Directions for a DIY Pond Skimmer


DIY pond skimmer


We used a 24” laundry tub. The front of the skimmer will be the side that faces the pond that doesn’t have a lip. The lip is where a faucet is meant to be mounted. We cut it off with a Dremel tool.
Center your opening in the front edge 1.5-2” down and 8-10” wide. You may have to change this opening later depending on the depth of your water and th…

e power of your pump. The object, just like a skimmer in the pool is to pull from the surface of the pond. Depending on the power of your pump and the size of the opening, you may have to adjust the opening. If anything, I’d go wider first. If you go too deep, you won’t be pulling from the surface. If the opening isn’t large enough, the pump will empty the tub before enough water comes in. So again, because we have used certain measurements, doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Our Black Knight Brushes came with a top that had a circle/loop sticking up. The ½” PVC slid perfectly through the circle/loop. I put an elbow on each end of the brush hanger bar and cut a tiny chunk out of the side that sits on top of the tub to hold it in place but if yours hangs over the sides of the tub, it doesn’t matter. I wanted my brushes to just touch the bottom of the tub. The brushes should hang back from the cutout opening maybe 3” to make room for leaves to get sucked in and a place for them to sit without blocking the skimmer opening. I put the media in first against the grate and then put the brushes in and slide them back against the media.
Make the grate to fit inside the width of the tub and depth of the water. It is not necessary to glue the fittings together. Tap them together firmly with a rubber mallet. If for some reason you want to redo something, take your mallet and whack them until they come apart.
The placement of the guides for the grate depends on the physical size of your waterfall pump. Put the grate as close to the pump as possible while still giving room to maneuver the pump if necessary.
Purchase plastic quarter round from Home Depot wood trim dept. Attach one piece of plastic quarter round the full depth of the tub with one flat side against the side of the tub and the other flat side facing where the grate will slide. Lay the grate against it and mark where the second piece should be, remembering to leave a little clearance so the grate will slide easily in the guide. Predrill the holes for the screws so the quarter round doesn’t split out when the screws are inserted.
We bought a low water float from Drs Foster & Smith in case the intake opening gets blocked or the water level goes down. It is mounted on the third cross bar from the top of the grate.
We cut a 3” hole in the front of the tub near the bottom and put a piece of PVC pipe in there but hubby isn’t convinced it makes any difference. I had to rig up a mesh cover for it to keep fish from getting in there.
The pipe going from the pump can be piped through the side of the tub or over the top. You might want to install a valve either there or where the water enters the waterfall tank to keep the water from gravitying back into the pond when the pump is shut off.
We built a dock looking thingy over the top of the tub with removable boards to cover the tub but still give access to it.
You may want to put a plug in the bottom drain hole.

Drawing for pond skimmerin progress skimmer

Thank you very much Esther Waayenberg for sharing this with the Watergardening group on Facebook. I’m storing this here for use this spring.  I’ve been digging for years for a decent DIY pond skimmer.  This looks like an awesome candidate, actually this is the only likely candidate I’ve ever seen.

I would also like to thank the Wakin Filter Guy in Florida for his incredible plans for a pond bio filter.  I build his version this last spring, and it worked beautifully.  I have never, in 7 yrs, had such clear water, all summer long.  It only cost about $125 to build vs. $4-500 for a similar commercial filter.


I’ve built a new pond filter

Well, I’ve completed the new pond filter from the instructions at  It is fantastic!  While I was building it, and tweaking the instructions, to fit my idea of perfection, my pond’s water was typical spring pea soup.  You couldn’t see the bottom, and could barely make out the fish, just under the surface.  It doesn’t do much good to circulate soup, so I shut off the pump a couple days beforehand.


I know it isn’t much to look at…yet.  I plan on burying it at the top of the waterfall and reconstructing a new waterfall around it, as money allows.  Right now it just dumps into my old waterfall where it leaks the least.  The transformation is incredible in just 1 week.  The water is crystal clear, you can see everything the shop-vac missed, and the fish are much happier with the water quality.2012-03-27_13-11-49_761


Although this isn’t a very good picture of my fish, at least you can see them.  the small bucket in the lower left corner is my first attempt at building a filter out of a small drywall bucket, a soda bottle, a couple of pvc fittings, and some pea gravel.  It worked great with my 900 gph pump in my 150 gallon preformed pond, but is sadly lacking in this pond’s 3000 gallon capacity.  Lol, imagine that!

