Thursday, March 27, 2014

Here is a very good question from Brian Woodcock in the UK. A MUST READ!!!

Hi Kevin,

I just posted a question on the forum and wondered what you think? "Interesting question!! Do you think my anoxic could starve my bead of ammonia? The reason I ask is when I was cleaning my bead today very little crap came off and my beads look almost white (normally brown with bio film).



Before I go on please read my blog on thermodynamics parts one and two.

Okay, I’m going to give you some insight on the whys and how’s about the AFS and bacteria. A cyanobacterium grows in the AFS because it is one of the only bacteria’s that can take Nitrogen from the dinitrogen (N2) process directly from an aqueous solution and the atmosphere. The BCB’s through microbial facilitated processes begin to covert nitrates through denitrification processes by now making Nitrogen (N2) inside the BCB. This molecular nitrogen (N2) as it starts leaching out of the BCB’s now becomes a foodstuff for the cyanobacteria or blanket weed as you call it. This now explains why the AFS gets full of blanket weed because of N2 containment of the foodstuff that would other whys go back into the aqueous solution and/or atmosphere of our ponds if it didn’t have a containment vessel of some kind, like the box (AKA: Anoxic Filter) you built to hold the BCB’s. Those small innocuous pond pebbles or that black screen that you placed on top of the baskets now becomes a means or holding ecosystem for the cyanobacteria to consume N2 on.  

However, even when the N2 is exhausted the cyanobacteria can make its own foodstuff, so now it can become independent of the N2 being produced by the BCB’s. A conventional filter doesn’t have this capability to contain its byproducts and your pond therefore becomes its containment department. This would explain why this bacteria or blanket weed grows all over the main pond. Waterfalls become a nesting ground because cyanobacteria can take atmospheric nitrogen as a foodsource and anything else that is being expelled from the waterfall too. 

Now the magic begins! The bacterium inside the BCB starts making antibodies as the weather warms up. These antibodies are not blanket weed friendly and soon little by little the blanket weed starts breaking down and dyeing. This can physically be seen by the hobbyist, by their prefilter(s) beginning to clog up with this blanket weed that has broken apart from its holding base. There is no set rule on when this will happen or exactly at what temperature the blanket weed will dye. Depending on the parameters of the filter and/or pond the situation will be determine by the facilitating bacteria and there is really no way of speeding up this process. It’s like the same principle as Barley straw does with making hydrogen peroxide by bacteria breaking it down, but you’re using bacteria to fight another bacterium inside the AFS. Plants also do the same thing with each other, if they don’t like a plant that’s near them; they try and kill it off.

Once again this is not a perfect system because there can be more microbial producers of a byproduct than users and this then will cause an imbalance in the system. This change can happen because of excess foods with phosphates, temperature, even overcrowding of the water body with too much fish mass to water availability. Even microbial availability is subjective when it comes to an AFS and other filters. An AFS can sometimes starve a conventional filter of its foodstuff if all parameter become ideal for the trilliums of cells in the BCB’s. Adding plants to a BCB can have this same affect also by taking in ammonia directly into its cells along with eradicate some germs too. This then explains why your Bead filter medium is cleaner now than in previous years. Cells will only grow according to the available foodstuff that is presented to them in bulk water. If the available foodsource is gone then so will the bacteria vanish, too!

The two photos show Brian’s Bead Filter and how the bacteria on the first photo is turning brown from dead cells and the second photo show less dead cells, but still bacterial colonization is present. Sometimes the AFS can, but not always, starve other filters from their foodstuffs or lessen their foodstuffs availability. Still I would not recommend for Brian to remove his bead filter and keep it online to see how things go.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I think there are a couple of issues that cause problems for the uptake of any ideas along the line of anoxic filtration.

Here is an interesting article by Simon123 from Extreme Koi.


