I should have known. I should have gone with a proven pond filter to begin with. There were design flaws in the actual trough filter (such as the area that sucks in the water was on the bottom! huh?). I got a great filter set from Tetra. It's actually a filter/fountain combo. The pump sits away from the filter box that you can add additional types of filter heads. The only issue is the filter box needs weight but I got some larger gravel to put in the bottom and it weighs the unit down plus offers more filtration, not a really strong negative against the filter at all.
I don't extend the fountain head up above my water but there are three different fountain patterns you could choose. I just have the first piece attached to the pump which simply agitates the surface; a great thing for mosquito prone areas.
This pump makes the water CLEAR!!! It does a great job. It's also easy to just disconnect the filter box from the pump and then rinse out all the gunk. I'm pretty happy with this filter. It works with my new water heater too since the tube connecting the filter to the pump runs right below the heater. I'm please not having icky sludge or an oil slick type layer on the top of a horse trough. That usually happens to most tanks within a day! They are so hard to keep clean from all the stuff horse mouths drop into them but this baby is making me giddy with how clear the water is staying. It's a great way to maintain the water quality between major scrubbing sessions.
My dream is of course a small automatic waterer but I know that they cost around $500 alone, add in the electrical and plumbing....that's pricey. An automatic waterer will eventually be worth it in the future but this baby will suffice for now and the near future.