Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Anoxic Filtration for the more delicate cat lover Tropical Fish Hobbyist out there.


  I hope you don't mind this lengthy email.   I want to apply the anoxic filter to my 1300 gallon multi tank system Here is some background. It dumps into a 180-gallon sump run by a 3600-gallon per hour pump. Using a fluidized filter and a pond filter with kaldness media that dumps into 3 25-micron bag filters for mechanical removal of solids into the sump and recirculated.  My local water north of Orlando is hard at times getting to 250 tds.

So, because I keep South American catfish I have to soften the water with an R/O filter while closely monitoring the pH. pH is 6.4 and tds is 65-ppm  which generally be optimal for the fish I keep. The water is clear with zero ammonia and nitrite via test kit but I cant get the nitrates below 30-ppm as measured by a LaMotte test kit despite balancing the pH and hardness with an automatic water changer. The downside of the R/O is the wastewater generated [Ed: This is as much as 3-gals of wastewater to make 1-gal of R/O water.] otherwise I could pass enough water through the system to drop the nitrates lower. The Anoxic filter (AFS) is a much better way.

 My problem is that despite the above my Leiarius Pictus catfish (Common name: Sailfin catfish or Sailfin pim and can reach a whopping +24” (60cm) in size, other whys known as a ‘tank buster’ fish.) gets a slow deterioration of its dorsal fin without ragged white or reddened areas on the fin. I am assuming the nitrate level and other dissolved organics maybe impairing the fish’s immune system. Despite excellent nutrition, dissolved oxygen, water flow and space.  I am hoping the Anoxic filter can help if this is the issue. I have read your book and assoc articles but have some questions regarding the applicability to my non-pond indoor system.   

Would the build up of sediment in the filter between the boxes be an issue with proliferation of pathogenic bacteria? Can the boxes be briefly removed to clean under and around them I could do this as soon as I see any buildup. Or would enough air get inside and kill the facultative anaerobes? Most of the solids should be caught in the bags anyway.

Is the diffuser you use for the ponds your prefilter as well?

For sediment removal would it be better to have the boxes off the bottom for cleaning purposes as well as adding more surface area for diffusion?

Should the water be entering the anoxic filter be flowing up from the bottom or the top down or is this even an issue?

Are the boxes from Aquatic Eco strong enough to lay on PVC to keep it off the bottom?

What stones are best to use on top of the boxes so the ph is not effected?

Will the clay initially cloud the water when submersed?

Is there a disadvantage to using no plants with my system? From what I gather there isn't just want to clarify this. 

Thank you for your time and for making this info available,


Leiarius Pictus catfish. Photo taken from Internet. 

Hello Jeff,

Your email really wasn’t that lengthy and it gave me enough information that now I can help you without asking you more questions to give you a better answer to your questions.

When you say “boxes” I’m assuming you mean the Biocenosis Clarification Baskets (BCB’) that make up the Anoxic Filter itself. There will be some detritus and micro-settlement in-between the BCB’ but it will not be as much as you think because of your 25-micron prefilters that you’re using to clean your water before the AFS. The BCB’ themselves will not clog so that’s one thing you can check off your list of worries.

The building up of pathogenic bacteria that is associated with bacterial infections is nothing to worry about because these bacteria will not exist with proper husbandry of the filter. These bacteria that you mention exist in dirty polluted waterways or stagnated waterways that which the Anoxic Filter will become none of those scenarios unlike Bog filters or gravel filters that clog very easily and can harbor such bacteria in a short time.

Two cleanouts a year in pond use seem to do the trick for ponds and ponds are under attack by more pathogens than fish aquariums are in most cases because of animal load and outside insults. If you were worried about such then I would add a UV sterilizer to your system. In fact at 1300-gallons of multi tank set ups, I would not even hesitate about doing so.

In most cases the BCB’ will not have to be removed from the filter at all during cleanout. However, removing them is not a problem because they will stay wet inside the baskets for a long time. Atmospheric air will not impregnate the BCB’ because of the pore structure is too small. In your case using the black plastic canvas that I mention in my blog would be a more appropriate covering for the BCB’, just click on the link below for more info.

The diffuser is use so as not to blow any detritus or cat litter around the AFS itself because of the high flow rates that you can push though the filter. Conventional filters are governed by flow rate but Anoxic filters can take better flows because water is not going through the medium itself but around it. The BCB’ will just grab the ions out of the water column by magnetic electrical charge through diffusion. Diffusers really shouldn’t be playing the part of a prefilter too but some hobbyist use BioBalls as a diffusion media then they will act like a prefilter to some extent. Look at Brian Woodcock’s diffuser and you would probably use the same kind as his along with his implementation of how he built his AFS and raising the BCB’ off the bottom of the filter bed with PVC pipe.

