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«A: Ultraviolet light has an effective wavelength between 190 to 300 nm (1900 to 3000 Å) produces energy that kills bacteria, viruses, fungi, and ...»

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Does the use of a UV sterilizer in the system have other benefits besides killing off free

algae? In addition, is it really a necessity?


Ultraviolet light has an effective wavelength between 190 to 300 nm (1900 to 3000 Å)

produces energy that kills bacteria, viruses, fungi, and small protozoans. The most effective

wavelengths are in the 2500 to 2600 Angstrom range. UV light kills these organisms by interrupting

the genetic chemistry (DNA) of the cell. However, some of the oxidants produced by the UV light may affect the redox potential of the water, which improves the entire environment in which the aquatic animals live. UV units such as the ones used in our ponds has most of its energy wave length at 2537 Å and it does convert an infinitesimal amount of nitrate back to nitrite. However, the quantity of nitrite is so de minimis that it is effortlessly converted back to nitrate by the bio-filter.

Unlike ozone, there is little to no potential for destruction of any microorganisms in the system that does not pass through the UV light unit. Therefore, a UV light sterilizer is thus safer and less complex than using ozone applications. Depending on the Ultraviolet Sterilizer system, and the size and condition of the UV unit, the effectiveness of the unit would vary from very effective to useless. I use a UV sterilizer not to eradicate algae, but to prevent the spread of bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the ‘water-body-proper’.

Placing the UV light at the end of a pre-filter line, just before water returns to the filtering system maximizes the sterilization. Including killing harmful microorganisms that traveled through the mechanical and biological filters and pre-filters or any bacteria that has shed itself from a filter media during water passage. UV waves can only penetrate a maximum of about two inches of water and penetrating through freshwater is easier than through saltwater. I highly recommend UV irradiation in any enclosed recirculating system such as our ponds.

Make sure, when you buy a UV unit that it has a diameter of at least three inches (a three- inch diameter unit will have a 50% better kill rate than a two-inch diameter unit will).

In addition, use a unit that uses one of the high output UV (GT5) style ultraviolet lamps. This is because a unit with a bulb that has one of the higher output lamps will give you twice the life expectancy out of the lamp, compared to a conventional germicide UV-lamp unit will.

A big mistake people make, is running too much water flow through the unit. For example, a 40-watt UV light at three inches in diameter should only have water passed through it at a rate no greater than 900-gph (3406.8-lph) maximum Most manufactures will give flow rates of 25 to 30 gallons (94.6- 113.5 Liters) per hour per watt through a ponds UV unit; this should provide adequate sterilization of the systems water. This is considered a maximum flow rate, a slower flow rate, of 20-gph/watt (75.7-lph/watt) (which is the one I most recommend), will produce a better kill if bulb efficiency has declined and/or disease problems exist. However, it must be brought to your attention that the more rapidly water flows through the UV unit, the more rapid the turn over of the pond waters through the unit and the greater the kill of microorganisms each day.

However, the more rapid the flow, the less exposure time for the microorganisms to UV irradiation. If flow is too fast, the efficiency of the kill declines. Thus, the pond owner obviously must take into account all the factors that effect efficiency of UV irradiation on a particular system and use judgment to adjust the flow rate through the system for best results.

If water passes through the unit too fast, that is above the manufactures limit; it will be useless at killing any microorganisms at all and algae will only be flocculated. The flocculation process involves the optimization of the electric charge of the algae and bringing floc particles together to form larger particles that can easily settle in a sedimentation chamber in the filter or get caught up in the pre-filter filtration mats themselves. Properly run UV units will prevent ponds from having bacteria blooms, effect redox for the betterment of the pond, and keep our aquatic animals in a more suitable and stable environment without the excess of microorganisms.


Does the higher CEC of Vermiculite offer any benefits / detriment to the system verses clay?


