When shopping for the best pond filter, the most important factors to consider are your pond size, the amount of fish in the pond, and the filter type. Below, I have handpicked my favorite products based on these features. Read on to learn more about why they might be essential for you.
It’s no fun hanging out around a pond that is packed with stinky algae and rotting organic debris, making it look dirty and murky. When not properly cared for, these toxins can not only look unsightly, but also harm plants or fish in your pond.
Fortunately, some smart folks have come up with filters that can help you clean your pond water easily, giving you a more beautiful landscaping feature. In this article, I will discuss the best pond filters and the pros, cons, and features of my recommended models.
Before selecting the best pond filter for your pond, you might be wondering if you even need one…
A Quick Comparison of the Best Pond Filter
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Does a Pond Need a Filter?
Before I discuss the best pond filters, I would like to talk about the importance of having a mechanical and biological filtration system.
In a natural pond, the water, soil, plants, and fish reside in harmony. It rarely requires any maintenance to keep it clean.
However, the pond in your backyard can never reach a natural state where everything lives in harmony. That is because waste and leftover food can sink to the bottom of the pond and does not have any place to go. Then, they are converted into ammonium, and eventually, nitrates.
The algae in the water absorb these nitrates and turn them into nitrogen. This process is called the nitrogen cycle, and it is essential to keep plant and bacteria growth healthy. However, too much ammonia and nitrates can harm your fish.
Fortunately, a pond filter kit with a pump can control the growth of toxins in the water, ultimately keeping it clean and healthy.
So let us go back to the question—does your pond need a filter system?
Yes, you need to invest in a pond water filter, regardless of whether it is a mechanical or biological filtration system if you intend to take care of fish and other plants in the pond. It can help you keep up with the biological load fish produce.
But if you do not plan to stock fish in the pond, you may consider not having a waterfall filter system.
Top 7 Best Pond Filters for Your Water Garden
Below are the best pond filters, in my opinion. Each filtration fountain kit can effectively filter the bacteria growth in the water to help keep your pond clean and healthy.
1. TotalPond Universal Pond Filter Pump – Editor’s Pick
The first product on this list of the best filtration systems is the TotalPond Universal Pond Filter Pump.
It features a durable filter box that protects the pump from dirt and debris. It is compatible with any TotalPond pond pump, which is sold separately. But it also works with almost every small pond pump, ideal for your backyard or garden fountains.
Additionally, this filtration system already includes two filters and multiple bio activators or balls. The first filter features a coarse surface that effectively traps large debris. Meanwhile, the second filter uses a finer texture to collect small debris. Finally, the bio-balls promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the water.
All of these waterfall filter materials can clean your water, giving you the clarity you need for aesthetic purposes. In fact, most users noticed better water quality in just two to three days.
However, if you feel like the bio filter is not effectively cleaning your pond or fountain, it is perhaps time to change the filter pads. Fortunately, TotalPond also offers these pads to ensure optimum cleaning performance.
On top of all these benefits, the box itself is compact and lightweight. It can fit small ponds up to 500 gallons without taking up too much space.
Most importantly, pond filter reviews for this particular model were positive. If there is any critique, it would be the lack of hook or latch in the lid, which results in occasional popping off. A few users also had to weigh it down using rocks to keep the fountain kit submerged in the pond.
But as you can see, the pros far outweigh the cons.
For this reason, I deemed the TotalPond Universal Pond Filter Pump as the best pond filtration system on the market today. It can effectively keep your pond clean and healthier.
- This durable filter box keeps the debris out of the pump
- The package is inclusive of two filter media and multiple bio-activators allow you to effectively clean inside the pond
- A compact and lightweight filter can fit small ponds up to 500 gallons
- It is universally compatible with pond pumps from other brands
- The pond filter pump floats in the water, so you may need to weigh it down using rocks
- The lid often pops off because there is no hook or latch to keep it in place
2. Tetra Pond Debris Handling Pond Filter Pump – Runner-Up
If you have a medium-sized pond in your backyard, consider getting a bigger pond filter like the Tetra Pond Debris Handling Pond Filter Pump.
It can fit and clean ponds with up to 4,000 gallons of water, owing to the robust motor. This motor has an anti-corrosive ceramic shaft that can last you a long time. At the same time, it does not require any complicated and required maintenance.
Additionally, this filter and pump can handle continuous operation 24 hours a day. There is also an impeller that can collect debris up to 1/4 inch in diameter.
But unlike other pond filtration systems, the Tetra Pond filter model is more energy efficient, owing to the unidirectional impeller and motor. So if you want to ensure clean water while keeping energy costs low, this pond cleaning system is worth considering.
Furthermore, it includes a large pre-filter cage or basket that can prevent leaves, sticks, and other debris from entering the unit. Plus, it protects your pet fish from the impeller.
