My Latest Project


The Skippy Filter is in the top right hand side of the pond. The one with all of the Iris growing out of it.

I have several Skippy Filters located around the different ponds in an attempt to keep the water clean. Fish are notorious for making the water dirty, they eat and therefore they poop. Add to that the fact that they are always poking around on the bottom of the pond and stirring up the dirt plus the natural phenomenon called algae and rotting leaves from the overhanging trees and at times, the ponds are so dirty that you can’t see anything.

Ponders have learned several different ways to help combat these natural processes most of which are of a mechanical nature involving pumps and filters. Of course, this being America, land of opportunity, there are manufacturers out there willing to sell you the latest and greatest in the form of expensive equipment to help the Pond Owners combat any of the problems that they may have.

I use a combination of manufactured items which includes the pumps and skimmer boxes and I do have one bio filter that I described in a previous blog and several homemade ones that emulate the commercial model. One of these is a 100 gallon rubber farm trough purchased from our local Tractor Supply, and is on the 6000 gallon pond and has been there since I built the pond around ten years ago. They are known as Skippy Filters and I had 3 large ones on different ponds plus 3 of the smaller size. Incidentally, I have never cleaned this particular filter in all of that time.

This one started leaking and as had happened on a previous occasion on a different Skippy on the 5000 gallon pond, the internal weight of the water caused the hard rubber container to crack. This was probably caused by a shifting of the concrete blocks that I used for the tubs to sit on as both tubs have split in the same place, close to where the drain valve is located. I was able to repair the first one and it has been back in operation for a couple of years and hopefully, so far is trouble free.

Showing the dirt on the top after the vegetation was cut back

I turned off the flow to the filter in the 6000 gallon pond and let it sit for a week or so before attempting a repair. This was to allow it to dry out which would make it easier to tear apart. After I deemed it had sat long enough, I bit the bullet, and making a big effort to get up early to beat the heat, proceeded to tear into the vegetation growing out of the thing. I had planted the Iris and Lizards Ear as the roots all help with the filtration but as they had totally taken over the unit, it took a while to get it all out. Interestingly enough, the dirt from the filtered water was all pretty much collected on the top of the filter material in a solid layer several inches thick showing that the unit was more than doing it’s job. The actual filter material is comprised of the pads used by floor buffers, in my case new ones cut up into smaller pieces. It’s pretty much the same as the regular filter material which could be used instead. I sometimes use Lava Rock either in small mesh bags or loose. It also works well but is harder to shovel out and clean.

Showing the grid which sits on blocks creating a chamber below.

The filter unit has a chamber space under the filters of about nine inches deep and the inlet pipe is plumbed to empty its contents into this space. I placed a piece of fluorescent light grid on concrete bricks to make this chamber but commercially manufactured grid is available and is stronger.

Showing one of the cracks in the unit.

I finished cleaning out the entire unit and was surprised just how clean the bottom half of the filter material was, more evidence that the unit was working as planned.

With the entire unit free, I pulled it off to an area so that I could work on it and hosed the whole thing out to clean it of any surplus material and then let it dry in the hot Texas sun, which didn’t take too long. I discovered a long crack of about 12 or so inches that had opened up right where the outlet hole is on this tank. This was exactly the same as what happened to the other tank so I had high hopes that I could repair it as I had managed to repair the first one.

By now, it was 98 degrees and way too hot to do any more outside work. I took the time to go to my local Lowe’s so that I could purchase the material I needed to make the repair. This comprised of a small spray can of Flexseal which is a rubberized material that will get right into the cracks and then Flextape which is also rubberized, to cover the entire repair.

When I returned and even though it was by now 100 degrees, I bit the bullet and took time to wire brush and clean the area before applying the contents of the spray can of Flexseal. Deeming that it needed to dry, left it for another go at it the next day which saw me up bright and early again busy applying the Flextape over the affected areas. It was not a straightforward job as there were many changing shapes and contours so I had to cut the tape in strips to cover them all. To test it, I put enough water back into the tank just to cover the affected areas and it immediately began to leak which left me more than a little upset. The air turned blue as I vented my frustration using words that I didn’t know existed. The dogs immediately bolted indoors.

