Installing Pond Pumps and Filters


Pond Pumps and Filters are Critical Components of Garden Ponds and Waterfalls

After digging and lining the hole, the next step is to install the pond pumps and filters.

1) Pond pumps and filters are key investments for successfully keeping koi in a backyard pond. There are many different approaches depending on the size of your pond, how it fits in the general landscape,whether it includes a waterfall and the number of fish you intend to keep.

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Waterfalls improve water quality and bring visual and audio appeal to the pond

2) I generally place submerged pond pumps in a skimmer that will remove leaves and other debris including uneaten food.

3) Pond pumps are also used to power waterfalls which flow back into the pond. I always include waterfalls with my ponds since the aeration and current they create is good for water quality and the koi. If the terrain in your backyard precludes a waterfall, consider a buying fountain/aerator instead.

4) I also add a spillway for routing any overflow away from the house and in my case back into the woods that surround our property, The edge of the pond by the spillway is slightly lower than the rest of the pond so the overflow moves in that direction.

5) This system using a pond pump, skimmer and skimmer is simple, but has proven to be effective for me over long periods of time and works as follows:


  • The pond pump pulls water into the skimmer where it flows through a leaf bag to remove any large debris
  • It then flows into the fish pond filter tank where it passes through 3 layers of filter mats and then through mesh bags filled with lava rock until it overflows the tank via a small shelf and waterfalls back into the pond.
  • The pond pump must have the capacity to move the entire volume through the pond filter at least once every two hours (Once an hour is even better and that is the standard I will use in the following pump size calculation). Pump capacity is measured in gallons or liters per hour and is affected by the distance and height it must move the water. The higher the waterfall the bigger the pump that is needed. You should also add the equivalent of 1 foot in height for every 10 ft of hose/pipe that you use. So for a 2000 gallon pond, you will need something greater than a 2000 gallon per hour pump. Pond pumps have tables that adjust the nominal gallons per hour for the height the water has to be lifted. So if your waterfall is 4 ft above the top of the pump and you use 20 feet of hose, look for a pump which has an adjusted capacity of 2000 gals/hour at a height of 6 feet (waterfall height + 20 ft of hose). This will probably be a 3000 or 4000 gallon per hour pump since for a 6 ft lift, pump capacity generally falls offs by 30% to 50%.
  • Biological filters take several weeks before they start to produce results therefore fish should be added to a new pond in a measured way. Cultures of live nitrifying bacteria are available and can be added to new ponds to jump start this process.
  • Maintaining a proper balance of plants in your backyard pond also helps with filtration. I will discuss this further on the Pond Fish and Plants page



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View of Pump, filter system and waterfall


6) The fish pond filter box can pretty much be any container which will allow water to flow through and back into the pond while holding aggregate material to remove debris and allow bacteria to multiply, I haven’t seen much difference between brands and styles. Some people even build there own pond filters. I believe the simpler the better. I use mesh bags filled with lava rock on top of filter pads and place them in a open container with a lip. As shown in the drawing above the water enters near the bottom of the container, passes through the filter material and overflows the container onto a lip and waterfalls back into the pond.

7) This system has managed to keep the water in my pond clear and my koi healthy. I have never had to rely on chemical filtration or UV lights to remove algae.

I run my pond pumps 24/7 from April through November and then store them in a bucket filled with water in the basement over the winter. The purpose of the water is to keep the seals lubricated. For my current pond, I use a 10,000 GPH Torpedo pump which turns the water over in my pond about once per hour and costs approximately $350 to $400. Since the target is to move the entire volume of water through the filter once every one to two hours, pumps for smaller ponds require much less capacity and can be found for prices ranging from $50 to $80.

This is one solution to filtration and there are other effective alternatives. Filtration and overall water circulation are keys to raising healthy and happy koi in a beautiful , high quality pond. This is an area not to skimp on and if you have concerns about completing this installation on your own or already have a pond with green water, MacArthur Watergardens are leading experts in filtration and can help you. Click on the banner below or the ad in the side bar to contact them.

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If you are interested in seeing Pond Pumps or Pond Filters that are available on line click on either or both of the following links to view availability, customer ratings and prices in our pond shop:

Koi Pond Pumps

Koi Pond Filters


The previous pages cover the basic steps to follow in koi pond construction. I recommend building the biggest pond that you can afford and fits comfortably within your property. Once a pond is built it is difficult to add on to. It is also more difficult to maintain the water quality in smaller ponds and more restrictive in the number and size of fish that you can keep. Once you get going with the hobby there will always be the temptation to add more koi and over loading a pond will ruin the water quality and adversely impact the health of your pond animals.

Now you are ready to fill the pond with water and learn about Stocking the Pond with Fish and Plants.

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