Thursday, February 27, 2014

Part: 2 Thermodynamics Substances:

Part: 2 Thermodynamics Substances:

Bead filters along with filters like the Nexus are subject to the medium that is used in them and how much usable surface area they have available to the bacteria. The golf ball dimpled plastic media I talk about in the first part, really sounds more promising than just a smoother surface media. The surface of the media should have more of an irregularity nature to it to aid in increasing the polymeric surfaces tension properties aiding in accelerated bacterial colonization of the media.
Plastic mediums always have a longer lag time before colonization with bacteria until a polymeric surface is established to prevent water shearing. This bacterial made polymeric adhesion now made up of dead cells makes the media not only heavier i.e., which is demonstrated with the bio-wheel filters slowing down to the point it may stop altogether, now becomes a sticky substrate for micro particles to adhere to in solution. Now, not only does the medium become a biological filter but it also becomes a collective micro mechanical filter too. Whenever a filter changes it structural integrity from biological to mechanical, that’s when compromises are instituted within the filters medium. Now you have the burden of constantly cleaning the media and it has to be exsiccated also or unwanted ammonia, phosphates and Nitrates will be its byproduct.  It’s not that the mechanics of these filters like the Nexus are badly designed, they are not, (in fact a Nexus tries to separate the two in one filter mechanism) but the media inside them becomes the limiting factor reducing bacterial availability.
If you look at what is respectability represented out there for filtration mediums the choices are almost unlimited. In fact one manufacturer that makes plastic medium went as far as to add a small black sponge encapsulated in a spherical plastic unit. The idea sounds good on paper, but in real life it just becomes a biological and mechanical filtering media just the same. It is a pain in the conquistador to take them apart and clean that little sponge that’s in the center of them when they clog up with detritus. When new they are abundant in microorganisms do to the particulate polymeric substrate surface tension, but that is short lived do to clogging because most of the medium are used in a static state and not an activated state so detritus can easily settle on them and clog them.

 The photo above shows some of the plastic filter mediums available to the hobbyist. The spherical plastic balls are not really meant for pond use but for aquarium filtration wet-dry filters.

 The sponge did achieve the desired surface meter squared area desired along with a good advertisement campaign in aquatic magazines but not in real life circumstances. I know of hobbyist that used (past tense) this medium and in the end because disgusted when cleaning time came.
When it comes to the King of surface area to size of particulate matter the Activated Carbon is on top of the heap! One gram has 500-1500m2 (one gram is about the weight of a paperclip) of surface area and this can be increased even larger in some cases depending on manufacturing processes.  Due to its very small microporosity it’s not really a good biological filter media for the pseudomonadales Nitrobacteria that hobbyist are looking for. Other sintered silica base mediums have been made with slick advertising on the correct microporosity of the unit, but once again the hobbyist through trial and error found that they did not live up to the task that they were designed for. Some even made the claims of dissimulative denitrification of NO3 reduction but they clogged and this denitrification process was rendered useless within a short period of time. You can still buy these mediums today but the experienced hobbyist(s) avoids them. I have boxes of this stuff at home but its uses now are basically for mechanical prefilterlazation and not for biological purposes, at least not for denitrification.
There are other biological mediums out there, some made from plastic or some other synthetic material that is to increase the longevity of the media and to slow down deterioration of the medium before it must be replaced.  Such synthetic materials work in particulate polymeric substrate surface tension and apply to the laws of thermodynamics substances but the number of cells differs from media to media and can change drastically with time and the changing of the surface tensions of the adhering particles to the substrate because of clogging.
Though the available clogging of the surface of the media is all on a micro level, some hobbyist will not even give it a second thought until water parameters becomes depredated enough by chemical and biological insults. It is only then that the hobbyist will finely take action in the form of water changes or medication restitution i.e., feeding your Koi garlic impregnated foods the rest of their lives to ward off sickness or keeping them in salt brine continuously because they’re once again afraid of nitrite toxicity because of inadequate biological filtration. Some hobbyist will use the excuse of a salt prime because of parasites but even this gets to be a little lame after a while because healthy fish seldom, if ever, gets infested with parasites. Does it really have to get to this point of using an axiological approach to prophylactics sublimations instead of lets just fix the problem…I guess so!

Read part one, below link:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Part: 1 This article is about the association of macroscopic thermodynamics substances and how it’s related to the small particulate polymeric substrate size inside of a Biocenosis Clarification Baskets.