"Interesting points John. I think there are a couple of issues that cause problems for the uptake of any ideas along the line of anoxic filtration. The first is that it isn't an unboxed, plumb in and turn-on-system. You have to purchase quite a few different materials, build some kind of box/additional pool, spend lots of time cleaning cat litter and making the baskets up. I think that for a lot of people that's a step too far, they just want to be able to purchase a filtration system that they can plumb in and turn on.  

Secondly there's the herd mentality to consider. Although things constantly evolve and change in koi keeping and other hobbies the established methods of doing things become so entrenched that the initial uptake of new ideas is always a slow trickle at first. When there are proven systems out there that the majority of serious koi keepers, breeders etc. are using and have invested considerable amounts of money in, people will look at these established methods of filtration as a "no risk" option e.g., we know that they work, there is plenty of evidence for this, so why take a chance on something different which does not have the same volume of evidence to support its claims for filtration success. 

Imagine for a moment you were completely new to the world of keeping fish. You just decide on the spur of the moment to build a pond and do no research whatsoever; your knowledge of pond filtration is zero. So after a fortnight your pond is pea soup green and you can't see any of the fish you have just spent your hard earned cash on. You go to an aquatics center and they try to explain how filtration works. Now mechanical filtration is easy to get your head around even with no knowledge whatsoever. The chap in the shop shows you a sieve and you can watch the water flowing over the mesh and solid waste being captured, yes, you would understand that and be able to actually see it working: But what about biological filtration? You can look at a biological filter in action, but you can't actually see it working, converting ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate. But we all accept that some form of plastic media, lava rock, K1 etc. in a flow of water from the pond will be a breeding ground for the bacteria that perform the nitrogen cycle. We accept this because we know this has been the predominant method of filtration for years and the results speak for themselves, it works. But would someone who didn't know this have any more trouble believing in anoxic filtration?  

What's the real difference from a novice’s point of view? In simple terms instead of flowing water through a plastic media to give the bacteria access to the ammonia in the water you are flowing water around a clay media and the negatively charged biocenosis basket attracts ammonia molecules from the positively charged water. Both mediums are breeding grounds for bacteria. A complete newbie might even favor anoxic if it is explained that when you flow water through any media it eventually becomes clogged and requires cleaning, whereas when you flow water around media in a settlement tank the clogging will not happen, rather any solid particles will settle to the bottom of the tank and will only require flushing away twice a year. 

In my opinion the accepted method of filtering a koi pond is so firmly entrenched, so proven that anyone who has a reasonable knowledge of the hobby has to fight through these perceptions of how things should be done in order to give any alternative ideas the consideration they deserve. Anyone who comes to this hobby with zero knowledge would probably be able to more easily accept the idea of anoxic filtration.

My pond now has an anoxic filter. It has only been up and running for about three weeks so like any biological filter would be it is still not mature. The bacteria need time to grow in sufficient quantities to make the system work. So as of yet I can't give you any hard evidence either way on the benefits or disadvantages of anoxic filtration. By the summer I should be in a position to start providing evidence. If it doesn't work for me I will be honest and post that information. As of yet I have had no change whatsoever in my water parameters since I turned on the pump for the anoxic filter so the only thing I can say at the moment is that it has so far had no detrimental effect on my pond water.  

The fish like it though, they have been a lot more active since the additional water flow started up, possibly due to the fact that at last I'm getting a more circular flow of water around the pond, or possibly because they can detect a change that my test kit can't, who knows? All I can say is that they seem happier. 

As to your point about blanket weed, I have had this in my pond for years. This year due to the mild winter it has started growing already. This isn't due to me installing an anoxic filter but I'm hoping a beneficial effect of the anoxic method will be a reduction or eradication of the blanket weed as the baskets remove the food source that the weed depends on. Time will tell and I'll keep posting updates on my anoxic thread on my water parameters and blanket weed situation. 

