Thursday, August 29, 2013

Testing 11 commercial products claiming to contain nitrifying bacteria that will facilitate in the conversion of toxic ammonia to nontoxic nitrate within the pond.

Cat litter from Meijer’s Food Stores…You can buy this once or you can every year buy nitrifiers cultures and hope they will work. In fact, contact the manufacture of anyone of the nitrifying bacteria products for sale and see if they will tell you exactly what is in their product or if they have any scientific lab test to show it works as clamed. I’m not talking anecdotal accounts; I’m talking about independent lab test of their products validity. Good luck!


We just had a pond install in our backyard about three years ago and the contractor told us that after cleaning out the pond in spring we were to add a commercial product that would help reestablish the bacteria in our pond. My question is: Can you help us determine what is in these bottles and freeze-dried containers of bacteria that we have to add to our pond? When we asked the professionals and/or experts they say, “I do not know,” are they are not very specific on exactly what kind of bacteria they are using, so please help us. Because some the products we use seem to work and other products, do not!

When information, which properly belongs to the public, is systematically withheld by those in power, the people soon become ignorant of their own affairs, distrustful of those who manage them, and—eventually— incapable of determining their own destinies.

—Richard M. Nixon 

This time it appears you came to the right person to ask your question to. Despite the numerous books written by several competent authors about the role of nitrifying bacteria in the pond, most of the information in general remains anecdotal. This is particularly true when it comes to nitrifying bacterial products sold to add bacteria to the pond and enhance nitrification or to inoculate replacement bacteria in the ponds filter. 

First, let us get down to the facts of what is known. True nitrifying bacteria are those belonging to the bacteria family Nitrobacteriaceae. The strictly oxygen requiring aerobic bacteria requires carbon dioxide as their source of carbon and they can use inorganic compounds such as ammonia and nitrite as their source of energy. Because of their abilities to detoxify inorganic materials the classification nitrifying bacteria are autotrophs, accurately meaning “self-feeders.” You can find nitrifying bacteria in the soil, freshwater systems, and the oceans settlement deposits. Known are five ammonium oxidation bacteria; two of these genera contain marine strains. Also known are three nitrite-oxidizing genera, all of which contain marine strains. The beneficial role of nitrifying bacteria within a pond environment is their function in the nitrogen cycle. Nitrifiers perform the biological oxidation of ammonia to nitrite in a two-step process wherein ammonia will be oxidized into nitrites, which subsequently then is oxidized to nitrates. 

During this process of nitrification, Nitrosomonas spp., Nitrosospira spp., and Nitrospira spp. converts toxic ammonia /ammonium to nitrites; this is also toxic to the pond inhabitants. Nitrites can be highly toxic to freshwater fish but is less so when dissolved salt is added to the pond, for it will then act as a detoxifier in these waters. In the second step, nitrites are converted to nitrates by Nitrobacter spp. and nitrates or not generally considered toxic unless accumulated in high concentrations. However, we must also make note that in natural systems cyprinid exposed to nitrate levels above 2-3 ppm are seldom if ever encountered. We also have known that high levels of the nitrates are a contributing factor to suppressing Koi colors and their ability for releasing toxins along with contributing as a food source to cyanobacteria (Family: Cyanophyta) along with very minute levels of phosphates. 

There are numerous commercial products claiming to contain nitrifying bacteria that will facilitate in the conversion of toxic ammonia to nontoxic nitrate within the pond. However, on the labels [Ed: That’s if they have a label that lists anything at all.] of some of these products addition to nitrifiers, some products contained other bacteria such as Bacillus, Streptococcus, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, and Escherichia coli (E. coli). Now we come to the main problem about these particular bacteria, they are not nitrifying bacteria and therefore cannot successfully convert ammonia to nitrates. Bacteria such as these are classified as heterotrophs; that is, they cannot utilize carbon dioxide but required one or more complex organic compounds as a source of carbon. Heterotrophic bacteria compete with nitrifiers for available space, oxygen and in some situations ammonia. When the organic load is high, heterotrophic numbers increase which can lead to a depression in nitrate formation in biological filters.