Part: 1

This article is about the association of macroscopic thermodynamics substances and how it’s related to the small particulate polymeric substrate size inside of a Biocenosis Clarification Baskets (BCB). The bacterial adhesion on a solid substrate like that of cat clay and its polymeric surfaces was tested for its dissimilarities or its similarities to other filtration mediums.

 Thermodynamics and ponding, now there’s a topic you never hear or read about but play a very extensive part in water quality and bacterial colonization. For those of you that are looking to go that next step into leaning how and the whys of the Anoxic Filtration Systems thermodynamics and bacterial polymeric adhesion this article may help you in your understanding of such.

Some new pond terminologies that twenty-five years ago were never heard of or were only talked about in very small circles and mostly in scientific groups at that are words like anoxic, facultative bacteria, permeability, porewater, convectional movement, diffusion and now thermodynamics on a microscopic level. These words have very little meaning to the unadventurous hobbyists because most don’t apply or the complication of such fundamentally constructed idealisms of thermodynamics is just too much for hobbyist(s) to comprehend and therefore its best to leave information like that alone. But, if you’re reading my blog then you are probably the more intelligent of that group of hobbyist out there and taking that next step into microbiology is just another way to grasp what the differences are with filters that do and those that don’t live up to the expectation of the hobbyist(s).

When we talk about polymeric surfaces the first thing that comes up is abrasive adhesion, which is determined by the surface properties and its thermodynamic for the adhesion of cells from a suspension onto a solid substrate used and having an affinity for water are hydrophilic in nature.  Hydrophilic substrates can be very useful to hobbyist, especially for keeping water clean and uncontaminated by biological or chemical insults. The adhesion of cells is determined by the surface properties involved, i.e., the surface tensions of the adhering particles of the substrate, and of the suspending liquid medium. In other words, how fast is the liquid medium traveling over or through the substrate, which the cells are to adhere to, and the mediums surface topography. In essence, adhesion is more native to hydrophilic substrates (i.e., substrates of relatively high surface tension) than to hydrophobic substrates (smoother surface tension like that of plastic mediums), when the surface tension of the bacteria is larger than that of the suspending medium then the opposite prevails. The smoother a substrates has the less likely for easy bacterial colonization.

Suspended bacteria in the water column are useless to the hobbyist and will do very little in water purification if the colonization is inhibited by hydrophobic polymeric surface substrates made from example: sulfonated polystyrene, Teflon®, polyethylene, and polystyrene mediums. Yet it is not uncommon to see filter mediums made of any one of these plastics (most used in the food industry) with the exception of Teflon®. Teflon® being too hydrophobic and disruptive, and has the observed tendency to disaggregate bacteria in aqueous solutions. Good for electrical wires used in high-end stereo connections, but not so for bacteria colonization.

Most of the microorganisms that make up the nitrogen cycle are polymeric dependent according to surface tension and the number of bacteria adhering per unit surface is dictated by thermodynamics. Manufactures of these synthetic mediums know by testing, the number of bacteria adhering per unit surface area by image analysis. The hobbyist would be quite surprised that some of these media however may have lots of surface area (as stated in their advertisement) per unit, but lower bacteria colonization than natural element(s) would. Natural elements would be silica base or carbon base, i.e., clay, sand, rocks and calcium carbonate that is used in labs for testing bacteria. We see this all the time when hobbyist add more of a plastic media to a designated filtration system to do the work that it was supposed to do with far less. These shortcomings are determined by the available foodstuff, surface area per given unit, carbon availability and its oxygen demand but also the thermodynamics of a polymeric surface media used in applications for bacterial processes. The last one alone will determine how long it will take for the bacteria to establish colonies and resisting water shearing along with the number of cells that will grow on the medium itself.

The research conducted was to determine if these plastic polymeric surface substrates were as good as or better than using a natural substrate like clay and would it outcompete and have a better protocol.  The test were conducted with already cured filters substrates of not less than 90-days old and all polymeric surfaces were tested and parameters were determined by using a spectrophotometric analysis using the Hach, DR/2000 once again.

From the experiment the establish number of nitrifying bacteria adhering per unit of micron surface area would be established and seeing if they correlated well with thermodynamic expected predictions that was calculated in advanced and that information would then determine the surface tension resistance of the different bacterial species correlating to the media used.

