Thursday, August 22, 2013

BY: Tony Ruiz...To my surprise, he did not have the typical filtration system that we are all used to seeing, well in theory at least, he was using something different, not the kind of filtration system that is used in everyone else’s backyard ponds.

BY: Tony Ruiz

I have kept Koi and/or goldfish since 1986. Since then I have tried many types of filtration system, from bead filters to sand filters and a few other homemade filters I'd care not to talk about. Most of them helped keep the water clean, or did they? The biggest problem with most of these filters is the inadequate removal of harmful pollutants from the pond water... 

On the pond tour of 1999, I visited many beautiful ponds. I also met a professional Ichthyologist/Limnologist by the name of Dr. Kevin Novak. After looking at his pond and fish and seeing the success he was having, I was lucky enough to spend some time talking to Kevin about ponds and filtration systems. To my surprise, he did not have the typical filtration system that we are all used to seeing, well in theory at least, he was using something different, not the kind of filtration system that is used in everyone else’s backyard ponds. Either most pond keepers have part of their yard filled with all sorts of contraptions or they take up a two-car garage and turn it into a web of plumbing and filters. 

 I started to tell Kevin about some of my pond problems and it kept coming back to being filtration problems every time I brought up a new problem. I then told him: “If I had to take up half of my yard or my garage and fill it with contraptions to keep a healthy pond with Koi in it, then I would close down my pond down forever.” By this time desperation was setting in, my new Biofalls filter, and all the other things including chemicals were not working, they were only compounding to my problems. 

To my surprise, he said: You do not need all those contraptions and expensive chemicals to have a healthy pond with Koi in it. At first, I was hesitant and I said to myself: “Here comes the sales pitch!” Kevin started to explain to me how his Anoxic Filtration System works and my first impression was that now, he would be telling me the name of his company and/or store and then be telling me he could build a filtration system just for me and this would have a hefty price tag connected to it. However, this was not the case! He went on telling me about how easy it was and inexpensive it was with his filtration system and how the Anoxic Filtration System works. For the cost of a few water lilies, planting baskets, and Laterite plus cat litter all placed in a separate area called a filtering pond you to you can have a healthy and easy to maintain Koi pond or Water Garden. 

After carefully examining Kevin’s pond my first impression was; “Sure this is a small pond of about a thousand gallons with big Koi in it, but, can this system work on a much larger scale pond of let’s say, a 7000 gallon pond or more!” To my surprise, the answer was unanimously yes; it will work on any size pond. By this time I was ready to try anything after all I was desperate. I was tired of spending money on fish and chemicals and other things that just kept adding to my problems, not to mention emptying my wallet very fast and the bad advice I was getting from everyone else. 

 Building the filter that holds the plants is not really that difficult, he said! The first thing you have the do when you are going to build this filter which can be just about any size or shape you may wish it to be, as long as it’s cable of holding all the pots you will need, and remember that it must be at least 24 inches deep our deeper. This will ensure that there will be at least two cubic feet of water for every square foot of pond surface area. As I was told, this offers the most stable water conditions and makes controlling of any suspended algae easier. 

The minimum number of pots for a small pond would be about 15 of them and at least five of those would have to be with plants in them. Of course, you can plant all 15 of the pots with plants in them; by doing this, you would only enhance the filtration system. I was also told that the filtration system could have more water flowed through it than other types of filtration systems can. The faster you can get water from the main-pond to the filtering pond, the better the filter will actually work. {Ed: Once again plants are an option, but an empty Anoxic filter is so drab.] 

You see the filter is not dependent upon water flowing through the filtering material itself. Most filters that I have had, in fact all the filters that I have had, depended on how much water can flow through the filtering medium itself. That if water flows too fast through the filtering material, that this would be detrimental to a filters capability of filtering and breaking down waist products in the pond. I also found out, that the bacteria, in filters that have water running too fast through them would actually not perform at their peak performance. Because the bacteria must resist water shear and that if water flows too slowly, the filter will become very inefficient at breaking down waste products. This is because the bacteria that we need in our ponds, needs so much oxygen to carry out any biological process and therefore will actually begin to die off. 

 I n this Anoxic filter, water is never forced through the substrate, but a slow steady diffusion by electrical charges moves water through the substrate and it therefore would not clog. I also found out that when people build these particular kinds of filters that they needed stronger pond pumps and that was only because now the filter can handle more gallons per hour than the old filters, which they were using. This means that the pond must be able to turn over the pond volume of water at minimum once per hour. The only downside of pumping so much water through the filter is that it is necessary to defuse the water in the main filtering pond. This is because you do not want water stirring up of any of the organic matter or settlement inside the filtering area. [Ed: The better your pre-filter the less mulm/settlement you will have.] 

The filter actually acts as a big settlement chamber that allows any dead algae, detritus, or any dirt to be collected in it, that the pre-filter and/or skimmer doesn’t get before entering the filtering pond. Therefore, defusing the ponds pumps output is of the highest priority when using the Anoxic Filtration System.

I was faced with the problem of finding a separate area to build the pond for the Anoxic Filtration System. Having the space became no problem because at my new house my pond was built above ground with retaining wall blocks. I added a 4’x9’x3’ foot deep edition to my 65’ long pond. To this area, I added my water lilies, planted in Kitty litter. I also added Laterite, which came in the form of iron tabs to help the plant growth.[Ed: Laterite is no longer sold as tabs but only sold in its clay form in a box.] 

No nitrogen tablets at all were to be used in the setting up process, for this would do more harm than good, this was the instruction I was told. To this I pumped about 8,000-gph of diffused water through this system and in two weeks; I had clean clear water, and the fish started looking great. Thanks to this Midwest Pond and Koi Society member, that was willing to help and share his knowledge with me and on top of that, never charge for his help. That I became very successful in pond keeping. That’s correct, all this help was free! For the cost of few baskets and some Laterite, I became the expert that I am. 

It has now been 13 years with the Anoxic Filtration System and now I have healthy fish that are growing at an alarming rate and water quality that only most pond keepers can only dream of. Thanks to Kevin Novak for caring enough about my problems and about this hobby to share with others, his knowledge and expertise advice on microbiology and pond husbandry. Definitely, people must start thinking out of the box, the filter box that is. If you wish to see more photograph of my pond, you can go to my web site at and look for yourself at my success. However, if you see a fellow smiling from ear to ear in the photographs, well that will be me.  

This was Tony’s 65' pond 13 years ago. He liked the Anoxic Filter so much he incorporated it into his new pond, too.

Now tell me…can anyone tell this is an Anoxic Filter? I’m looking right at it and I still don’t see it! I count 19 Water lily flowers in this one photo…and all without any fertilizer tabs to degrade water parameters. Now this is something to wakeup to every morning looking out on the veranda.

Top two photos are of Tony’s new pond and Anoxic Filter. Pond and filter in one photo without the unsightly equipment and cost of an expensive filtration system.

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