 Some evidence indicates that rapidly growing heterotrophs produce intermediate byproducts, which are toxic to nitrifiers. Several heterotrophs, particularly the coli form of bacteria, can readily convert nitrates back to nitrite in a reduction process. Therefore, this ability is a characteristic of the bacteria family Enterobacteriaceae, which includes the E. coli and other related coli forms of bacteria and pathogens such as salmonellae. Reducing nitrates to nitrites commonly used as a diagnostic test more often in clinical microbiology labs. Then other bacteria such as Pseudomonas spp. or Bacillus spp. can further convert nitrites to ammonia. 

 In our ponds nevertheless, nitrification in reverse (nitrates reduced to nitrites and then again reduced to ammonia in anaerobic conditions.) can cause severe problems in water quality. This reverse situation usually occurs when oxygen concentrations are lower than .050-ppm, pH begins to drop, or an overload of organic material is present. Which are the right conditions for a filter that is congested with organic matter. In these situations, that heterotrophic bacteria population can “bloom” (aka: “Bacteria bloom,” turning the turbidity of the water white) and further contribute to water quality problems. Nitrifying bacteria have long generation times and maybe eclipsed by a “bacteria bloom” of heterotrophs. Correctly implemented UV sterilizers will help in these situations. 

Laboratory experiments were conducted to determine the efficiency of commercial products available to the pond hobbyists. The laboratory experiments tested and analyzed over 11 different products for freshwater systems. Out of these 11 products, seven of them claim efficiency in both fresh and saltwater so testing under both conditions was conducted. These studies conducted were not under pond conditions, but rather under laboratory conditions to stimulate optimum growth, were there would be no competition from heterotrophs. A meticulously maintained, optimum oxygen level throughout the testing was held at a constant, the pH was carefully controlled, and a diet of ammonia and carbon in a chemical medium (ATCC 221) was provided. All freshwater products were grown on this medium, while saltwater products grown on specially formulated medium (ATCC 928). In the tests, all the nitrifiers had to do was eat, grow, convert ammonia to nitrate, and reproduce. All the cultures ran in duplicate and shaker baths and maintained at 27° C. (77° F.). Sterile calcium carbonate chips added to the medium to provide attachment surfaces for the nitrifying bacteria. All the experimental products used, according to manufacturer directions. The experiments conducted were for two weeks, which all parameters of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH measurements were every two days to determine the progress of nitrification. 

 Parameters were determined by using a spectrophotometric analysis using the Hach, DR/2000. All ammonia measurements conducted, using the Nessler method, nitrite using the ferrous sulfate method, and nitrates using the cadmium reduction method, respectively. Out of the 11 products tested only one product excelled in converting ammonia to nitrite to nitrate. This particular product produced ammonia depletion in 4 to 5 days earlier than all the other products. The remaining freshwater commercial sources moves at various rates through the process of converting ammonia to nitrate. Some of these products fail to show any movement at all while others cause a reversal of the nitrification process, causing the conversion of nitrate back to ammonia. 

The research conducted with the nitrification bacteria concluded that ammonia is being produced constantly in an enclosed environment such as our ponds. Small amounts of ammonia are being produced from diffusion across the gill membranes of the fish, but a majority of ammonia is produced through the process of mineralization, which involves the conversion of waste products in the pond to ammonia by heterotrophic bacteria. Therefore, products that are capable of converting toxic ammonia to nontoxic or less toxic nitrates can be an essential part of any pond environment. 

