Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Filtration - The Totally Sweet Method

After seeing how much it would cost to buy a properly sized filtration system for my little 1,000 gallon pond, I decided to build my own. I love projects. This one seemed perfect: I get to research something extensively, I get an excuse to buy more tools, I get to be creative, and I get to muck around outside. Honestly, I probably could have spend the extra money to buy one premade, but I love how mine turned out.

Instead of focusing on mechanical filtration, I went for biological. The basis of this method is having water flow slowly through a reservoir containing something that houses beneficial bacteria. This bacteria then nabs the ammonia produced by my fishes and fixes it. Then plants can take it and use it for their own planty uses.

First, I bought a big plastic planter and drilled out a few holes for inlet and outlet. The PVC piping is where the water flows in and down to the bottom. When it comes out of the elbow joints, the water swirls around and then up through all the filtration media. The media could have been just about anything, but I choose cut up sponges (can house a shit-ton of bacteria) and lava rock (also good surface area and also looks awesome).

The biggest problem is that I only vaguely knew what I was doing. So there was a lot of false starts and many frustrating return trips to the hardware store. My daughters and their various neighborhood friends all found this pretty damned amusing. So I'm sweating and cursing in the hot, hot sun, trying to figure out how to make everything work, while they sat in a row and watched, making comments such as:

"Why aren't you wearing a shirt?"
"My dad is more bald than you."
"Was that supposed to happen?"
"OoooooOOOOoo! That was a BAD word!"

I finally finish with the pot and its innards, and go to hook it up to my pump. Well, great - somehow I break the damned pump while I'm cleaning it out.

This is what I find when I clean out the pre-filter on my old pump. This is some damned fine American homegrown marinated fish crap. You want some. You know you do. Don't hold back now.

I then realize the pump should have have heart failure months ago as it was designed for a tiny statuary pool, not a decent sized garden pond. I go back to the hardware store and buy a big-ass pump. I'm excited about this pump. It will sure as hell pump some damned water around.

Problem is, that when I hook up the pump, it is so bad-ass and forceful that water simply sprays through the system instead of percolating through. It's like a damned fire hose. So BACK to the store to get a more reasonable-sized pump.

Full of media:

Full of lava rock, too:

Plants added to the top of the filter:

And does it work? BY GOD IT DOES. And I also bought a bunch of bog plants to put in the top, so the roots can be part of the filtration system. So what I have now is a large pot that overflows into the pond, with some pipe that goes to the smaller pot and adds to the mini-waterfall, and tons of lava rock for bacteria to flourish on. All I have left to do is hide all the the pipes, but I don't want to do that until I'm sure nothing goes haywire in the next few days.

1 comment:

  1. Coyote,
    In a word.. Cool!! What an incredible result. The design and placement was very different than I imagined, it really turned out beautiful! If the 'residential pond' market got wind of this, you would have a successful side business on your hands..