Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Looking back at decades of filtration systems...are they really that different?

Looking back at the last three and a half decades of water filtration has brought about some new but not terribly different technologies in water filtration. Some just have new packaging with not much more to offer to the hobbyists except a higher price tag and some bells and whistles we could easily live without, but then again this could be subjective. Others such as pond builder and manufactures, showing a special interest of their own, and have tried to stymie anything that doesn’t make money for them, either in maintenance or chemical reliance.

For some of us that have been in ponding far sometime now, we’ve all seen it when someone needs help (you can add you own venue in this spot) and right away the salesperson grabs a bottle of brand-X and gives it to the hobbyist saying: This will take care of your problems! Now you’ve become chemical reliant instead of fixing the problem. However, others still try to put the fear of God into hobbyist, convincing them (newcomers mostly) that only what they sell or use is ponding nirvana and there are no substitutions. They can talk a very good talk, but when it comes down to it, they lack any real cement foundation to their arguments and still themselves us archaistic technologies that is prone to fail more often than not. Please refer to the top of this paragraph for further explanation on how they will fix your problems.

I’ve seen first hand many filtration systems still used today like they were forty years ago. If they didn’t work then, what makes you think they will work any better today? Bio-falls (A generic name now uses for all filters that perform the same way or are set up in the same fashion.) is one that comes to mind as a filter for ponds that should be laid to rest at the curb. It clogs too easily and is never able to carry a large enough colony of bacteria to consume large bioloads, especially a Koi ponds bioload for that matter. They are almost always undersize for all except the smallest of animal loads. Good for Water Garden ponds and Goldfish but not for anything to do with Koi.

Some of these filters become quite elaborate in there matrix of brushes and filter matting (some will use bio-balls or lava rock), but price does follow function so be prepared for sticker shock. These are a lot better than the smaller ones but most people opt-out from buying these filters because of price. Yet I still see bio-fall filters abundantly being used today in different forms; lots of pond builders using them here in the U.S.A. and selling these particular filters to unknowing hobbyist every year.

Whenever I get a call from newcomers into the hobby to look at their pond because of troubles, guess what, they always have a bio-falls filter. They always say the same thing too: “We were told by the builder that this would be more than adequate for our filtration needs, now all we have is troubles and using all kinds of chemicals!” Every time we need help, it’s a new bottle of some innovative chemical that will do the trick.

I would suggest to forget bio-falls altogether, they’re nothing but a joke sold by pond builders and garden-centers to hook newcomers into the hobby. I did find a few of them (pond builder) using bio-falls and other questionable methods of biological filtration that I thought died with the Victorian Era of ponding… and they criticize me, HA! Don’t be hooked into their mythology of ponding. These ponds are design to have high maintenance and more money thrown at them than you can shake a stick at. There are many good and reputable pond builders out there, just make sure you do your homework and check all references, that means going on the internet, too. Some builders are more flexible in the filtration systems they use. Whilst others will only advocate one type of filtration system and that’s it, do to bigger profits. In the U.S. we call theses; cookie cutter ponds. Within a day they can build you a Water Garden with Koi added. Remember what I just said, a Water Garden not a Koi pond! 

Uber expensive filters really have their place too but not in most people’s backyards. These filters are left to the more skilled and dedicated hobbyist than the common hobbyists. Once again I’ve seen these filters fail time and time again; they allegedly are the best that manufactures have to offer. Yet as we surf the Internet and the Koi forums they do have some very dedicated followers.

However, hidden behind the walls of inconspicuous homeowners the battle of the filter is never won without Koi casualties being high. Perfection should never be judged by the price alone but by the way it is implemented with success being dominated over cost. Out-of-the-box filters should have a 100% success rate in today world, but they do not. If 80% of the people that buy a these filters are successful, then it is consider being a winner! If you happen to fall into that 20% category then too bad for you and the money you just spent. The only question I have is: Why do I always fall into that 20% rate that fails? Have you ever notice that when a product or drug says, will not work for everyone and you’re the one that it doesn’t work for?

Even the Anoxic Filtration System has its failure rate, too. Because hobbyists vary from the instructions and tries to cut corners thinking that it doesn’t matter, but it does! It sadden me to see this happen but I personally have no control over what people do with the information they’re given and how they use that information in the implication processes of building their Anoxic Filter . Even Dr. Lio Fornellino AKA: Dr. Franco as he’s better known on other Koi forums and his associate Jimmy went through a lot of trouble testing the Anoxic Filtration System for the hobbyists in Italy - - in showing how easy it is to make the Anoxic Filters Biocenosis Clarification baskets with test on its soundness, reliability and still people just do whatever they want, only to end up with a failed system. Let’s face facts; if Lio is willing to travelling 2000-miles to get cat litter from the UK he inevitably must have the knowledge that it works as stated. Look at his professionalism in testing and you will see for yourself what I mean.

Dr. Franco's pond in Italy.

 When was the last time you saw an out-of-the-box filter being tested by an independent lab? Not a lab that the manufacture paid to do the testing, but a real independent source that would give everyone a true synopsis of how the filter performs in the long run! I still hear that some of these filters need to be modified in order to work correctly after 20 plus years in production. Some @ $3000 to $5000-dollars a pop USD, I think these filters should have an unbiased evaluation on them with a cost to performance scenario as part of the evaluation; like the Anoxic Filter was tested and ran through the ringer on! We do have members in our club (MPKS) using these expensive filters with less than favorable results by some. At least for the price I would not buy one nor can I afford the expense of the “risk factor involved” (Okay, I could afford them, but I’m too cheep!) after seeing the poor water quality that some of them have. Sick fish are not a good indication of excellent water quality in my book. I’m sure many will disagree with me, but let’s see all the hands up that own these filters first before we listen to the squeaky wheels on the internet only. Remember there are a lot of people using filtration system out there that never say a word on the internet. It would be nice to hear their stories as well.

Talking about things getting a little out of hand! I just had seen an advertisement for an aquarium canister filter by reputable manufacture for over five hundred dollars. It has all these compartments in it with replicable inserts cartridges full of medium. It also let you know when to replace the insert cartridges and gives the hobbyist other data, too. It’s only a canister filter that’s been around now far the past 40 years. It’s no better than my old Eheim canister filter of thirty-five years ago that could filter down to 5 microns if you wanted it to.

The point I’m make here is it’s just the same old same old for a lot more that what is needed or will it really work any better than a 30 old Eheim? The answer is a definite NO, but it does give you a lot more bells and whistles that really have nothing to do with good water quality, but very impressive. Today pond filtration systems are going the same path as the aquarium hobby’s going. Costing more and giving the same old filtration they did 40 years ago is not advancement but stagnation under a different name: Progress! 


Anoxic Filtration Book... Still free on Apple's iBook store

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