Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I suspect that I am hi-jacking this thread, but I can't figure out how to ask Dr. Novak a direct question on this Blog. Apologies in advance.

1 comment

Apr 24, 2014


I suspect that I am hi-jacking this thread, but I can't figure out how to ask Dr. Novak a direct question on this Blog. Apologies in advance.

Question to Dr. Novak, or others:

(1) Is it counter-productive, or more specifically, harmful to have too many BC baskets in an anoxic filtration system? I've just completed an inside dimension 3'x3'x10' tank, holding 500+ gallons. Water is being moved via a sequence 7,800 gallon pump. I live in Ft Lauderdale, so the pond is active 365 days / yr, with a lot of sun / string algae is the summer. I might have gotten a little carried away. I put 3 layers of 27 11x11x7 baskets (81 total...Oil-Dri from Grainger’s worked the best for me, by the way). Each layer rests on 10' x 1.5" square solid PVC molding runners, so there is plenty of surface area for each basket. I put 5/8" Plexiglas sheets with a zillion holes drilled in them two locations to act as baffles to prevent water channeling. The top layers of BCB’s are 6" below the surface of the water.
Query? Is this too many baskets?
Query? Will the baskets that are so close to the surface be able to become anoxic?

(2) I am a fan of using Potassium Permanganate, followed by Hydrogen Peroxide, to clarify the pond every couple of months. Gives spectacular results and eliminates any parasites that might have found their way into the eco system. (We don't have winters to retard them off.) I currently by-pass the bio filter (but not the mechanical vortex filter) when I treat with PP / H2O2. The Anoxic tank is plumbed so that it can feed all, some, or none of the circulating water through it. Do you see the PP / H2O2 having any negative impact on the anoxic filter / bacteria? Should the anoxic filtration system be by-passed when treating, or are the bacteria so buried in the clay and laterite that it doesn't matter?

Thank you for any advice you can offer, and again I apologize for piggy-backing on this thread.



Thanks B. Pender for the question and my apologies for not getting to your questions sooner.

Query? Is this too many baskets?

In reality you can’t have too much filtration in any closed system pond and that also goes for how many BCB’s you may have in your AFS.  Aquascape’s is a good example on this theory if you look at how their ponds are built.  They are a company that believes in making the filter as large as the ponds mass by adding rocks and pebbles to the bottom of them. (1).  So, this is not the case where you would be “gilding the lily” as they say with too many BCB’s because each BCB is an independent magnet in a way and only how much maintenance do you or can you handle will be the limiting factor here. I would say your setup sounds perfect and has more BCB’s in it than 14,000-35,000 gal ponds would have.


Query? Will the baskets that are so close to the surface be able to become anoxic?

The BCB’s that are closes to the surface of your Anoxic Filter will still have the same amount of oxygen as the deeper ones will. There are other chemical and biological reactions taking place inside a BCB that make oxygen  and because it is not just brought in by diffusion alone the bacteria can also steal it from other sources if need be. Water going into a BCB is regulated by the permeability and porewater makeup and electrical charge of the clay itself and not governed by where it is sitting in the filter. If the substrate was larger in unit size, then too much oxygen, water and detritus would pass through it and if it was any smaller, then just the opposite would happen and only obligatory anaerobic bacteria would dominate the media. Two good examples would be pea gravel or small aquarium gravel would be too large and earthen dirt or sand would be too small and would compact cutting off the porewater capabilities of the substrate. Once the substrate is compromised then all is lost in the bacteria world.


Do you see the PP / H2O2 having any negative impact on the anoxic filter / bacteria?

The only time Potassium Permanganate or Hydrogen Peroxide would have a negative result/impact on the BCB’s bacteria is in an overdose, and I think by now if you have been using these chemical for this long then you know how to administer these chemical in the proper quantities for the safety of your animals.

That’s one good thing the AFS has over most filters used today is it can take chemical treatment(s) for fish health problems better than most filtration system do without the negative side effects. If you are using the Zeolite cat litter then special cation must be taking using some chemicals because of the absorption capabilities of Zeolite cat clays are not chemically friendly. Kiln dry and baked cat clay on the other hand is inert and it seem as though nothing bothers it.


(1)  I will try and explain about Aquascape’s filtration ideas and how they try and turn their whole ponds bottom into a filter media to house bacteria by adding rocks and pebbles to them. The theory is to increase the surface area for bacteria growth like they did in aquariums years ago. The trouble with their implementation of such is that the intersection of topography is now limited from water movement through the substrate. Maybe 50-years ago this practice was the norm, but because science has found out differently, their ideals are questionable and are scrutinized by many hobbyist.