Finally, this pond pump and filter kit is low-maintenance and easy to clean. Simply unplug the unit and remove it from the pond. Then, clean the debris around the outside of the cage using a brush or a cloth.
Despite these easy clean benefits, there are still a few cons to consider before buying this filtration fountain kit. First, it only works in a fresh-water pond. Avoid using it in saltwater or highly chlorinated water. Second, a few users were disappointed with the plastic build because it feels cheap.
Nevertheless, the Tetra Pond Debris Handling Pond Filter Pump is still an excellent mechanical filtration system. It is one of the best pond filters on the market today. Thus, I recommend it to those with medium-sized ponds and do not have time to clean the filter.
- The pump and filter can continuously operate up to 24 hours in ponds with up to 4,000 gallons of water
- The anti-corrosive ceramic shaft can last you a long time without requiring constant maintenance
- A pre-filter cage prevent leaves, sticks, and other large debris found inside the pond from damaging the motor
- Easy to clean pond filter system
- Some users said the filter pump can feel cheap due to the plastic construction
- The filter kit with pump only works in fresh water and not in saltwater or highly chlorinated water
Did you like the first product but need something that can handle a large pond? If so, consider getting the Aquanique Universal Pond Filter Pump.
It features a similar plastic box design that can protect your pump from debris in the water. But this time, it can hold up to 500 gallons of water, ideal for larger ponds or fountains.
Additionally, this filter box already includes a single-course filter pad, which traps large debris in your pond water. There is also a finer filter pad that can catch smaller debris particles. Plus, the package comes with multiple bio-active balls to help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.
What’s more, this pump filter box does not require regular maintenance. So if you do not have time to clean the filter or are just too lazy to do so, it might be the right product for your needs.
Finally, this filter cleaning system already comes assembled. There is no need to fuss over mechanical parts as Aquanique promises to deliver a ready-to-use item.
But before finalizing your purchasing decision, it is best to consider the downsides of this product. First, some users said that the bio-balls do not properly filter algae, which can prevent the water from being 100% clear. Second, a few customers said that the filter was too small for their large ponds.
Despite these cons, the Aquanique Universal Pond Filter Pump is robust enough to clean your pond water effectively. I highly recommend this mechanical filtration system to those who have a tight budget.
- A robust plastic box effectively protects your pump from debris
- Two filter pads and multiple bio-balls act as a biological and mechanical filtration
- Low maintenance and easy-to-use pond filter pump
- It does not require any assembly
- The bio-balls do not filter algae and fish waste properly
- Some users said that the box filter was too small for their needs
Another great pond filter for your money is the Pondmaster PMK1250.
It features an energy-saving pump that only uses 24 watts of electricity. At the same time, this magnetic drive pump can circulate up to 250 gallons of water per hour (gph).
Additionally, this pond filter can fit large ponds with up to 500 gallons of water. It is safe to use for light fish population. But if you wish to take care of koi or other heavier fish species, it requires you to add an external biological filter system for optimal cleaning performance.
Moreover, the Pondmaster PMK1250 acts as both a mechanical and biological filtration system. Thus, this pond filter system can keep the water clean, while ensuring that your fish or plants are healthy.
There are even adjustable bell-style fountain heads included in the package. Hence, it gives you an attractive fountain display in the pond.
Lastly, the pond filter pump has a 10-feet power cord. So if you want to connect the filter to the pump and vice versa, the length is probably more than enough for your needs.
However, before buying this product, it is essential to learn about its downsides. First, the tube has a large opening, which makes the filter hard to stay connected to the pump. Second, a few users had difficulting keeping the filter box submerged. It requires a rock or two to weigh it down.
But considering its price point and overall benefits, I think the Pondmaster PMK1250 is one of the best pond filters on the market today.
- An energy-saving pump only uses 24 watts of electricity
- Both biological and mechanical filtration systems can effectively clean the water
- It includes adjustable fountain heads for an attractive display in your pond
- It is ideal for ponds up to 500 gallons with light fish population
- The tube has a large opening, which may require a hose clamp to keep it connected to the pump
- It is difficult to keep the filter box part submerged
If you want a pond pump filter that works on land or is fully submerged in water, consider investing in the Alpine PAL5200.
This professional pond filter pump can keep the water flowing while ensuring that it is clean and crystal-clear.
Additionally, it features an energy-efficient design that can guarantee lower energy costs. At the same time, it is environmentally-friendly and efficient, owing to the oil-free and robust build.
Plus, the ceramic impeller shafts can effectively resist extensive damage, suitable for long-term use.
Furthermore, this pond filter pump comes with a large pre-filter. It traps both small and large debris particles, giving you clean water.