The two photos were taken today 3-22-14 before water change and cleaning of the AFS. The AFS had ‘blanketweed’ in it AKA: cyanobacteria, but these photos show none was in the main pond. The top photo shows the prefilter and though it is full of detritus, dead algae, and everything else you can think of in a dirty prefilter that hasn’t been cleaned in 4 months; still no blanketweed all over the top! You would think with all that available foodstuff for blanketweed that it would be cover in it, right?

The bottom photo shows the ponds bottom and it is still nice and clear from blanketweed, too. The BCB’s are now 25 years old in this pond.  The yellow Chagoi is 25” long (63.5cm) and this will be her third year in my pond.  She was only 13” (33cm) when I bought her.

Like you and Vince I've also read articles and blogs that seem to suggest that anoxic filtration may well help remove blanket weed in the pond but the weed seems to grow in the filters themselves. It's a mystery to me why this should happen; maybe Mankey can shed some light on this? However given a choice between a pond full of blanket weed, or a pond clear of weed but a filter that is full of it I will go with the latter. So long as the pond is clear I don't care whether there's any blanket weed in the filter box.

I'm pleased that this subject seems to be so controversial! It’s good to have an "enthusiastic" debate now and again. Wouldn't life be boring if we all had exactly the same opinion on everything?  

So I'll just make one more point and then see what reactions I have provoked, I keep seeing people saying where's the proof that it works, show me hard evidence that you can successfully filter a koi pond by anoxic filtration. So I'm asking the opposite, prove to me that it doesn't work, show me hard evidence that it is not possible to successfully filter a koi pond by anoxic filtration? Have you seen with your own eyes a pond filtered solely by anoxic filtration where the water parameters are way outside safe levels and the fish are distressed, diseased or dying?"

[Ed: Couldn’t have said it better myself, this hobbyist is already a scientist and asking the right questions with the right attitude, too.]

Brian Woodcock’s Anoxic Filter cleaning for spring of 2014.

Brian Woodcock’s Anoxic Filter cleaning for spring of 2014.

Well, it’s that time of year again when filter cleaning and bringing everything back online for us in North America and the UK: ‘Cold weather hobbyist.’ In Chicago the weather is still not cooperating yet as good as it should be like in previous years and the snow in some spots is still over 2' deep (60.96 cm) in my yard.  

Before the first day of spring all pond and filter maintenance would have been done by now and a nice big water change would accelerate the Koi’s appetite within 72 hours. As long as the temperature is stable at 50°F (10°C) then with an AFS it is safe to feed once a day every other day with processed Koi foods along with worms and other natural foods supplements that they would find in the wild. When temps reach 55°F (12.78°C) and above, once a day will facilitate their requirements. This early feeding of your animals will go a long way in building up their immune systems and strength.

However, those that are using conventional filter must wait still for bacteria colonization once again of their filters unless their ponds were heated over winter. Without the adding of a lab bacteria culture it may take as long as 30 days or more to reestablish enough bacteria colonies in your filter to avoid ammonia (NH3) and Nitrites spikes. Let’s not forget the amount of ammonia that will be produced by the bacteria in the intestines if fed too early- because of the lethargic activity of the Koi- by proteins being broken down; if it’s not expelled then it will go into their blood stream. My Koi are very active now (They come to the top looking for food when I approach the pond.) even with the water not being stable enough for feeding. With such active Koi they are now eating Algae and other plant life or whatever is available to them at this stage. 

It doesn’t matter if the AFS was shut down completely or left running like mine was; it still has enough activated chemoautotrophic and facultative heterotrophic bacteria to take care of your needs until warmer weather prevails. What you may notice is that the AF will be full of cyanobacteria and yet your pond will not. But this is not an indication that your pond or filter is not running properly or you have bad water quality. This is a very common problem until the good bacteria starts making antibodies to kill off the unwanted blue-green algae as it’s called but in reality it is another bacterium trying to take hold, please remember that!  

Please read my post on Cyanobacteria for a better understanding of these nuisance bacteria that looks like string algae exactly.

