how to prevent foam occuring?

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by daddyp, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. daddyp

    daddyp

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    Ive had my pond running for about 8 months now , it holds 4200 gal and has a bottom drain and skimmer. It is covered with a bagoda and netting to reduce sunlight. The water also passes through a UV 55 light. The problem ive got is the water has gone a browny colour and im getting loads of foam on top of the water and in the skimmer. Ive been told this is protein scum and told it would correct itself. However, this has not happened in the space of 2 months. I have a trickle feed going in and i flush my cockney koi vortex twice a week. Can anybody tell me how to get rid of this protein scum? I have tested nitrate, nitrite, PH and ammonia levels and all are good. All the 16 fish are 2 ft + and i am not over feeding. Any suggestions on whats going on?
    any help would be great.
     
    daddyp, Jun 21, 2012
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  2. daddyp

    Mucky_Waters

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    Mucky_Waters, Jun 21, 2012
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  3. daddyp

    Waterbug

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    The term "protein scum" comes from the aquarium hobby. In ponds a more proper term is DOC (dissolved organic compounds or dissolved organic carbon) or DOM (dissolved organic matter). Aquariums don't have a lot of plants, bugs, etc. So their primary source of DOCs is protein. In ponds DOC come from many things and really just means tiny decomposed organic matter. As stuff decomposes it gets smaller and smaller. When small enough it's called DOC or DOM.

    DOC act like soap and form foam.

    Longer term keeping a pond cleaner can reduce outbreaks of foam. But most ponds get it at some point. Sometimes the foam only lasts a few weeks, sometimes it's an on going problem.

    The foam is produced by agitation, commonly where a waterfall enters a pond.

    When building a pond I build a catch basin for the waterfalls so any foamed produced in contained and I never get any on the surface. You can do the same by floating barrier around a falls. Rope, wood, anything that floats.

    As well as Mucky's link you can Google "pond foam fractionator" for many DIY filters for removing DOC. These can be very simple so it's worth a little research.
     
    Waterbug, Jun 21, 2012
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  4. daddyp

    pugle1

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    Waterbug,

    I had this problem too, early in the season. I'm assuming the organic matter in question was as the winter algea growth died off and also probably some autumn leaves that I missed when trying to clean the pond. The foam slowly disappeared over time with the exception of some very minor foaming which is occurring now (typical waterfall bubbles). Is it the bacteria in the water / bio filter system that eventually takes care if this? Also, this DOM / DOC, does it act as a nutrient in the water?... feed the plants etc? I always wondered, but never found out the cause of this foam.

    Thanks :)
     
    pugle1, Jun 21, 2012
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  5. daddyp

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    From what I understand, DOCs are good and bad much like algae. So we're back to the "too much of a good thing" thing. I have not yet though found why DOCs are bad other than possibly reducing the amount of Nitrates for plants and reducing the amount of O2 allowed to enter the water surface area wherever the foam is floating.

    I have also seen some ponds online where the Dissolved Organics makes such a foam mess that it makes the water look like it is polluted.

    From what little I have read, sounds it is an eventual byproduct of any type of decay, plant, fish food, stuff blown in with wind, insects, fish/critter pookie where the act of decomposition decomposes material so small (to below 2 microns) that the material essentially "dissolves" into the water. The dissolve organics help bind metals and the inorganic carbon act as an energy source for anaerobic bacteria in the denitrification process involved converting Nitrates to nitrogen oxides or CO2.

    I have even heard of aquarium keepers intentially adding stuff to invoke DOCs to help induce the anaerobic bacteria's denitrification process to reduce Nitrate.

    I am still learning about this stuff so keep that in mind as ya read this. :)
     
    crsublette, Jun 21, 2012
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  6. daddyp

    Waterbug

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    I can't think of a reason DOC would be a good thing in a pond. Maybe in a Wildlife pond just because decay is part of the food chain. I never heard of DOC reducing nitrates. Can you expand?

    Way below 2 microns, like below 0.5 microns. The most common dissolved organic matter...a cup of coffee or tea. That brown color would be colored dissolved organic matter.

    Hadn't heard that before. Reference? I can see it playing a small part but I think the net is a negative. I mean adding DOC to increase nitrification would seem to be a bad idea.

    Easier ways in ponds.
     