What was found is that two 7"x7"x11"  (177.8mmx177.8mmx279.4mm) BCB had as much bacteria in them as an entire Nexus filter using K1 as a medium. However, the Nexus with K1 had better utilization of the available autotrophic bacteria, due to better media exposure and the AFS had a better usage of Heterotrophic bacteria across the board with a much larger bacteria count. Which proved the less confinement a media unit has the better bacteria uniformity exposure to incoming insults. But this does explain why these filters need more media (K1) units in them than expected.

Because the BCB is static and water must pass around it and not directly through its medium itself, the bacteria must depend on ions coming into them through slow diffusion, chemisorption or ion displacement. If the media were to be exposed like that of the K1 used in the Nexus filter then the medium would be compromised and anoxic condition would not exists and like the Nexus then nitrifiers would predominate.  This then explains why so many BCB are to be used; even though the bacteria count is high per BCB, the utilization of the Heterotrophic facultative bacteria is slow to exposure to biological and chemical insults and the bacteria can find other food sources as needed. But the utilization of those foodstuffs was better in the BCB because of longer dwell times inside the basket itself. Insults only needed one pass through the filters BCB with better utilization of the entire available foodstuff exposed to it than that of the plastic media that was being agitated taking several passes through the medium. This explains why the Heterotrophic anaerobic facultative bacteria attack nitrogen for its available oxygen and N2, nitrogen gas, is its byproduct.

The Anoxic Filters BCB’ has a higher good bacteria count than what is expected, but the utilization of the special facultative bacteria in question could be better optimally if the filter was reengineered to do so. However, to do this would compromise the systems inexpensiveness to the hobbyist and then other conventional filters would become the better choice. This also would explain why in colder climates the utilization of foodstuff continues with such a high bacteria count per BCB competing heterotrophs while other filters are teetering on cold-water conditions destruction with a lesser bacteria count or are dead altogether!

Plastic filter mediums are great, as long as the hobbyist understands ahead of time that adding more than what is recommended is the norm. Far year’s manufactures have known this but it is a tricky balancing act to make the medium better in polymeric surface properties without the negative responses of clogging the media, i.e., that of a bio-wheel with over a mile of fiber in one small wheel. In order for the plastic medium to have a larger bacterial count per unit (1- FRI), the surface porosity would have to them be increased like that of the crystalline structure of clay. Therefore, there is a compromise that has to be recognized on surface properties of the filter medium used and macroscopic thermodynamics polymeric bacteria friendly substrates.

1: It was not long ago that advertisement showed little dimples in a plastic filter media made for wet-dry filters. The theory behind the very small dimples is that it would increase the polymeric surfaces of each unit and therefore the bacteria population would also increase. The manufacture knew about thermodynamic polymeric substrates and making a media that had more surface area increasing the surface tension without the cost of clogging the small microporosity of the unit.

part 1-2

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

If you think it's easy getting the word out about the AFS, it isn’t! There are just too many hobbyists that would rather not let you know about the AFS because of ignorance and prejudice opinions.

Today is Wednesday the 19th of February the second month of the year according to the Gregorian calendar and like all Wednesdays it was time to add water to my pond. I do this twice a week, every Wednesday and Saturday. But because it is a balmy day in the fifties, most of the snow is now melting, a great relief from such a cold and harsh winter we’ve had in Chicago. Next week though it’s back to the dead of winter once again with temperatures below freezing.

What I notice was three of my small 6" comet goldfish were dead and decomposing in my skimmer. They go over the waterfall from the Anoxic filter, which they are housed, into the main pond and the skimmer over powers them and sucks them in; once trapped they drowned in the skimmer basket. Its been so cold here in Chicago that looking every week at the skimmer was not possible until today. So as the pond was filling up with fresh water, I did water test with LaMotte test kits and disposed of the dead fish. All parameters were zero such as Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates and pH was 7.0. The Koi were swimming around as though winter had never come. The AFS handled the dead decomposing fish with ease and protected the big Koi from any danger that might have sent the pH into a crashing mode or raise the ammonia to killer toxic levels. With my smallish pond, three dead goldfish would become a disaster if evasive action weren’t taken right away. Once again the AFS pulled a rabbit out of the hat and protected my fish from overwhelming insults that could have spelled devastation to the ponds animals.

If you read my post about Mrs. Bibbins dilemma and her pH crashing and ammonia problems, she lives in Charlotte North Carolina, which by Chicago standers is “the tropics”. She was given all kinds of remedies to her problem(s) except maybe change her filtration system to something that would not crash and needs no inoculation of bacteria after a cold winter. All the advices were old-time remedies that if we lived in 1931 she would have been given the same recommendations, except the bacteria additive that is newer and only about twenty-five years old.