In the 11 products tested and compared in the laboratory, the findings were that only two products perform faster and at superior levels to all other products. These high levels are due to use of pure cultures of live Nitrosomonas, Nitrosospira, Nitrospira, and Nitrobacter bacteria. The other products using a combination of Nitrosomonas, Nitrosospira, Nitrospira, and Nitrobacter bacteria at lower levels in conjunction with Heterotrophic bacteria; while some of the other products tested contained Heterotrophic bacteria alone. Using Heterotrophic bacteria as a supplement or a replacement for true nitrifying bacteria belonging to the family Nitrobacteriaceae is not an uncommon practice, because Heterotrophic bacteria are able to tolerate a wider range of environmental conditions. Heterotrophic bacteria used in place of true nitrifiers lead to a number of basic problems. In two of the experiments that were performed, heterotrophs under certain environmental conditions such as low pH and oxygen levels can operate in reverse directions, converting nitrates back to nitrite, ammonia, and nitrogen gas, which are called denitrification.

It should also be known that the Heterotrophic bacteria used in these products are also capable of forming spores, allowing the product to be dried or freeze dried, packaged, and sold as a viable culture. Products containing Nitrosomonas, Nitrosospira, Nitrospira, or Nitrobacter spp. cannot readily undergo this drying process; however, in liquid formulations the nitrifiers can survive as valuable inactive cells, which can be reactivated during periods of mineralization. 

 Found from these laboratory studies, that dry products perform at some of the lowest levels in the conversion of ammonia to nitrate when placed in an optimal in vitro environment. Other experiments have shown that there is often the problem of competition for ammonium between the Heterotrophic bacteria and the true nitrifiers, nitrifying bacteria being less competitive than the heterotrophs. These findings were further supported by the results, which show that pure nitrifiers’ cultures far outperform those products containing a mixed culture of nitrifiers and heterotrophs. It was concluded that in the lab under the most maintained optimum growth conditions during its study and if a product did not perform under these conditions it is less likely to perform under pond conditions. 

In conclusion, there are products available on the market that work exceptionally well; it is up to the hobbyists /consumer to find through experimentation and trial and error, which products work for them. However, you must also remember, that these products are not a replacement for good husbandry and proper pond maintenance. No product, no matter how well it works can replace a properly designed filtration system.

As stated this cat litter is “heat treated” that is what hobbyists are looking for, it will then hold its integrity when wet. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Part 4: The degree of a filters permeability is what changes its biophysical rules on which filter media is to be used.

Part 4 

Nature’s way of diffusion: Moving of molecules from one place to another is the way that nature moves solutes in fluids. It seems apparent that this fundamental process of transporting molecules from solution through the substrate is disruptive with the pots that only have drainage holes at the bottom of them and not so with the open-cell-baskets. In the early stages of plant growth, convective movement of fluids is not dependable and the substrate will become anaerobic before it will become anoxic in nature. As healthy root growth becomes apparent then the substrate will become less anaerobic and more anoxic in nature. The open-cell-baskets allow diffusion to take place over convection and therefore allowing more nutrients with oxygen in solution to be transported more easily through the cat litter substrate. Once the plant roots became more prolific, a steady slow convective movement through the pot substrate became apparent and oxygen levels became satisfactory for anoxic condition to exist. 

The degree of a filters permeability is what changes its biophysical rules on which filter media is to be used. In a close system like or ponds, the microbial efficiency is in relationship to the media/substrate and incoming foodstuff that is of great importance. As long as the pathway remains open to the microbial mediators, equilibrium will exist between the aquatic life in the pond and bacteria. However, because of clogging these nitrogen pathways become blocked disturbing and limiting the organic carbons, this is known as the Redfield Ratio and contributing to algae blooms, cyanobacteria AKA: hair and string algae problems. Clogging is not an issue with the Anoxic Filtration System and therefore all pathways remain open to biological and chemical mediators. Therefore, organic carbons and mineral nutrients do not limit heterotrophic bacteria. 

