This is what happens when you ignore your maintenance - Sharing for fun!

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Good morning! Yesterday I worked on the front yard pond. It has been up since 2016 and I've only serviced the waterfall filter once in that time. It is a great Savio with a very sturdy lid that bolts shut. It's been nice to put rocks and plants on top to disguise it. I have a big Japanese Maple planted at the top of the waterfall hill -- that has sent sweeping branches down over it, making it less convenient to get into the filter.
So -- yesterday I decided (after @GBBUDD mentioned something about filter maintenance) to get in there.
I held the branch back and moved the tray of sedum that lives on top. I cut back some of the ground cover that was in the way. I have a piece of liner cut to fit on the top, to prevent any little bits of anything from getting in through the bolt holes. When I pulled back the liner, there was a teeny, tiny little snake coiled up. I really disturbed his home. Sorry, Mr. Snake!
I unbolted the lid and lifted it. What do you think I found?
CHAOS! Holy Moly! TONS of Asian Jasmine had grown inside and apparently it loved the fish poo water in there. It completely infiltrated the filter pads. I have two polishing pads in there and they were black and heavy -- locked in place by the roots and vines that grew through, down, and into the biological filtration medium - which is the green tape stuff. YOU GUYS!!!!!!! It was nuts!
I had to cut the pads out and cut the tape loose.
I took the pads to the ground and tried to pull them apart. It took forever and they were still completely filled with vines and roots. It got to a point where I was shredding the pads, trying to pull the roots out. And they were filled with earthworms. There were 20 or 30 of your run-of-the-mill earthworms living in there. How do they survive the water running up through there? That boggles my mind.
Anyway -- I decided to order new pads.
For now, I did a gentle hosing of the filter medium, because the whole thing was filled with brown slime. I put the pads back in and plopped the lid back on for the time being.
We'll see if there are any changes to the pond because of this big disruption I did.
 

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That sort of reminds me of a time way back in our early days of ponding, when we decided to put a potted umbrella palm in/on top of the biofall. It was a standard Aquascape biofall with two filter mats & a bag of lava rock (this was before the plastic ball type filter media was around/popular) That plant grew like crazy & looked SO cool! We loved it. Left it in there over the winter, knowing it would die back & have to be removed the following Spring. No big deal, right?
Until we went to lift it out & it would NOT budge. Had to call in some burly young assistants to get it out. Well, in the span of one (Chicago, so not super extensive) growing season that plant had sent roots out of the basket & encompassed the entire bag of lava rock, both filter pads & completely filled the remaining space at the bottom of the biofall with root mass. They managed to wrangle it out, but we had to replace every single thing in there. There was no way to salvage any of it. 🤦‍♀️

Note to self: Keep umbrella palms **away** from the biofall. :ROFLMAO:
 
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Yikes! I can relate (sort of). I have the same Savio waterfall filter set-up with the green bio-tape and filter pad on top. I just decided to clean mine a couple of days ago. The last time I did it was probably sometime last summer. Like yours, the pad was all gunked-up with brown sludge and very heavy to pull out. I gave it a good rinse with the hose before putting it back, but it might be time to think about a replacement. Removing the pad really stirred up all the loose gunk in the waterfall vault, sending all the dirty water down into the pond. It was several hours before everything in the pond water either settled to the bottom or got filtered out by the pads in the pump vault. Should probably now clean those pads.
 
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For people who are looking at this while planning their pond: one thing I've been very happy with is having a drain pipe out of the bottom of my big waterfall filter! I can lift the gate valve and empty the funky water out of the filter very easily! (I got this idea and how to info from The Pond Digger YouTube video: How to Build a Fish Pond.) You could also drop in a sump pump to avoid the situation described by jgrandmont above.
@jgrandmont -- one fun thing about the icky water going to the pond -- the fish seem to LOVE it! Mine go nuts. When I stop the pump and mess around in the pond, they nibble at my feet and follow me around. When I get out after, it's like they KNOW I'm going to turn the pump back on and restart the waterfall. They all gather right at the base where the water will begin flowing and WAIT for the grossness to start. There must be all kinds of little microorganisms they like to eat!
 
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So the best thing to find in waterfalls are the creatures that happen when tadpoles get sucked into the skimmer, through the pump basket, and into the waterfall filter but get trapped below the filter medium. Since they can't escape and complete their metamorphosis they look like a giant mutant hybrid thing :(
 
