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How do I stop my pond filter from clogging?
Ask Our Pond Experts
Ask Our Pond Experts

How do I stop my pond filter from clogging?

Asked By: Jeannie of Omaha, NE

A: Your pond filter is home to beneficial bacteria that break down toxins in the water, along with globs of slimy gunk and debris that clog your filtration system. How do you clean filter media without evicting those valuable microorganisms? We have a simple solution.

1. Clean Your Skimmer
First, monitor your mechanical skimmer filter and clean it out as often as needed. This part of your filter is not intended to remove tiny particulates, so use lower-density filter media that keep large debris out of your pump. Media that’s too dense will plug more easily and slow the flow.

2. Empty Debris Baskets
Clean out your mechanical skimmer filter's debris baskets and nets when they fill with leaves and other materials. If they're full, the water is forced around the debris dam while carrying larger pieces that could create more plugs elsewhere in your filtration system.

3. Vary Media Densities
Use a variety of filter media densities, like those offered by  Matala, and stack them so that the water flows from lowest to highest densities. Mixing them provides ample surface area for bacteria growth with better water flow and less clogging.

4. Layer Media Wisely
Speaking of media densities, don't go crazy with too many layers. If you have more than two or three layers of filter mats, plus  BioBalls or other media, you may be slowing the flow and leaving lots of places for debris to get stuck. A few layers are all you need.

5. Rinse Filter Media
When your filter media get covered in gunk, you will likely need to rinse them clean to prevent clogs. Gently agitate the media pads in pond water or spray them with a garden hose to loosen and wash away debris. Avoid scrubbing or using cleaning chemicals, which could kill the beneficial bacteria living in your filter.

6. Seed With Bacteria
After you hose down your filter's media pads, help the remaining bacteria boost their population levels by seeding with bacteria found in  Pure+ Filter Start Gel and Microbe-Lift PL Gel. They'll start reproducing right away and quickly digest debris.

7. Keep Pond Sludge-Free
Sludge is the enemy, so do what you can to keep it from building up in your pond. Use a  pond vacuum with a solids pump to suck up muck and debris and DefensePAC to break down fine particulates. Doing so regularly will help with water quality and remove material that would otherwise need to be handled by your filter.

8. Balance Your Pond
Finally, take a look at your pond's fish-to-plant ratio. More fish means more waste and a pond filter that keeps clogging, while more plants mean better-filtered water. Don't overwork your filter by keeping an unbalanced pond. Let plants help do the work naturally while keeping the fish load minimal.

Pond Filter Cleaning and Maintenance Advice

Do you need help selecting and maintaining a filtration system for your pond? Give us a call at 866-POND-HELP or contact us online for prompt and friendly advice.

Learn more about filters for water gardens by reading these related articles:

Types of Filtration
Which Filter Media Density is Right for Me?
Filter Media Types
BioBalls Versus Lava Rocks
Upgrading Filtration

Last Updated: May 7, 2024