The biophysical rules of the Anoxic Filtration System mostly depend upon the physical size of its substrate grains, its depth, and the dimensions of each biocenosis-basket of which the substrate sits in. The substrate (clay and Laterite) of the anoxic zone of each biocenosis-basket has such a large number of microbes, that one would say there are huge numbers of microbes per unit of size. We would not get the same results with Vermiculite, do too its larger granule size, therefore having less microbes per unit. We must also keep in mind that Vermiculite will eventually clog by the bacteria’s polymeric adhesive. Once this happens, aerobic microbial living space becomes jeopardized and anaerobic condition will then dominate the filter media. Ammonium and nitrates will be their byproducts, making the water-body-proper eutrophic in nature.

Studies have shown that the clay (Only use clay that has been mined from the earth, clean, baked, and pulverized such as Kitty litter) itself produces some important carbon dioxide; it then becomes a factor in creating Anoxic conditions. The addition of anion producers such as microbial or aggregate or both needs to produce enough oxygen to encourage and/or attract the carbon dioxide and that will then move the cations, releasing the oxygen and then consequently going more aerobic. Because of this reason, organic carbons are the main elements in how well organic nutrients, (example nitrogen, and phosphorus) are used. It has been observed that orthophosphates are not produced by the clay substrate that we use, unlike Vermiculite. Orthophosphates will not register on hobbyists test kits as phosphates and could help cause algae blooms, which plague so many hobbyists’ ponds.

As with the Anoxic Filtration System, oxygen is not only responsible for the mineralization of organic matter, but also for reoxidation of the reduced electron acceptors from anaerobic respiration processes that take place. Therefore, the oxic-anoxic collaborate caused by the microbial processes, which interact indirectly or directly depends on the principle of controlling the flow of electrons from organic matter to oxygen in molecular diffusion. Since diffusion is the primary element of the Anoxic Filtration System, we are unable to get the same results using Vermiculite as a substrate, do to its poor porewater and permeability capabilities. In addition, some test results have shown that using Vermiculite over Kitty litter and Laterite causes the proliferation of cyanobacteria; do to its production of orthophosphates.


Do your baskets sit on the filter bottom, or are they elevated for the extra exposure of surface area underneath?


Each biocenosis-basket sits directly on the bottom of the filter, but this does not mean that they cannot be elevated. The problem I had with elevating the biocenosis-baskets; is that they would bow at the bottoms and this sometimes would cause the baskets to crack. It seems as though anything use to elevate the baskets would then hinder the cleaning process of the filter in spring and fall. Personally, elevating the baskets would only increase the microbial processes that are taking place on the bottom of each one.

The thing you must remember about this system in opposition to other systems. Is that each basket can theoretically be said that they are sitting in the filtration system’?’ That is the process of passing water through or putting something through the filtration system itself, not that the baskets themselves are the filtration system. Therefore, each basket technically can be said to be a biocenosis-clarification-basket. The baskets themselves aid in the process of making our pond water crystal-clear, clean of biological and/or chemical pollutants, and free from impurities for aquatic life, and are only a constituent of the filtration system inner workings, but not the filtration system itself.


I have seen many ponds and I have noticed that salt is widely used as detoxifier for nitrites (NO2). However, I also know salt is used as a medicine for sick fish. It seems to me all that salt would mess up the fish somehow, am I right in thinking this?


Cyprinus Carpio (Koi) and Carassius Auratus (goldfish) belonging to the family Cyprinidae and are euryhaline in nature, or tolerant of a wide range of salinity, but this is only for short periods. With over, 1400-documented carp like fishes, it is today one of the largest family of all fishes. Carp are found in large areas of Asia as well as throughout North America and Africa. They are nonexistent in Australia and South America and are almost exclusively a fresh water genus.

There are only a few exceptions to this rule, which are able to tolerate brackish water conditions.

One, a far-eastern Red-fin, can contend with difficulties with salinities equal to that of salt water.