The inlet pipe can be coming in from the bottom or top of the AFS but that would only be a preference you will have to decide on. If you click on the top link that I have provided you will see most of your answerers in Brian’s Anoxic build.

The clay or Zeolite cat clay that you use may cloud the water initially just like activated carbon does from minute particulate matter but that will be short lived once the filter gets running and it will not harm the fish. The plants are an option that you may forgo because you will not need to cosmetically hide the filter from onlookers.

If you go through my blog you will see that a few people have used BCB’ for their Aquarium setups with great success. Your water problems for your South American cats will be long behind you when your AFS is up and running and you’ll be the envy of the tropical fish forums or clubs then. Lets face facts, if the AFS can handle dirty carp that eat as much as a small domestic cat, just think what it will do for you keeping your Nitrates down and water parameters good too. Read about Yogas’s last pond letter on low TDS, KH and GH:

I think your Leiarius Pictus will love those water conditions with less cost to you in the long run. That’s why I say the Anoxic filter is Eco-friendly because it can actually save hobbyist water instead of wasting it down the drain.

Monday, December 30, 2013

It’s hard to believe that after 25-years of the AFS those that are ‘suppose to be in the know’ no nothing of this system.

For those that keep saying, “ I’ve never heard of an Anoxic Filtration System before!” it has been published in several periodicals throughout the years.

Syd Mitchell has published several articles in UK magazines on Nitrate reduction and the Anoxic Filtration System.

This article on Reducing Nitrates by Syd Mitchell was published in Koi magazine November of 2008, and talked about the Anoxic Filtration System and how it worked by reducing Nitrates. Though the article was written almost six years ago, it’s funny how pond builders still to this day have never heard of the AFS and know nothing about its dynamics when customers ask. 

However, most of these same people that own these pond companies that are constantly on forums, Koi clubs, doing seminars, specializing in educating the public and “In The Know” with being up to date on the latest and greatest ponding technologies still know nothing of the AFS. It makes you sit back and wonder are they really out of the loop or, are they just playing dumb to sell you a more profitable products?

After talking to several of them I realize it’s the latter of the two and sacrificing information that is badly needed in this hobby for a few Benjamin’s is their justification for ignorance.  It’s hard to believe that after 25-years of the AFS those that are ‘suppose to be in the know’ know nothing of the AFS. I hope those that are reading my blog will realize that this is not some fly-by-night filtration system and it should not remain a secret because of those that are unwilling to except it. Believe me there are a lot of hobbyists out there that will not except or want you to know about the AFS. The AFS should have its place in its rank & file of pond filters, but because of its simplicity to make, it may never see the light of day and there are many out there that would like to keep it that way.

Pond Trade magazine of 2011 May-June had articles on Anoxic Filtration System. This magazine is geared for the professional pond builder and pond industry and lets them know what is up and coming for their clients.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Not all Biocenosis Baskets are being used in ponds but also in aquariums, too.

This info is from a forum called “them there koyas” and I’ve know reefmonkey from another forum KKU that closed down early this year. The three photos are from his 150-gal fry grow-out tank/pond in his house using a Biocenosis Clarification Basket.

Re: why shouldn’t I use anoxic filtration
Post Number:#42 by reefmonkey » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:19 am
This may be of interest mate, I’ve been running one basket in my indoor fry pond at 22°deg and its brought my nitrates down from 100+ to 20-ppm, not had a trace of nitrites or ammonia for that matter…ok its only 150-gallon but quality of water to the amount of fish load is brilliant.

Friday, December 27, 2013

As I See It…

As I See It…

Have you been listening to the news or reading about the big Christmas Day disappointments on how some web customers did not get their packages as promised on time by UPS and/or FedEx? Yes, UPS’ failure to do the impossible, which is what I call ‘cultural expectations’, of where the web buying power of the people, met real life’s failed laws of physics. The obvious reason is: You can’t stuff ten pounds of online shopping in a five-pound bag.  It’s easy to click and buy on Amazon, but to get that product from point A to B is another story and some people refuse to accept the challenges that these two companies have.

The worldwide ubiquity of UPS and FedEx makes people think they are invisible to overload. Maybe we place too much emphasis on, on time deliveries when millions of more shoppers in hyperspace (1)  are thinking the same thing at the last minute too.

Is it that we live in a world of: I will do it the last minute and then expect instant gratification just because I did it? It wasn’t long ago that people though that the best-laid plans were between mice and man. A little foresight thinking, what will happen if I wait too long before implementing my strategies will go a long way in saving us from headaches in the future. Or do we expect too much to soon just because we should; not thinking of the ramification of our actions?