It’s amazing in this day and age that with what is known, that we still give out old time remedies to our new high-tech problems. She was never told about an Anoxic filter, which Dr. Bob is very familiar with far the past twenty years now, or the suggestion that she read about it in the MPKS library. Instead, he kept silent and gave out old advice instead of new technology like the AFS. Her cry for “Knowledge is Power” I guess didn’t hit home with the good doctor and once again the AFS was kept silenced by those in the know. Dare we give a helping hand to someone that really needs it, begging for Knowledge? When information is withheld from the public, it then becomes a crime on humanity itself. I would sure hate to think that the one chance I had to life was withheld from me because someone didn’t want me to know about it because it worked and gave preferential treatment to information you weren’t prejudice against. Like his last statement to her says: “It forces you to learn new things on a constant basis…” How can one learn if you’re never told what knowledge you have to give?

If you think it's easy getting the word out about the AFS, it isn’t! There are just too many hobbyists that would rather not let you know about the AFS because of ignorance and prejudice opinions.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Would it be redundant to add some BCB’ to an already established pond with filter?


If say a pond has huge conventional aerobic bio-filter which eats up all the ammonia while producing nitrates, adding AFS to that pond system in hopes of reducing those nitrates would somewhat be redundant or would it?

By adding BCB’ to any pond the affect is two fold. One - All positively charged ions would be attracted to the BCB and that intern would lessen the likelihood of the Nitrogen Cycle getting overloaded and producing more unwanted byproducts like Nitrates.

Dr. Franco of Italy proved that by adding a BCB to his already established 700-liter fish tank that Nitrates and Phosphates were eradicated and even though the aquarium had an establish biological filter the BCB still helped improve water quality parameter. This same scenario was also played out in Dr. Passovoy’s pond that I talk about in my blog. He placed some BCB’ in his pond with an already ├╝ber expensive filter and it raised his redox by 35-mV more.

To read more about Dr. Franco’s experiments, click on the links below.

And read:

And second - With the addition of BCB’ in the pond you will now have a backup filter if a misshape were to happen or even in the middle of winter the BCB’ would provide what a conventional filter cannot… keeping ammonia/ammonium at bay and keeping water parameters at there apex before the water quality situation turns ugly like it did for Deb Bibbins pond in my last post.

Years ago I though that by adding the BCB’ to and already establish pond with filtration system would be redundant, but thanks to the Koi hobbyist out there that use BCB’ in their ponds, they made me realize that I was wrong in my thinking.  Water quality always improved more so than buying another add on filtration system without the added expense. Anything you can add to your pond that is economical and Eco-friendly in my book is money well spent if it aids in the betterment of the animals life expediency.

Plants and rotting tubers or rhizomes in the BCB...what to do?

Hi Kevin,


Last month I tried to plant my new Biocenosis baskets with plants (tuber type), yesterday I opened one of the baskets to see the roots development. Very nice! BUT, some of the older part of the tube were rotten and smelled bad.


My question:

1. Assuming the other planted baskets also have some part of the root rotten, do I need to open all the remaining baskets, clean the roots and re-plant them?


2. The bad smell meant there were some anaerobic bacteria present right? In this condition, will the bad anaerobic bacteria take over the biocenosis basket? Or even worse, take over the other (unplanted and already matured) baskets in the AFS chamber :(


Your view is greatly appreciated, as usual....





Hello Dipa,

Sorry about the long time no reply but emails have been demanding. The plant tubers or a rhizome you talk about turning black is normal. As the plant gets older the new growth and roots are at one end and the old root of the plant that is not needed any longer is now dyeing.  It’s like the old wood on bushes that has to be cutout so new growth can takeover. This is one reason that in the emergent zone of natural ponds it’s an always changing and spreading zone. But you probably already know that.

You do not have to replant any of the BCB’s before their time when plants that have tubers are present. The blackening of the substrate is normal with tubers and rhizomes so there is nothing you can do about it. It’s not the media that is going bad but the tuber itself is now beginning to rot from the inside out and being attacked by anaerobic bacteria which is the natural order of things. When this happens to me I just discard the small section of black cat clay- it turns black because of the rotting tuber not from the bacteria in the clay itself- in that section only and keep the rest if it looks good still. It will do no harm to your plants or fish because of its containment and facultative bacterial competition for oxygen and space is utilizing all ammonia that is being produced from the rotting tuber. Because of this bacterial competition, things inside the BCB stay in an anoxic state always and the BCB does no go anaerobic. Healthy BCB’ will always stay that way if plants are left out of the substrate, but then the filter would have a sterialized look to it  if it were void of at least some plants and not be very eye appealing to onlookers.

