Last Updated:

What Is The Best Pond Filter: Types Of Skimmers And Biofalls

You Can Learn About The Best Types Of Pond Filters For Your Maryland, DC, Or Northern Virginia Pond

Backyard Ideas 5- side-view of pond and heron

When searching for pond filtration systems there are many different companies, styles and sizes. The main companies we will talk about are Aquascape Pro, EasyPro, Helix, and Atlantic. The styles of filters can be summed up as internal or external. For the purposes of this comparison we will only be talking about skimmers and biological filters that are connected to the pond liner itself, therefore internal. There are many different sizes of filters, and we will talk about how the different companies stack up with range of filtration capacity.

What Is The Best Pond Skimmer?

Let’s answer this question by comparing units from each company that serve the same purpose and compare their strengths and weaknesses. Then we will consider the whole product line of each company to see which products serve a larger range of filtering needs.

AquascapePro Signature Series 8.0 Skimmer EasyPro PSA9000 Axiom Skimmer Helix Pond Skimmer Atlantic Watergardens Big Bahama
Filter Media Filter Pad Net Filter Pad Debris Net
Rigid basket Brushes Rigid basket Brushes
Skimmer Opening W: 8 inches W: 8 inches W: 8 inches W: 6 inches
H: Adjustable H:  8 inches H:  8 inches H:  6 inches
Lid type Faux rock Black plastic None Black Plastic
Maximum Flow Rate (GPH) 10,000 9,000 ** 7,000
** Product information not available online

So let’s talk about this tangible data. The first obvious observation is that both the Aquascape skimmer and the Helix skimmer use filter pads and rigid baskets as filter media. After servicing thousands of ponds, we can assure you that this method of filtration is more effective and easier to use than a net and brushes.

How does the skimmer opening affect a skimmers performance? The two main things that can be contributed to the size of a skimmer opening are skimming capacity and flow rate. The bigger the opening, the better the skim capacity (size and amount of debris that can be skimmed) and flow rate. One thing to note from this comparison is that the Aquascape skimmer has an adjustable height weir assembly that can accommodate and effectively skim 10-12 inches of different water depths.

The different lid types are pretty self-explanatory. The faux rock lids from Aquascape are a good alternative to plastic and typically blend in to rocky outcroppings on a pond. Also, the helix pond skimmer is an open top skimmer that could be covered with a natural rock or any other natural flat object. However, if it is not covered, the Helix shows some of the internal components of the skimmer such as the basket and auto fill valve if one is installed.

Maximum flow rate is only important if you like a lot of water flow over your waterfall. Maybe, you would also like to have multiple waterfalls on your pond and that may require two pumps. The only skimmers that can accommodate two pumps are the Aquascape and the EasyPro skimmers. This is important when directly comparing the Aquascape and the EasyPro because they also have the highest maximum flow rates at 9,000 and 10,000 gallons per hour.

There are other factors that should be considered when comparing these four skimmers. For example, the types of plastic, the ease of installation, and general ergonomics of the skimmers are important things to consider. From experience, square skimmers tend to collapse under the pressure of the soil around them over time. Also, the plumbing for a skimmer should be buried underground but should not be more than 10-12 inches below the ground surface for ease of use. If access to the plumbing were necessary you wouldn’t want to dig out the entire skimmer to get to it.

biofalls-family, different sizes

All of these skimmers offer different sizes/capacities/models. Our company prefers the Aquascape line of products. Overall it is the simplest design, with the widest range of sizes/capacities that will stand the test of time. The Aquascape skimmers in particular are built with the homeowner in mind. We want your backyard pond to be headache free, so make sure you choose the right skimmer!

What Is The Best Pond Skimmer?

Let’s answer this question by comparing units from each company that serve the same purpose and compare their strengths and weaknesses. Then we will consider the whole product line of each company to see which products serve a larger range of filtering needs.

AquascapePro Signature Series 8.0 Skimmer EasyPro PSA9000 Axiom Skimmer Helix Pond Skimmer Atlantic Watergardens Big Bahama
Filter Media Filter Pad Net Filter Pad Debris Net
Rigid basket Brushes Rigid basket Brushes
Skimmer Opening W: 8 inches W: 8 inches W: 8 inches W: 6 inches
H: Adjustable H:  8 inches H:  8 inches H:  6 inches
Lid type Faux rock Black plastic None Black Plastic
Maximum Flow Rate (GPH) 10,000 9,000 ** 7,000
** Product information not available online

So let’s talk about this tangible data. The first obvious observation is that both the Aquascape skimmer and the Helix skimmer use filter pads and rigid baskets as filter media. After servicing thousands of ponds, we can assure you that this method of filtration is more effective and easier to use than a net and brushes.

How does the skimmer opening affect a skimmers performance? The two main things that can be contributed to the size of a skimmer opening are skimming capacity and flow rate. The bigger the opening, the better the skim capacity (size and amount of debris that can be skimmed) and flow rate. One thing to note from this comparison is that the Aquascape skimmer has an adjustable height weir assembly that can accommodate and effectively skim 10-12 inches of different water depths.

