Keeping Fish Out Of Pond Skimmers

Keeping Fish Out Of Pond Skimmers

Posted on Jun 30th 2020
Author: Bill Hoffman

“How do I Keep my Fish Out of the Pond Skimmer?”

This is a very common question, so do not think that you are alone on this. 

Below are the 3 most common reasons your fish might be going into the skimmer box and how to prevent it.


1. Chasing Fish Food 

Many ponds these days have a pond skimmer that houses the pump and draws floating debris into the filter pad to help keep pond water clean. Unfortunately, when we feed our fish, the skimmer happens to pull the floating fish food in right along with everything else. This will sometimes cause koi and other pond fish to chase its food right into the skimmer box. Once they are in there, they sometimes get stuck for various reasons.

You can keep floating fish food in one place by using a feeder ring. Feeder rings float and will break the current at the pond’s surface - keeping fish food from floating into the skimmer box. You can tie the ring to the side of the pond with a piece of fishing line that will be nearly invisible against the pond water.

A round feeder ring can help keep your fish food and fish out of your skimmer box.

Read more benefits of feeder rings HERE


2. Not Enough Protection (they feel vulnerable)

Your pond fish are constantly being hunted from up above, and they know it. If they suddenly become skittish as you approach the pond, then they probably have been visited by a predator recently. They will dart around looking for places to hide and unfortunately, the skimmer looks pretty appealing in a panic.

Your fish may also end up in the skimmer to get out of the sun. Without sufficient plant coverage on the surface, the water acts like a magnifying glass. The bright sunlight is pretty hot out in the open, fish will seek some shade on a hot day just like you or I would.

We recommend keeping 40-60% of the surface of the pond covered with water lilies, lotus, floating pond plants like water hyacinth or water lettuce, or other emerged aquatics whose leaves float on the water’s surface. Not only will the plant coverage keep the pond shaded, but it will also reduce the visibility of your fish from above. Your finned friends will feel secure enough to swim freely in the open water without being threatened. (For more info on pond plants that cover the water, read HERE)

You may also want to provide hiding places in the pond, that are more appealing than the skimmer, in case a predator does approach. Build ledges or caves with stone for the fish to get under. You can also supply them with a koi kastle which sits on the bottom of the pond, out of reach of those pesky blue heron and other predators. 

Making sure you provide enough protection for your fish is crucial in a pond.


3. Sickness or Weakness

Most fish have an innate instinct to swim against the current. When a fish is weak, from an illness, they do not feel like fighting the current from the pond pump. Often times this will land them in the skimmer box - time after time, even after you rescue them. Eventually the stress is enough to do them in for good..

Be sure to keep an eye on your pond’s water quality to prevent ailments to your pet fish. Regular water testing will make you aware if something is awry. (Read “This is a Test…The Chemistry of Your Pond Water” to learn more) Keeping a well-balanced eco-system will go a long way in keeping your fish happy and healthy.

We do not recommend to block the front of the skimmer opening with rocks or a screen. This will make the purpose of your pond skimmer obsolete and cause you many maintenance problems in the long run. However, if you feel you have to have something in the opening to help you sleep at night, many of the skimmer manufacturers have a set of brushes made just for that purpose. The Gate Keeper by Atlantic Water Gardens, will still allow floating debris to get into the filter, but help to keep fish out, without blocking the water flow.


Sometimes we just have no answer for why fish behave the way they do and as soon as we are able to book Dr. Doolittle to stop in for a visit, we will certainly let you know. For now, you can count on Hoffman’s Water X Scapes to have a wide range of quality pond supplies and accessories available for you year-round. Stop by our Garden Center in Uniontown Ohio, shop pond supplies online or contact us today for all of your ponding and water feature needs.