Saturday, February 6, 2016

Traveling Back to Where Roots of The Modern day Water Feature Industry Came From

Were going to be sharing a series of  articles about pond filtration by an old friend Robert Fenner. We go back to the early to mid 80's and have both a passion for the  Pond and Marine hobby. With the re-awaking of filtration designs of the past...... this will be interesting to see how past methodology's may or may not have changed to modern day methodology's. Is it really NEW SCHOOL or just OLD SCHOOL with a new coat of paint? Not everyone will agree with this information but it is/was what the Water features Industry grew from into what it is today!

We will be starting out with Filters/Circulation/Aeration and even more topic's as we go along. So let's start the ball rolling and we welcome comment's below.

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In-Pond (Versus Outside) Filtration - Robert Fenner (1 of 6 Articles)


Most biological ponds are provided with something in the way of augmented filtration. This is generally considered necessary as a consequence of the system being "out of balance" otherwise; overcrowding, too much too often of the wrong foods... and a desire for clarity.
This article attempts to provide a cognizant discussion of pro/con arguments for/against in-pond filtration issues, applications, suggestions for improving (if you can't/won't avoid in-pond installations) operation and maintenance.
What are they?:
In-Pond filtration refers to placement rather then a a particular type of filtration. For the sake of our understanding here we will divide various in-pond filter modes as permanent/removable, canister, cartridge, and gravel, having reverse or "gravity" (top to bottom) flows.
Alternatively, outside or external filtration systems are remoted away from the pond basin(s). Their comparative specific advantages are detailed later.
Yes/No to In-Pond Filters:
NO! If you can place your filter(s) external to the basins, i.e. outside the pond, do it! Not to reveal my personal preference too strongly or early in this piece, but except for a few limited types of systems: itty-bitty ponds with little livestock, no feeding....use outside filters!
In-Pond Filtration Pro Argument:
1) Laziness:
They're easy to acquire, install and operate! Except for large "gravel" media types, small in-pond "stand-alone" filters are drop-in, plug-in, & away you go.
2) Leakiness:
Where is the filter going to leak? Even if they're seeping like the dickens, the water's still going to end up in the system.
3) Cost for Construction & Operation:
Admittedly in-pond as opposed to outside filtration is cheaper to build out and run. Think about this> The structural "walls" of the filter need not be substantial; they're supported on both sides by water and if they leak, eh! Supports, media... see the previous sentence.
Pumping water around either fluid or air powered is definitely less moolah as well. Lest you're jetting water around for falls &/or super-circulation there is little (head) pressure. You're not pumping up above water level so there's not much cost in moving water within the system.
The Con Argument:
1) Functionality:
They don't work! No, that's not fair; they rarely work. Most in-pond filters are just too darn small; like outside types they need to be @10% plus the surface area and/or volume of the total system. Usually they are pathetically puny with way too much flow rate for the amount of filter media used.
2) Maintenance:
Due to size (and their generally top-down flow path), in-pond filters have to be cleaned frequently; and due to placement are a pain in the keester to do so. Either you must enter the pond (Watch out! It's slippery.), scoop up or pull the filter up by the cord, plumbing, rinse the media, and put it all back (what a pain), or shovel in your extra-long gravel vacuum (hope it's gas-powered) to try to clear out that gunky gravel (good guck/luck!).
3) Disaster-proofedness:
When in-pond filters go "bad", become saturated, there's no waiting, they're gone; & how do you know? Well, you don't. They clog quickly (& solidly). The only recourse is to do your maintenance (daily, weekly) very regularly, or possibly keep a close eye on the rapidly diminishing flow-rate that goes with clogging.
At least with remoted systems you have some greater margin of safety due to air/water surface agitation. This activity enhances toxic gas liberation, respiration, pH stabilization, overall homeostasis.
Well, enough of my negativity, onto:
Applications of In-Pond Filters:

Okay, yes, there are some circumstances/coincidences that call for in-pond filters:

