How often should you clean your pond filter? (And how!)

cleaning pond filters

How often should you clean your filter? And how exactly should you clean it?

This depends on your pond and your type of filter!
waterfall filter

Filterfalls (Biofalls): Only clean once a year during a spring or fall cleaning. Rinse the pads and bioballs (or lava rock) and flush out any debris from the bottom. You won't get your filter pads back to their pristine new condition, and that's okay. The goal is to rinse the majority of the muck out of the pads and bioballs.

During the season, your filterfalls will get filled up with a lot of muck-- and that's good. All that muck is the beneficial bacteria colonies you're working so hard to produce. So leave that filterfalls alone!

pond skimmer filter

Skimmers: The net and brushes/mat should be cleaned as often as necessary. For some people, once every week or two is fine. If you live near a lot of trees, you may need to check your skimmer every day or two. Take the net out, dump its contents into your yard / compost pile / trash can and then rinse the net. Some algae will still cling to the net, and that's okay. The brushes or skimmer mat should also be rinsed with a hose as often as they fill up with junk.

Every month or so, check to see if there's a build-up of muck on the bottom of the skimmer. You don't want your pump sitting in this, so scoop out the muck on the bottom as often as you need to. During your spring or fall cleaning is a great time to drain and rinse out the skimmer.

external pressure filter pond

External Pressure Filters: The model we sell at Cool Ponds has a convenient indicator light when it's full of debris and needs to be backflushed. Easy! Just hook up your backflush pipe and flip the switch in the center. The water running out will be green or brown at first. Run the backflush until the water runs clear, then flip the switch in the center and disconnect your backflush pipe. This model also comes with a built-in UV light. Change this bulb yearly for maximum benefits. The small bioballs inside never need cleaned-- the backflush system does this for you!

Do your filters need to be replaced?

Example Filter Cleaning

This is a filterfalls mat that we cleaned during a spring cleaning.

dirty pond filter mat
Yuck! This filterfalls mat is full of muck.
This mat started out white when it was new! Yuck! All this muck is debris from your pond as well as some really great beneficial bacteria colonies. We need to clean this once per year, so even if it looks like this during the year, leave it alone. Only clean once a year!

dirty pond filter mat
Halfway through rinsing.
With just a garden hose (a high pressure nozzle works fine) we've sprayed half the mat to demonstrate clean vs. dirty.

clean pond filter mat
Yes, this mat is clean!
Ah, much better! The majority of the muck has been rinsed out. You don't want to be too thorough rinsing your mats because you want to keep some bacteria so you don't have to start your colonies from scratch. This mat is about as clean as we need it to be.

This mat was still firm to the touch and didn't fall apart, so no need to replace it this year!

Is your filter sufficient?

You may need to rethink your filtration system if any of the following sounds familiar:

  • You have a layer of muck that accumulates on the bottom of your pond.
  • Your pond water is often murky or green.
  • Cleaning your filter is anxiety-inducing for you. (It shouldn't be-- there are so many easier systems!)
  • Your fish are often sick or stressed.
If any of this sounds like your situation, take some measurements of your pond and come visit us at our support center. We will help you find a better filter solution.


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