I emptied the remaining water and left the unit to dry and spent that time with yet another trip to Lowe’s this time for a larger can of the spray as I had used up the small one on the initial repair. Luckily for me, Lowe’s is only 4 miles up Hwy 71, just a short drive and I am always listening to an Audiobook as I drive and if the timing is right (late afternoon), a stop at Starbucks. When I returned, I sprayed a large amount onto the cracks in the bottom of the unit and then waited (indoors) for that to dry before turning the unit over to respray the inside. With that complete, I let the entire thing dry out overnight before testing it with water again.

Next day, I was out bright and early eager to check the repair to see if it held up. Needless to say, it didn’t although the water flow has been reduced to just a few drops. So, I did more work on the unit and resprayed with the Flexseal. While I was working on it and upon further inspection, I discovered that the tub has several other cracks in it that I had not noticed before. I decided that as I am unable to fix the original leaks, that tub will be relegated to a flower planter.

All is not lost though as among my many ponding treasures picked up over the years, I have a filter unit that I got from Emerald Garden Water Gardens and Nursery when they were going out of the Pond business and transforming to Leaf Landscape Supply. I spent a couple of days preparing and replumbing it so that I can use it instead. It is not as big as the unit that it is replacing but as the secret is in keeping a constant flow of water moving through the filter material, then it will work just fine. It has a metal base which is quite heavy but the unit itself is easy enough to handle.

The new Skippy filter
The two Skippy’s with the new one on the left. Notice the Cannas growing in the Skippy on the right.

Incidentally, I intermixed working on this filter unit with another project. I already had a spare 30 gallon Skippy from the 350 gallon pond that I closed down earlier this year so I added it to the 2500 gallon pond that I just trimmed back as that water is also very dirty. It already has one 30 gallon Skippy and the one I added is the same size. This was an easy job and I had it in place and working within the hour. Now, all we got to do is wait for it to do its work. These small Skippies are not permanent unless I want them to be and so are handy to help clean up a dirty pond.

The Savio Filter unit that I recently installed on the Goldfish pond is doing a wonderful job. I can actually see the fish and it is cleaning up the water at a rapid pace.

The bottom feed into the unit which also included reused material.
The outlet pipes. Note one has a 45 degree bend and the other a 90 degree. Only because they were available in my used material collection, no other reason.

The next day, I decided that I would make a big effort to re-plumb the “new” unit. I wanted to try to use some of the bits and pieces of pre-plumbed pipe, stuff that has a valve or an elbow and such that I have accumulated over the years and was able to incorporate a couple in the project. I still had to make a couple of trips to Lowe’s for last minute items. I eventually completed the plumbing including the outlet pipes which were both of recycled goodies hence the difference in shape with one elbow a 45 degree and the other a 90.

The filter material. They are cut up pieces of circular floor buffer pads.

Then came the fun part of reinstalling the filter material and I carefully placed it piece by piece to get a nice level finish. I still need to cut a couple of pieces of filter that will cover the entire unit and sit on top of the other filter material to hold them in place. All that remained to do was to turn on the water at the pump installed at the far end of the pond and hope that nothing leaks. It didn’t and before long, there was a nice steady flow of water flowing through the filter and back into the pond. After tidying up the dirt around the unit and clearing everything away, all I have to do now is wait for the plants to re-grow up and around the unit to hide it from sight. That probably will not happen this year with the 100 degree heat but maybe in the Fall, there may be some growth. Definitely in the Spring.

The completed unit.

Another successful project. Let’s hope that it lasts long enough until either I am too old to care or ten years like the original Skippy, whichever comes first…Wait a minute, in ten years I will be 93 and too old to care anyway.

Written 8/18/2019

It’s Hot out there…while building a Skippy Filter


The finished unit

The finished unit

I got up early today with the view of getting outside and working a bit while it was cooler. That is, if you call 80 degrees cool as it quickly warms up here in my part of Texas. The overnight low was 74 and the forecast was for it to be at least a 100 degrees and could go as high as 104.

I had a couple of small projects that I wanted to get done. After the success of changing out the filter material in the big ponds and the small ponds filter systems to Lava Rock, I really wanted to do the same thing for the rest of the filters that I have located on the various ponds.