If you have learned anything from what I have said in my blog, it is that biochemical pathways always remain open to the bacteria, verses other filtering systems pathways. The plants will proliferate, adsorbing and absorbing more cations and anions (anions equal nutrients like nitrates and phosphate) than other ways of planting. In other words, they will do what they are supposed to do to help clean and in some circumstances lessen the germs count in the water body, not what you think they are doing when plant fertilizers are used. Maintenance compared to other filtration systems will be exponentially lessened to a greater degree. If you already have an existing filtration system, caution should be taken before integrating it with the Anoxic filtration if your old filtration system is prone to clogging relatively fast. One system will then be counterproductive to the other filtration system [Ed: That is if the system you are using at present is not of high standards like a Nexus or similar system.] Some filtration systems are so inadequate and miss-engineered that the hobbyist is doomed from the start and you will never have complete success. It does not take a large filter to make it a successful one: A 4'x 8' filter will hold as many as 28 filtering Biocenosis-baskets in one layer. That is enough Biocenosis baskets to filter an 8000-gallon pond depending on the fish mass. 

As I write this, I realize this topic is like discussing politics or religion. Strong misconceptions and beliefs die very hard. Most of the time, we just go on believing in our own doctrines and others keep believe in theirs. With this filtration system its primary path of biological pathways are from diffusion. This system plays an integrated part of the biological capability of nitrifying and denitrifying a ponds pollutants and it’s capability of purifying its water making it safe for aquatic life. Its oxygen demand on the aquatic animals is not demanding and lessening the burden of the consumption of oxygen means healthier fish in the summertime at higher pond temps.

A photo showing the inside of an Anoxic Filter. The juvenile Koi was born in springtime and look how big it has grown in just a few months. The Biocenosis baskets are 11"x11"x7" for a size comparison.

Anoxic Filtration System ®
February 02-2005-2013
New Updated Version

Part 2: Some hobbyists will even go as far as making their whole pond into a huge biological filter by placing rocks, gravel, and small stones on the bottom of their ponds.

Part 2

Some hobbyists will even go as far as making their whole pond into a huge biological filter by placing rocks, gravel, and small stones on the bottom of their ponds. The same is true for what happens with this way of filtering, as with any other type. The stones will begin to clog with smut, dead Algae, and detritus. Ammonium producing anaerobic bacteria will begin to leach ammonia ions upwards out of the substrate into solution. Algae then will use this as a food source for this is a nutrient of prime importance or it has to be converted back into nitrates by the aerobic nitrification bacteria. Nevertheless, as you can see, that the pond will be plagued with the same problems as submergence filtration systems have with clogging and producing more ammonia/ammonium. 

Now let’s use this as an example or a good analogy of how the above method of biological filtration doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. Let us say you wanted to have a natural pond, and you wanted to cutout a section of X amount of gallons from biotope in a forest preserve. You then cut out this section in this biotope and placed a liner underneath it and then had it dropped into a hole in your backyard. You would think you would have the perfect scenario! Unfortunately, you would not, because once you put the liner underneath that extracted natural ecosystem you interfered with the intersection of topography, which ground water is going constantly into and out of the water body proper at the interface of the ground and water surface. The liner has cut off the movement of water through the soil or in this situation the rocks and gravel substrate. The soil substrate/roots/water interface is of tremendous importance and is now disrupted by the ponds liner. Natural ponds constantly have water moving in an out of them on a continuous basis. This is not just from the top to bottom movement but from horizontal and vertical directions as well.   

Unlike our ponds that are closed recirculating systems, natural ponds are open systems to topography and are not plagued with the same ammonia/ammonium ion producing problems. Therefore, with all that we now know, how can one solve this filtration dilemma?  

The quest to solve, this frustrating problem started me on a systematic investigation that took over sixteen years of research. Yes, I did R&D on this Anoxic Filtration system far over 16-years before it was made publicly known. The answer is not quite as simple as one would think and a great amount of scientific research was implemented in overcoming many common problems filtration systems are plague with. Is this the Holy Grail of pond filtration? Maybe not, but it is as close to it with what is known by science today. 