1) Tiny Systems: Of a few tens to hundreds of gallons with itsy-bitsy everything else kind of do okay with little in-pond filters (e.g. Supreme's Poolmaster or Tetra's Luft Air pump and filter combination). Just watch your feedings.
2) Absolutely no space: No fall areas to build within, handy garage or other area to remote the filter? Maybe you are stuck with only an in-pond filter scenario. Build it right, next time.
3) No Fish: and very little feeding/fertilization. A pond with lots of plants, few fish, no feeding...
Maintenance/Operation Schedule:
Get one and live by it! At least once a week in warm months you need to vacuum/clean the filter media/element; maybe while you're doing a simultaneous, frequent partial water change. Yeah.
But, you'll be much better off to have built a remoted filter system outside your pond. You won't have to thrash around with your livestock, fall on your rear; nay, nay, nay. Au contraire! With a simple backwash manipulation, you're done!

The (or at least my) Conclusion:
In-pond filters are inappropriate technology for all but the most puny nutrient-deficient systems.
Get a real, back-washable (manipulable), remoted filter system so you can stay out of the livestock's part of the system. Outside filters do cost some more up front and to operate, but the slight extra cost of building and utilizing an external filter is more than made up in enhanced results and efficiency of operation.

Further Reading:
Anon. 1986. Gravity Flow Filter. Practical Koi Keeping, Vol 1. Associated Koi Clubs of America (AKCA).
Aspray, Rick & Bob Fenner, 1983. Ornamental Fish Ponds Filters: Design, Construction and Maintenance. FAMA 6:6.
Cuny, Joseph F., 1986. In Pond Down Flow Filter. Practical Koi Keeping, Vol 1. AKCA.
Mitchell, Sherwin, 1986. In-Pond Gravel Downflow Filter. Practical Koi Keeping, vol 1. AKCA


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Do you really think that motivational speakers can motivate you or your team?

There's No Such Thing as a Motivational Speaker- There is no job description “Motivational Speaker” But rather you need to be a “Stimulator”

How does the cycle of motivation really work? One talk and you win the world? If it was so simple to motivate people through a one day or a two- day session life would be so easy. Business would thrive, and we would have more and more motivational speakers.

I have never attended a session that would motivate me; however, I have participated in workshops that have stimulated me. Of course, I enjoyed these workshops and felt good during these workshops. But did they motivate me? I am not sure. May be for a day – I felt like doing great things, I felt like exceeding my targets or achieving breakthrough results.

Maybe it is not about motivation. May be we are just looking for a Stimulation over a pep talk.

Have you ever asked yourself “What is a motivational speaker?”  “Someone who’s entertaining but doesn’t have any content.” But ultimately you hope to be motivate.

There are a few things that turn me off if I should decide to attend a Motivational Speaker …..

#1 – DON’T TRY TO SELL ME ANYTHING BEFORE YOU EVEN OPEN YOUR MOUTH
If you try to sell me before you even speak I will not buy a thing or have an open mind to listening to what your trying to motivate.
#2 – IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU
This is a biggie period! It is like you coming out on stage and asking folks to stand and clap…then saying; Now I have to earn that standing ovation! Not only did you turn me off from listening – I felt robbed after you spoke because you didn’t earn the standing ovation you forced me to give!
#3 – DON’T PUT YOUR AUDIENCE ON THE SPOT
Talking about hopes and dreams is intimate self-disclosure that is best not done with a motivational speaker in front of a live studio audience. As a motivational speaker, the goal should be inspiration not making people feel crappy. When people leave a room feeling worse than when they walked in that is a giant FAIL!
#4 – I WASN’T KIDDING!  IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU
When a motivational speech sounds like an opera singer warming up – me, me, me, me, me – I get turned off. I don’t care how great any speaker thinks she/he is! The audience should be able to picture themselves in the story!
As an audience member, I want to know why I am listening to your story. What can I expect to learn or take away from the talk? (Yep, the old “What’s in It for me?”)

