What should I put in my bio filter?

Discussion in 'DIY - Do It Yourself' started by mgmine, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. mgmine

    mgmine

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    There is so much information on building a bio filter that I am overwhelmed and would like a few suggestions to get me started. My pond will be 12x17 with a free form shape, It will have some fish and some plants I am not sure how many. I acquired a 200 gallon tank that is 38" in diameter and 30 inches long. The water will go in from the bottom and come out the top although it could go the other way. The question is what should I put in it? I have seen packing strap and snow fence and just about everything else talked about. I am assuming that I need layers so what should they be and how thick should they be and at which layer should specific material be placed? I am looking to do this the cheapest way since there is so much of an area to fill. pond filter tank.JPG
    mgmine, Jun 26, 2013
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  2. mgmine

    dieselplower

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    If that were mine I would get a bulk load of gravel.
    dieselplower, Jun 26, 2013
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  3. mgmine

    Mucky_Waters

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    Nice tank.
    What sort of mechanical filtration are you planning?
    Mucky_Waters, Jun 26, 2013
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  4. mgmine

    HTH Howard

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    Obviously everyone has their favorite. Are you shooting for max bio filtration or cheap/free ?
    Is there a budget?
    HTH, Jun 26, 2013
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  5. mgmine

    sissy sissy

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    gosh if you paint it you have the makings of a cow .Wish I could find a tank like that
    sissy, Jun 26, 2013
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  6. mgmine

    Sunshine

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    My bio filter is an upflow also. I have a bag of bio balls and 3 blue matala mats.
    Sunshine, Jun 26, 2013
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  7. mgmine

    JohnHuff Friends call me Dr. Sir John Huff

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    Wow, that thing is huge! It could be it's own fish tank!
    If you are looking for something cheap, it will have to be something you buy in bulk. Snowfence would be cheapest I would think, that you can buy as a consumer.
    Anything plastic and doesn't deteriorate would do. I would also suggest polyethylene beads that manufacturers use. That would be cheap if you can get a source for them and perfect for something like this. Most importantly, they would be easy to flush clean. But you'd have to buy that from a plastics manufacturer.
    JohnHuff, Jun 26, 2013
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  8. mgmine

    dieselplower

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    This is a great question. Depending on the answer my answer might change.
    dieselplower, Jun 26, 2013
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  9. mgmine

    mgmine

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    I picked the tank up for $75 dollars plus $25 for delivery, they sell similar ones at Tractor Supply for $500. I hadn't thought about mechanical filtration I thought that something like scrub pads would work but then again I'm not sure what mechanical filtration does or where in the line it would be installed. I'm shooting for the cheapest way I can filter things. I went to a pond store and they had 12" square X 2 " thick scrubbing looking pads 10 for 12 dollars. If I only needed one thickness it wouldn't be a lot but if I need it say 24" or 36" deep then it would quickly add up. I thought about gravel but it would be a pain to clean.
    mgmine, Jun 26, 2013
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  10. mgmine

    JohnHuff Friends call me Dr. Sir John Huff

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    If you use scrubby pads, they would be your mechanical and bio filtration.
    JohnHuff, Jun 26, 2013
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  11. mgmine

    mgmine

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    How thick of a layer would I need? Would they sit on top with something else made of plastic like snow fence below the pads?
    mgmine, Jun 27, 2013
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  12. mgmine

    HTH Howard

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    Mechanical filtration catches solids. The more solids you have the faster they plug up. There are quite a few variables here the main one is where you put the pump. If you use a submerged pump you will have a input screen or sponge which will stop some of the solids.

    I like something along the line of a settling changer. That way you can just drain the stuff off the bottom.
    HTH, Jun 28, 2013
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  13. mgmine

    mgmine

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    I have a submersible pump does that mean I can get by with just a bio filter? I plan on building the skippy style with the settlement chamber on the bottom along with a 2" drain or possible the Doc filter that I read about in the sticky section.
    mgmine, Jun 28, 2013
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  14. mgmine

    HTH Howard

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    Yes but it will collect what solids the pump passes.

    The distinction between mechanical and biological are rather artificial. Generally both types do both types of filtering.

    Let me use an analogy as to why we make the distinction. In wood working we always do the bulk of the cutting with the tool that is easiest to sharpen to minimize the amount of time we spend sharpening tools.

    If filtering we want to catch the bulk of the solids with the easiest to clean filter to minimize the time we spend cleaning filters. It is a lot easier to open a valve and drain a settling tank then to remove and rinse scrubbie or buffer pads.

    There are methods to make cleaning easier like back flushing which is great when it works.
    HTH, Jun 28, 2013
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  15. mgmine

    JohnHuff Friends call me Dr. Sir John Huff

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    Well, that's like saying you can use your mountain bike to road race and your road bike to go on mountain trails. Both bikes(filters) can do the other's job but it's not recommended.

    The mechanical filter is used to filter out solids. You can use it also as a bio filter but it won't have as much surface area as a dedicated biofilter.
    The biofilter has a large surface area for bacteria to grow on, but you don't want it clogged up and it is not set up to be easy to clean.

    If you have a submersible pump such as I do, you should have a mechanical pre-filter in front of it so the solids don't clog up your pump.