My pond being coved in snow during a Chicago winter, believe it or not the AFS is still active even under these hostile conditions.
“The Internet has turned us into slaves of instant gratification. When we want to listen to a song, we click and stream. When we want to read the latest book, there’s another click and it’s on our tablet. However, this is creating an expectation that is challenged by the physicality of the real world.”

The ‘real world’…these words remind me of the expectations of hobbyists about ponding and filtration systems. The Anoxic Filtration System has no easy way of making it cycle any faster than what it takes naturally to do so. Like UPS that is expected to do a miracle with hundreds of millions of packages in a short span of time, a newly implementation Anoxic Filter with an overloaded Koi population is no different. Instead of letting the AFS ease itself into place, most hobbyists expect it to take over the nitrification cycle in their overloaded ponds right now, and if it doesn’t do it right now, then why can’t it? You can’t inoculate it with some freezdryed bacteria or magic elixir from a bottle like conventional filters can. The only thing that is left is for the hobbyist to wait it out until the bacteria establishes themselves inside of each Biocenosis Basket on its own.

The number one complaint from hobbyist I get is in the duration of bacterial establishment and when is it going to finish cycling? This instant gratification people seek with aquatic filters pushes manufactures’ to the precipice of self-destruction. To satisfy the hobbyists they will do whatever it takes, even if it’s snake oil, to speedup what Mother Nature takes weeks or months to do. So we will dump a bottle of whatever-it-takes into our ponds just so we do not have to endure that dreaded Nitrogen Cycle all over again each year in springtime. 

Like the Japanese that don’t want their Koi to “finish” before their time in order to set coloration and adding to the longevity of their Koi.  Some believe that to grow Koi big and fast is the right way of doing things even if it means sacrificing coloration and/or longevity over size. Here the expectations of instant gratification are top priority over just being patient and doing what is right the first time. We all remember the classic Aesop fable: The Tortoise and the Hare, and in the long run it wasn’t the fastest that won the competition but the most enduring that showed the best results in the end.

This spring when the winters cold still hangs on just a little longer and temps us to start thinking of ponding once again. A completely cycled filter ready to go will justly reward those that are using the AFS for their patients. However, those that use a conventional filter will have to wait with that innocuous bottle in hand looking out the window for that right temperature to once again be reach before their bacteria can become active once again.  For those that think their bacteria are still active, using municipal water treatment plants as their examples, forget about all the chemicals those facilities use that hobbyist haven’t access to. I here this argument on the Internet all the time about how Nitrobacter bacteria are still active in colder temperatures because this is the same bacteria used in water treatment plants. Please read my post in my blog about bacteria and cold weather: 

If you’re looking for instant gratification then stick with a conventional filter and you will receive that which is justly deserved. If you are the kind of hobbyists that’s more of a foresight person and have the premonition that an AFS will payoff in the long run then you too will be rewarded in the end. Winter is a long hard time for our Koi and Ammonia/ammonium spikes are not a top priority on anyone’s list in early springtime. That slow to cycle Tortoise AFS will now run circles around that Hare of a conventional filter when you need it most or should I say when our Koi need it most. An ounce of prevention is worth a pond of cure at keeping our animals’ healthy in springtime.

(1)(Yes I meant hyperspace not cyberspace. Hyperspace: (in science fiction) a notional space-time continuum in which it is possible to travel faster than light.)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Best Wishes for Christmas & the New Year!

Thanks for reading my blog about the Anoxic Filtration System. May you only find the truth in Koi, pond and water chemistry related subjects!

A Never Clogging Filtration System that Really Works

 The problems encountered with the growth of plants, and the misunderstanding of biological bacterial processes and water quality in the hobby of ponds and aquariums, resulted in an intense research for its causes thirty-three years ago. Hobbyists not understanding the words “Bleichsucht” and iron deficiency in plants, and the word “Anoxic” low bacterial oxygen levels, and Facultative Anaerobic Heterotrophic Bacteria were the catalyst for the research.

 Finally, in the 1989 the first results became publically known. Resulting in a synthetic means of which not only brought iron to the plants, but many other nutrients in the form of ions and trace elements, and in the correct, combinations without the use of fertilizers. Shortly thereafter, he discovered a method of introducing Anoxic conditions to the hobbyists in a safe an efficient filtration system. Today 24 years later one of the most versatile and easy to maintain filtration systems is now available to the hobbyists.

 This filtration system keeps ponds crystal-clear by using Biocenosis Clarification Baskets without premature clogging and maintaining a healthy ecosystem for hobbyist aquatic animals like that of the Japanese mud ponds do. This system is called the Anoxic Filtration System, and has exceeded all expectations of any hobbyists that are using it. Not only does the system keep ponds crystal-clear but also maintains healthy plant growth and encourages excellent fish health and vitality. This system has proven to eradicate pathogens and germs in all pond systems, and exceeds that of any filtration system that is presently known on the market today costing a fraction of what conventional filters do.