    Waterbug, Jun 21, 2012
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  7. daddyp

    Waterbug

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    Yes, but not so much in a bio filter. The pond itself would act as the best bio filter for this stuff. Increasing O2 and water movement greatly speeds the decomposition, just like turning a compost pile. The issue is whether you can break it down faster than more can be produced.

    Not directly. A dead leaf will become nutrients plants can use, but the dead leaf itself isn't a nutrient. A DOC is just a way of saying "really small organic". The only difference in the definition of dead leaf and DOC is size. Filters are used to distinguish between DOC and non DOC. Stuff that gets through a 0.45 micron filter is called a DOC, those that don't aren't. There isn't even a standard on size. Some people say it has to get through a 0.22 micron filter. In papers the author normally defines the size when talking about DOCs.

    So the term DOC is a context type deal. Dead leaves don't cause foam, super tiny bits of dead leaves do. So we just say DOC so everyone knows what's being talked about.

    In water gardens DOC are bad when they cause foam. In high fish load ponds DOC are bad because the decomposition uses O2 and because this stuff is suspended it can be a lot of O2. Reduced O2 in these ponds can kill fish at worst and slow growth at the least.
     
    Waterbug, Jun 21, 2012
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  8. daddyp

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    I have read the type of DOM that causes water discoloration is one type of dissolved organics that is resolved with carbon medium filtration, but carbon medium does not absorb all of the types of dissolved organics.

    Google "DOC anaerobic bacteria denitrification nitrates reef"

    I have not scoured the google results yet to looking for more official documentation, but obviously it is a practice in maintaining reefs/coral. Nitrates even more of a concern it appears to those who keep reef and coral since just a little bit of Nitrates can dramatically damage the organism. So, there are all sorts of Nitrate absorbing filtrations and other methods to reduce Nitrates. One method was using DOCs and Nitrates to fuel the denitrification process from anaerobic bacteria. Other filtrations appear to provide some type of other inorganic carbon, in combo with Nitrates in the water, to fuel the anaerobic bacteria.

    I got the 2 micron or less figure from a forum that mentioned that the water able to pass through a 2 micron filter is clean enough to drink. They then later clarified that DOCs can be anywhere from 1 micron, .7 micron, .2 micron; as ya mentioned, all about the context.

    DOC added to increase denitrification, not nitrification.

    Other than the foam not being aesthetic and potentially reducing O2 penetration by floating on the water, I have not read anything ... yet ... that has said worse.

    It would seem like the actual decomposition of "big bits" such as leaves, process of reducing this all the way down to .2 micron "tiny bits", would require much more O2 than just the foam floating on top of the water unless such good volume of floating foam to block O2 penetration into the water.

    Well, "super tiny bits of" came from a source of "much bigger bits" If dead leaves are allowed through decompsition to become "super tiny bits", then you could say dead leaves indirectly cause foam after decomposition.


    We're both kind of spit balling here. I would definitely like to read something that from more of an official capacity; not to say there is none, I just have not found it yet.
     
    crsublette, Jun 22, 2012
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  9. daddyp

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Appears there is a role for anaerobic bacteria, that is to help reduce DOCs through denitrification. Proffesional breeders that sell koi or those that keep show koi appear to keep very clean ponds (no rocks, very intensive bio-filtration, no plants) leaving minimal room for anaerobic bacteria to grow in a healthy population relative to DOCs and Nitrates pesent; so, this results them accruing big volumes of Nitrates and DOCs.

    Comes back to the "too much of a good thing" is a bad thing. Get too much anaerobic bacteria, bad thing.
     
    crsublette, Jun 22, 2012
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  10. daddyp

    Waterbug

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    Thanks for the references. I don't really see any of the DOC info the reef keepers use to be useful in ponds.
     
    Waterbug, Jun 22, 2012
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  11. daddyp

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Aaah, man ... well ... useful by increasing a fella's understanding of all the actors in this aquatic theatre.

    Not ground breaking or anything that makes a fella say "howdy do now, i should do that".

    DOC info from reefers mention how DOC and Nitrates is reduced, kind of naturally, in a context of an aquarium environment. In a pond environment, the decrease may likely be negligible due to the circumstances, but I am still curious why fancy koi keepers always have to have a mechanism to deal with immense DOC formations, more than a typical fella that feeds fish alot should have it seems. I bet having such a clean pond, that has minimal anaerobic activity, is one variable helping to increase excess DOC formation.