Now if you were like some hobbyist and plant your plants into the ponds substrate of rocks and gravel like they do here in the USA like Aquascape’s hobbyists do and bog filters, then the bacteria competition would not be present since the intersection of topography is gone because of the liner that we use and chemical and biological pathway are blocked.  The tubers would then begin to rot as always but because of the lack and/or absence of oxygen I should say, only anaerobic bacteria would dominate the area were the tuber is.  Ammonia (NH3) instead of being utilized by bacteria and the plant would go back into solution once again. This never ending cycle only does more harm than good in an enclosed system like our ponds if water is not being exchanged every day.  I show photos in my blog of such blackening of stones and liners from hydrogen Sulfide gases/acid. The plant also becomes smaller and smaller with each passing year because the tuber is exhausted and if not given more fertilizer in the form of tabs, it will perish leaving that rotting tuber behind. As the tuber becomes older the bacteria will begin turning it into mush/coosh by breaking down the proteins and it then becomes another organic in the nitrogen cycle of the pond. Like we really need more of what we are trying to have less of!

Plants grow best in anoxic conditions and not at all in anaerobic conditions. That is why plants in the BCB’ grow so luxuriantly in a BCB and can outgrow their baskets in just one or two seasons without fertilizer additives.  Laterite, ammonia and low but not absent of all oxygen is the trick to healthy plants.





Thursday, February 13, 2014

This is a reprint from the MPKS newsletter on “pH Crash” –Q&A.

This is a reprint from the MPKS newsletter on “pH Crash” –Q&A. It contains several things that I have talked about in my blog. Like pH crashing because your filtration is dead in the winter months. The use of Oyster shells and how they are pH dependent and will do nothing to help ones pond until a lower pH is reached like that of 6.0-6.5 pH. And how Ammonia levels and Nitrates are zero in my pond using an AFS but this hobbyist asking the question already has an Ammonia level of 0.50 ppm and Nitrates of 20 ppm. If the cold weather doesn’t kill your Koi then the bad water parameters will, due to the lack of or improper Nitrogen Cycle.

So I will say this once more for those that maybe can’t understand: The AFS does not die-off like conventional filtration systems do in the winter time, it keeps working all year long as long as it is running to carrying out its chemical and biological processes. Yogas in Indonesia has been dealing with rain and more rain all season long in his country and his pond has no pH crash using the AFS. You NEVER have to use bacterial boosters ever once the AFS cycles, even if you shut it down in the winter months. You will never have “New Pond Syndrome” ever again using an AFS.

Read more on AFS shutdown in the UK and it still saved the day for one hobbyist.

They’re your Koi and you can do whatever you like with them, but please think long-term filtration when building a Koi pond and stop thinking the same way hobbyists did 60 years ago. Science has come a long way in understanding what just 30 years ago was never heard of. The AFS workings are as old as earth itself and now it is available to the hobbyist for free. You can accept what man makes from plastic or what Mother Nature does in natural ponds and lakes using specialized residual facultative bacteria like that, that is used in the AFS. However, if you’re the kind of hobbyist that loves adding chemicals and spending your money on old-time cure-all remedy’s, then you will end up like this hobbyist someday!


I just had my first pH crash and after researching everything possible to fix and recover from it I now have a BRAIN OVERLOAD.

Carolyn from Microbe-Lift sent me your web link to get some answers from a pro (thus-YOU).

I’m in Charlotte NC and 9 yrs ago I built a 4000 gal Koi pond and have 9 Koi (18-24’’) left (born in the pond, hand fed and named), I also have 15 goldfish. I have a 200 gal media filter box and 200 gal bio filters box both with up flow water that goes back to the pond. I also have a waterfall, UV light, skimmer and everything is running on two 5000 gph pumps with plenty of circulation. I faithfully clean out mechanical filter and do a 10-15% water change every week using ML/Xtreme for conditioner (after pH crash I will also continue them through the winter months). I have never had a problem with the pond until pH crashed (a ton of rain) 2 weeks ago and lost 4 of my biggest Kio. With the cold weather and holidays I’m embarrassed to say the pond gets neglected for a couple months in winter. Now I need some help to recover from this.

