Best Pond Waterfall Filter 2023 (Top Spillway Reviews)

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Best Pond Waterfall Filter & Spillway 2023 (Top Models Compared)

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Benefits of a Waterfall Filter for Garden Ponds

benefits of pond waterfall filters
Waterfall filters can create great water displays and also provide extra water filtration for both small and large ponds.

If you’re considering adding a waterfall feature to your pond, or have yet to purchase a regular box filter, you may consider looking into a waterfall filter system. A pond waterfall filter works the same as a regular box pond filter in terms of filtration (see our filter article for more info), with both types of filters being interchangeable in most situations.

The design of a waterfall filter, however, allows your pond water to flow in a wide arc back into your pond, creating a great waterfall effect. Having a waterfall filter would be able to replace a normal pond filter in all but the largest of fish ponds, so would be a fine choice for pond owners looking for a combined filtration and water feature solution.

Advantages of a Waterfall Filter

Creates a spillway and waterfall effect
Allows extra water filtration
Easy to hide and create natural look
Helps pond aeration via oxygenation
Improves water surface movement
Waterfall sound very relaxing!

Waterfall Spillway vs Waterfall Filter – What’s the Difference?

When looking into creating a waterfall effect for your pond, you may come across waterfall units called waterfall “spillways.” These are very similar to waterfall filters, but more basic in design. Both will create a spillway of water into your pond, but a waterfall filter has a built-in filtration system which will help make water clearer. A waterfall spillway is essentially a waterfall filter, just without the filter! It collects water until full, and then the water flows over the top, creating a waterfall – nothing fancy!

pond waterfall spillway
A very basic spillway without filtration media.

In almost all circumstances, a waterfall filter would be a better choice, as the more filtration you have in your pond the better! You can’t ‘over filter’ a garden pond, and an extra means of filtration will help more beneficial bacteria colonize, leading to clearer water in the long term. It makes even more sense in terms of a waterfall, as this will be a very visual feature and you would want the water as clear as possible. For this reason, we would recommend a waterfall pond filter for a garden waterfall over a basic waterfall spillway in most cases.

What if I already have a box pond filter?

If you already have a box pond filter, as stated above, you can still purchase a waterfall filter without problem. Having two filters will not cause any problems with your pond, and may actually help with water clarity. Make sure to check your pond pump’s strength before adding a new waterfall filter, as if it’s too weak you may need to upgrade or purchase an additional pump.

Also, most modern pond box filters now also come with an added UV clarifier function which helps remove green pond water. Waterfall filters do not come with a UV pond light included, so you would likely also need to purchase a separate UV clarifier to keep free swimming algae and bacteria at bay. You can check out our article here for some great recommendations.

Is my pond pump strong enough for a waterfall?

best waterfall filters for ponds
The wider the spillway, the stronger your pump will need to be to provide sufficient water flow.

When adding a waterfall filter to your pond, your biggest concern may be if your pond pump can create enough water flow. Luckily, this is fairly easy to determine!

First, you need to know the maximum height of your waterfall from the surface of the pond’s water in feet. After you have this measurement, also make a note of your waterfall’s spillway width.

To achieve a great flow and waterfall effect, you will need at least 100 gallons per hour of flow rate for every inch of waterfall width. If you would like more rapid (white water) from your waterfall, you can increase this to 200 gallons per hour for every inch of waterfall width. To work out the exact pond pump required, you’ll need to work out your required gallons per hour (GPH) and gallons per minute (GPM) flow rate. You can do this by multiplying the waterfall width in feet x 30 GPM.

As an example, to create a waterfall of 1.5 feet width and a height of 10 feet above ground:

Waterfall Pump Flow Rate Example
1.5 feet (Width) x 30 GPM = 45 GPM x 60 = 2,700 GPH at 10 feet of height.

After calculating your recommended flow rate, you would just need to check this against your pond pump’s max flow rate and max head height. You want a pump that has a flow rate similar to your answer and a maximum head height at or above your waterfall height in feet. From the example this would be a pump with a flow rate of 2,700 GPH and a max head of at least 10 feet. For more detailed information on how to determine what size pond pump you’ll need for a variety of circumstances and pond types, check out our guide here.

Best Waterfall Filter pump?

If you have yet to buy a pump, or would like a separate one for your waterfall, check here for a list of pumps we recommend with flow rate/head height included. In general for most waterfalls and fountains, TotalPond’s Waterfall Pond Pump series is perfect and provide great flow and head height:-

pond waterfall filter pump

Best Waterfall Filter for Ponds, Koi & Watergardens – Reviews 2023

Below we have some of the top waterfall filter choices for a range of different ponds; all with different filtration intensities and spillway widths. These waterfall filters provide great water displays, so the choice would be down to the size of waterfall you want and how much filtration you need alongside!