I have tried endlessly to talk to Aquascape’s and give them some new ideals and to get their bad reputation straighten out, but they are constantly at meetings. If this company would just sit-down and listen to better ways to improve what they have, they could shed that bad publicity that I hear about from others and make more money on top of it.

I even went to one of their pond clubs meetings, and was told by the president of the club: They have to follow what Aquascape’s tells/dictates to them are all funding will be pulled from the club, so new ideals and/or improvements are stemmed right from the get-go! This does not look good for a club that’s foundation rest on “educating the public on ponding”.

I have never own one of their ponds but some hobbyist like them (That’s if the cleaning work is done by someone else.) and others have nothing good to say about them after having one of their ponds built in their backyards. I guess the cleaning of all that gravel once a year is just too much for some hobbyist to do and dread it or forgo it altogether and never do it at all. I really hate to see a company in Illinois get a bad rap from hobbyist but closing the door on new ideas is not the way to change it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

You see all this time I’ve been trying to educate the hobbyist for free and now someone has a new angle on basically cat clay for a higher price. Now you know why my AFS has been kept so quiet and no one wants you to know about it…because it’s free!

What you are going to see/read is two advertisements for a new plant media for pond use, which is now being sold through pet mail order houses online. It was more than 25-years ago that the AFS was introduced to the public and for those that did not understand its concept and science, they called it “nonsense,” and that no one would be interested in such a filtration system made of cat litter and Laterite.  

These two plant clay mediums that are being sold today without Laterite added are just what I have been talking about for the past 25-years now, but in a new package and at hundreds of times the price of plain old cat litter. Yet, when I tried to tell manufactures about the AFS they didn’t want to hear about it.  

So take the timeout to read the advertisements and what they are now saying about basically “cat litter” and how great it is! It’s funny how now manufactures are singing a different toon when there is money to be had from hobbyist at hundreds of times the price of fired crystalline structural cat clay. I like the words, and I Quote: “Ecological LaboratoriesKiln-fired, 100% natural montmorillonite clay.” Really!!! Let’s not forget, these are the same people that didn’t what to give me the time-of-day when I wanted to talk to them.  

Even the pet supply stores selling these product did not what to talk to me when I said they should get a package together of Laterite, cat clay and a open-cell planting basket to sell to the hobbyist and they called the BCB idea “garbage”, but I guess now that my ideal is in a nice pretty package, it’s the greatest thing on earth! It’s funny that when a manufacture of a pond or aquarium product says some mumble jumble advertisement words that sound as good as “Corinthian Leather” to sell something, no one questions them and the validity of their goods! Do we just take their word because they say it is; then it is? Just food for thought.  

You see all this time I’ve been trying to educate the hobbyist for free and now someone has a new angle on basically cat clay for a higher price. How long will it take them before they add the Laterite to their products? Now you know why my AFS has been kept so quiet and no one wants you to know about it…because it’s free! I guess stealing ones idea is better than giving them credit or thanks!

Noun: an act of stealing something: An idea taken from another’s work.

*         Clean, easy-to-use planting media for water gardeners
*         Will not dissipate, cloud water, clog pump/filters, or alter pH
*         Unique blend of natural zeolite concentrates nutrients for healthy pond growth
PondCareEasy to use and mess-free potting media encourages healthy aquatic plant growth. Unique blend of natural zeolite removes excess nutrients from pond water and concentrates them in the plant root zone without leaching. Securely holds plants in pots so plants can form strong root systems. Will not dissipate, cloud water, clog pump/filters, or alter pH. Recommended for all potted aquatic plants.

Please click on "More Information" for directions for use.

10 lbs for $9.99
25 lbs for $22.99

*         Natural montmorillonite potting media with beneficial bacteria for lush plant growth
*         Neutral pH planting media contains no fertilizers or compost that can pollute your pond
*         Use straight from the bag or mix with other aquatic plant media
Ecological LaboratoriesKiln-fired, 100% natural montmorillonite clay perfect for container plants, marginal plants, bog areas, and wildlife ponds. Neutral pH pebbles retain oxygen, contain beneficial live bacteria, and contain no algae-promoting nutrients, fertilizer, compost, peat or pesticides. Helps absorb excess alkalinity or acid in your pond water - won't break apart or float.

Please click on "More Information" for specifications.

10 lbs. $11.96
20lbs.  $18.36

Friday, April 25, 2014

I thought I would share some excerpts from this E-mail with everyone to show sometimes cation is to be applied when using none clay cat litters and medication.

I thought I would share some excerpts from this E-mail with everyone to show sometimes cation is to be applied when using none clay cat litters and medication. I have experimented with different chemicals and off-the-shelf medications that are available to the hobbyists and found that most do not compromise the constituents of the BCB’s bacteria. Because this hobbyist understands the chemical composition of Zeolite cat litter he/she is taking all precautions in administering medications to cure their Koi.

It all started when the hobbyist added a new Koi to an already established disease free pond, with forgoing any quarantine processes for new arrivals.   Soon afterwords the Typhoid Mary’s introduction to the pond it infected the rest of the Koi and they became sick. The hobbyist immediately started a regiment of Acriflavine in the morning and Potassium Permanganate in the evenings with the help of a friend giving their Koi shots of antibiotics.


“Thank God, up to now there were no casualties, almost all the sick fish that were in quarantine have recovered and all of them have been returned to the main pond. But just one night after returning them to the pond I noticed some of them getting white spots disease; it confused me at first since I have bombarded my pond with several different medications already: Tetra pond Medifin and Potassium Permanganate. So I did further readings and found out that the parasite that causes white spot (Iichthyophyrius Multifilis) has to be treated several times because they are only vulnerable at a certain phase in their life cycle. With that known, I’m now treating my pond for 5 consecutive days to rid it of the parasite completely (I hope). I use Acriflavine in the morning and Potassium Permanganate in the evening, with lots of water changes. I plan to flush all chambers in the AFS before last treatment.

 Oh yes! Before I decided to do this (5 day treatment), I tested my usual water parameters and I was surprised that it was better than ever. I got 0 for all ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates with a TDS of 53. This could only mean that all the bacteria within the BCB’s survived my first Potassium Permanganate bomb/treatment. [Ed: The pretreatment of the pond itself was to make sure all disease and/or parasites were dead before the introduction of the Koi after being quarantined.]  I suppose this is because none of the Potassium Permanganate entered inside the BCB’s unlike normal filters. I never got this good of a reading even if I have fasted the fish for 10 days with frequent water changes and daily mechanical filter cleanings with a conventional filter. It would be interesting to see how it will go with 5 consecutive days of Acriflavine and Potassium Permanganate. One thing for sure is I can’t use Methylene Blue, [Ed: Malachite Green can also be use for Ich.] because Zeolite has a 100% capability of absorbing the dye thus becoming saturated with it making it useless [Ed: activated carbon will do the same thing as well.]. Well, that’s the story about my struggle against fish diseases.”

 E-mails like this are saddening to hear because it can happen to the best of us, especially when space does not permit a quarantine tank. However, I’ve seen Koi that were quarantined properly and still bring in an unwanted parasite or disease that the quarantined chemicals could not or did not eradicate. This hobby is a chancy one at best and all we can hope for is that the down moments do not supersede that of the up moments that make this hobby so enjoyable. There is nothing worse than having your filter die after any treatment with medication and having to start the Nitrogen Cycle all over again. Stressed-out Koi or Goldfish can come up with secondary infections when this happens.

With all the bad news and bad experiences this hobbyist has had to endure there is an upside to their Koi keeping. They managed to take second place in a Koi contest for best Koi [ See photo below.], once again the AFS helped them in growing a prize winning Koi. They also claim the Koi that was entered into the contest was not of the highest quality and the cheapest Koi in a buying bidding system. All Koi entered in the contest had to be bought from a bidding system from what was available for sale.

This was the “cheapest Koi in the contest” and it only got second place! It looks to me that the AFS really did its job on this one…absolutely beautiful! In Chicago this would not be a cheap Koi by any means. TDF!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I am switching from conventional filtration on my smaller ponds which works well but is very hard at times to maintain (not to mention expensive) to looking at building an anoxic filtration pond for our large pond.

Good Day Dr Novak, 

I appreciate you forwarding the link to study your CD online.  As you have probably come to expect I have a few questions that I need to have answered before I can proceed.  I am switching from conventional filtration on my smaller ponds which works well but is very hard at times to maintain (not to mention expensive) to looking at building an anoxic filtration pond for our large pond.  I am also considering changing our smaller ponds to anoxic as well.  First a bit about my pond I am designing:


It will be a formal design with about 24" of the side wall above ground and is intended to hold about 1 fish for every 300 gallons of water in the pond, which is considered to be stocked heavier than the optimal.  While we may not stock the pond to this level, I still want the filtration to be capable of handling this load.  I realize I may have to execute additional water changes, but with cleaning the settlement chambers and flushing my mechanical filters, this would automatically be accomplished. 

