Tuesday, September 9, 2014

During my free time, I’ve still been trying to better my understanding about ORP. Yogas

During my free time, I’ve still been trying to better my understanding about ORP. So far I have come to understand that a substance with a negative ORP value is a reducing agent by which has the potential to donate electrons while a positive ORP value is an oxidizing agent by which has the potential to receive electrons. From here I have several questions related to ORP and the AFS:

1.       Laterite, Zeolite and cat litter are all anions, can we say they are reducing agents? Hence ammonium as cations is oxidizing agents?
2.       Through the AFS, ammonium is taken out of the water body and broken down to nitrogen gas. Leaving the water body free from ammonium. Will this process still happen if the water body is acidic (pH<7)?
3.       Will it be correct to say that the AFS is a water purification system thus enabling the water to have a positive ORP?
4.       Better aeration-better dissolved oxygen-higher pH-more ammonia converted to ammonium-captured and degraded by AFS-purer water-better positive ORP. Correct?
I’m still trying to put the pieces together, and to be honest, for me it’s quite a mind numbing process.  I’ve started feeding heavily again, and usually by the afternoon the ORP value will have dropped by 20-30. Water changes helps but not enough so clay is added daily also. This clay seems to help by oxidizing (binding) nitrite, nitrate and phosphates, also by coagulation of floating koi feces enabling the filters to filter it out faster. So by evening the ORP has returned to initial value in the morning. So this is my current understanding between the relationships between ammonia-pH-aeration-AFS-ORP-Koi Clay. Have I got anything wrong/backwards?

Best regards,


Hi Yogas,

Your redox (ORP) should have a higher value in the morning and as the day continues go down slowly during the day until at night it should be at its lowest reading in mV. During the night and when metabolism is low and photosynthesis has stopped, the water is cleaned up by biological and chemical reactions by your filtration system and the resultant redox potential then becomes higher in value by these processes.

 During the day, as metabolism increases with pollutants insults, the ORP will go down slowly, especially after a/every feeding session. The only way to counter-act this tendency of ORP lowering is with a protein skimmer that removes nitrogenous organic compounds with the use of ozone. Then with a good redox measuring device the redox potential will stay more stable throughout the day and night as the measuring device controls the redox potential and the use of ozone.

It can also be said, that a Biocenosis Clarification Baskets made up the way I explain in my blog is the only way that plants will continue to take in at night ammonia/ammonium and process Nitrates as N2 as a foodsource when other methods of planting aquatic plants will not, giving the ponds mass a higher ORP in the morning than other methods of filtration.

NO3 ammonia or ammonium nitrate NH4+ is not complicated for plants to use when photosynthesis is shut down so plants still use it as a foodsource at night but not Nitrates because Nitrates must be reduced to ammonium once again in a two-step reduction process and that’s chemical work for the plants. Because the BCB’s chemical makeup, the intake of anions and some cations amounts in an ion displacement in the pond are equal through diffusion and magnetic pull. This also holds true for plants because if a plant did not take cations and anions in equal amounts it would have a fatal pH swing inside the cells. Most plants keep a constant pH of 7.0, no matter what their surrounding pH is in the waters mass.

Because the BCB’s are taking in theses positively charged (cation) and negatively charges (anions) ions these them become a foodsource for the bacteria as well as plants. The more a filtration system removes these ions from the waters mass the higher the redox (ORP) and the lower the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) will become. Ions can become a never-ending insult because chemical and physical processes create them.

The BCB’s themselves are not pH dependent and the ammonium ion, which is mildly acidic is what is formed from ammonia when the ammonia is dissolved in water, it is then converted into the ammonium ion. Though lots of hobbyists would like to believe that a lower pH (acidic) would lessen the toxic nature of this ion that is not really 100% true. Though the degree of the ion is depended on the pH of the solution it’s in, the lower pH makes the ammonium ion and a higher pH makes the ammonia ion both are toxic and long term exposure is not recommended. 

In fact plants will readily take in ammonia (NH3) over the ammonium (NH4+) because, though it is more toxic, it has no electrical charge and is easily taken in by the plants, most aquatic plants follow this rule and there are only a few exceptions to this rule were some plants favor Nitrates over ammonia. In other methods of planting the plants root hairs will not be exposed to the ammonia/ammonium ion like in the BCB’s and the plants at night will just shut down until next day. So plants and the BCB’s will also raise redox potential at night as well as day because of the ammonia/ammonium ion is still being attracted inside each one 24/7.

Because of what has been said above this is the reason why the name of the baskets are called Biocenosis Clarification Baskets and not just Biocenosis Baskets like most people call them. The AFS is a clarifier filter that is built with a diffusion of mechanical buffers for continuously removal of macro and micro solids being deposited by sedimentation and ion removal.

Most if not all filtration systems are hydrophobic in nature because of the media and/or substrate they use but an AFS is hydrophilic in character and has a tendency to mix with its surrounding water. In other words, it has a tendency to be wetted inside and out by water and dissolve in it and become one. Plus it is an ion-exchange molecular attachment filter along with polar molecule attachment filter also. These characteristics of the BCB’s make it the world’s most unique filter for the hobbyist available. Each thing that I have mentioned hear is another reason the AFS clarifies water and polishes it to the point of unbelievable clarity at times.

Since the AFS is acting like a molecular processing filter of that of chemical filtration, various molecules attach to the interface substrate by absorption, adsorption, and ion-exchange. As far as I know there is no other way cheaply to do all this for the hobbyist except through an AFS using the BCB’s as explained. 

As we know molecules must brush extremely close to a surface as they move through the media but this is also what clogs other filters, too. The interface between the media, water and the pollutants that are in the water are always in jeopardy if the media clogs. Redox will suffer and TDS will rise and Nitrate accumulations are its end results along with maybe even becoming an ammonia producer.  I would not call a filter that clogs a water purification system if it jeopardizes ORP in the process.  AFS do not clog so they fall under the umbrella of purification systems or clarifying systems because of their versatility with water management.

Your statement that Laterite, Zeolite and cat litter are all anions, so we say they are reducing agents is true to a point that they will attract ions for the reduction of that ion. Hence ammonium is a cations or oxidizing agent because electrons are lost to another species.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

And now without further ado, a word from pond owner Shelly that uses the AFS in Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley with photos.

Modifications or additional filtration to your pond: Will it become redundant? In most cases the simple answer is; yes! Adding more of what you already have is redundancy squared. As hobbyist realize they need more filtration to an already existing filtration system or rebuilding their ponds and making them larger always presents the same problems of making the same mistakes but with additional cost.

I’ll give you and example of what I mean. Lets say you have this wonderful Nexus, Bead filter or Sand filter and you’re happy with what you have but now you need more because your Koi and/or needs have changed. In most cases you will not buy another Nexus because of the expense of $3000-5000.oo more for a filtration system is a little too much. Therefore, you will try to build a supplement filter or be convinced in someway that filter X is a better choice for your needs and will cost you a fraction of what a Nexus does. Lets remember I’m not picking on Nexus filters just using them as an example only.

In this scenario, which plays itself out all the time with pond owners, the options are either more techno equipment; cost being still high, or a build it yourself filtration system. The high tech equipment will give you some advantage over the homemade filter but then again cost will influence that to a greater existent, too. So the homemade filter is the lesser of two evils and better WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) because cost will be lessen. You will also have the enjoyment of saying; “I built it myself!”

Now here’s the problem; have you really gained anything other than more of what you already have? The high tech equipment may or may not give you cleaner water with higher ORP and Lower TDS but that home made filter will not. Some will try and make Bogs or Veggie filters but if not done just right you will not gain what you think you should. Using filter mats for colonization of more bacteria will only cause more work in the long run because of clogging. Adding rocks and stone to your pond is going backwards in time to days of yore in ponding and you what to progress not regress with technology.

Anoxic Filters today are the most progressive filtration system out there. With plants they can eradicate germs that cause illnesses to our Koi, clean water, help prevent cyanobacteria that plague so many ponds, raise ORP, lower TDS, and stay open to biological and chemical mediators that other system can’t do because they don’t clog up those valuable pathways in the filters substrate.  They are easy to build that a child can do it and though not an easy system to understand its science, will not let your valuable Koi down in colder geographical location by bacteria loss in the winter months.

Understanding its science is why so many hobbyists think the AFS will not work or is really just another Bog or Veggie filter, however, it is not! It is a well thought out filtration system used for decades to purify water cheaply and efficiently enough to keep aquatic life alive for many years to come. It does not take a very highly skill level person to make up the Biocenosis Clarification Baskets. Don’t let this name intimidate you, it just a scientific way of saying how the baskets work.

As I have said before not every filtration system is perfect for everyone but I have seen even the most expensive filters money could buy, not do the job they were intended to.

QUOTE from Vince from a Koi forum post # 465 dated September 4th, 2014:

“My anoxic filter is 4-foot deep and the (BCB’s) baskets stacked up on the inside using 40-mm pipe work to give a gap for water to flow under each one. And no plants at all, Yes, it did take longer to get going but it is working fine now and I’m very happy with my readings that have come down from Nitrates over 180-ppm to just 20-ppm now. As for as the other readings go there still fine also but it was only to get the Nitrates down I fitted the Anoxic filter anyway.”

[ED: That’s a whopping 160-ppm lower now using an AFS over a conventional system.]

And now without further ado, a word from pond owner Shelly that uses the AFS in Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley with photos.

Shelly's pond in panoramic view.


“I just had to chime in on your 8/27 "No Chemicals" post from Brian Woodcock. 

As you know, Dr. Novak, I am a very new and inexperienced pond owner. We built our own 4' deep, 3800-gallon pond, and filled it just 10 months ago. 



Our Anoxic Filtration chamber is modeled after Brian Woodcock's -- except ours is hidden under our deck next to the pond. It is gravity fed from an aerated bottom drain. We made our own pre-filter between the bottom drain and the AF chamber. The AF chamber contains 18 unplanted 11" Biocenosis Baskets, and there are 6 more planted Biocenosis Baskets in a small 14" deep 'bog' (see photo) that adjoins the pond. 

NO MAGIC: In addition to the circulation created by the aeration and 2 TPR’s, we keep a steady flow of water through the bog. Our pond also has a Skimmer and an Emperor HO ( High Output) UV. My weekly maintenance consists of netting and/or trimming any dead leaves off my aquatic plants, changing my filter media (round, commercial floor-buffer pads). I recently purchased a Pond-Vac as well, knowing LOTS of leaves are about to fall. That's it! No magic.

MY POND WATER IS SO CLEAR that, sometimes when the light is just right, my Water Hyacinth and Cabbage seem to be floating in the air. It is difficult to get a picture of the bottom because my camera wants to focus on the reflection instead, but I have managed to capture a couple. I'll let these photos speak for themselves. SEE THE BOTTOM??

I should also add that I allowed my granddaughter to select 3 small butterfly Koi from the pet store, and release them with our 14 gold fish. I have never had Koi, but their GROWTH RATE IS ALMOST SCARY! I only feed them all in the morning.

Again, thank you for making it possible for us to have such a nice, AFFORDABLE pond. I expect many others to eventually join our ranks!

In Oregon's beautiful Willamette Valley

[ED: Once again I can’t thank those enough that let me know how they are doing and letting those on my blog know too.]

Monday, September 1, 2014

Isn’t science wonderful?

Here is a bit of interesting news that I thought would interest everyone. A lot of hobbyist/s believe that the AFS is not a filtration system meant for Koi ponds and is not sophisticated enough for raising them using such a simple system. They would like others to believe that it is only a water garden filtration system and that if you really wish to raise quality Koi then you have to use a very expensive filtration system to achieve such.

The statement above is from those that have no working knowledge of the AFS and how it really works in cleaning water and making it acceptable for our Koi. The photos are from the pages of the MPKS newsletter and show some of the winners of the 22nd annual Koi show and competition.  Zack Velev and Bob & Rhonda Mucerino’s are members of the MPKS and use the AFS. I have written about them in my blog before and Zack’s pond is on the cover of my iBook too.

Zack Velev won 6 of the Koi awards at the show and the Mucerino’s won 3 of the awards given. Now both of these koi members use the AFS for raising show quality Koi in their backyards. So I guess those that think the AFS is only meant for water gardeners just doesn’t hold water any longer does it!

It just goes to show you that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to keep show quality Koi any longer. The days of only the most techno hobbyist keeping show quality Koi are gone and with science everyone now can do the same not just a few.  As one door closes another one opens and the AFS is that door that gives hobbyist a choice in Koi keeping that 30-years ago did not exist.

You don’t have to be terrified that because you're not using a 30,000.oo USD filtration system that you can’t keep very high quality or expensive Koi any longer. The AFS gives everyone the opportunity to play with the big guys without the cost. Isn’t science wonderful?