As the old saying goes: “If you build a better mouse trap people will buy it!” First, biophysical rules for the Anoxic filtration are different from that of filtration systems most hobbyists use in their ponds today. In the filtration systems hobbyist use, the overall efficiency of the filter is in relation to the filters-incoming foodstuff. Nutrients flux of incoming nitrogen reacts differently to levels of nitrates in the system that is if microbial mediators are in equilibrium with each other. If excess should occur, there may be a lack of balance of useful microbial mediators. This will occur when clogging of the filter medium is present or when oxygen concentrations are high in bulk water. 

 The Anoxic Filtration filter media having more anoxic and less anaerobic volume area where more efficient facultative anaerobic bacteria exist will be able to respond extemporaneously to the nutrients flux more efficiently than conventional filters do. The fact is that when glucose is randomly added to these facultative anaerobes they have an Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) yield of approximately 34 times that of anaerobic heterotrophs that are present in clogged filters or gravel bed filters. 

Adenosine Triphosphate s corresponds to the speed and efficiency nutrients can be reduced to make energy. Organic carbons do not limit these bacteria and mineral nutrients as heterotrophic bacteria are, which will have a negative impact on other chemolithotrophic processes. With the Anoxic Filtration System, biochemical pathways are always open and never clog. The oxic–anoxic interface microbial processing is the principal processing, controlling electrons flowing from organic matter to oxygen in molecular diffusion. This filter also has a diffusion of nutrients through it influenced by electrical charge. The filters Biocenosis-baskets are negative mV. Moreover, in the pond are many charged molecules, which most are positive mV. 

The more positive nutrients are naturally attracted to the filter Biocenosis-baskets that are then used by facultative anaerobes. These bacteria are thirty times more efficient than bacteria in oxygen free zones, make better use of phosphorus and only trace amounts of phosphates. Reducing nitrates back into gas elements, (Dinitrogen [N2] is called Dissimulative Denitrification.  

Making up Biocenosis-baskets for the Anoxic filtration and plants is really quite simple. The supplies you will need are large planting baskets (11" x 11" x 7" or 14" x 14" x 10"), kitty litter 10 (with no additives just plain baked processed clay), and Laterite that will be added to the substrate. Laterite is a highly weathered remnant of volcanic rock (weathering implies exposure to tropical temperatures, precipitation and forest derived humic acids over geologic time) but is not a fertilizer and is very rich in Iron and Manganese (iron is needed for plants to make chlorophyll). Taking an open cell plant basket and then fill it with Kitty litter make sure you leave a small impression in the center of the basket but this however is not mandatory it can be mixed up in the center of each Biocenosis basket, too. Take about one cup for smaller baskets and one and a half cups for larger baskets of Laterite and pouring it into the center of the basket then mixing the Kitty litter and the Laterite in the center of the basket. Now place only one layer of pond pebbles on top: This is to keep the Kitty litter from floating up after submerging it into the pond or being blown off during maintenance. Instead of using pond pebbles, you can substitute a black craft canvas/screen on top and wire-tie it to the basket. 

The Laterite will help the bacteria grow in its early stages; then once the bacteria become established it will be less dependent upon the iron in the Laterite for growth. Yet in the years to come it is still very important to maintain the Laterite concentration at all times so about every five to seven years you may have to add more to the Biocenosis baskets without plants and those with plants will be governed by the plants growth rate. The good thing about the Biocenosis basket is it will take years before clogging with organic matter (it may take 25 years or longer). You will use the same procedure for the planted Biocenosis baskets, but you will not use the black craft canvas on top of this basket only the pond pebbles with the addition of an aquatic plant of your choosing. 

(Part 3)

(Part 4)

    Expensive denitrifying media such as Bakki House Media has matured, it will have the same or similar facultative anaerobic bugs in it as in a biocenosis basket? 