 Joel Garfinkle is spot on with this quote: “Humans learn best from events that surprise them. The greatest motivational speakers are never entirely predictable and throw their audience the occasional curve ball. Audiences respond best to moments of novelty that precede important, potentially trans-formative content. When people experience true surprise, their entire mind-body connection lights up and becomes ready to receive and process input

That to me is making contact and drawing us into what you have to say, like throwing banana's into the crowd for them to catch…….…It’s is called stimulation!

Bottom line is being a Stimulator rather than a Motivator and thus you will be a great motivator in whatever industry your in. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Green Thing Going on Today........... "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

"We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days."

This was sent to me today and it just rang so true! I was raised in these "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days." As I read this it brought back some great memories of my childhood. Enjoy reading this and for the one's of us that lived it hope it brings a smile to your faces.
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.
The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days."
The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."
The older lady said that she was right -- our generation didn't have the "green thing" in its day. The older lady went on to explain:
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.
Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn't do the "green thing" back then.
We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.
But she was right. We didn't have the "green thing" in our day.
Back then we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.
Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right; we didn't have the "green thing" back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a r azor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn't have the "green thing" back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the"green thing." We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the "green thing" back then?
Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart ass young person.
We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off... Especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smartass who can't make change without the cash register telling them how much.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Caveat Emptor- Things may not always be what you read!










The reason for this article is too help folks to take the time to read and look at labels. I just recently came across an classic example of this very thing.  

I went to a local well known Hardware chain for some fittings for a service account. On the way out to register I noticed they had a new shelf for pond items, pumps,lights,food, and water treatments. One product "Naturals Chlorine Remover plus Conditioner for ponds 16 oz." for $9.89...... What caught my eye was the amount it said it treated. On the label it states "Treats up to 9460 Gallons(35,810 Litros)" now this sounds good but in all my years doing this I have not yet seen any 16 oz size dechlorinator that does that! 

So took a minute to read directions and upon doing so the I came to realize WE HAVE problem!

Directions for use:
Apply 5 ml (one Capful) per each 20 gallons of pond water. One 16 oz bottle treats 9460 gallons of pond water.

Let's do some simple math here....... 16 oz (473 ml) again off the bottle label. So we take the suggested 5 ml per 20 gallons of water treatment and divide it into 473 ml and I come up with 94.6 treatments per bottle. Now if the case then I took 94.6 times 20 gallons per treatment and it came up to 1892 gallons it will treat per bottle. So my question then is how can they claim it will treat 9460 Gallons?






















Whats even more confusing to the consumer is there website says it will "Treats up to 1930 gallons. So I have to ask myself which is correct? 1892 gallons per the instructions or 1930 gallons on website or the 9460 gallons on the bottle label? Which is what the consumer is going to be reading not the website. Caveat Emptor- Things may not always be what you read! 

I called their service center to alert them and ask for their explanation....wow I was in for a surprize on the answers given. Took two tries to just get a real person on the phone without it disconnecting. Then told her the problem and her answer was to just follow the directions on back label..... that they had an issue with a label misprint about a year ago!  Wow then this product in itself has expired sitting on shelf then we really don't need to worry about dosage! She couldn't put any one in charge on the phone to talk about this problem, but suggested that you should test your water before adding fish to make sure there in no chlorine in pond. And that suggestion is on the label right? Am wondering how many folks may have had a bad day using this product.

I can not emphasize enough that ALL pond hobbyists need to read labels, ask question before introducing any products into system. Know what you're putting into your pond whether its food, dechlor, or any type of water conditioner, parasite treatment. Most important KNOW how many gallons you have in system that is total gallons including filters,pipes.

It may cost more but buying a well known brand used by most all Koi keepers is ClorAm-X is a unique, dry powder, water conditioner that has been scientifically formulated to remove, and thereby detoxify, ammonia, chlorine and chloramines from water for use in all types of fish and aquatic invertebrate culture. ClorAm-X is a excellent additive when transporting fish because it can safeguard fish from ammonia for up to 72 hours. ClorAm-X is the ingredient in “Powdered AmQuel”.