The different lid types are pretty self-explanatory. The faux rock lids from Aquascape are a good alternative to plastic and typically blend in to rocky outcroppings on a pond. Also, the helix pond skimmer is an open top skimmer that could be covered with a natural rock or any other natural flat object. However, if it is not covered, the Helix shows some of the internal components of the skimmer such as the basket and auto fill valve if one is installed.

Maximum flow rate is only important if you like a lot of water flow over your waterfall. Maybe, you would also like to have multiple waterfalls on your pond and that may require two pumps. The only skimmers that can accommodate two pumps are the Aquascape and the EasyPro skimmers. This is important when directly comparing the Aquascape and the EasyPro because they also have the highest maximum flow rates at 9,000 and 10,000 gallons per hour.

There are other factors that should be considered when comparing these four skimmers. For example, the types of plastic, the ease of installation, and general ergonomics of the skimmers are important things to consider. From experience, square skimmers tend to collapse under the pressure of the soil around them over time. Also, the plumbing for a skimmer should be buried underground but should not be more than 10-12 inches below the ground surface for ease of use. If access to the plumbing were necessary you wouldn’t want to dig out the entire skimmer to get to it.

biofalls-family, different sizes

All of these skimmers offer different sizes/capacities/models. Our company prefers the Aquascape line of products. Overall it is the simplest design, with the widest range of sizes/capacities that will stand the test of time. The Aquascape skimmers in particular are built with the homeowner in mind. We want your backyard pond to be headache free, so make sure you choose the right skimmer!

Biofall Filters

Just like with the skimmers we will compare units from each company that serve the same purpose and then we will consider the whole product line for range of applications they could handle. Here’s part two of our take on Pond Filters in the industry.

Pond Filter- rock island in pond

AquascapePro Signature Series 6000 Biofalls Savio Waterfall Weir F060 Helix Bio-Mechanical Reactor Atlantic Watergardens BF3800 Filterfalls
Filter Media Included Filter mats Media Pad Moving Bed waterfall filter Filter Mats
Waterfall Opening  28 inches  31 inches  8 inches 38 inches
Rock tray yes no no no
Maximum Flow Rate (GPH) 15,000 10,000 ** 6,000-8,000
Max. Pond Size (gal) 6,000 ** 3,000 8,000

So lets start from the top! The Helix Filter has a patented filtration system that is specific to the unit itself. We have never seen this filtration installed so we cannot speak to its effectiveness. Let’s assume it gets the job done. It is a one of a kind filter that seems more complicated than it needs to be, but we can’t comment much further because we have never seen one in operation.  All we can look at is the fact that the biggest one of these filters is only suited to filter a 3,000-gallon pond. That is half the volume of its direct competition.

Helix Bio-Mechanical Reactor:

Pond Filter- Helix Bio-Mechanical Reactor

The Savio waterfall weir F060 is a filter we run into in the field frequently. Due to its compression method of attaching to the pond or stream liner, we regularly find these filters leaking or installed improperly. This filter sounds good on paper, but from our experience, is not as effective at filtering, and is not a user-friendly experience in the long run.
The two filters that are left to compare are the Aquascape 6000 Biofalls and the Atlantic Big Bahama filter. Their premise is similar. There are heavy-duty filter mats inside each filter with the potential to add bio media, such as Bioballs, to breed good bacteria that will break down organic waste.  Upon first glace there may not be a clear choice between the two because the inner workings of each filter appear to be the same.

Atlantic Watergardens BF3800 Filterfalls:

Pond Filter- Atlantic Watergardens BF3800 Filterfalls

The difference in filtering capacity and maximum flow allowable through the filters is where the Aquascape filter pulls ahead of the competition. It has a maximum allowable flowrate of 15,000 gallons per hour, which is due to the ability to plumb 2, 3-inch lines into the filter. No other filter comes close to the 6000 biofalls in that regard. The Aquascape Biofalls also filters a bigger pond, up to 6000 gallons of water. This capacity is certainly higher than its competition. Due to a lack of information on the Big Bahama filter, we don’t know exactly by how much. 

AquascapePro Signature Series 6000 Biofalls:

AquascapePro Signature Series 6000 Biofalls:

Then we address the aesthetics of the filters when they are installed. How easy or hard is it to hide each one of these filters? You could put a big rock over each of these filters and not ever see the plastic. However, this is not a good option because these filters require semi annual maintenance. If you are like us, you don’t want to be moving around big heavy rocks two or three times a year. This is why it is important to have a rock tray. Essentially a rock tray is just a simple way to hide the plastic on your waterfall, while still allowing you to get to the filter media inside.  In the Aquascape biofalls the rock tray will leave you seeing a small pool of water and a natural stone border that hides all the black plastic. In the case of the Big Bahama filter there is a tray that covers the entire surface of the filter. This makes it easy to stack rock on, but very hard to get to the filter media for routine maintenance.

When looking for a biologic pond filter for your pond, many companies offer seemingly similar filters. After some investigation it is clear that the Aquascape line of products has a wide array of filters that can accept a lot of water flow. Be sure that your pond has a filter suited to your pond needs for the future. As pond owners add fish and plants, a bigger biologic filter is needed. Plan for the future when selecting your backyard pond filters!

To speak to a pond expert directly, or to send us your pictures, click here.