This unwanted cyanobacteria will persists and become a good spawning media in early spring for your fancy goldfish that are in the filter. As time goes on and weather prevails it will subside as though it never happen by magic. 

However, I have seen ponds plagued with this bacterium using conventional filters all to often too, so it is just not isolated to an AFS problem. The difference is that only an AFS get plagued with this bacteria problem inside the filter and not in the main pond, it is just the reverse for those that use a conventional filter. Their filters may remain clean of the bacteria but then the pond gets full of cyanobacteria all year long. If you read the forums they are full of hobbyist complaining about string algae constantly. One of the problems is that conventional filter sometimes don’t logistically produce antibodies to eradicate this bacteria and therefore it plagues their pond all year long if evasive action isn’t taken with salt, hydrogen peroxide directly or indirectly in the form of Barley Straw or other chemicals, not so with an AFS. 

Though, it will once again come back at the end of the year when pond temps again begin to fall back into the low 50°F (10°C) and foodstuff become limited for higher bacteria forms. Also remember this string alga or blue-green algae AKA: Cyanobacteria will and can make its own foodstuff, so it doesn’t need to take any nutrients from solution and is endosymbiont and can live in a host. 

Some hobbyists are concerned about the newly supplemented fresh water that’s added into the AF directly and will all that available oxygen now in the AFS impair the bacteria bugs inside the filters BCB’s themselves? The quick answer is; not in the least, so don’t worry about it. The trillions of cell that are inside the BCB far outnumbering a conventional filter bugs and high oxygen penetration deep inside the BCB is not president even if the main water is at saturation point surrounding the BCB. The BCB is a very controlled and residual environment that favors the cells like that of a natural system does.

Brian’s pond parameters are:

Main municipal water from tap of NO3@ 25-ppm

Main pond water NO3@ 35-ppm after Anoxic Filter installation.

Before the AFS 80+ ppm of NO3, that’s a 45-ppm NO3 drop in Nitrates in about 6 months. He still has online his Bead filter.

Hi, Ok here goes, this is six months since the last clean.....started by removing all the plants. [Ed: If I'm not mistaken it was Brian's wife that did most of the work because he was on crutches.]

and this is the filter before the drain down, you can see some blanket weed but i must state i have none in my main pond.

Connected the layflat and started to drain.

This is the baskets after the drain down, you can see the blanketweed but not a lot Imo

I decided to remove the baskets to see what was under them. there was some mulm which didn't smell eggy at well happy

After the clean down by pressure wash. [Ed: This is really optional.]

Everything replaced.

Started the refill.

And job done

To add the anoxic was the best addition I have done, not saying it works for everyone but for me!! It has, my nitrates has dropped from 80+ to around 35ppm and considering my source water is around 25 ppm and I trickle in 6-700 gall a week its pretty good and yes I got a little BW but I still have a bead producing nitrates.

As for growth of fish........these were added 2 years ago and the majority were 20cm some smaller 3 are now 70cm+


 Thanks Brian and hope you recover soon.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

It has been a while since I have queried professor Novak since KKU disappeared...

Just received this email from the Garden Pond Forum from a fellow with a user name of: crsublette on that website. Whenever anything is said about the AFS I’m notified by email.


It has been a while since I have queried professor Novak since KKU disappeared, but it appears Novak did the same for his Anoxic system that Waddington has done for his ERIC system. They have created them self a website, that is entirely dedicated for them to share their system unopposed and moderated entirely by them self, which quite fine. Hopefully, this will a nice safe place for Novak so he can feel comfortable in sharing much more information.

Here is the new home of the Anoxic Filtraiton System.

Also, another thread has been started to further discuss Novak's invention, that thread is Anoxic filters?