I’ve been using baking soda to bring pH and KH levels up, I also put 50 Lbs of crushed oyster shells in filter box to help maintain levels. I also put 30 lbs of crushed coral in filter box to help with pH, not sure if 30lbs is enough to do anything to pH levels. With the baking soda additions came ammonia spikes so I started doing water changes, 10-15% a day for 4 days. Went from 3.0 to 0.50 but know I’m noticing that nitrate levels that were 0 are also going up.

Read more on Oyster shells. 

 Tap water test, pH/6.8 or a little lower, KH/40, GH/25.

Pond water test today, pH/7.2, KH/80-100, GH/75, Nitrite/0, Nitrate/20, and Ammonia/0.50

These are the only products I’ve ever used in my pond. Microbe lift/Xtreme for water conditioner and chloramines (tap water is treated with chloramines), ML/PL to help keep healthy pond and bio filter, ML/liquid barley (not with peat), and baking soda.

I just started using crushed oyster shells and by Carolyn’s suggestion and ML/Nite-out ll for ammonia and nitrite oxidation. The water temp on Friday was 48 but we are suppose to be in the upper to lower 20’s at night for the next 10 days (thank goodness days are much warmer) so I’m not sure how well ML/nite-out ll is going to work because it said to start using at 55. I also order Koizyme to help out with Aeromonas alley which I’m sure will be a problem in spring after having a pH crash and I’m sure the crash has killed my filters.

So my question is how do I fix it? This is what I THINK I know from all the brain overload research. Ammonia levels are not as toxic in cold water but I’m concerned about when the weather warms up and bio filter starting over (with big fish in pond). How do I keep ammonia levels down and nitrite and nitrate levels going up without water changes every day?

Is there a product you would recommend or will the ML/nite-out ll work? I also picked up a gal of kordon AmQuel plus at petsmart it’s an ammonia detoxifier, I haven’t used it yet because I’m not sure. I also read that salt will help, 1lb for 100 gals for me that’s 40 lbs. When should I put it in pond and for how long, is this the right amount and what kind of salt can I use. I’ve read that it can be salt for water softeners or rock salt (there is no where to get that much pond salt around here and price is very high for pond salt online). I’m also concerned about pH, KH and GH levels being low out of tap, how often can I use baking soda (adding 1/3 cup per 1000 gals). I also know that using baking soda raises the pH and higher pH leads to ammonia spikes. But I need the baking soda to raise the KH to keep the pH from falling to low. I just put in 50lbs of crushed oyster shells and I know they take a while to stabilize is 50lbs ok and how often should I replace them? GH is also low and from what I’ve read it works better a little higher for Koi, what should I use to raise it if anything.

I’m sure I forgot to ask something and I’m so sorry about the BOOK, but as they say “Knowledge is Power” and I could use a little of that power right know.

Thank you,

Deb Bibbins



“pH crashes happen when the natural nitrifying action of your filter bacteria uses up the carbonates dissolved in your water. As the buffering capacity of your pond decreases, the hydrogen ion (acid) liberated by the nitrifying process builds up, your pH drops (usually suddenly) and everything dies.

From that point, you have two necessary strategies:
1)   Short-term, you need to restore as much buffer as you can as quickly as you can. [Ed: Any changes to your water parameters should be done slowly to avoid osmotic shock or osmotic stress to your animals and bacteria 1.] You’ve already done this with the baking soda, and there’s no real limit on how much you can use. While it will increase your dissolved solids load, it also acts a little like salt, but we’ll talk about that later. Bicarb is not, by itself, a base. It’s a buffer. It will raise the pH in the pond by soaking up the free hydrogen, but it won’t push you so far into alkalinity so as to imperil your fish.

Remember that for ammonia, low pH is protective. It ionizes the ammonia, rendering it less toxic. You run into trouble as the pH rises and the deionized ammonia levels increase. Your short-term solutions to this are water changes (done) and products like Amquel. The problem with Amquel and its cousins (ChlorAm-X and ProAm-X) is that they are pricey (especially when bought in a pet store!) and they also interfere with standard (Nessler reagent) ammonia test kits. They do a great job of taking the ammonia out and even deal with chlorine and chloramine, but you’ll need a salicylate-method  ammonia test kit to follow your ammonia levels until you can clear the Amquel out over time with water changes. [Ed: If you read my blog you will see that products like Amquel only bind Ammonia ions and then gives you a false positive reading, then it will release that ammonia ion back into solution once again and your filter will have to deal with twice as much ammonia as before.]