    Of course, all this easily fixed with a phractionator.


    Quick correction : when I said "inorganic" in my previous two posts, I meant "organic" ... anways, good reading about reef keeping. if it weren't for the fact that Nitrate harm reefs ... don't know if possible, it would be interesting to see if a fella could put a freshwater reef in a freshwater garden pond. :)
     
    crsublette, Jun 22, 2012
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  12. daddyp

    Waterbug

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    Amen brother. Trouble I have is that keeping reefs is so technical I have a hard time following what they're talking about, or why they're doing what theyre doing. I'm a fan of learning about ponds by reading about other fish rearing methods. But reading saltwater tanks and reefs takes a lot of time and I've never really gotten much useful info for ponds. Maybe a little about how they manage different bacteria species.

    Yep

    My understanding is it's a purely O2 thing in the very high end ponds. As the level of pond goes down from there the DOC concern is more about water clarity.
     
    Waterbug, Jun 22, 2012
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  13. daddyp

    daddyp

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    There are no plants in the pond ?? and your arnswer was way to technical to understand , but thanks . so the simple arnswer is ??????????????
     
    daddyp, Jun 22, 2012
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  14. daddyp

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    I suppose ... vacuum the pond more often, be sure the mechanical filters are cleaned, and reduce feeding and maybe increase water changes ... if ya are still wanting to try to prevent it.

    To remove the floating DOC, build a phraxinator... DIY section here has some good info on this
     
    crsublette, Jun 22, 2012
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  15. daddyp

    daddyp

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    ok thanks vary much.
     
    daddyp, Jun 22, 2012
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  16. daddyp

    pugle1

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    OK.. that's all as clear a foam...lol.... Kidding.
    Thanks for the insight folks. My phoam - foam probem cleared up shortly after my plants started growing, and even more when I added some more plants. That's sort of why I was asking what I did. I just wondered if the foam cleared up on its own for natural reasons or because of something I did. I don't have a phoam phractionator on my set up, as early spring seemed to be when I had the biggest occurrence of it, and as I said, it did dissipate and eventually went away on its own. At least I now know the cause, and some possible solutions.

    Thanks
     
    pugle1, Jun 24, 2012
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  17. daddyp

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    If ya want to believe plants were the catalyst, then my best guess is the plants brought bacteria that helped to consume the excess dissolved organics or the foam bound itself to the plants. For follow up, when the next time foam appears with current plant load, the question then becomes "should I add even more plants" or look into what is really happening.

    Foam is the visual. Once excess dissolved organics appear, then you notice the foam. As long as there is decomposition, there will always be dissolved organics.

    Example: Pea green water is the visual for excess planktonic algae. Planktonic algae always exist at some degree, unless there's effective, continuous UV usage.
     
    crsublette, Jun 24, 2012
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  18. daddyp

    Waterbug

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    Foam does come and go on it's own. Adding the plants can effect it by adding more suspended particles which can bind with DOC particles due to many factors including electrical charges. It wouldn't be the plants themselves or even bacteria. Adding plants to a pond greatly increases the organic load depending on soil. So while you don't see foam the DOC level is still there. The appearance of foam is not directly related to a specific DOC level, but instead many factors.
     
    Waterbug, Jun 24, 2012
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  19. daddyp

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Oh yeah, plant agglutinins. completely forgot about this, mentioned in a doc johnson video. Mentions that plants excrete a type of protien from their roots that roughly acts like a type of flocculent causing particulates to coagulate and slowly sink.

    I would think potential plant decay could negate the extra agglutinins, unless another variable present to manage the care of the plant to reduce potential plant decay.

    I would suppose, when the ecosystem is inadequate, the foam is only formed in reaction to the excess. Ya just don't all of a sudden have a proper ecosystem to manage volatility. Nature is not this fast. This is why we add chemicals, fancy mechanisms, plants, water changes, etc. When the ecosystem builds up proper control variables, then the foam eventually dissipates. If these control variables were overcome or removed one way or another, then the foam builds up again.
     
    crsublette, Jun 24, 2012
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  20. daddyp

    sissy sissy

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    I have never heard of foam or seen it until on this sight .
     
    sissy, Jun 24, 2012
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