ClorAm-X will:
Removes & Detoxifies Chlorine
Removes & Detoxifies Chloramines
Removes & Detoxifies Ammonia
Is non-toxic
Is water-soluble
Safeguard fish during shipping
1 pound jar (treats 3,759 gallons), 5 pound pail (treats 18,794 gallons), 10 pound pail (treats 37,588 gallons)
Dosage Rate: Once ounce per 235 gallons of water to remove 1mg/L of total ammonia present.

Our local Koi club uses it for the Koi show in San Diego as we have many valuable Koi at this show and need to use the best. I have also used Prime, AmQuel.

Sodium Thiosulphate


Chlorine is known to react with organic matter in the water to form trihalomethanes (THMs), a suspected carcinogen. Using Sodium Thiosulphate you can create a home-made mixture to remove chlorine from your pond water.

Recipe:
Make a solution consisting of 4 ounces (1/4 lb) Sodium Thiosulfate crystals (photo or technical grade) dissolved in 1 gallon of distilled or deionized water. Use 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of the solution for each 10 gallons of makeup water to neutralize up to 3.75 ppm chlorine. One cup can be used for each 500 gallons. (The entire one gallon of solution will treat about 7500 gallons of tap water.) The shelf life of the solution is about six months when stored in a cool location. The crystals will keep for several years if kept dry.
By Norm Meck

In closing be very careful and read labels and ask or look for expiration date on dechlor or any products for you pond. Most all remember most over the counter dechlor will have a shelf life of around 6 months- 9 months plus or minus a few weeks.












Saturday, June 20, 2015

If You Find Yourself in a Hole


Stop Digging That Hole - Marshall Atkinson

I do my share of internet surfing and ran across this blog post. Even tho it caters to more the decorated apparel industry I rather enjoyed reading this post. It was thought provoking and I realized I could too also improve in some area's before that hole was dug!

You know what your issues are, right?  Do something about that challenge today.  Right now.  Go!

atkinsontshirt

unofficial ramblings of Marshall Atkinson

There’s a famous old farmer saying, “If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging”.  When confronted with the truth, I wonder how many people would take that advice?  For that matter, how many people even know that they are in a hole?  If you take a look at companies in the decorated apparel industry, I see a lot of shovels churning and dirt flying.  Sometimes we work really hard at doing things the same way we’ve always done them.  Even if it means we’re tunneling down like a mole rat.
The trouble is, sometimes it’s easier to keep digging that hole.  It’s all we know.  If you’ve been pulling a squeegee for twenty years, trying to understand digital printing can be tough.  Maybe you are used to having customers walk into your shop, and casually chit-chat with you while they place their order.  It’s hard to understand now why someone would want to place that same order alone at midnight, in their underwear, while snuggled up on the couch using an app for an iPad.  It’s easier to bitch about how we can’t find good printers or embroiderers any more, but we don’t do much to support apprenticeships or local schools to help build skills.  Do you even have a mentoring program in your shop to move up your existing talent to learn these jobs?  It’s easy to always blame the ink for our printing problems, or the thread when it breaks, when it could be an entire list of other things that are causing a production problem.  Sometimes it’s not the obvious answer that will resolve a challenge.  Sometimes you need to ask the right questions.
How tight of a grip do you have on your shovel?  Are you willing to change?  Can you stop plowing through orders for one second to realize that they way you go about your business could be flawed?  When was the last time you did an analysis to see what it really costs you to process an order?  How do you know you are even making any money?  I did an analysis for a printer a few years ago, and showed the owners that they lost money on over half of the jobs on their schedule.  The biggest losers were for their “key” clients.  It all came down to pricing.  Unless they gave it away, they couldn’t get those jobs.  Competing in a price war is a losing battle.  That’s gripping the shovel so tight, you can hear the handle wood squeak.  Dig that hole.
So how do you get out of the hole?  It probably depends on what it looks like.  Is it just a tiny dent in the earth, or can you drop a house in it?  Regardless of how big the challenge may be, you can reverse your problem.  It might involve some work on your end, and be a little frustrating at times, but you have to solve the challenge.   Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Define the Problem.  Write it down.  This is going to describe the hole your company has dug.  Is it cavernously deep?  Be realistic, and don’t blame anyone.  Use facts.  If you are going the Five Why route, use this as your Problem Statement.  
Be Truthful with Your Staff.  Talk to them about the situation.  There is a great saying I’ve always used, “Man supports what he helps create.”  Get your employees involved in the solution so you can pull together as a team and stomp that sucker flat.  Sometimes the people doing the work will have the best ideas on how to solve a challenge.  Just because you are the owner of the business or the manager of the department doesn’t mean that you are omnipotent and know everything.  Trust your people.  It’s why you hired them, right?  They may have a solution you haven’t thought about.
Use the Product Correctly.  Maybe the challenge is technical, and you need to learn a new skill or expand your knowledge on a technique.  It’s ok to admit you don’t know something…ask questions.  Your vendors should have people on staff that can assist you, and could present you with an option or two that will make a difference.  Also, make sure you are using the product correctly if something isn’t turning out the way it should.  There usually is a recipe for success, and more isn’t always better.  I’ve found that asking people to “show me” how the problem occurs usually uncovers the truth in the matter.
Measure.  Just how deep is that hole?  Find a way to measure it.  Examples could be determining your direct and indirect labor costs, or pulling financial data, or running a quarterly inventory exercise, or a monthly safety audit, or starting a time/motion study on a process, or using a Newton meter to measure screen tension, or comparing printed ink to a Pantone book…the list could be endless.  Measuring something provides you with the information you need to make a good decision.  What does the data tell you?  It tells you the size of the ladder you’ll need to climb out.  You’ve heard this before: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”.  That’s usually an accurate statement.  Are you getting the information to make good decisions?
Own the Problem.  Don’t sweep it under the rug.  Bury your head in the sand.  Whatever metaphor you choose, it’s important that you keep chipping away at the issue.  At the very least, stop whatever you are doing that is causing you to dig that hole.  If you can’t solve the problem today, at least work around it until you do.  Push the problem to the front, and keep working it like a dog with a bone until you are finished.
Can’t we just ignore the hole?  When holes start to get really big, they start to look like graves.  Not paying attention or ignoring the problem could be the death blow to your company.  You read about this all the time.  A major player shuts down a facility due to safety concerns.  An accountant embezzles money for years from the company they work for by setting up phony vendors and paying herself.  A decorator goes out of business when their largest customer decides to move production somewhere else.  A private equity firm buys a business they don’t understand and can’t manage the intricate details of production because it doesn’t run like a typical company.  Safeguards aren’t built into a website and all the credit card information is hacked and stolen.  All of these challenges are preventable.  They started out as small issues, and when nobody did anything they just kept getting bigger and bigger.  Eventually they are Grand Canyon sized and too immense to fix.  Pink slips for everyone!
Stop and think about your company for a minute.  What minor irritation are you putting up with today?  Orders have to ship, so we ignore a problem and put off doing anything about it.  “I’ll do that next week after that big job is out the door.”  That shovel is crunching into the soil.  Sooner or later that squeak you hear in the equipment, the half-assed way your sales guy puts in orders, the fact that you customer service staff doesn’t regularly follow up on their orders to see if everything is on track, the customer you allow to just drop stuff off without checking-in the goods, the outdated way your website is set up, or even the customers or markets you serve…it could all implode right before your eyes.  I’ll bet you’ve been thinking about something for a few weeks now.  Stop digging.  You know what your issues are, right?  Do something about that challenge today.  Right now.  Go!