Finally, it is easy to install either in vertical or horizontal orientation. The long 33 feet cord makes it convenient to place the pump anywhere near or away from your filtration system. It is ultimately ideal for ponds, fountains, and waterfall fixtures in your home.
There are a few cons to consider before buying this pond filtration system, though. First, some users said they only received a one-year warranty instead of the advertised three-year coverage on the site. Second, a few pond filter reviews stated that the plastic construction felt cheap.
However, I still think the Alpine PAL5200 Cyclone is one of the best pond filter pumps on the market today. I recommend it to those who want to use their filter box on land instead of placing it on the bottom of the pond.
- This pond filter pump can work on both land or fully submerged in water
- Oil-free design with ceramic impeller shafts can last you a long time
- An energy-saving and low-maintenance design can keep your energy costs low
- Easy vertical or horizontal installment for convenient placement in your pond
- The warranty is limited to 1 year only instead of the advertise three-year limited warranty advertised
- Some users said the plastic construction can feel cheap and flimsy
Do you want to ensure a quiet motor that would not disturb your fish? Then, the Freasea Submersible Pond Filter Pump might meet your needs.
It uses a high-quality motor that does not produce much noise when running. Thus, it provides a near-silent and comfortable environment for your fish.
Additionally, it has a low power consumption, so you can expect lower energy costs when using this pond filter.
Another feature I like about this submersible pond filter is the removable pump head with a filter sponge. The former makes it easy to clean the unit. Meanwhile, the latter effectively traps large debris particles to ensure a clean water environment.
Furthermore, this filter pump features a versatile design. It can fit small ponds, aquariums, water fountains, and even water gardens.
There is even an adjustment valve that allows you to control the water flow, with a maximum rate of up to 400 gallons per hour. Plus, the different size nozzles can help you achieve various water flow effects.
Finally, Freasea offers a one-year warranty and professional after-sales service. So if you ever receive a defective item or damaged it within twelve months, the manufacturer will replace it.
There are several cons to this product, though. First, some users said that none of the included connectors or hose adapters fit the universal tubing. Second, a few users found that the cord is relatively short, thus limiting them.
Nevertheless, the Freasea Submersible Pond Filter Pump is still among the best pond filters, in my opinion. I highly suggest this unit for those who want an ultra-quiet design.
- Ultra-quiet and durable motor
- This versatile submersible water pump can fit small ponds, aquariums, and water gardens
- Removable fountain pump head with filter sponge can effectively trap debris in the water
- Adjustable flow rate and multiple nozzles help you achieve different water flow effects
- The included connectors and hose adapters do not properly fit the standard tubing
- Some users said that the cord is relatively short for their needs
The last product on our list of the best pond filters is the Pondmaster PMK190.
It comes with a filter and fountainhead. The former offers both mechanical and biological filtration to keep larger debris from clogging the pump. Meanwhile, the latter provides a bell-shaped spray, ideal for ponds, fountains, and water gardens.
This pump and filter kit also uses a mere 15 watts of household current. Thus, it can help you save on energy costs both in the short term and long term.
What’s more, this best pond filter can move up to 190 gallons of water per hour. It is not the most impressive flow rate, but it can produce a gentle murmur and ripple of water, ideal for smaller ponds such as a koi pond.
Lastly, it already includes a 10-feet cord in the package, making it ready to use for your intended application.
However, there are still a few cons to consider before buying this product. First, some users said the pump clogs quickly, which forces you to clean the filter regularly. Second, a few customers mentioned that the unit feels cheap, causing the lid to pop off.
Overall, though, the Pondmaster PMK190 is one of the best pond filter pumps for your water garden fixture.
- Mechanical and biological filtration keeps larger debris particles from clogging the pump
- Bell-shaped fountain head spray produces a gentle ripple of water
- Energy-saving filter pump only uses 15 watts of household current per hour
- 190 gallons of water per hour is ideal for smaller ponds
- It clogs quickly, so you have to clean the filter every week or so
- A relatively cheap build causes the lid to pop off
How to Choose the Best Pond Filtration System
If you are still clueless about the best pond filtration system for your needs, fret not! Below, I will talk about the factors you need to consider before finalizing your purchasing decision.
The first thing to consider before buying the best pond filter is the size of your pond.
Small ponds usually have less than or equal to 1,000 gallons of water. Meanwhile, medium ponds contain between 2,000 to 5,000 gallons. Any amount of water bigger than that is automatically considered a large pond.
But if you do not know the exact amount of water in your pond, you can use the following formula to calculate its proper volume.
Length x Width x Depth = Volume
Simply multiply the length of your pond with its width and depth. Then, you have your volume.
It is essential to buy a filter that can handle the volume of your pond. But if you have pet fish, you need to invest in a filter that is compatible with double that volume. Quadruple that number when you add koi fish because they produce more waste and have weaker immune systems. Therefore, it is a must to invest in a stronger filter to clean the water effectively.
