It is very simple to keep Nishikigoi if you have equipment for filtering and cleaning water. It is advisable to consult a Koi dealer or specialist as to which type of filter is most suitable for you.
Filtering the ponds various forms of debris and waste products takes several steps and can be done so many different ways. The better we incorporate the basic features, the more likely we are to have success.
When filtering waste from a pond, it is better to Mechanically filter it before continuing onto the Bio-Filtration. This permits the Bio-filter stage to perform optimally.
Mechanical filtration of a Koi pond.
Most Koi pond filter media have a mechanical function. Settlement chambers allow gravity to drag the solid waste out of the water by slowing the water flow. Such chambers usually come first in a filter.
A vortex unit (shown to the left) provides greater settlement, the water moves in a circular movement allowing solids to gather in the center where they can be removed. In addition to baffle plates which slow the incoming water, brushes or matting can be used to strain the water.
Examples of mechanical filters:
- Skimmer (Olympic Wide-Mouthed Skimmer shown to the right)
- Filter Media
- Filter Brushes
- Pump Baskets
- Vortex Chambers
Surface debris is removed using skimmers. Since debris settles, using a bottom drain as a source for intake permits the debris to be removed from the pond to some type of separation chamber. Screens or baskets in front of pumps are important in keeping pumps from clogging. They also prevent damage to the pumps impellors.
Biological filtration of a Koi pond.
This relies on specific bacteria to break down toxic waste products to less harmful substances. There are two stages in the breakdown of ammonia, each stage involving different types of bacteria. The first stage is the breakdown of ammonia to nitrite by nitrifying bacteria, most important of which is Nitrosomonas. The second stage is the conversion of nitrite to nitrate by Nitrobacter.
Both of these groups of bacteria are aerobic (needing oxygen to live), sediment building up in the filter will deplete the oxygen levels so it is important to keep sediment to a minimum by having a settlement chamber first and by cleaning the filter out occasionally (but not using tap water as the chlorine will kill the bacteria).
A variety of different media are available to put in the filter, materials such as gravel, matting, hair rollers, foam, and canterbury spar are all suitable as they provide lots of surfaces for the bacteria to live on.
A biological filter will take weeks or months to mature, cultures of nitrifying bacteria are widely available and will speed up the process.
Bacteria: There are both Pathogenic (Bad Bacteria) and Non pathogenic (Good Bacteria)
Aerobic (require oxygen) and Anaerobic (absence of oxygen) bacteria. Since pathogenic (generally anaerobic) bacteria cause disease, it is preferable to introduce and promote growth of a larger number of non pathogenic aerobic bacteria.
The bio-filters need to provide adequate media surfaces for bacteria to flourish when environmental demands increase. Over stocking a pond is a common mistake made by pond keepers that ends with fish mortality. Most lakes have a smaller ratio of fish to water volume then the ponds most of us create in our own yards. Since the good bacteria attach to and grow on the media, flowing water helps wash away decaying bacteria and bring fresh chemicals. The more media surface, the more good bacteria the filter can support. Bacteria is abundant throughout the pond in the water and on all pond surfaces. Increasing the oxygen levels also benefits the ability for bacteria to flourish.
Chemical filtration of a Koi pond.
Activated carbon removes ammonia and other organic waste products by adsorption, this means that the waste substances become linked to the surface of the carbon. When the surface is 'full up' it has to be replaced.
Zeolite removes ammonia and nitrite from the water. A good feature of Zeolite is that it can be cleaned by soaking in salt water (6g per litter) for 24 hours and then reused.
If a large biological filter is present chemical filtration should not be needed, but it is good to use while the biological filter is maturing or isn't big enough for the pond.
Sand filter. Some Koi keepers use a sand filter as a final stage to 'polish' the water. The water is passed under high pressure through sand and comes out very clear, bacterial activity also takes place in the sand filter. Sand filters are expensive though, and you can't make one yourself because of the high pressure involved.
Cleaning your Koi pond filter.
Filters need to be cleaned occasionally to remove sediment, take this into account when building one. Add a bottom drain to each filter chamber so that sediment can be let out, it makes cleaning much easier. Another thing that makes cleaning easier is to put filter medium in net bags, not just pour it in all at once, as it can then be more easily removed, one bag at a time.
One last important thing, never ever put un-filtered tap water in a mature filter, it will kill all the bacteria and you will have to let it mature all over again.