The fact is I did not take the same path as Waddington did with the Eric Filter website. The difference is: I do not sell a product to the hobbyist to make money off of them. In fact, I sell nothing at all…but what I do is educate the hobbyist to make an astute decision on filtration methods, bacteria colonization of filter mediums and the dynamics of ponds and filters alike. It really doesn’t matter to me if you use an AFS or not, it’s your money so spend it the way you please. What matters to me that you educate yourself in pond dynamic so others don’t take advantage of you during a pond/filter sale and preserve the wellbeing of the animals that you’re playing God over! Remember these Koi did not ask to be your pets; you made that decision for them without their consent. Waddington on the other hand, is trying to sell you his filter to feed his family; I’m not!

I don’t mind having to answer true questions that pertain to ponds and filters, if the quarry of the question is not associated with an agenda of badgering or trying to undermine what I say with inappropriate, misleading and nonfactual questions that tries to discredit the science that is being taught in universities around the world.  It is not my job to take those that think they know everything in aquatic microbiology and bring them up to speed with a college level of thinking. Many hobbyist(s) use anecdotal information incorrectly formatted to show others their intelligence. Hence, the name saying, badgering and intimidation to others persist when they do not get their way on Internet forums. Though some may look at this blog as a safe haven without reprisal or opposition, I look at it as a tool to educate those that want without disruption from those that can.

Read my blog below and see how bad it can get:

As humans we like to look important in the eyes of our peers, even if it cost the embarrassment of those we are trying to belittle in the process. The Internet now endows those with very little power, with cyberspace power of unlimited quantities of self-indulging manifestations by super ├╝ber egos.

Science is always open to discussion and debate but only if the right periodical and fairness is applied to that questioning. A lot of questions and demands have been made of me that the same hobbyists would not get from a manufactures of filtration systems that they paid good money for. Try to get information about what kind of bacteria is in that little bottle/plastic container you just bought to inoculate your pond with. They will not tell you that it has coli forms of bacteria in it along with salmonellae pathogens, which fall under the facultative anaerobes! Because of the endowment of power that filter manufactures have, they will not give anyone the time of day just because you ask. However, these same hobbyists expected…no, demanded it of me! When their demands aren’t met, then the ignorance of trying to belittle me starts.

One hobbyist told me just last weekend that hobbyists did not want to  educate themselves by reading, but to remain ignorant, so other hobbyists could show them the way of ponding and forgo the latter. If I really thought his statement was true, them this blog is useless and I shouldn’t squander my time writing another word.

Remember Charles Dickens quote: Beware of these two children, this boy is ignorance and the girl is want, but most of all beware of this boy. The internet can turn too many hobbyists into that boy of ignorance or that girl of want if we let it! After 25 years of fighting with that boy and girl, I have decided to take the path that leads to people that really yearn for knowledge of what science has to offer them and not what someone thinks you should know because they, not you, can't embrace thinking out of the box. Albert Einstein said: “The significant problems that we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” An AFS is a new answer to a very old problem, but it is the hobbyist(s) that needs to change their way of thinking, not I.

Our anachronistic ways of ponding must come to an end, e.g., Veggie filters, Bog Filters 1, Bio Fall Filters and others that do not meet the standers for Koi ponds but only those of water garden ponds. Nevertheless, with slick sale pitches and advertising the hobbyist will never escape what they think is new with what is really the same old product just in a different package. For example: Ceramic filter medias 2 under several different names (Much like that of a sponge media but made instead of ceramic, at least with a sponge you can wring it out, not so ceramic.) that have been brought out several times now in the past 40-years in the hobbyist world only to fail each time with clogging and disappointment in the end. Ceramic Rings, ceramic bricks, or whatever new shape they take on it’s all the same. The argument of these filter mediums will continue on forums both aquariums and ponds for years to come if a hobbyist just doesn't start thinking out of the box.

1) There are no real Bog filters in pond use today, it is a misnomer for a Veggie Filter; bogs are not fish friendly environments because they are just too acidic. For those that have never seen a real working Bog Filter, contact your local university or community college. Most botany departments will have a working bog on hand as a learning tool and once you see how it works and why, you will never call your Veggie filter a Bog filter again.

