An ecosystem pond requires some kind of filtration - whether that's an installed item, or whether YOU are the filtration.
If you're a do-it-yourselfer, we recommend that you purchase an integrated kit that contains all of the components you plan to install. This will save you much time, effort, and frustration! Whereas no project is truly a project without a couple of trips to the local big-box home improvement store, you might want to limit that activity on this one. If you try to bargain shop, getting each part as cheaply as possible from different stores and manufacturers, you will end up with a nightmare on your hands, without really having saved yourself anything in the long run. Remember, you get what you pay for – and that’s no lie! A great place to start would be to watch some of The Pond Squad videos.
Biological filtration, simply put, is a place for beneficial bacteria to inhabit. This can be done in various ways. Our personal favorite is to incorporate it into the waterfall, where it's hidden from plain sight. Since most everyone wants a waterfall, even if they don’t necessarily want a pond, this seems the most logical and easiest place to put it.
Beneficial bacteria is essential to keeping your water quality crystal clear (but that's a whole other subject). It will adhere to any porous surface, though, so simply having some rock and stone in your pond gives it a fighting chance.
If you don't HAVE a skimmer, you ARE the skimmer. A pond skimmer works similarly to that of a pool. However, a pond skimmer is much larger than that of a pool, and is generally designed to handle larger debris. If your pond includes a skimmer, you can have trees surrounding your pond, providing a more natural-looking complimentary landscape, and still have a clean pond. Really!
A skimmer, combined with a circulation system, will keep the debris from saturating, falling to the bottom, and becoming sludge (you know, that really foul-smelling crap that some people have to muck out of their ponds once a year, causing their neighbors to seriously consider putting out a “For Sale” sign).
A skimmer is not mandatory for a balanced ecosystem, but it does make for a whole lot less maintenance!
In the alternative, you can upgrade to an intake bay, which is just a fancy way of saying "pondless" pump vault addition. This option make cleaning up debris a snap! You just pick it up occasionally.
A gorgeous ecosystem pond DOES NOT have to be high maintenance if it's built properly.