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Biofilter Problem Solving Guide For Pond or Water Garden Enthusiasts

This web page is structured in the form of a question and answer as follows QUESTION followed by good general advice and then a specific comment.

HOW DO I PREVENT MOST BACTERIAL DISEASES IN MY POND?

Excellent biofiltration and feeding high quality food will generally result in few problems with bacterial diseases.
In most countries Aeromonas and Pseudomonas bacteria cause ulcer and dropsy diseases. Once the disease is established it is very difficult to eradicate and whole collections of expensive koi can be wiped out. There is only one method of prevention and this is by using products that compete in an aggressive way with these bacteria. Ask Bradshaws for advice here.

KEEP YOUR BIOFILTER WORKING IF YOU HAVE TO SWITCH OFF YOUR WATERFALL PUMP AT NIGHT TIME.

If you cannot run your waterfall pump at night - for example it may make too much noise - then install a second very small pump that just runs overnight & that will keep water flowing through the filter.

The bacteria in a biofilter die if they are starved of oxygen for more than 5 hours which occurs when the pump is switched off overnight. Once dead the bacteria take between 4 and 6 weeks to become viable again. By installing a low cost efficient pump such as a Hozelock Cascade 1000 the filter is kept alive and the flow of water can be diverted direct to the pond without making a noise.

WATER REMAINS DIRTY EVEN WHEN A BIOFILTER IS INSTALLED

There are a number of possible reasons for this but the most important is that the mechanical section of the filter is not doing a good job. You need to check if water is able to by-pass the mechanical section - for example are there gaps around the sponges or are there holes in the sponges.

There are a number of possible reasons for a filter not working mechanically this. You need to check if water is able to by-pass the mechanical section - for example are there gaps around the sponges or are there holes in the sponges. If the mechanical section is in perfect condition then algae could be the cause. Algae is not always green and it is so small as to be able to pass through sponges.

IMPROVE YOU BIOFILTER 50 TIMES

Replace your present filter media of plastic balls, tubes, and other devices by Alfagrog. Alfagrog is a very porous inert ceramic filter medium. It is produced in England especially for water purification. It is unmatched for effectiveness and value for money. One litre of Alfagrog is sufficient for a biofilter handling 1,500 litres of pond water. Each piece of Alfagrog is full of tiny holes. 1 litre has a surface area of between 40 and 100 square metres for the bacteria to grow on depending on particle size. Compare this with plastic bio media which have a maximum of 1 square metre per litre.

WHY DO I NEED A BIOFILTER?

In a swimming pool the sand filter does the job of removing solids and particles that remain suspended in the water. This is filtration namely the removal of solids from liquids. However the filter does not purify or clean the water. This job is done by the use of chlorine based chemicals. In this way it is safe to swim in the water because all the harmful bacteria are killed by the chlorine.

Food is eaten by the fish, is partly digested and partly expressed as a waste product by the fish. The fish needs to urinate and this passes into the water also. Toxic chemicals build up. The biofilter purifies these chemicals. Without the biofilter the fish would poison themselves to death. The secondary reason for a biofilter is to remove solids to allow clear water to be obtained. Its first job however is to purify the water.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR A BIOFILTER TO START WORKING

When a new pond is built it will typically take 4 to 6 weeks before the biofilter is working effectively. Therefore during this period introduce new fish slowly.

A continuous supply of oxygen is required to enable the bacteria in the filter to live. This is why a pump must work 24 hours per day since the water is the source of oxygen for the bacteria and without the oxygen the bacteria die quickly and certainly within 8 hours. Once dead the colony takes 4 to 6 weeks to build up again

PREVENT YOUR WATER FROM GOING GREEN

Install an Ultra Violet Clarifier of correct wattage for your size of pond. 8 watts is normally big enough for a pond up to 5,000 litres.

Water goes green because the algae which feeds on nutrients in the water provide it with food. This together with bright sunlight can happen very suddenly. Because algae is very small (4 microns) it is almost impossible for a normal filter to remove it. If water containing algae is passed through an Ultra Violet clarifier the algae are killed and they clump together making it possible for them to be taken out in a good biofilter.

DOES AN UV CLARIFIER UNIT NEED ANY MAINTENANCE?

Ultra violet clarifiers (UV for short) have been one of the best inventions ever for the pond keeper but surprisingly only a very small percentage of pond keepers know of their existence.

One very important maintenance point has to be made. The UV lamp inside the quartz tube has to be replaced after about 8,000 hours use which is every year in practice. This is a must because the lamp is useless after this period. The best time to install a new lamp is in Spring. So if your pond starts to go green even if the 1 year is not up it is probably time to replace the lamp in your UV unit

 

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