Monday, June 15, 2015

WHEN TO USE HOT WEATHER CONCRETING METHODS

Most everyone at one time or another have used concrete for pond constructions. I have done concrete in CA,NV,AZ and in some of hottest weather for these area's. I would like to share an article that is from the "Concrete Network" talking about tips when working with "Mud"  on a hot day.

The obvious first step is to use a knowledgeable ready mix producer with whom you have developed a good relationship. The objective is to get concrete that is as cool as possible. Most references don't give a maximum allowable temperature, but any concrete warmer than about 80° could be a problem.


Your ready mix producer can do several things to keep the concrete cool, starting with the mix ingredients. Since there's more aggregate than anything else in concrete, aggregate temperature has the greatest effect on concrete temperature. Shading of aggregate piles is ideal, although not always possible. Using cool water is another way to get cool concrete. Ready mix producers in hot climates use chilled water or ice to lower the concrete temperature. "We have an evaporative cooler that turns on at 2:00 a.m.," says Frank Kozeliski, president of Gallup Sand & Gravel, a ready-mixed concrete producer in Gallup, N.M. "We can get our water temp down to 40° without turning the chiller on. Very seldom in the summer do we have concrete over 80°. We can't really keep our aggregate out of the sun, but a lot of people keep their coarse aggregate wet and if you can get the wind to blow through it the evaporation will lower the concrete temperature 10° with no problem."

Retarding admixtures are another tool to control concrete in warm weather. Retarder can be added at the plant or on the job site to delay concrete setting time, which can be very quick when the concrete is hot. Retarders give you extra time but they also give the concrete more time to dry out, so curing is critical. Retarders come as straight retarders or as water-reducing and retarding admixtures. Mid-range water reducers often also retard the set and both retarders and water reducers can increase the air content of the concrete. Also, if too much retarder is added to concrete used for a slab it can lead to crusting, where the surface sets but the concrete below is still soft. This can really reduce your flatness and even lead to delamination of the surface. To learn more, check out ACI 212.3, Chemical Admixtures for Concrete, and talk with your admixture manufacturer.

In extreme situations, or when concrete has a long trip to the job site, hydration controlling admixtures are available-find Concrete Admixture Suppliers. Ready mix producers can add this material to delay set by up to 5 hours. Kozeliski routinely uses this to ship concrete as far as 200 miles. "On long haul concrete, we limit mixing to 1 revolution per mile, and we leave the plant at about a 5 or 5½ inch slump so we've reduced the friction between the particles and then it doesn't generate heat in transit."

Another way to slow set times is by using fly ash for part of the cementitious material, although this will change the color, so test it in advance and don't alter the percentage between batches. However, with hot concrete, substituting fly ash may not be very effective. "I don't see that fly ash or slag affects the set time if the concrete temperature is above 75 degrees," says Bob Harris from the Decorative Concrete Institute. "At lower temperatures, it does have a dramatic effect but over about 75° or 80° I don't see it."


Monday, January 26, 2015

Beware the Stagnation Zone in Your Pond

Over time, gravel at the bottom of the pond will clog with leaves and other debris that is blown into the pond, as well as 100% of the fish waste. Clogged filters force water to "channel" around the media instead of through it. Channeling water is then not filtered. Bacteria need food and oxygen to survive - with water channeling around the media - the bacteria die off. Dead bacteria and decaying organics in the biological filter become a haven for parasites and other diseases that can kill your fish!

There were many designs that everyone thought was the mouse trap to beat all other mouse traps.......Up flow grids, down flow grids were one most common way it was done. Either way they were traps for all kinds of detritus, down flow over time kept stacking debris on to debris layer after layer. The break down is slower then what was collecting. 

We found 3x3 foot square pits with a pump under (down flow)the grid supporting lava rock to pea gravel even up to 1/2 to 1" size rock pulling water down through media and then returning to waterfall outlet. They were even setup with external pumps as well. Now this works for a while with a VERY light bio load, but when you get leaves,air borne debris,fish poop uneaten food settling down loading up the whole concept changes and rather quickly. The first thing is channeling of media which now starts to go anaerobic(Lack of oxygen) after a few months you can see the water changing. You can see the Koi acting different as well,flashing,sitting on bottom,even red spots appearing on skin. 