Anoxic Filtration System ®
February 02-2005-2013
New Updated Version

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Part 1: Once the microporous structure is gone from a filter media all you have left is the outside of that media.

Part 1

Are you thinking about building a garden/Koi pond or do you already have one? One of the main concerns of people building or already having a pond is the filtration system. Filtration is the most misunderstood part about pond keeping, but the most important part of a ponds ecological stability.  

Most people will look into a pond book, and build a filter that the book recommends or buy one from a nursery center that sells pond supplies. The filtration methods and systems that are recommended in books, and there seems to be a plethora of them like Veggie, Bogs and gravel filters, and those from nursery centers are usually too small and inadequate, with very old anachronistic technology backing them. (This technology came from sewage treatment facilities back in the 1930s.) It wasn’t until 1984 when a hobbyist named George Smit, introduces a new type of filtration to the unfamiliar U.S. hobbyist. It’s called the; “Dutch Reef Filtration System.” Far better, at least we thought, than anything that was available.  

This system uses highly oxygenated filtration material, exposed to air and water, it was coined the oxymoron: Wet-Dry Filtration Systems by the U.S. hobbyist and in pond use, it’s called a Bakki Shower filter. In this method of filtering water drips or is sprayed over the filter medium that could be plastic, stones, gravel or DLS material exposed to air. The bacteria from these particular filtration systems are able to break down ammonia 30 times faster than the same filtering material submerged under water. This particular type of filtration systems believed to be technologically superior in its ability of nitrification to the ones presently known at the time.

Even so, there were some drawbacks to these filters: They produced more Nitrogen compounds taken from the air, because our atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, that add to the inorganic load (as Nitrates) of the pond. The bacteria have to secrete a polymeric type adhesive to protect them from water shear. This takes the bacteria longer to establish itself especially if the medium is plastic in nature. Unless there is an excellent prefilter, the nutrient-rich medium will begin to catch all kinds of organic microscopic particles like detritus and therefore will begin to clog: Clogging the microporous structure of the media with organic matter turning it brown in color. Once the microporous structure is gone from a filter media all you have left is the outside of that media. This happens a lot with K1 and now the hobbyist is faced with the realization that they need more K1 than what came with their filters to begin with. It didn’t take long for the hobbyists to find out what the downsides of these particular filtration systems were…in an overabundance of Nitrates and are very inefficient at the using of phosphates. However, on pond forums this is a very debatable subject.  

These types of filtration systems can add to the cyanobacteria problem, of which many hobbyist ponds are plagued with all the time. They also warp the ecology of the ponds ecosystem, which makes the ponds eutrophic in a very short time. Saltwater hobbyists found this out too when their Live-rock would get covered with cyanobacteria from excessive nitrogen in solution. Natural ponds approximately take from 100 to1000 years to age from a Ligotrophic State to a Eutrophic State.  

Eutrophication is nothing more than excess of nutrients in concentration. When organic matter and inorganic compound levels increase in a garden pond, sometimes it can become very visible to the pond owners, as protein bubbles by a waterfall or unclear (turbid) pond waters. The turbidity of pond water begins to suffer, showing up as either green water or murky water, (a hazy murkiness look to the water, which makes the water look as if it has milk in it). The haziness is from complex organic substances like decomposing fish slime, urea, fish food, feces, dying algae, and metabolic byproducts. [Ed: Read about the hobbyist with the Nexus filter and their pond not staying clear.] Nexus are over rated and k1 is in fact not that good when it comes to dealing with large amounts of waste. 

Then add the phenols and many saprophytic bacteria that affect the fish growth rates, gills and weaken them, increasing their susceptibility to disease. These dissolved and suspended compounds makeup the biological oxygen demand (BOD), color, taste, and turbidity of water. Biological oxygen demand is the amount of oxygen used by microbes, mainly bacteria, in the oxidation of organic and inorganic compounds.  