    JohnHuff, Jun 28, 2013
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  16. mgmine

    koiguy1969 GIGGETY-GIGGETY!!

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    You say you use a submersable pump....
    Might i suggest A PREFILTER OR TWO. (mechanical) prefilters go in the pond, before the pump. using more than one plumbed in via pond hose allows you to draw water from different areas of the pond. this can eliminate "dead zones". they prevent any debris, fish wastes, etc... from reaching the pump and/or filter. preventing pump clogging, and when fish poop is drawn into the pump, the impellor purees it into poop soup. and this can coat your bio media. and the cleaner you can keep your biofilter the more efficient it will be.
    koiguy1969, Jun 28, 2013
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  17. mgmine

    Catfishnut

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    Mgmine,

    I think of several possibilities for media in your tank. The first that came to mind was ladies hair curlers. The second was PVC pipe pieces (i.e. 1/2 PVC pipe cut into ~2 inch lengths).
    No matter what media you place in here, you will have to build a "dog-house" to enclose it in to keep it dark. The sunlight will pass through that tank and harm the beneficial bacteria.
    You must also provide some means of aeration as well since the bacteria (nitrosonomas and nitrobacter) will require oxygen to do their business.

    If you go the route of using "scrubbies" or cleaning pads, I would change the design of the water flow through the tank. I would bring the water in from one end and exit the other in a horizontal flow path, not up/down vertically through the tank. Then, I would place coarser scrubbie pads on the entry end and progressively get finer (denser) towards the outlet end. I would also probably install a support grate in the bottom of the tank to elevate the scrubbie media off the bottom and install a bottom drain to purge the "yuck" water out below to help in cleaning.

    Regardless of what media you finally opt for, I personally would change the flow to horizontal through the tank. I say this because the tank is longer than it is tall and that would give you more functional area/volume for the water to be in contact with and passing through the media.

    Another option would be to convert the tank into an upflow sand filter, but use BRZ horse stall freshener (Sweet PDZ) instead of sand. That would take a little engineering on your part as you would have to backwash that media from time to time. It wouldn't be an actual bio-converter filter since it doesn't work with bacteria, but it would remove large amounts of ammonia because the Sweet PDZ is made from Zeolite which absorbs huge amounts of ammonia by volume. If you use this stuff, you would have to backwash it or pre-wash it quite a bit to get the "fines" out first. Otherwise, your pond will become cloudy with those fines and it will take a lot to remove them after the fact. Here you would not be able to flow the water horizontally as it would need to pass through the media in an upflow manner for best results. You could possibly flip the tank on end, but I don't know if the mechanical support of the tank would allow that.

    I am not sure what would be the BEST thing to do here, but your tank does have some really nice potential and I just wanted to kick some ideas around for the purpose of the discussion. Just in case they tripped something you liked.

    Would love to hear what you come up with and how well it works when you get it operational.

    Catfishnut
    Catfishnut, Jun 28, 2013
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  18. mgmine

    mgmine

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    I am using a VANCS Tsurumi PN Pump 50PN2.4s pump which doesn't allow for an intake hose so pre-filtering won't work I will have to use a bio/mechanical filter combination. The helpful answers I have gotten so far have led me in another direction .To keep things on track I will start a new thread with my new idea.
    mgmine, Jun 28, 2013
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  19. mgmine

    HTH Howard

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    Put the filter in a box. Put a bulkhead on the box and hook the prefilter to the bulkhead. Or make the box the prefilter and put the pump in the bottom under the media. Some have used laundry baskets with lava rock. To get more fines you can wrap the pump in quilt batting. Not exactly easy to maintain but better then messing with a clogged intake every day or two.

    HTH, Jun 28, 2013
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  20. mgmine

    Catfishnut

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    Mgmine,

    Just to clarify....

    You don't need to "prefilter" the water before the PUMP - at the pump inlet. What you need to do is prefilter the water prior to introducing it to your bio-filter.
    You just don't want to send all the "muck" into the bio-filter because even small bits of scum and muck can clog the the bacteria cultures.
    The water will flow through your media just fine, but too much fine debris, detritus and "fish poop" can hamper the microscopic colonies of bacteria living on your media.

    You can send the output of your pump through a mechanical filter or a mechanical "separator" to reduce all that gunk before it gets to your bio-filter.
    You do NOT need to prefilter it ahead of your Tsunami pump for this specific purpose, but it would be better if you could place your pump after the filtration system if possible.
    I will explain that more in a moment.

    A sieve filter or a radial flow filter are two really swell options which can be fabricated very inexpensively and without too much engineering - especially the radial flow.
    But, there are other means that you could investigate as well, such as a vortex separator or a large settling tank. These latter two options require a LOT of space and a BIG tank.

    If it were at all possible to feed your dirty pond water to your filter system via gravity flow, then any muck that goes through the system won't be minced and pureed by the impeller of your pump.
    This makes it MUCH easier to separate the muck from the water because all the muck will be of larger particle size and thus heavier and precipitate / separate more readily. When you put the pump in between the pond and the filter system, you dice up the muck and make it more difficult to separate.

    Hope that makes sense and you can determine a method to apply it.

    Catfishnut
    Catfishnut, Jun 28, 2013
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