The weather here has been fantastic.  70’s during the day, 50’s at night.  Perfect!  We had a little rain last week, and I had a bit of a temper tantrum when I found both of my digital cameras were broken by kids.  I was about to have a total meltdown when a coworker upgraded his phone to an iphone and gave me his Droid2.  I couldn’t be happier now, I have a decent camera and it’s in my shirt pocket all the time.  1332871901885As you can see, the Waterlilies are waking up nicely.  This evening there were even a few pads on the surface.  It was too chilly to be hanging out by the pond in shorts, so I opted out of taking a pic.


This picture is the inside of the filter.  The outlet to the pond is in the upper left, the inlet from the pump in in the upper right, and the cleaning drain is in the lower right.  The upper center pipe is the air manifold, I haven’t tested that particular apparatus, as of yet.  I tried to do it, but my air compressor’s motor decided to crap out.  Now I have to borrow one from work to try it out this weekend.  If it’s cool, I’ll shoot a video and post it.  Hopefully, being that friday is payday, I’ll be able to buy some paint to camouflage the pvc pipes, so they aren’t quite so visible.

Wow, what a beautiful day

Well, here it is, the 6th of March in Iowa and still haven’t seen a below zero day.  The 3 inches of snow that fell sunday is GONE!  It got to 70 degrees today, and although the wind was ferocious, it was still nice out. 

I work in building maintenance for a property management company and spent my day patching drywall from the drunken revels of Iowa State University students.  It isn’t glamorous work, but I love it nonetheless.  It also allows me to throw ideas at art majors and get feedback, of sorts.  Some of my ideas are taken as ramblings of a dirty, old man.  Go figure.  Other people take them seriously and, in the case of a few of my outdoor projects, pitch in and help.  I had office people and the football team dig my koi pond, lol.  I was still sore from the efforts, but the hole got a whole lot bigger and deeper than I could have done by myself in an entire weekend. 

The new project is going to be a bottle tree.  Some people make them from concrete reinforcement rod, others from a wood post and dowels drilled into it.  I have access to a welder, I own a table saw, and other necessary tools.  So which will it be?  I have a bevy of photos downloaded, they all look good, and I can’t make up my mind. I suppose I’ll figure it out when I go out and buy the materials.

Anyway, 70 degree weather this early in March is wonderful.  The wind is normal, and if you don’t own a pond, it isn’t so bad.  The bad part about a warm, windy day is, evaporation.  Normally by this time of year, the pond is frozen over still and full.  This year, however, I have had to add about 4-6 inches of water to the pond about every two weeks and today wasn’t any different.  The cold water makes it a lot tougher to get the chlorine out, so I made up a chlorine filter out of a drinking water filter with hose adapters added to the inlet side and then run a short piece of hose into the pond.  It work very well to remove about 95% of the chlorine from the water, reducing the stress on the poor, starving koi that I can’t feed until the water is a lot warmer.  I’ve cheated and thrown in some algae tablets on the bottom and threw in a piece of lettuce so they can, at least eat the daphnia that grow from it.

My first post in my new garden blog

Seeds have been purchased, although, they haven’t been planted yet.  I have about 40 varieties of aquatic, ornamental and tropical annuals to get going.  I have a lot more seeds than I have room to get them started.  I’ll probably sow most of them in the ground as soon as it gets warm enough.

The pond has done amazingly well with the mild winter that we’ve had.  The only problems have been a hyperactive nephew messing with the pump controls and ruining the pressure filter, and the same kid throwing stuff in the pond.  I can’t really blame the tripped GFCI on him…yet.  Luckily I caught it before the pond had been iced over for very long and got the heater going again.

All in all, it’s been an extremely mild winter.  I can’t remember a time in my life that I could go outside without a coat on in January or February.  We’ll see what the onset of spring is going to do.  It looks like Mother Nature is being ornery already, dropping tornadoes all over the country and wreaking havoc.