Some pond hobbyists have a predilection about salt and believe that their fish do better with it, and add it whenever they do a water change. The fact is, salt is a known infection preventive on wounded fish, but it is not a panacea. Salt is also added to ponds to replace electrolytes (as sea salt), such as potassium, sodium, chloride, calcium and magnesium these are all removed from water by chloride cells located in the gills of the fish. Electrolytes are chemical compounds that separate into ions in solution, which is essential for the uptake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide and ammonium across the gill membranes. Cyprinid seem to have no problems acclimating to salt levels of two and one-half pounds per 100-gallons (378.5-liters) of pond water (2.5 lbs. or 1.13kg)/100gal. [378.54 liters] = 3.125 ppt.), they also have the primary characteristics of homeostasis, which is to maintain a constant internal environment in the face of changing external factors.

Cyprinid in a hypo-osmotic medium like salt in the pond (aka: Brackish Water) maintains higher concentrations of water and lower concentrations of ions than are in the surrounding fluids. This creates a concentration gradient, and this results in osmosis; the transportation of waters out of the fish’s body. The Koi respond by drinking more water (Note: Freshwater fish do not drink water; they take it in through the process of osmosis. Thus, they are dependent on the level of dissolved solids in their surroundings to help them maintain a healthy electrolyte-to-water balance) than it would in an isotonic solution. Koi absorb most of the water they need through their skin by osmosis (is the net movement of water through a selective permeable membrane from a region of low solute potential to a region of high solute potential due to their hyper osmotic environment), not through their gills.

Because most freshwater fish cannot drink their surrounding water (There are some exceptions to this rule like Salmon), when you place these freshwater fish in saltwater, they dehydrate. The gut along with dissolved ions like sodium, potassium, and chloride absorbs the excessive water swallowed. The excessive ions are secreted out of the body by chloride cells that are embedded in the gill epithelia. Their cells must always be bathed in a solution having the same osmotic strength as their cytoplasm. This is one of the reasons why fish and other animals have kidneys. The process of regulating the amounts of water and mineral salts in the blood is called: Osmoregulation.

Saltwater fish drink and retain water, but freshwater fish have the opposite problem; they must get rid of excess water as fast as it gets into their bodies by osmosis. In some freshwater fish, a higher electrolyte level (particularly of sodium chloride, calcium and magnesium) will help pull fluids through the body which also stimulates the natural mucous coat on fish to resist parasites, bacteria, and fungus. This process has a downside, resulting in the loss of many electrolytes, however. Some of these trace elements can be replaced by ions contained in fish food, but by far the most common method is through the movement of a substance against an osmotic gradient using energy. This usually involves the exchange of one substance for another. In the case of freshwater fish, Na+ (sodium) ions are taken from the water and ammonia ions are taken from the fish and they are exchanged. This effectively rids the fish of ammonia, but Koi have no problems ridding themselves of ammonia (unlike sharks) without any help from us.

Chloride ions are exchanged for carbonate ions, which helps in maintaining the pH of the body fluids. This is just another reason that adequate calcium, (as in total hardness [GH], carbonate, [as in alkalinity (KH)], and electrolytes levels are very important.

Generally salts (trace elements), not just sodium chloride can affect osmosis. Magnesium can also play a paramount role as well. Calcium can affect and just as importantly be affected by proper osmotic function. Sulfates have been shown effective in improving nutrient absorption and toxin elimination. Magnesium (found in Laterite) plays a role in the activity of more than 325 enzymes and aids in the proper assimilation of Calcium.

However, for our Koi, the downside of adding salt is: Its metabolic rate will unquestionably increase with the addition of salt into the pond. The prolonged usage of such, stresses the Koi besides increases their metabolic rate dramatically, shortening a Koi’s life span. When the metabolic rate of the Cyprinus Carpio increases, its demand for oxygen (Carp are capable of tolerating dissolved oxygen levels as low as 0.04 percent, two examples are Carassius carassius and Tinca tinca) also increases; this places unneeded stress on the pond animals1.

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