Small Waterfall + Good Filtration

waterfall filter for small ponds1) Aquascape Compact Waterfall Filter (12 Inch Spillway)

A fantastic waterfall filter option for ponds up to 1000 gallons! The Aquascape Waterfall Filter includes a 12 inch width spillway, which is best suited for pumps rated between 500-5000 gallons (depending on height of feature). The waterfall filter has been designed for smaller ponds and is very easy to set-up. Simply connect the bottom of the filter to your waterfall pump (accepts most 1 – 1 1/4″ ID tubing), position, and let the waterfall work!

The spillway is fairly generous for such a compact waterfall filter, and includes an under ridge design to prevent dripping. The filter system has both biological and mechanical filtration stages, with bio-activators for bacteria colonization and a fiber mat for trapping larger debris.

Even though you can use this as your primary filter system for ponds up to 1000 gallons, it is more ideal for ponds around 500 gallons. The filter system is fairly compact, and can become easily clogged for larger ponds. If using this for ponds closer to 1000 gallons, we recommend considering a second box filter to help with filtration, as this may not be sufficient depending on debris levels. If you do use this as a primary filter, more regular cleaning may be required for effective filtration and good water quality.

As a final note, the inlet connector and tubing needs to be connected at the back of the waterfall filter, so you would need to take this into account when plumbing! It also comes with a lengthy 5 year warranty as standard, so if you happen run into any issues during this term, you’ll be safely covered for maximum peace of mind.

  • Spillway: 12 inch
  • Tubing: 1”, 1.25”, and 1.5” tubing ID
  • Pump strength: Between 500-5000 GPH (depending on waterfall height)
  • Filter media: Biological and mechanical
  • Dimensions:12 x 8 x 12 inches

Medium Waterfall + Great Filtration

large waterfall filter for ponds2) Atlantic Water Gardens Waterfall Filter (17 Inch Spillway)

Our second recommended waterfall filter is Atlantic Water Gardens 17 inch waterfall spillway. This waterfall filter is a great choice for pond owners who want a wider spillway compared to the TetraPond offering, but don’t want to miss out on great filtration. The waterfall filter comes with a 2-stage biological and mechanical filtration system, including a optimized “bio-mat” for fast bacteria colonization. The spillway is quite wide, at 17 inches in width, and features a design to prevent dripping during operation.

Unlike the TetraPond waterfall filter, the inlet connector is on the side of the filter so is a little easier in terms so plumbing. The inlet connector accepts 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch ID tubing, and comes with a threaded fitting ready to screw into the bulkhead.

Even though this waterfall filter has a larger spillway compared to the TetraPond, it is still fairly compact in size. This means the filtration media is more densely placed, so a stronger pump as a minimum is needed for sufficient flow. Pond Pumps of around 2000-3000 GPH are recommended for a good and strong waterfall effect.

The waterfall filter comes included with its optimized bio-mat mechanical filter media and a media bag, but you need to purchase bio-balls for the bag separately. We recommend EasyPro bio balls for a good performing and cost effective solution. Overall, a really nice waterfall filter with a fairly large spillway width that’s easy to set up!

  • Spillway: 17 inch
  • Tubing: 1 inch – 1 1/2 inch ID
  • Pump strength: Between 2000-3000 GPH (depending on waterfall height)
  • Filter media: Biological and mechanical
  • Dimensions: 19 x 22.5 x 14 inches

Large Waterfall + Fantastic Filtration

waterfall filter for large waterfalls large ponds3) Atlantic Water Gardens Waterfall Filter (26 Inch Spillway)

For pond owners who want a wide waterfall and need a great filtration system, or as a koi waterfall filter!

Atlantic Water Garden’s 26 inch spillway is a fantastic top-end waterfall filter with some of the best filtration design we’ve seen in a waterfall. This waterfall filter would be perfect for larger ponds, or ponds stocked with fish, as the filter is efficient enough to be used as a primary filtration system, not needing a separate box filter. The filtration works via multiple layers of mechanical media sponges, doubled up, and has large amounts of space for filter bags of bio balls. You have a huge amount of room for maneuver with this waterfall filter, allowing you to add your own media and making it very easy to clean. The waterfall also has a sturdy top grid which is designed for natural rock placement for easy camouflage.

The waterfall itself is a wide arc 26 inch spread, but also available in a smaller 16 inch spread with the same great filtration system in place. The 26 inch model supports a heavy duty 2-3 inch bulkhead connector for a higher flow rates compared to smaller waterfalls. The waterfall flow looks great when coupled with a strong pond pump of 3,000-4,000GPH. There is minimum dripping, and the water spread is very generous in size.

The waterfall filter is fairly easy to plumb and setup, and is very easy to clean and maintain. Atlantic Water Gardens provide a lifetime warranty, but you should not expect many problems with this waterfall filter. It’s heavy duty and built to last! A great waterfall filter for large ponds, stocked koi ponds, or ponds without a primary filter system in place.

  • Spillway: 26 inch or 16 inch 
  • Tubing: 2-3 inch heavy duty bulkhead
  • Pump strength: Between 2000-3000 GPH (depending on waterfall height)
  • Filter media: Biological and mechanical
  • Dimensions: 34.5 x 25 x 23 inches


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