Submerge filters are plagued with their own problems also. After initial startup, they clog within 30 days (to stop clogging, it would require a 3 micron prefilter) and you lose over 50 percent of available bacteria medium surface area. These filters are high producers of inorganic compounds and are subject to organic clogging. When they begin to clog, (water will then seek the path of least resistance) these filters begin to harvest anaerobic areas or better known as anaerobic zones. These anaerobic zones reduce nitrogen back into ammonia; this is called “Assimilatory Denitrification” . They do not convert nitrates into nitrogen gas N2 then release it into the atmosphere, as some hobbyists may think. Anaerobic heterotrophs reduced nitrates back to ammonia, and no further…period!  

They are very inefficient at the use of phosphorus for energy, resulting in abundant amounts of phosphates. The ammonia, which these bacteria make, is undetectable by hobbyist test kits. The fact is because of their inefficient use of phosphates, cyanobacteria can now take over, and it only takes 0.015-milligrams/liter to accelerate an alga spore into growing. The Merck Test Kits for phosphates will read below .015-mg/l, most hobbyist test kits will not test this low for phosphates. It is no wonder that when hobbyists do test for phosphates and their ponds are full of cyanobacteria AKA: Blue- green algae that they cannot figure out why because their test kits are reading zero phosphates.  

As you can see, making a filter work for us efficiently is no easy task. There are other filters out on the market but each one makes a byproduct that another bacterium now has to breakdown into another byproduct, and therefore adds to the inorganic load. When the organic and/or inorganic load increases therefore redox potential decreases along with TDS, one is in correlation with the other. The higher redox potential numbers correspond to oxidative states that are higher in value. Such values or states are chemically speaking, only possible when no reductive processes are taking place.  

Reductive processes are those that are known as decomposition, decay, and so forth, and means that pollution is present in the pond water. The lower the measured millivolt reading the higher the pollution that is present in the pond. If these inefficient anaerobic bacteria produce more nitrogen–based byproducts that can’t be used up by the efficient bacteria in areas that have aerobic bacteria then eventually the pond will have algae problems or in some situations sick fish.

Anoxic Filtration System ®
February 02-2005-2013
New Updated Version

Monday, August 26, 2013

I notice the white of my Tancho is getting whiter from a pinkish white and the black of my Showa is getting blacker.

Update 8-26-13 Yogas

Dear Dr. Novak,

First of all I would like to apologize that my observation towards my water quality after the insertion of the Biocenosis Baskets is far from meeting any scientific procedures. I just carry out the tests whenever I have enough spare time. Anyway, it has been 3 weeks now, and my last test two days ago, showed an increase in nitrates from 10mg/L to 25 mg/L. My usual measurement of nitrates would be 10mg/L, but then again the condition is not ceteris paribus with the only change being the insertion of the baskets. I also reduced the frequency of backwash. The reason for this is because the water looks great anyway, it is clear, foam and blanket weed exist but much less and increases in a much slower rate. It looks as though the alga is struggling to survive. But since the nitrate level is already in moderately high, and I would be off on a long business trip beginning next month, I decided to scrub everything off again and also inform my pond keeper on how to take care of the baskets during extreme cleanout (hopefully the last) such as yesterday.

Just to give a description of what is done when scrubbing of blanket weed yesterday:

1: Took out all Biocenosis baskets and put in water containing buckets.
2: Flushed all water in waterfall pool.
3: Scrub off the entire blanket weed in the waterfall pool.
4: Refilled waterfall pool with new water and moved all Koi to waterfall   pool.
5: Pumped out all water from main pond.
6: Scrub off all blanket weeds from main pond walls.
7: Refilled water and replaced all Koi into main pond.
8: Put Biocenosis baskets back into waterfall pool.