 However, the biggest plus about this system is it is entirely free to the hobbyists. The information on this Blog will give you easy and simple instructions on how to succeed with any biotope such as a hobbyist pond.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Low TDS,GH and KH doesn't mean trouble in the Japanese Koi breeders eyes...it means mud pond!

Hi Dr.Novak,

You must be busy with Christmas coming up. I hope you have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

As you already know that my the average parameters of my pond lately are as follow:
·         Ammonia                0 mg/L
·         Nitrite                   0 mg/L
·         Nitrate                  0 mg/L
·         pH                          7.2
·         TDS                        60 mg/L
·         DO                          8
·         ORP                       400-450 mV
·         Temperature     26-28 Celsius
I’ve been having discussions with senior members of a local koi club, and some are quite concerned with my low TDS. I then rechecked my KH and GH levels and they were 40 and 30 respectively. From what I read on your blog: http://anoxicfiltrationsystem.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-redox-potential-orp-in-aquariums.html, the ideal GH level would approximately 100-200 ppm and KH around 50-100 ppm. I’m not quite sure how to increase my GH and KH? Could you please share your opinion on how to do so, especially regarding the using the Anoxic Filtration System?

Both of these photos were from Japan and the Koi are from their mud ponds with very soft water.Photos from internet and Japanese Koi breeder.

Hi Yogas,
A TDS of 50-140 ppm is considered to be the ideal rage for drinking and pond water but most tap water is at 140-170 ppm and at 170 ppm and above is considered to be hard in content. When the term Hard water is used it means that the water has more dissolved solids in it and only by having your water tested professionally can an accurate analyses of what is making your water hard or soft and what salts are missing in the form of ions.

If your dissolved solids are low to begin with from your tap, then you are stuck with what you have. You have been doing water changes and that then should add more ions or replace the salts that are being used up by the Koi and bacteria. An off the shelf products that comes to mind is SeaChem that makes a buffering salt for African cichlids.  But this can be very expensive with a pond trying to keep the water hard with this product. There are some chemicals you can get from your local store. Like Epson salt (Magnesium sulfate), sea salt in the form that is used for aquariums, Baking Soda, Sodium bicarbonate, or Bicarbonate of soda, which is an anion. Magnesium sulfate is used to harden water for your GH and salt is used too. Baking soda is used to elevate the pH of your water. Only through experimentation will you be able to find the right amount to add to your pond. There is no hard-set rule to give you on what amounts needed to be added because you don’t know why your water is soft/hard to begin with.

If your GH and KH are pretty consistent and stable at 40-KH and 30-GH then it is the stability of the environment that you should be concerned with and not so much that your numbers are not meeting the ‘so-called guidelines’ that some have set. Cyprinus carpio can and will take a wide range of chemical differences unlike for example Cichlids, that have a very wide range of differences between species.

Those that are concerned about your TDS, which by the way is in the appropriate range for US government EPA standers for drinking water (Chicago has 103-ppm TDS) then is there any hard proof that these water parameters are bad for your Koi? My understanding is some hobbyist like their water to be soft (Like the Japanese) and some like it to be hard (Like those in the UK) depending on what side of the fence your on during the conversation.

In fact in KoiNations magazine it states that the Japanese which are the experts with Koi like, Quote: A pH of 6.5 -7.0 and get this, a VERY LOW GH, KH, and TDS like you already have. Yes you read that right, a very low GH, KH, and TDS like the Japanese mud ponds have. Mud ponds are very turbid but have a very low TDS. The Japanese Koi growers also say soft water is extremely good for Koi and will give the best skin refulgence and coloration too. Koi grow much faster and better in soft water verses hard water. A KH of 50-ppm is very good with a GH that is almost none detectible and a pH of 7.0-7.3 and a TDS of 80-ppm or lower. The Japanese also say that super soft water is the ideal environment for raising beautiful, healthy Koi that will not "finish" before their time and will keep their coloration.

I don’t know about you, but if the top Koi breeders in the world are in Japan and they say your pond parameters are fine with them, which I concur with because my pond is the same as yours is (My TDS is higher), then I think I would listen to them over the senior members of the local Koi club you belong to. But then again what would I know and what would the top Koi breeders in the world know, right?  What it all comes down to is: Are you happy with your Koi at their present state? If not then adjust your water parameters, if so, then leave it alone and carry on with what your doing. It’s all up to you and not the members of your club. If you think your Koi look great then that’s all that matters. I mean no disrespect to your Koi club members, but I did tell you that the AFS is like a Japanese mud pond and the proof was how Zack will grow Koi and sell them off to club members here in Chicago.

If you remember I wrote about how the AFS is acting like a Japanese Koi mud/clay pond. Look at the links below: