DIY: Pond Skimmers

Updated November 21, 2016

A skimmer is a necessary part of a pond's filtration system. Skimmers remove animal or plant debris before it decomposes. Skimmers also remove large particles before they have a chance to clog or damage the pond's pump. Pond skimmers have a simple design and can be easily made.

Container Options

Any hard plastic container or bucket can be used as a skimmer container, as long as it is large enough to fit the pond pump and a second small bucket. Old waste paper baskets work well.


A submersible pump can be purchased at hardware stores or home and garden stores. The pump, which is placed inside the plastic container, must be powerful enough to draw water and debris into the skimmer. The size of the pump is determined by the size of the pond. A 500-gal. per hour pump is typically sufficient.

Filter Material

A skimmer removes debris by passing water over a filter medium. The filter medium can be mesh or a plastic strainer. The filter must be able to hold debris without letting any fall into the pump, but not so thick that it obstructs water flow.

Inlet and Outlet

The water inlet and outlet will be cut into the plastic container. The inlet, where the unfiltered pond water will enter, can be a large square cut in the front of the skimmer container. The outlet should be cut near the pump's outlet so that the filtered water can be directed back into the pond. If desired, redirect the pump's outlet to flow over waterfalls or into fountains.


The top of the container should be left open so that the contents of the skimmer can be easily accessed for cleaning, adjustments or repair. Place the pump in the container with the pump outlet in line with the container's outlet hole. Put the filter mesh on top of the pump. The best way to do this is to use a removable plastic strainer and fill it with filter mesh. Make sure no debris can get past the mesh and into the pump.


The skimmer can be hidden under a floating deck or underground. Keep in mind when installing the skimmer that it must be just under the surface of the water to work. The skimmer must be cleaned often to prevent water flow obstruction.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author