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Good morning! Yesterday I worked on the front yard pond. It has been up since 2016 and I've only serviced the waterfall filter once in that time. It is a great Savio with a very sturdy lid that bolts shut. It's been nice to put rocks and plants on top to disguise it. I have a big Japanese Maple planted at the top of the waterfall hill -- that has sent sweeping branches down over it, making it less convenient to get into the filter.
So -- yesterday I decided (after @GBBUDD mentioned something about filter maintenance) to get in there.
I held the branch back and moved the tray of sedum that lives on top. I cut back some of the ground cover that was in the way. I have a piece of liner cut to fit on the top, to prevent any little bits of anything from getting in through the bolt holes. When I pulled back the liner, there was a teeny, tiny little snake coiled up. I really disturbed his home. Sorry, Mr. Snake!
I unbolted the lid and lifted it. What do you think I found?
CHAOS! Holy Moly! TONS of Asian Jasmine had grown inside and apparently it loved the fish poo water in there. It completely infiltrated the filter pads. I have two polishing pads in there and they were black and heavy -- locked in place by the roots and vines that grew through, down, and into the biological filtration medium - which is the green tape stuff. YOU GUYS!!!!!!! It was nuts!
I had to cut the pads out and cut the tape loose.
I took the pads to the ground and tried to pull them apart. It took forever and they were still completely filled with vines and roots. It got to a point where I was shredding the pads, trying to pull the roots out. And they were filled with earthworms. There were 20 or 30 of your run-of-the-mill earthworms living in there. How do they survive the water running up through there? That boggles my mind.
Anyway -- I decided to order new pads.
For now, I did a gentle hosing of the filter medium, because the whole thing was filled with brown slime. I put the pads back in and plopped the lid back on for the time being.
We'll see if there are any changes to the pond because of this big disruption I did.
Yeah unfortunately THE SLIME that clogs our flow is also a beneficial part of filtering but often over whelms the system requiring a cleaning.
Like you found all kinds of creatures call this home and that sludge and creatures are what is what we strive for with a biological filter. The sludge is loaded with microscopic creatures and bacteria, some we see others we will never see. I know you do not have your front pond over stocked and certainly not over fed so i doubt there will be any issues.
Even in my aquarium days i was a firm believer in over filtration. Can this be detrimental in some ways sure. You may remove so much debris in the water column that your biological filters way like more of and not have enough food for bacterial growth. But the bacteria will be there and thats where over filtering becomes a plus as the bacteria culture is there and If for some reason an imbalance like a dead fish a frog got sucked into a pump and chewed up the filter has the culture to grow quickly and help to keep the pond stable.
As you are aware even if those mats are completely saturated taking a slice of the old and placing it in-between the mats will seed the new filters including some of that sludge , got to give it some food. That is where cleaning with city water is less attractive then using some pond water as the chloramine will do a number on the bacteria counts will it kill them all , no or we would all be dead drinking and bathing in it.
 
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For people who are looking at this while planning their pond: one thing I've been very happy with is having a drain pipe out of the bottom of my big waterfall filter! I can lift the gate valve and empty the funky water out of the filter very easily! (I got this idea and how to info from The Pond Digger YouTube video: How to Build a Fish Pond.) You could also drop in a sump pump to avoid the situation described by jgrandmont above.
@jgrandmont -- one fun thing about the icky water going to the pond -- the fish seem to LOVE it! Mine go nuts. When I stop the pump and mess around in the pond, they nibble at my feet and follow me around. When I get out after, it's like they KNOW I'm going to turn the pump back on and restart the waterfall. They all gather right at the base where the water will begin flowing and WAIT for the grossness to start. There must be all kinds of little microorganisms they like to eat!
These are crucial observations noticing habits and what's normal what beneficial to your fish and not what we consider to be what's comfortable for us we don't live there. To us it's black , slimy, sticky, smelly. Stuff but to other creatures it's black gold
 
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That sort of reminds me of a time way back in our early days of ponding, when we decided to put a potted umbrella palm in/on top of the biofall. It was a standard Aquascape biofall with two filter mats & a bag of lava rock (this was before the plastic ball type filter media was around/popular) That plant grew like crazy & looked SO cool! We loved it. Left it in there over the winter, knowing it would die back & have to be removed the following Spring. No big deal, right?
Until we went to lift it out & it would NOT budge. Had to call in some burly young assistants to get it out. Well, in the span of one (Chicago, so not super extensive) growing season that plant had sent roots out of the basket & encompassed the entire bag of lava rock, both filter pads & completely filled the remaining space at the bottom of the biofall with root mass. They managed to wrangle it out, but we had to replace every single thing in there. There was no way to salvage any of it. 🤦‍♀️

Note to self: Keep umbrella palms **away** from the biofall. :ROFLMAO:
Yeah I took the same plant and placed it in the upper pond sitting on an aquablock. We'll after an equaly short growing season the rook completely filled the aquablock it was like a giant brillow pad
 

YShahar

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Well, you've all convinced me not to get one of those filters! Given where I live, I would probably go to clean it out and find that an entire regiment of Hamas or ISIS had taken up residence there, and was about to fire a salvo of ballistic missiles at the fish!

And yeah, umbrella plant... If that's the same as papyrus, then I won't let it anywhere near my pond. It grows year-round here, getting bigger and meaner and more entitled every year. I tell folks that want to grow it here to warn their neighbors to stay in at night.
 
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Well, you've all convinced me not to get one of those filters! Given where I live, I would probably go to clean it out and find that an entire regiment of Hamas or ISIS had taken up residence there, and was about to fire a salvo of ballistic missiles at the fish!

And yeah, umbrella plant... If that's the same as papyrus, then I won't let it anywhere near my pond. It grows year-round here, getting bigger and meaner and more entitled every year. I tell folks that want to grow it here to warn their neighbors to stay in at night.
Well if you did find that regiment, you would be required to feed them, give them fresh squeezed lemonade from the lemons you grow, and set up seats for them next to the pond so they can relax.
 

YShahar

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Well if you did find that regiment, you would be required to feed them, give them fresh squeezed lemonade from the lemons you grow, and set up seats for them next to the pond so they can relax.
Ain't that the truth! Crazy world we live in... Besides, I'm already feeding four cats, one of whom used to be the neighbor's cat until she switched sides.
 

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