Using Filtration and Skimmers

During my travel this past holiday season I was “exposed” to the new security measures from TSA at the airport. Whether I feel more secure or my naked image is online somewhere; are both still to be decided. I’m sure there are still threats out there but a bit of forethought and preparedness can go far while traveling. This stands true in waterscaping as well.

While travelling last year, I was surprised to see a lack of mechanical and biological filtration units in ponds and water features. Leaving the ponds exposed to the whims of nature could have horribly detrimental effects. In many cases, it can be a turn-off to your clients and other consumers for ponds and water features. However, with a little forethought and preparation, you can create an enjoyable water experience for everyone involved.

Why use a filter anyway?

Filtration in its simplest form helps to keep the pond or water feature looking decent. Filtering keeps the water clean of organic wastes that can cause cloudy, smelly or even toxic water. Rather than just building a pond and bidding the customer farewell, you should consider monthly maintenance agreements.

This also adds a new profit center to your business. It’s not that you’re using this as an additional revenue stream; there is a need for it. Just like mowing the grass, pond people should set up a maintenance program with their clients for their pond.

When equipment is sized properly and installed correctly, you do minimize the maintenance requirements for the water feature. I remember the days of lugging around a large external pump that we used as a pond vacuum to clean each pond manually by sucking out the sludge and debris. The advancements in filtration equipment and beneficial bacteria have been incredible over the last decade, making maintenance much easier.

What type of filtration?

Filters are available in many different types. Mechanical filtration is one of the most important to keep a pond healthy. It keeps the water clear of solids. Much of the sludge and debris that accumulates in a pond could be prevented by removing it before it sinks in the first place.

Biological filtration is the second step in the process to keep the water chemistry in check. It encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria, allowing us to have more of the good guys around Pressurized filter. to keep the pond clean.

The simplest filtration to add on to any new or existing features is a pressured filter. It can easily be plumbed into the existing system, and some units can also serve as both a mechanical and biological filter. There are many varieties out there—some housing filter pads, some containing plastic media, and others utilizing a combination of both. Typically, pressurized filters have an integrated backwash system, making ease of maintenance a great feature.

The most basic filtration that everyone should consider is a skimmer. Pond and water feature skim mers work on the same principle as pool skimmers—catch the debris before it sinks. Because once the leaves, sticks, grass clippings, flowers, etc., get to the bottom, the nightmare begins. A skimmer placed on the side of a pond gives you a convenient place to hide it and protect the pump and plumbing as well as gather all the debris for easy removal. Most skimmers are rated by flow rates, making selection simple; your pump can only pump so much water, so select a skimmer in that flow range.

The second level of filtration to consider is biological “filtration,” which is designed to create a place for beneficial bacteria to grow and multiply. In turn, they care for the water chemistry and micro elements in a pond. Using a biological waterfall filter or pressurized filter adds enormous amounts of surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow.

The additional benefit of a biological filter system is that it’s good for your client’s pond as well as for your business. Every month during your maintenance visit, a dose of beneficial bacteria should be added, meaning you have repeat sales whether you do the work or the homeowner purchases the product from you. This becomes a win-win situation for everyone!

Some of you may be thinking, what about UV lights? UV is a great method of chemical filtration for a pond. Ultraviolet lights are a great remedy for green water or microscopic algae, but remember that is all they work on; they do not affect string algae. When using UV, you still need to have mechanical filtration downstream to catch all of the now-impaired algae. Remember, we don’t want it sinking to the bottom.

Let’s stop throwing pumps into the bottom of a pond and hoping for the best. There is a multitude of brilliantly designed equipment out there to accomplish the various filtration methods discussed above.

Give some a try on your next project and see the improvement filtration makes. With the proper equipment and forethought, your customers can have a pleasant ponding experience. I keep hearing all about how you can see naked people at the airport on TV, but nobody ever tells me which channel they’re on.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andy Schoenberger is Outdoor Living Product Manager at Franklin Electric and is still searching online for his TSA x-ray image.