrated “green” as Oase calls it function, brings up debris from the bottom of the pond by swirling the water at 600L/hr. This causes the light organic matter to come up to the surface of the water where it’s pulled in by the skimmer in the usual way. Additionally, the debris still on the surface of the pond is captured.
This skimmer does tend to float around a bit so anchoring it to one place (like I would do with the smaller 25 version, away from your water plants) is what I would do.
This Oase 50 pond skimmer model also injects oxygen into the water. This helps to create a healthy environment for your plants. And you don’t need to worry if the water level changes in your pond, especially in the summer. This skimmer automatically adjusts to that and carries on working to keep your pond clean.
- A triangular pond skimmer for both the surface and below the water.
- Cleans pond surfaces up to a 50m2 area.
- Integrated green function to swirl up debris on the pond bottom.
- Pumps 600L/h of water.
- Injects oxygen into the water.
- The filter basket has a 4.5L capacity.
- Power consumption is only 45W.
- Adapts easily to water level changes.
- Two-year guarantee plus a one-year warranty.
The Oase SwimSkim 50 not only cleans the surface of your pond from organic debris. It also swirls up the water to bring debris from the bottom of the pond to the top so it can clean that too. Low power consumption means that keeping your pond clean and healthy needn’t cost a great deal. This is a good choice if lots of fallen leaves and other debris tends to fall into your pond and you have quite a large pond.
Buyers Guide for Pond Skimmers
This Buyer’s Guide explains why you need a pond skimmer for your outdoor oasis. Plus it details the main features to look out for when choosing the best pond skimmer for your garden environment.
Why do I need a pond skimmer?
One of the main problems you face in keeping your pond environment clean and healthy is the build-up of organic material. Leaves, sticks and so on fall onto the surface of the water, and fish and other wildlife leave their waste there.
These organic materials decay over time as they sink to the bottom of the pond. Decaying matter produces ammonia which harms the health of your pond’s ecosystem.
Trapping the organic materials before they decay is one way to reduce the production of ammonia in the water. This is what pond skimmers do.
Features of the best pond skimmers
Floating or stationary?
Floating pond skimmers do just that. They float just below the water level in the pond. You do need to weigh them down with rocks, although some models come with built-in compartments to put sand or gravel in specifically for this purpose.
Stationary models include the stand-up model that you weigh down to the bottom of the pond. Plus there’s the Oase model that you bury outside the pond with its lid just above the water line.
With or without a pump?
Pond skimmers need a pump to bring the water into their filtration system and then to return the clean water to the pond. A water pump does this task. Some pond skimmers come with a built-in pump and others need to be placed in line with your existing water pump.
Whichever option you choose, pay close attention to the flow rate of the pump that the manufacturer recommends. If the flow rate of your pump is not fast enough (it’s the L/hr number associated with the pump), the skimmer won’t work efficiently.
The skimmer’s collection basket
The size of the collection basket determines how large a piece of debris the skimmer collects. Smaller baskets may not handle large fallen autumn leaves very well. Plus the capacity of the basket (along with how much debris falls on your pond) is tied to how often you need to empty out the collected debris. If your pond is quite full of organic material and the collection basket is small, this may be a daily task.
Note that quite a few online reviewers of pond skimmers report that the skimmer starts to fully float when the collection basket is full. This makes the pump run in a dry environment and is not good for the unit. Plus it also makes quite a loud noise.
Weir doors and fish
The weir door is a door that floats up and down within a given range according to the water level. It lets the water into the skimmer system. It’s essential to have an opening and closing door if you have fish. You don’t want any fish (or other wildlife) to be drawn into the skimmer and be injured.
Many pond skimmers advertise a function that injects extra oxygen into your pond water. This increases the health of the ecological system of the pond. It also keeps water moving in the winter to help avoid ice build-up.
Where should a pond skimmer be placed?
The best place for a pond skimmer is opposite where the water enters the pond or opposite the waterfall if you have one. Check that the water flows naturally to the skimmer, bringing the debris with it. It’s up to you whether you leave the skimmer free floating or anchor it to one place only.
Do pond skimmers need a pump?
Yes, pond skimmers need a pump to draw the water into them and to push it away after it’s cleaned. Self-contained skimmers come with the pump already built into them. Others require a separate pump.
You may be able to fit the pond skimmer in line with your existing water pump by splitting off a line from the pump to the skimmer. Pay attention to the rate of flow (in L/h) of the pump that’s required as stated by the skimmer manufacturer.
Is a pond skimmer a filter?
A pond skimmer is a filter that removes debris mechanically from the surface of the water. (The Oase SwimSkim 50 is the only model in this review to stir up the water and bring the sunken debris up to the surface.) The pond water is filtered through a mesh/screen or some kind of foam to remove the bits and pieces that are collected in the basket.
How do floating pond skimmers work?
Floating pond skimmers need to float with about 3cm of water above the weir door. The weir door is where the water enters the skimmer. This door rises to the level of the water. The flow rate of water through the skimmer is determined by the flow rate (L/hr) of the pump that’s being used (or perhaps is included in the unit).
Do regular pond skimmers remove protein from a pond?
Pond skimmers remove solid debris from the surface of the pond water. If protein is in the form of a solid, then it will be collected. If you’re concerned with the level of protein in your pond water, look at specialist skimmers that are designed for protein removal.
Why does my pond skimmer not have a plug?
UK regulations prohibit the sale of garden power appliances and tools with a plug. This gives you the option of hard-wiring the unit directly into your outside electrical box. If you do attach a plug, I recommend using an RCD adapter for extra protection.
A pond skimmer helps reduce the organic material floating on your garden pond. Doing so creates a healthy environment for your water plants, fish and other aquatic wildlife you may have. The pond skimmers in this review are suitable for a variety of pond sizes and pump flow rates. You can find at least one that suits your pond’s needs.
The Best Pick is the Oase Swim Skim Skimmer 25. This is an all-in-one pond skimmer that comes with its own pump.
The Tetra Pond In-Pond Skimmer is the Runner-up. The pre-filter is a welcome feature to stop the pump (not included) from becoming clogged.
I’ve reviewed other tools and appliances that assist in keeping your pond sparkling, clean and healthy. Check out the 5 Best Pond Aerators – Oxygenate the Water Easily; 5 Best Pond Pumps – Choosing The Right Model and Flow Rate; 3 Best All In One Pond Pump and Filter Units – My Top Pick For Small Ponds; and 7 Best Oxygenating Pond Plants For Water Health and Clarity.
Last update on 2023-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API