Does My Koi Pond Need A Skimmer?

When it comes to the water clarity of your koi pond, everybody prefers crystal clear water. Unfortunately, leaves, twigs, and other fallen debris almost always end up in the water. Filtering out this debris is very important, and every koi pond needs an excellent filtration system, but the question is, does your koi pond need a skimmer?

Koi ponds do not need skimmers. There are a few instances when skimmers can be beneficial. These include koi ponds that are difficult to manually clean, ponds situated in areas with excessive leaf fall or other floating debris, and ponds with oily surfaces from dissolved organic compounds.

Koi pond owners have been manually cleaning their ponds for decades or suffering from unclear and murky pond waters. Skimmers might be unnecessary for koi ponds, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be beneficial.

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Are Skimmers A Necessity For Koi Ponds?

Floating skimmer in Koi pond

Many koi ponds do not require the installation of a skimmer. These ponds include ones small enough to filter with a woven net manually. Using handheld nets works similarly to a skimmer. In these instances, you would drag the net along the surface of your pond, collecting any fallen debris, such as leaves, twigs, or other plant or organic matter.

If you have located your koi pond in an area that does not receive excessive amounts of fallen debris in the water, installing a skimmer is unnecessary, especially if you have a pre-filter installed. Pre-filters remove leaves and other underwater debris from the water before it goes through your mechanical filter.

Suppose your koi pond is easily cleanable and free from large quantities of floating debris. If you do not suffer from frequent oily films on the surface of your koi pond water, or you find that your installed filtration system effectively deals with this issue. The added extra skimmer is unnecessary.

If you find it challenging to combat the floating debris in your koi pond, you might consider installing a skimmer for your own and your koi ponds benefit.

Formal koi pond

When Would A Skimmer Be Beneficial To A Koi Pond?

Installing a skimmer in your koi pond is always an added benefit. It helps to keep the surface of your pond free of floating debris and helps combat and remove the oil film that can sometimes form on the surface of your water. All of this works towards maintaining a healthy pond ecosystem for your koi fish and gives you better water quality and clarity.

If you notice that your koi pond remains murky even though you have a filtration system installed, you should consider getting a skimmer. Yet, there are instances where it is more of a necessity than a benefit. These instances include:

  • Koi ponds that are too large to clean with a pool net or pond net manually
  • If you have placed your koi pond in an area that receives heavy leaf fall, such as under a tree that likes to drop its leaves,
  • If you constantly have to clean out your pump and mechanical filter

Lastly, if you notice that your koi pond has an oily film layer on the top of the water, you might want to have a skimmer installed. This oil film develops from dissolved organic compounds, naturally found in any pond. This oily film is rather unsightly and can build up on the water’s surface. Skimmers help remove this film by constantly skimming off the water’s surface.

What Type Of Skimmer Should I Install In My Koi Pond?

There are three main types of skimmers that you could install in your koi pond. Each of these types has its advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right skimmer will depend on the kind of koi pond you have and whether you are installing it after you have completed the pond construction or during the building of your pond.

Another thing to remember when choosing a skimmer for your koi pond is that you will need to ensure that the rate that your water pump pumps out water should not exceed the flow rate that your skimmer can handle. Each skimmer will specify its flow rates. Choose the correct one for your unique situation.

Fixed Koi Pond Skimmers

These are the most popular skimmers, it is preferred if you install them during the construction of your koi pond, but you can retrofit them afterward if needed. As their name suggests, you fix these skimmers to the wall of your pond. You should install these skimmers opposite a waterfall, fountain, or the area where water gets pumped back into your pond for best results.

  • Advantages
    • They blend into the pond landscape.
    • They are typically quite durable. Fitted with large baskets, which reduces the frequency with which you have to check the skimmer
    • Maintenance is easy because they are easily accessible
  • Disadvantages
    • They are not movable
    • You will need to monitor the water levels, ensuring that they do not drop below the skimmer, as this can have undesirable effects on your skimmer and water pump.

Skimmers That Sit Inside Your Pond

You can connect this skimmer to a secondary pump or your main pump bringing the water in to be filtered.

  • Advantages
    • You can easily add this kind of skimmer to an established pond
    • Great for preformed ponds or ponds that you can’t cut a hole out for the skimmer to be attached to the wall
    • You can reposition this skimmer whenever you wish or even remove it if you want to
  • Disadvantages
    • Access to this skimmer is problematic because it sits inside the pond
    • The debris collection area is relatively small, so it will require frequent checking to ensure it is not getting too full or clogged
    • It is harder for this type of skimmer to blend into the landscape

Skimmers That Float On The Surface Of The Pond

These skimmers float around the surface of your pond, collecting leaves and other debris. The brand you buy will depend on whether it has a pump already attached or whether you will need to supply a pump.

  • Advantages
    • You can add this kind of skimmer to any pond.
    • You don’t need to cut a hole in the wall to install this skimmer
    • Your koi ponds water levels can fluctuate without affecting the skimmer
  • Disadvantages
    • Typically have small collecting space and will therefore require frequent emptying.
    • This skimmer is not aesthetically pleasing to the eye
    • Winds can cause these skimmers to float into a corner, reducing their efficiency

Can Skimmers Hurt My Koi Fish?

Pond skimmers work by utilizing a pump that draws the water inside the skimmer through a flapping door called its ‘weir.’ This weir creates surface tension during its flapping. This tension keeps the water flowing into the skimmer, drawing all the surface debris with it.

Koi fish owners do not need to be worried that their fish might get sucked into the skimmer as the area close to the weir is just below the water surface, preventing fish from swimming inside. The water current is also not strong enough to suck koi fish inside.


You do not need to have a skimmer in your koi pond. These objects are unnecessary, especially if your pond is small enough to clean the larger debris manually. But there are situations where installing a skimmer would benefit yourself and your koi pond.

These situations include ponds that are too large to manually clean, those that suffer from increased amounts of floating debris, those that often suffer from clogged pumps, and those that suffer from oily surfaces.


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