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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Thursday, January 15, 2015

The wrong side of politically correct

I would like to share this article as it about sums up my thoughts on “politically Correct” 

It’s tragic when otherwise-smart leaders make poor choices in the name of being politically correct.
“We all know why this project went south, but it wouldn't be politically correct to bring it up. We can’t remind him of that decision. Let’s just blame it on poor execution.”  “If this were my business, I would make a different choice. And I know you would do the same, but the optics on this are just too intense, I think we need to go in the other direction.”
“I know John’s the most qualified for the job, by Kelly’s really the executive favorite. We’d be doing John a disservice if we promoted him over Kelly. He just would not have the support he needs.”

When fear of ticking off the wrong person trumps “right,” the business suffers on many levels:
  • wasted time
  • poor decisions
  • inferior talent 

You’ll never find “politically correct” on a short list of company values, and yet, political correctness is an unspoken part of the decision-making process in many companies. When leaders groom their protégés to follow a similar pattern, the destructive cycle continues.

Mike Myatt shares in his book “Hacking Leadership”:

“In the face of perceived conflict, dissension, threats or controversy, people tend to default to denial, justification and rationalization. In today’s politically correct world, it is just easier for most people to hide in the safety of the majority than it is to take on the risk of being outspoken, innovative, disruptive, challenging, convicted, bold, controversial, or truthful.”

Dangerous side effects of politically correct.

The dangers of making wrong choices outweigh the short-term comforts. Strong leaders take the long view and say what they mean.

Poor decisions.

When the desire for political correctness trumps truth-telling, important insights are lost in translation. As an executive, I’m always amazed when I hear through the grapevine what folks think I will or won’t “like.” Even when leaders want to know the truth, it’s easy for others to second guess what they’re looking for. What “Karin wants,” is the good, bad and the ugly, and your true thoughts on what we should do.  Anything less will weaken our mission.

Blocked learning.

When leaders reinvent history to “protect” those who made the decision or to justify poor outcomes, they sacrifice the important learning that comes from making mistakes. Much better for the “protected” to admit they have screwed up before anyone is trying to save them the embarrassment. Leaders can help others save face by creating a culture where mistakes are accepted as part of the learning process.

Inferior talent.

Many organizations have a long list of unspoken criteria they use to select candidates before they get to the truly most qualified. The best candidate is the one with a unique set of talents and skills to create breakthrough results, not the one who’s built a career working to offend no one, or who fits some gap in the diversity profile.

Wasted time.

Much time is wasted when people tell others what they think they want to hear or spin their words into politically correct code. Be polite, be sensitive and kind, but save us all some time and tell the truth.

Employee engagement.

Nothing’s more frustrating to employees at the front line than to see their bosses making poor choices for political reasons. Strong leaders create a culture where “politically correct” and correct are as closely aligned as possible.

By Karin Hurt on February 19th, 2014