To keep costs down, you can get ten-pound buckets of the powdered product as well as the LaMotte salicylate test kits from Aquatic Ecosystems (now Pentair Aquatics) in Apopka, FL. Your important measurements for the short term will be pH (7.2-7.5) , Ammonia (0) and alkalinity (KH- around 120 ppm). Forget GH, it has no value here.
You are correct in assuming that your filters are quite dead. 

You now have “new pond syndrome” all over again. You WILL HAVE a nitrite spike soon as your biofilters come back. Remember that the bacterial populations that do the ammonia-nitrite conversion show up a couple weeks before the nirtite-nitrate bugs. Nitrite is ferociously toxic, and your midrange goal is to control this. First, feed sparingly, if at all. Second, water changes are your friend. Third, salt helps. A lot. This is about the only ponding scenario where salt has any value. Concentrations of 1.88ppt (1.5 lbs per 100 gal) to 3.8 ppt salt will keep the nitrite from binding to the piscine hemoglobin in your fish’s blood and giving them the fishy equivalent of carbon monoxide poisoning in humans. As your bacterial populations restore themselves, you can wash the salt levels down with water changes. While you are ordering your ProAm-X, get a salt meter from Pentair, too. They cost around $40 and are a really good thing to have.

Salt is CHEAP! You just have to know what to buy. The “Solar Salt” in the 50 pound blue plastic bags at Home Despot or Menard’s is just fine. “Pond salt” from the pet store is a ripoff. My article on Salt (“Oh Noes-More Salts”) will be up on the MPKS website later on today.

You May want to read more about salt in my blog.

Most “bacterial boosters” are useless. Either they have very little in the way of active biofiltration bugs, or they have the wrong ones.

Read more about bacteria additives and the testing that was conducted on 11 different kinds, not what you think!

 My expert at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Alan LaPointe, says that the only additive worth using is a custom product that is sent fresh to big aquariums when they are preparing new aquatic habitats. The stuff he uses has a shelf life of about 2 days, but it works…

Long-term, your goal is to NEVER LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN! Given your location, you have a year-round ponding season, and even though you consider 40 F to be the deep freeze, your pond and your fish keep right on churning out the [H+] and the ammonia. For you, there is no time in the year when you can relax your vigilance on your water quality. The coral and the oyster shell are very slow releasers of calcium salts and do not work well in small-scale environments (i.e.: backyard ponds). A much more efficient solution to Alkalinity maintenance (besides frequent, yearround water testing) is the “pond puck”. Go to your favorite craft store and get a big ol’ box of Plaster of Paris. Mix up a batch of it and pour some into a bunch of empty margarine tubs. If this is just too low-class for you, you can use fancy Jell-O molds or whatever. When they have solidified, hide a few in your falls, skimmer and anywhere else the water moves. They’ll dissolve over a week or two and maintain your alkalinity nicely. Cheap, too! Ponding and koi keeping is one of the most challenging and absorbing hobbies in the Universe. It forces you to learn new things on a constant basis and rewards you with summers of tranquility and “good ch’i” (for all you fung shui fanatics out there).

As a fellow prisoner of the Three Laws, I salute you!

Happier ponding!

Dr. Bob

1) Wikipedia: Osmotic shock or osmotic stress is a sudden change in the solute concentration around a cell, causing a rapid change in the movement of water across its cell membrane. Under conditions of high concentrations of either salts, substrates or any solute in the supernatant, water is drawn out of the cells through osmosis. This also inhibits the transport of substrates and cofactors into the cell thus “shocking” the cell. Alternatively, at low concentrations of solutes, water enters the cell in large amounts, causing it to swell and either burst or undergo apoptosis.[1]
All organisms have mechanisms to respond to osmotic shock, with sensors and signal transduction networks providing information to the cell about the osmolarity of its surroundings;[2] these signals activate responses to deal with extreme conditions.[3] Although single-celled organisms are more vulnerable to osmotic shock, since they are directly exposed to their environment, cells in large animals such as mammals still suffer these stresses under some conditions.[4] Current research also suggests that osmotic stress in cells and tissues may significantly contribute to many human diseases.[5]

Friday, February 7, 2014

Don’t worry; soon it will be springtime once again.

