The Ultimate Pond Filter System

In our last article we began our discussion on pond filtration by discussing UV light as a way to deal with some types of pond algae problems. It was also noted that ultraviolet light, as useful as it is, is not a cure-all for algae.

With that in mind, this is probably a good time to talk about another filtration method, that can be used alone, or in combination with UV. You might recall as well, that even though they are often called filters, UV is really nothing of the sort. A true filter, to be accurate, actually filters or strains particulates out of the water and discharges cleaner, clearer water back into the pond.

There are a number of different brands and models of pond filters that contain various forms of media, or filtering material in them. Some may also have a chamber or area where beneficial bacteria can colonize and build up for release into the pond. In others, UV lights might be installed for an “all-in-one” filter system. Some filters are “do it yourself” jobs, while others use sand and nature to do the work.

Like every aspect of pond related equipment, the best advice in choosing a filter, is to get one that’s more than adequate for the task and demands at hand. This means that if you have a 2500 gallon pond, it would be best to not try and skimp or get by with a filter designed for anything less. When you add fish into the equation, or other biologically active influences, you certainly need to take these into account as well.

It’s Important To Choose The Right Size Of Filter For Your Pond

Ideally in our example, you’d to choose a filter that’s rated at, or above the gallon size of the pond, and if the manufacturer includes a rating for fish stock, which be translated in total pounds or inches of fish, this would be good advice to follow. This is where a good degree of planning for the future growth of fish, and the development of the pond comes into play. It’s often not enough to just start out at a baseline level of filter capacity, simply because some elements of the pond are always developing and may need intervention or management later on. It’s easy enough if the fish population needs to be managed from time to time, by passing along overstock to other pond owners. It’s not as easy or inexpensive if you come to find that you have a poorly equipped filter system for a particular pond size.

As a general rule of thumb, if you have fish, you’ll very likely need and want a good pond filter system. Fish simply create so much waste in a smaller pond, that there will be a need to filter out this waste material, assist in the neutralization of ammonia, and provide a mechanism for sustained beneficial bacteria production. All of these things not only help keep the pond cleaner, but also more healthy as well.

Biological Bead Filters

Of all the filters on the market today, the very best of the bunch would have to be the high end, biological bead filters. These are incredibly good at filtering out waste material from the water. They are particularly useful for Koi and fish ponds in general since they can handle high loads of ammonia and nitrites, and they do a very good job of converting these potentially toxic substances into safer nitrates.

Bead filters also produce a large amount of beneficial bacteria which is one of the best tools for keeping a pond’s ecosystem in balance.

Filters like this contain some form of media. Many use biological beads, which is where the name of the filter comes from. Other models, like the Ultima II Filter from Aqua Ultraviolet, don’t use beads, but house a patented multi-chambered tube material, cut into short pieces, which are reported to retain a higher degree of bacteria, when cleaning out the filter itself.

It’s in the cleaning that the bead filters tend to really shine. Most units have what’s called a back washing feature, that means you usually never have to open the filter and clean out the insides. Routine cleaning can be done by a very simple procedure that requires no special equipment or dirty, stinky hands at the end of the process.

It should be noted that bead filters are considered the Cadillac of filtration. They are the most expensive models on the market but for that cost, they provide years of service and easy maintenance. If a bead filter may not fit into your budget, there are other less expensive options that we’ll talk about in an up coming article, including making your very own pond filter in a DIY project.

Do you have any advice or experiences with pond filters that you’d like to share? Please add your comments below!

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5 Responses to The Ultimate Pond Filter System

  1. Kathleen February 25, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    I have a relatively small pond I dug myself. It is about 5′ x 6′, roughly 18″ to 20″ deep at the deepest point. I started with 7 .29 goldfish from Walmart. I now have 15 that range from 3″ to over 6″. I have used barley straw that comes in squares, 3 to a pkg and it seems to work well. My problem is my fountain can only run a very short amount of time before the little filter gets clogged up with green slimey “gook” (I am not sure the type of algae) What else should I do so my fountain will run? When I first got it it would go several days, now only about 1 hour. I have a preformed waterfall I want to add,should I use something there? Sorry to be so long, but I figured the more info I give, the more it would help to answer my problem. the water is relatively clear, I can see the fish very well, but cannot see to the bottom.

  2. carlmaryanne February 25, 2009 at 4:00 pm #

    I use a above ground pool filter in my pond.
    I just use it during the day and then use a regular filter at night. The fish are very lively and the water is clean. I check for amonia on a reg. bases. I take the filter out
    and wash it off every day. I have alge eaters
    plus koi and gold fish. I got the pool filter
    intex, it’s called Krystal Clear Model 637R filter pump. Very satisfied with the condition of my pond.
    C. Kellum

  3. Mark February 25, 2009 at 8:00 pm #

    Hi Kathleen,
    Barley can certainly help with algae in some cases. Since you didn’t mention it, I’m wondering if you used beneficial bacteria when you started the pond up or at any point along the way to deal with the algae issue.

    If not, it’s worth investigating.

    If the barley is helping some, but not completely you can combine the two and see how that goes. Or try one, then the other and see if you get better results with one thing in particular.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Kathleen March 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for the info. I did not use anything in my pond-I was trying to let it balance itself without adding anything. What is beneficial bacteria, it sounds natural. I do not want to use any chemicals, what do you suggest I use-I have had the pond about 2 years now.

    I really enjoy the emails I receive from you, they are quite helpful.

    Kathy

  5. Mark March 2, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    Hi Kathy,
    Thanks for the kind words.

    Beneficial bacteria…there are many brands available. What we use and carry can be found through the link below.

    http://pondalgaesolutions.com/smallpondalgaecontrol.html

    Other products might have the terms “microbe”,”zyme”,or “bio” in the title or name.

    All of them work in a similar fashion to lower nutrient loads naturally and cut algae off from it’s support.

    This type of product is naturally based and has a very high safety threshold, particularly where fish are concerned.

    They are slower in terms of how algae might go away compared to chemicals but this, I think, is a great benefit because it increases their safety.

    Hope this helps.

    Mark

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