I figure even though the baskets are still in its early mid stage, it would be best to upgrade my UV clarifier from using submersible lamps to evolution aqua UV lamp (I use EA UV 30). This too was installed yesterday. In order to maximize UV sterilization and also save electricity, I plan to turn off my circulating pump every night, leaving only the main pump to the waterfall, which now passes the Evo-lamp, first. Anyway, things are going great for me, and I closely follow every new post you have on your blog. I notice the white of my Tancho is getting whiter from a pinkish white and the black of my Showa is getting blacker. Oh yeah, forgot to tell you, I also gave my pond 2 teaspoons of Bentonite clay every week and have already done it twice. Hopefully with all this done, it’s a one on one between Biocenosis baskets against nitrates. Again bless you always.

Best regards,


 Hi Yogas,

It will take some time for the Biocenosis baskets to break-in as stated several times in my blog and confirmed by Dr. Franco and Dkoinut observations when they tested the Anoxic filter. You have something different going on with using Zeolite clay cat litter instead of the normal cat litter clay used in other Anoxic systems. I know this is the hardest time for the hobbyist the “waiting game” but there are really no other options.

NOTE: I get more complaints about the time it takes to cycle the Biocenosis baskets than any other. It wasn’t very long ago hobbyist had to cycle their ponds the old fashion way by waiting it out until Mother Nature took over. Aquariums also played by the same rules too and it seemed to take forever to cycle a fish tank. Nowadays nobody wants to wait anymore they want instant gratification…NOW! Did you hear me...I said I want it now! So hobbyists now add all kinds of inoculating products to their ponds or Aquariums to speed up the nitrogen cycling process. Unfortunately the facultative anaerobic bacteria we are looking far takes it own sweet time to colonize the Biocenosis baskets and no matter what the hobbyist does it will not grow any faster. Hey! I didn't invent the bacteria I only use it, so please don't kill the messenger. 

In the past as you have stated: “My usual measurement of nitrates would be 10mg/L, but then again the condition is not ceteris paribus (Ed: ceteris paribus is Latin for: All other things being equal or held constant) with the only change being the addition of the baskets. I also reduced the frequency of backwash.”  Maybe that backwashing was also making your Nitrates lower by dilution and not by your filtration system as-per-say. As you stated in your E-mail this has to be the case because the foodstuff for cyanobacteria and protein foam are exhibiting some restraints already. As you have stated: “The reason for this is because the water looks great anyway, it is clear, foam and blanket weed exist but much less and increases in a much slower rate. It looks as though the alga is struggling to survive.” This is a very good sign when cyanobacteria starts to diminish  [cyanobacteria will start breaking apart and you will see more and more getting sucked up in your prefilter.] and other forms of algae take over and/or struggle to dominant the pond. In natural system this is exactly what we look for: Not one dominating algae but several algae’s coexisting in the same ecosystem.  

You mentioned about upgrading your UV Sterilizer, good idea, too! We can’t have too much UV sterilization when it comes to our ponds. You also mentioned about the colors of your Koi getting better. This tells me you have other issues other than nitrates alone inhibiting Koi color and your newly added Biocenosis baskets are doing more in ion exchange or eradication than your old filter and water changes alone could do

I think hobbyist dwell to a great extent on bacteria that they forget bacteria only play a small part in water quality parameters. That’s what hobbyist is told and then they don’t understand there are other elements (TDS, CE, and Redox) involved in water quality that will in turn have a negative effect on our animals’, too.

Their only options are then to upgrade to higher tech equipment or an Anoxic filtration add-on much like Brian Woodcock in the UK did in his Anoxic Build. 

 Did you do any testing on the Bentonite clay in water to see its stability?

Once again thanks for the letter and update. Keep me posted when you get back from your business trip on your pond and Biocenosis baskets. It is amazing how you live on the other side of the world and we are communicating as though you live down the street from me. Thanks for ready my mind-numbing blog, it then shed some light of confidence that maybe I’m doing some good in a world were money means everything.



Anoxic Filtration System ®
February 02-2005-2013
New Updated Version