Amount of Fish
Besides the pond size, you also have to think about the amount or number of fish you want to take care of. It will affect how effectively your filter operates.
If you have a lot of fish, you will need a strong filter pump, regardless of how small your pond is.
Fortunately, some filters already state the estimated amount of fish they can handle at a time. For instance, a few models said that they could take up to 20 fish that are four to five feet long.
Now, it is up to you to calculate the size and the amount of fish you intend to keep before buying the best pond filter for your needs.
Type of Filter
You may also want to consider the type of filter to buy, depending on your personal preference and electrical solution.
Do you want your filter to remain underwater and hidden? Then, a submersible filter might be perfect for your needs. As its name suggests, this type of filter stays submerged in the water, which means it is hidden and generally quieter than its counterparts below.
But if you want your filter on land, you can choose to buy an inline filter.
Regardless of which filter type you choose, it is essential to have a source of electricity where you can connect. Some models have longer power cords, but others only include a shorter cable.
If you want a little flair built into your filter, it is also recommended to consider other features. These include special materials, light effects, thermometers, and even splitters.
Filter materials can change the clarity of the pond water. For instance, mechanical filters usually contain foam fiber and filter cotton, which last you a long time. Meanwhile, biological filters can help decompose small harmful particles. There is even chemical filtration that traps the tiniest particles, leaving you with crystal clear water.
Additionally, light effects can either be built into some fountain head designs or LED spotlights. Both can illuminate the water and shape its movement.
Meanwhile, a thermometer is handy for ponds with fish. It allows you to regulate the temperature, so you can ensure the safety of your fish. It can be attached separately or as part of an external pond filter casing.
Finally, a splitter can divert the clean water output through a second pipe into the fountain or waterfall.
You also have to think about the installation of your new pond filtration system.
Submersible filters are usually easy to install because they already come in an all-in-one casing. Therefore, all you need to do is place them in the pond and plug them in.
In contrast, external filters do not include a pump, so you need to buy them separately. Thus, you also have to think about this equipment’s placement.
After the installation, you also have to think about the maintenance guidelines of the pond filter. All filters need regular maintenance for optimal performance. But each product differs on how often you need to clean or replace the filter pads, filter foams, and other filter media.
So if you are lazy or do not have the time to clean these types of filtration media, it is best to invest in a low-maintenance product. You may also want to consider an external pond filter with a quick-clean function. All you need to do is press a button, and it will automatically clean itself until it is time to wash it again.
Finally, you may want to consider the warranty coverage of the pond filter. It determines how much confidence the manufacturers put into their products. The longer the warranty period, the more confident they are that their filters will last you for several years.
Most importantly, a warranty allows you to replace or refund the product if it did not meet your standards. You can also ask for a replacement if the filter was damaged during transit or shipping.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best pond or waterfall filter system?
It is difficult to say which one is the best overall pond filter system. It depends on a lot of factors, such as your needs and personal preferences.
But if I have to choose which one is the best on this list, it would be the TotalPond Universal Pond Filter Pump. It already comes with two filters and several bio-balls that can effectively clean the pond water. The former traps both small and large debris, while the latter promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Plus, the durable box filter also includes a pump that is easy to install. Thus, you can instantly achieve clean and crystal-clear water.
Overall, it is an excellent pond filter system for your needs. I highly recommend this filter kit with pump to both new and old pet fish owners.
How to set up a pond filter and pump?
Installing a pond filter and a pump is a relatively simple process. Most filters include their own manuals on how to set up, so it is best to follow those instructions.
But in general, you should fill your pond with enough water to cover the bottom completely. Once done, you can put the filter on the bank by your pond or underwater, depending on the type you have.
Then, continue to fill up the pond with water until it is full. You should connect the hose to the pump and begin to run the water.
If you installed it properly, you could expect the water to move through the filter freely. But if you hear any clogging or suction sounds, remove the hose and reinstall them again.
Finally, you should let your filter run for a full day and night before adding any fish or plants. Doing so lets the filter achieve optimum speed and power.
How often should you clean a pond filter?
It is essential to clean your pond filter to ensure proper working condition. However, how often you should clean it depends on the filter.
Some models require little to no maintenance because of their design. Meanwhile, others need you to remove the filter pads and cartridges every week or so to ensure cleanliness.
But if you have several pet fish, you will have to clean the filter more often because they produce waste.
That concludes my top picks for the best pond filter on the market! I highly recommend each one as it effectively cleans your water.
But if I only have to choose one, it would be the TotalPond Universal Pond Filter Pump. It features a durable filter box that protects the pump from dirt and debris. There are also two filter pads that can trap both large and small debris. Meanwhile, the bio-balls can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the water. Overall, this pond filter can give you clean and crystal-clear water in just days.