2) Here is a quote from an Internet site about ceramic media. The last paragraph says it all-"if you have a good cleaning routine"- and also don’t forget you must and this cannot be emphasized enough, "have a good mechanical filtration to prevent that gunk from coating (clogging) the ceramics."



"The challenge with ceramic rings and porous material is keeping it clean from gunk, so that water can still pass through, that is why you need good mechanical filtration to prevent that gunk from coating the ceramics.

Most manufacturers will also recommend changing out ceramics, although in most of our experience it's not really needed, but again if the ceramics are getting clogged, the effective surface area gets diminished over time. If you have a good cleaning routine, and a good layering setup in your filter, this should keep your ceramics usable for many years."

[Ed: I like the usage of the word “challenge” by the hobbyist in this quote. Keeping any ceramic clean and free from detritus is quite a challenge at that. Whenever you see the word challenge connected with a filter media, that’s a red flag to stay away from it unless you’re willing to dedicate some time with that media keeping it clean.]


Thursday, March 13, 2014

I've read what I can find online about Anoxic filtration, which is quite a little bit, and I'm fascinated and excited about the concept.

Email today 03-13-14

Hi Dr. Novak,

I've read what I can find online about Anoxic filtration, which is quite a little bit, and I'm fascinated and excited about the concept. It is amazing the amount of resistance and downright rudeness on the forums that you have experienced against embracing this method of filtration. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised though, history shows there has always been much resistance against accepting new scientific discoveries.

I have to admit even as I read with fascination about the concept I was skeptical myself that something so seemingly simple could be so effective. The results I have read about though, speak for themselves.

I wanted to read your book, and although I have a PC I jumped through the hoops to sign up for an account to iTunes hoping there was a way to make it work. I managed to download the file to my computer but can't find a way to open it. It plainly states the requirements needed to open the file, which I don't have, but I thought maybe Apple had provided a way to convert or read the file on a PC, since they allowed opening an iTunes account on a PC. Am I missing something? Is there a way to open the file on my PC, or is there another file type available somewhere where I could view it?

My plans are to try this filtration method out this spring, and have started gathering up the needed supplies. Hopefully I can participate in, and contribute my experience on your blog.

Thanks so much for what you have shared,

Ed.: Name withheld

Hi ---------,


Thanks for the very kind words and yes you’re right, a lot of hobbyist I guess I rub the wrong way!


I just read on Extreme Koi forum from the UK a hobbyist saying QUOTE: with user name of: JohnKitching: "I really, really, really hate that Dr. Novak!"... "And hope the Anoxic filtration system fails!" WOW! Very vindictive words and for what reason I don’t know. Yet the mediators of that sight let that sort of narcissistic mannerisms be posted, knowing that it is a condescending discriminatory comment to another forum member and let it go on without retribution. This however is very typical of hobbyist(s) on forums and for the past 25-years this kind of simplemindedness, plus death threats, that have been written on forums directed at me. All this is because I invented a filtration system…it just doesn’t make any sense does it? For the life of me I just can’t understand why so many are protesting about something they don’t understand. After all there are a lot of pond filters out there that have very big price tags with bad reputations already, or is it because the AFS is free. 

Tell me, if someone threatens with intent to cause harm to someone or even cause the threat of tort to others, that then is an unstable individual or Troll as they say and should not be allowed on a forum with a younger audience in attendance. It’s a bad message that, if adults can do it, then it’s okay for them (children) to pick on people they may not like too. And I thought Extreme Koi was a friendly forum! 

Don’t worry about my iTunes book on the Anoxic Filtration System because my blog actually has more information than the book does and most of the articles have been rewritten on my blog, too. 

Please let me know how things get along with your pond build and any information you send me I will gladly place on my blog to teach others along with myself.