Don’t worry; soon it will be springtime once again.
Picture drawn by: Kevin Novak PhD.

The AFS could mean the difference between life and death for your Koi. Removing toxic ions is all in a days work for the Anoxic Filtration System.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Email from the UK in 2011 …Old but still very effective information.

Email from the UK in 2011 …Old but still very effective information.



Hi Dr., 

I have just come across a site which gives a good coverage of your filter system. I am about to embark on building a new pond 3 to 3.5 thousand gallons, I hope.

I have two questions, one is: What form or design of pre-filter would you recommend?

There were a few references to the winter conditions, the one we have just had here in England has been wicked by our standards, and so

will the filter still perform in freezing weather?
 There was mention of shutting the filter down; can you explain that in more detail?

I take it that the pages I found on the site are the contents of your CD book, if it is it makes fascinating reading and could just have saved me a small fortune.

Best Wishes ... Jim.





Hello Jim,


  Winter…winter…you want to talk about winter! Here in Chicago this year, it is now the coldest winter on record. [Ed: I think this year beats the 2011 high water mark for coldest and snowiest winter yet with over 32 days of snow now.] One snow fall alone was 24″ and Chicago shut down for a day.  Your winters are mere child’s play compared to -20°F to -30°F (-29°C / -34°C) below zero. The UK is a tropical paradise compared to us.


Today’s a balmy one; it’s only -5°F (-20°C) below zero. So you want to talk about the Anoxic Filter in the winter, no problem! Do you have to shut the filter down in the winter…well no; that’s if you can keep it from freezing.


A prefilter can be anything from what is currently being used in the pond hobby today. Some hobbyist will use skimmers, bead filter, sand filters and homemade prefilters like I use for my small pond. It’s only limited by your imagination and budget.  I’ve seen hobbyist use two skimmers at each end of their large pond (10,000 US gal ponds or more) feeding into the Anoxic Filter at both ends of the filter and then spilling out from the center of the filter back into their ponds.


These larger Anoxic Filter are longer and can take very high volumes of water passing through them. Though the water inside the Anoxic Filter looks like it’s not moving (plants love this environment) because of the diffusers inside the filter, the waterfall tells a complete different story to onlookers. The best waterfall(s) I have seen are from Anoxic Filter(s) because of the high water output volume that other filter are governed by.  The upside is that every smidgeon of water is being filtered first before returning to the pond and no bypasses because of limitations set by manufactures specifications.


  Remember, this is not your ordinary filtration system you buy out of a box for big bucks and cold is not a limiting factor for the bacteria in its makeup or success.  You will be relying on different kinds of bacteria to do your work for you and that is a plus in any morphological sense. When other filters nitrobacteria dye from the winters cold, the Anoxic Filter keeps going and protects your fish from all those nastiest that would other whys kill or sicken your pets over winter. Just because Koi are not eating doesn’t mean other pollution processes have stopped, they haven’t! Even if you shut the Anoxic Filter down for the winter it will recover in spring like magic.


   The only thing I’ve notice is that if you keep it running all winter it will get hair algae (cyanobacteria) in the filter in early spring. Then in late spring it will eventually disappear as the filter kicks into high gear as the warmer weather arrives and warms up the ponds water once again.


Hope this helps.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Aquarium lovers owe it to themselves to use an's not just for ponds anymore!

For you aquarium lovers out there, here are some photos sent to me from Gert in Namibia. In the past I have had African Cichlids / Lake Malawi Mbuna tanks. Mbuna’s require very high pH and most tanks that I’ve seen are overcrowded because of the Mbuna’s very territory aggression towards one another. However, with the overcrowding of Mbuna’s comes water quality problems and Nitrates that will reach 100-ppm if lots of water changes are not carried out to keep their colors from fading.  Another thing about Mbuna’s is they love to dig, so any kind of gravel filtration system is out of the question.

Long ago in the late seventy's Mbuna’s and Tanganyika’s only came from Africa and had to be depressurized when brought up from the depths of Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika. They were big and beautiful fish that rivaled that of saltwater fish. Today they are nothing near as spectacular as days of yore, but they still have the same water requirements and Nitrates are nothing short of a big pain in the #%$#* to keep under control…except with a Anoxic Filtration System! 

Thanks Gert!

Dear Dr. Novak. Just look at my 1500ltr (396-USgals) Tanganyika office aquarium running on your Anoxic filter...with zero Nitrates.

Kind regards from Namibia. Gert