So, this morning I started out by building a new Skippy filter using a 20 gallon tub. I needed to do some work to it first like drill a hole and install the 2 inch drain system. I found a 2 inch fitting that reduced to 1 1/2 inch threaded fitting that had a flat area wide enough to take a rubber washer. I cut the washers (2) out of an old piece of liner material and placed both of them over the threaded end. I followed up with a thin layer of Plumbers Putty and then placed it through the hole with the threaded area inside the tub. On the threaded area, I didn’t have a washer large enough to fit over the 1 1/2 inch screw fitting so I had to make do with a piece of hard plastic from a storage box that I had also cut out a 1 1/2 inch hole. I secured the whole thing with a threaded ring washer used on electrical conduit. It worked perfectly and after tightening the whole thing up I finished it by placing 2 inch Tee fitting set parallel to the pond level so that water could flow out both sides.

Showing the 2 inch Tee

Showing the 2 inch Tee

In the bottom, I needed to make a water chamber so that the water would have a free flow as it came out before rising up through the lava rock to the drain. For this, I use 2 layers of plastic fluorescent light grid cut to shape and set up on 2 bricks, one either side of the pipe. The pipe itself is 2 inch and is set like an inverted Tee. On the ends of the Tee were 90 degree opposing elbows to create a flow of water. The center upright stands just above the rim of the tube and is eventually connected to the pipe from the pump. The theory is that the water comes in the top and then circulates from the bottom so that it comes through the Lava Rock and out the drain and back into the pond. The Lava Rock traps the dirt pretty efficiently. The 100 gallon one that I have installed on the big pond has really cleaned up that water. Incidentally, it works well to not glue the elbow situated on the top of the inverted Tee. This allows for easy removal of the grid when it is time to clean the unit. Otherwise, the center hole has to be pretty big to slide the grid over the elbow.

Lava Rock

Lava Rock

After completing the construction, with the final hook ups done in place, I filled it with 2 bags of the Lava Rock and then turned on the water to check that it worked properly. Satisfied with my work, I turned my attention to the old existing Skippy filter. I wanted to move it to a different location so that I could feed it with the main pump which is why I opted to build a new unit giving me more time to move the existing filter which is powered by a separate pump and contains the old filter material which I am replacing with the Lava Rock.

Showing the outlet

Showing the outlet

Moving it from its current location turned out to be easier than I had anticipated. Using mostly brute force and the judicious placing of a short 2 x 6, I moved it out onto the path and maneuvered it onto my dolly to be wheeled to the pond nursery area where I start all of the new pond plants. I will remove the Iris currently growing in it, clean it out and make any repairs that are needed and re-use it on one of the other ponds. With it gone, I was able to spend time on tightening up the electric fencing around that pond. I have fencing powered by a doggie shocker around all of my ponds to keep the Herons and Raccoons away from the very large Koi. You can see the fences in the pictures although they barely register with me as I am so used to them.

Now that I have a “spare” 20 gallon filter unit, I can take my time in preparing it to replace one or the other of the 2 existing ones that I have left, both of which have pretty extensive growths of Iris and Orange Canna. I may wait until the winter when the growth had died down before working on these two. As I pointed out above, the current “spare” unit also has a large growth of Iris in it which I need to dig out and re-plant somewhere or I might just give the Iris away. By the way, I do NOT plan on planting anything in the new filters. I would prefer they do not get enmeshed with roots even though the roots also act as a filter.

It took me all day to complete the project, I had to take a break and go to Home Depot for the fluorescent light grid as I was out of it but this only took about 30 minutes. Needless to say, my car would not drive past the Starbucks in Bee Cave so I had to humor it and buy a small latte. This tied me over until around 4:00 pm when I stopped for a tea break, but other than that, I was at it all the time. Funnily enough, even though it was a 100+ degrees, I never felt at any time that it was too hot to finish the project. I made sure I had plenty of water and I had liberally applied sun block and I was working in the shade for most of the time.

Must be getting used to the heat…..again.

If you click on any of the pictures, they will enlarge and can be quickly changed by use of the side arrows. To get back to the blog, press the escape key.