 The ponds designed dimensions will be 14ft W X 36ft L X 3ft sloped to 8ft D containing approximately 24,000 gallons of water.  Side walls will be vertical or possibly slight slope in at bottom.  Pond will be liner type with stream flow from shallow to deep end of pond.  My skimmer circuits are planned to go directly to a 5000 GPH pump through a sand/gravel (SG) polishing filter to remove fines and be returned directly to the pond through sweeper returns or TPR’s.  My UV's would be on the skimmer circuit. 

 I intend to have 3 - 4" bottom drains and 2 - 3" mid level returns which will go to two separate settling chambers with micro-screen prefilters (100 micron) to two ESS8500 (8500 GPH high efficacy) pumps.   These pumps would feed two large polishing SG filters to the anoxic filtration system.  I intend to build the anoxic filter so that it would be 5ft W X 14ft L X 2.5ft D, which would house approximately 60 biocenosis pots/ baskets with approximately 25 to 30 planted (assumes 11" X 11" X 7" pots) and the filter would feed back to the pond via 2 - 3ft by 6" sheer waterfalls.  I would have piping with valves that would allow us to reduce or remove water traveling over the water falls and from the filter down the pipes directly back into the pond (to reduce cooling of the water in spring and fall).  We are located in Harrisonville, Missouri just south of Kansas City for location reference.  


That is the thought in a nutshell; I have only drawn it by hand to date, getting ready to start the CAD work on it.  My questions would be as follows:

1.     Q: We found a really good price on some planting baskets, but they are only 9" X 9" X 5", can we substitute these baskets (increasing quantity of baskets of course) and use them or some of them?

2.     A: These baskets are a little small but may work. Some hobbyists do use such baskets because of their weight compared to the larger ones, which are too much for then to lift out of the filter if required. 

3.     Q: Is my quantity or size of anoxic chamber adequate for the pond design, if I need additional baskets can I stack them?

4.     A: Yes you may, just make sure that you do not block or inhibit the intersection of topography between the two baskets. 

3. Q: Can we make an area just off of the filter where we could put Lionheads Goldfish (maybe a dozen) where they can not get into the plants in the filter, but their water is shared with it?

A: You can place Lionheads in the filtration system if you like; I have for many years now with no ill effect on the filtration system. FYI, they have lived that way for over 15-years now. 

5.     Q: The large basket in the pond like shown in your book is it necessary and can we make it a "floating" basket anchored in place or supported from the bottom?

6.     A: A floating basket is just fine; I have one in my pond to keep the fish calm so when onlookers are near they can swim behind it for protection. If you have any more questions please feel free to ask: An unasked question is for more dangerous than a question that asked, but may sound stupid! 

Thanks for your time, I really do appreciate it.  I know you help out more as a labor of love and honestly to help others. 


Tracy and Rebecca Wagoner

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Of course I have another question after reading the blog post you recommended.

New question 4-8-14


Never a problem to hear from you. I welcome any further thoughts or direction you may have. Your blog is outstanding! Of course I have another question after reading the blog post you recommended. If I understand it correctly you said 90 percent of bacteria in filters are heterotrophs that are capable of assimilatory denitrification in aerobic conditions with the end product being ammonia. As opposed to the autotrophs the usual bacteria associated with the nitrogen cycle that does this in anaerobic conditions. I am assuming the E. coli and some of their congeners facultative anaerobes come from fecal waste from the fish in the aquarium and in the case of ponds fish and other animals. Any further thoughts or comments?

Thanks again,

Name Withheld

Sent from my iPhone

Hello Kevin,

I hope you don't mind another few questions to help clarify things. Assuming what I said in the previous email is correct. Is it the same facultative anaerobic heterotrophs from the Enterobacteriaceae family that improve water quality by Dissimilatory nitrate reduction and by usage of organic carbon compounds such as carbohydrates, organic alcohols, amino acids and fatty acids in anoxic conditions and add to eutrophication in aerobic conditions by assimilatory nitrate reduction? Are these bacteria in aerobic conditions the main bacterial cause of poor water quality along with the Nitrobacteriaceae forming nitrate. Is it correct that the Nitrobacteriaceae are not involved in either form of denitrification? Do the heterotrophic facultative anaerobes use organic compounds during assimilatory and Dissimilatory denitrification?

