Using the Principles of Biofiltration to Improve Any Goldfish
or Koi Pond ... Instant Chemical Engineering
In writing this section I would ask the more technically inclined to bear with
me since I am writing to help the average pond-keeper and not the expert
pond-keeper. However everything I discuss here is included in the latest
Hozelock biofilters called the Trinamic series. The Trinamic surely is a major
step forward in effective and efficient biofiltration for all small to medium
sized ponds and these pond filter and UV combinations don't take up much room
We'll borrow an example from The Pond
Professor ... let's enjoy a cup of instant coffee with sugar of course.
You first put coffee granules in a cup and then you boil the water and pour the
hot water into the coffee cup. You then stir the water granule mixture. After
that you add sugar and then you stir the mixture again ... Ever stopped to think
why you stir? Probably not but instinctively you know that if you don't the
sugar will sit in a pile at the bottom of the cup and your coffee will be on the
Have you ever stopped to think why you add boiling water then
allow the coffee to cool before drinking it? Have you noticed
that if you use lumps of sugar or coarse brown unrefined sugar
then you have to stir longer to get the sugar to dissolve? Well
if you think about the answers to these questions you will be
on top of the design principles for any biofilter and you could
easily go out and make your own highly effective pond filter unit.
Stirring Anything Makes Contact Between 2 or More Substances More Intimate and
Therefore A Better Reaction or Result Is Obtained
This is what, in the world of chemical engineering, we refer to as Mass
These are processes that also take place in a biofilter where ammonia is
converted to nitrates by preventing poisonous build-ups of ammonia. Lets
look at our need to stir the cup of coffee
we wanted to transfer a quantity (mass) of sugar from its solid state to
become dissolved in coffee (or hot water). We noticed that the rate of transfer
(ie the time it took for the sugar to dissolve) was slow until we stirred the
Immediately we stirred vigorously the sugar dissolved. So what did we do?
In simple terms we mixed the sugar with the coffee better. In technical terms
we exposed each granule of sugar to a new bit of liquid containing only a little
dissolved sugar and we did this repeatedly until the stirring stopped.
Although the average amount of dissolved sugar in the cup was increasing with
every second we were stirring the
concentration of dissolved sugar in water or coffee was still low and this allowed further dissolution of sugar to
By the way the harder we stir the quicker the sugar dissolves.
If you were to put about 10 teaspoons of sugar into your cup of coffee not all would dissolve
no matter how long you stirred. This is because the water becomes saturated to
the point it cannot dissolve any more sugar.
Before I started stirring my cup of coffee very little sugar was in contact with
the hot liquid because it was sitting in a heap at the bottom of the cup.
This meant only a small amount of sugar was dissolving and the liquid
immediately next to the sugar was becoming saturated with sugar - once the
coffee in immediate contact with the sugar becomes saturated it cannot dissolve
any more until this saturated liquid has been replaced by a new bit of coffee
with no sugar yet dissolved in it.
This principle is important:
AT THE INTERFACE BETWEEN TWO COMPONENTS (sugar and water in this case) TRANSFER
BETWEEN THE TWO IS LIMITED BY THE CONCENTRATION DIFFERENCE.
THE LARGER THE CONCENTRATION DIFFERENCE THEN THE FASTER THE TRANSFER WILL TAKE
In our example of the stirred coffee we created a situation whereby the sugar
was exposed to water in which sugar had not yet become dissolved or had only a
little bit dissolved and thus had a low sugar concentration.
Compare this with the heap of sugar at the bottom of the cup. This sugar was
surrounded by liquid having a high concentration of dissolved sugar which meant
further dissolution took longer and longer.
Here's What We've Learned About
Biofilter Design For A Fish Pond So Admirably Converted To A Working Trinamic
Biofilter By Hozelock
Turbulence improves the rate of mass transfer - this can be achieved by blowing air into water
If you think the point of lumps of sugar or unrefined sugar you would conclude
that size of sugar particle effects the rate of dissolution or mass transfer.
Quite correctly you would have concluded that the reason was that the larger particles of brown
sugar had a much lower surface area in contact with the hot liquid. The
principle here is that:
THE MORE SURFACE AREA WE CREATE FOR MASS TRANSFER TO TAKE PLACE THEN THE MASS
WILL BE TRANSFERRED MORE QUICKLY. DOUBLE THE AREA AND YOU WILL HALF THE TIME
TAKEN TO TRANSFER THE MASS.
In the above case because brown sugar lumps are bigger than white sugar
particles then the total brown sugar surface area in contact with the hot coffee
was lower than would be the case for normal white sugar. Smaller particles always have more surface
area than large particles in terms of surface area per unit of volume. This is
why Alfagrog as we discussed earlier in site is available in different sizes.
We can conclude we can optimise the biofiltration process which is essentially
the conversion of ammonia in contact with bacteria
and oxygen at a solid interface (refresh your memory of this by clicking the
surface area for contact between the two media and
differences at the interface where the transfer is taking place.
There is one other factor to consider and the coffee example used to illustrate
this is the use of boiling water. Mass transfer almost always increases as
temperature increases ... aroma creation is just another example of mass
transfer ... at high temperature the coffee aroma molecules in contact with hot
water are vapourised and so you can smell them which makes coffee so inviting.
You can see therefore that other variables can also influence the rate of
transfer and temperature is one of the most common.
Generally speaking higher temperatures speed up mass transfer processes.