The other popular design was the up flow bio pits, this was designed to have a submersible or external pump pull from the bottom of pond. Then in turn return it into lower chamber under a grid supporting lava rock to pea gravel even up to 1/2 to 1" size rock (up flow) then flow over divider wall.Even for the filter pit to be under water flowing up back into main water column. The biggest problem with any of these designs was "How do you clean them"? Backwash? Flush media? And ones with pump(s)under media and grid how to replace or repair pump? with out having to drain entire pond to do so. Remember this was back in the mid to late 80's that this was the common filter. I have seen only a few that have the up flow filters pits that are working today. They have been upgraded with pre-filters,cartridges, which helps cut down on debris from collecting and also have back-washing ability's.

It is now the early part 2000's (2015) and we are seeing the come back of the UFG........Is this Good? or Bad? We won't be attempting any time soon the "New School" approach to UGF's as we had are fair share of them back in the late 80's to early 90's......they were also considered the "New School" approach back then as well. We will give a fair time frame to see where and how they do....... Its still early on in the game.

A few reference pictures:


No way to back wash system.




This concept back in 1995 was a vast improvement from the prior design.





This was another design, stilled needed high maintenance.





This was one common way we would see it done. 




I want to re post an article from a gentleman I was able to spend sometime with and learn from one of the old school teachers.

Beware the Stagnation Zone in Your Pond
Gravel and Rock Form Dead Zone


by Joseph F. Cuny

It has been brought to my attention that some pond builders (both Koi and water garden) apparently are not familiar with basic pond design. In particular, I am referring to the use of gravel and rock inside the pond. As anyone who has been a pond keeper for a few years knows, that is a real no no. Possibly this practice is a direct carryover from the aquarium 'under gravel' filters, but it is a wrong application of the concept.

The problem is that the gravel and rock form a dead zone, more appropriately called a stagnation zone. Whether the pond has fish in it or only plants, there are all kinds of organic material produced in the pond. This organic material gets trapped in the stagnation zone and guess what happens? It stagnates! Since the water does not circulate very well in this zone, the water is deficient in dissolved oxygen, and the organics are processed anaerobically. In other words, the organic material rots or putrefies.

The end result of such putrefaction is the production of noxious gases and disease organisms. I do not know what effect these would have on plants but they are deadly on fish and are very unaesthetic. In time such a pond would smell like a cesspool! This is exactly what happens in an aquarium if the under gravel filter is not cleaned regularly. Even with oxygenated water flowing through such a filter, there are dead spots where the water does not flow and these have to be cleaned, usually with some type of vacuum or siphon system.

If it is necessary to put rocks on the bottom of a pond, possibly to simulate a natural stream, they should be well separated and bedded in mortar to allow flow around them and to eliminate pockets where debris could accumulate. The amount of work necessary to properly imbed gravel probably eliminates the use of gravel. If it is thought that the gravel will function as a filter, it should be placed such that it can be fairly easily cleaned. Despite claims made by various people, all filters must be cleaned. The only possible exception is the trickling filter type that is self cleaning, but in the process dumps the waste into the following stage where it must be captured and disposed of.

I have seen gravel filters built into a sump in the bottom of a pond. Such a filter is almost impossible to clean, and the resulting pond does not provide a healthy environment for the fish. With such a filter in a water garden, I would expect the same type of problems. I realize that many people believe that the root system of the plants provides space for the organisms that degrade the organic material, but this is not a suitable filter except for those organics that are soluble. Even these, when aerobically digested, result in material that falls to the bottom where it joins the leaves, stems, decaying roots, and so forth and then putrefies.

Joe Cuny is a founding editor and contributes to KOI USA since its beginning, over 20 years ago.
This article first appeared in the March/April 1999 KOI USA. It is reprinted here with permission.





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