Thanks Again, Name Withheld
Sent from my iPhone

[Ed: If someone writes me and I think his or her questions are interesting and/or knowledgeable enough for the rest of us to read I will place them on my blog, although I will respect their confidentiality in doing so if they ask.]

Photo taken by Kevin from an AFS.

Hi _______,

I will try and address your questions in parts if you don’t mind. Quote: “90 percent of bacteria in filters are heterotrophs that are capable of assimilatory denitrification in aerobic conditions with the end product being ammonia.”

Ninety percent of the bacteria in our filters and ponds are heterotrophic, but that does not mean that they all have the capabilities or ability in a reduction process to facilitate nitrates into nitrogen gas (N2) or nitrates into NH3. Some heterotrophic bacteria can take Nitrates and in a reduction process reduce it into Nitrites and no further, while others can take the Nitrites and further reduce it into Ammonia (NH3). But these undesirable bacteria are not what hobbyist are looking for but many manufactures seem to think are okay to make their products out of.

However, most reductive heterotrophic bacteria are in the anaerobic class of bacteria and live in the anaerobic zone of a filter and they have the capabilities to reduce Nitrates into ammonia and no further. Tricking the hobbyist in believing that they now have a dinitrogen filter or a reduction filter with the capabilities of making N2 but this is not true. Ammonia is a lot more toxic to our animals than nitrates so assimilatory denitrification or any bacteria that have reduction capabilities should be avoided if at all possible by knowing what you’re inoculating your pond with up front. Obligated anaerobic heterotrophic bacteria that die in the presence of oxygen have the ability to do assimilatory denitrification and still fall under the class of heterotrophic bacteria and use anaerobic fermentative reaction pathways. Then you also have Aerotoerant bacteria that do not require oxygen and metabolize their energy anaerobically. They will not die in the presence of oxygen and fall under heterotrophic bacteria.

Now autotrophic bacteria like Microaerophile bacteria used in the breaking down of inorganic compounds, like in the nitrogen cycle, only makes another byproduct that either heterotrophic bacteria can use as a foodsource or chemotrophic bacteria use as a foodsource using inorganic or organic compounds as its energy source. The autotrophic bacterium that is used in the Nitrogen cycle (Nitrobacteriaceae) do not have the capabilities to facilitate Nitrates into N2, that takes a specialized bacteria to do this and they fall into the respiratory heterotrophic or facultative anaerobic class of bacteria not the Nitrobacteriaceae class of bacteria. Facultative anaerobes can generate fermentation and behave as respiratory heterotrophs and live in the anoxic zone of your BCB. They make better use of phosphorous and only trace amounts of phosphates unlike Nitrobacteriaceae bacteria.

Enterobacteriaceae mainly falls under gram-negative germs and enterobacteria are found in the intestines also gram-negative containing LPS and not so much our ponds as a free bacterium. They also disrupt the bacterial cell envelope by not being recognized by the immune system of their host. They must be inoculated or introduced through a host or bottles of bacteria and freeze-dried bacteria cultures made up of Salmonella and Escherichia Coli that I talk about in my blog and live in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

These bacteria play an insignificant part in water quality unlike Nitrobacteriaceae that play a major function in water quality and the degradation of it as well and have the ability to turn our ponds/aquariums eutrophic aiding in eutrophication of our ponds.  Where natural systems may take hundreds or thousands of years to become eutrophic our ponds only take months to do the same because of Nitrates and improper use of phosphates and not having the right bacteria to utilize these byproducts. You also must realize that if you do not have a pond filter that uses ion displacement, and this is very important, like the AFS then those excessive ions will build up in solution and add to its water decline too.

The AFS is design to lessen or eradicate those byproducts that degrade water quality and take it to a new level of ion clarity in a closed system. Not perfect, but as good as it gets without the cost of very elaborate and/or costly equipment. Somewhere in  this entire mumble jumble is the answer to your questions if you can decipher it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

To all those that have been keeping up with the Anoxic Filter on My blog.

To all those that have been keeping up with the Anoxic Filter  on My blog.

 Thought you would all love this "Holiday Greeting".

Happy Easter!

Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the Springtime solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2014, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

Sent from K. Novak's iPad to you...because I care! Well maybe I don't care that much...okay then just read the stupid Blog will you! And have a nice day and quit calling me names! Yes, I can see some of the names, but not all the ones that you posted on Facebook!

In case anyone's been keeping track this is now my 200th post since this blog began.