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RE: Chloramines Questions (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: drh1 on 07.27.2010 at 12:48 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Nope. He's not saying any of that. The reason you don't have a chloramine residual in the presence of nitrifiers is that they consume the chloramine (hence your chloramine or combined chlorine residual goes down). Therefore when you add water containing chloramines and/or ammonia you want to slowly feed the water directly into the intake of your pump going directly to your biofilter. The biomass in there will take the chloramines and ammonia and do its thing: convert them to nitrates...just what it does all the time when the fish consume food and excrete ammonia (mostly from the breakdown of the protein in the food). In municipal water systems chloramines are used to establish residual disinfectant levels to maintain disinfected water throughout the mains. Some of the mains may take as long as a day or two for water from the treatment plant to reach the end of the main and therefore it is very important for them to keep a minimum level of disinfectant in place. However, it turns out that sometimes nitrifiers can colonize the pipes and sit there consuming the chloramines....sort of like serving them breakfast in bed! At that point the companies have to go in, flush the main and then super-chlorinate that section, re-flush the main, etc.
As to the effectiveness of what I've mentioned above? I've got access to a few toys that allow me to detect lower levels of free chlorine/combined chlorine, etc. To date I've not been able to detect ANY levels coming out of the biofilter. But the total system looks like this: water from hose bibb enters a timer (set to go on every other day 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM); water (when on) passes through a whole-house activated carbon filter (this knocks out any free-chlorine residual as well as provides approximately a 50-60% destruction of chloramines); water enters the skimmer through a float valve (think old fashioned toilet if no water is needed nothing enters). Maximum flowrate is...based on measurements I've made...approximately 0.5 gal/min. ALL of the water then passes through one of two biofilters. Currently running approximately 1500 sq.ft. of surface area so more than enough to deal with limited fish load plus any chloramine loading. I do NOT bother with dechlorinators. I have some ChlorAmX on hand but only use it in the late winter if I see ammonia levels creeping up there (biofilters aren't running then). Haven't had to use any for about six years!!!!
I will move the the articles later today or tomorrow onto a file on a server which should be open at all times. But first I have to go out and play for a bit in the sun this afternoon. Nothing like a bit of heat exposure to help fry the old brain!!
So what caveat would I add? If you're running a very heavy fish load for your pond, feeding them several times a day and have a minimal sized biofilter for your setup you might see some issues. But....the biota in your pond will get rid of chloramines fairly rapidly, it's just the short term spike (if your setup can't handle it) which might be detrimental to your fish. If you're in a hurry to top off your pond and you've decided to a 25% water change that day and you take the hose, open it wide, let'er rip.....yep, you're probably looking forward to seeing some problems. I like my slow and easy (and VERY lazy) way of doing it. It works for me.
Articles to follow.


clipped on: 07.27.2010 at 01:03 pm    last updated on: 07.27.2010 at 01:03 pm

RE: Polishing Water [Long] (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: drh1 on 05.22.2009 at 08:59 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

I apologize for the length of this post but the topic/thread is one that raise numerous points. Please realize that we could discuss this in much greater detail - translation: even more words from this yacky, old guy!!! :-)) But I hope this helps. Im sure others will want to add their viewpoints as well.

"Polished water" has a variety of meanings but in general it means water that has had additional treatment typically to remove things that are difficult to remove. The term can be applied to waste-waters and also be applied to drinking water or even your pond water after it has been treated in some fashion by "simpler" methods. Such things as removal of trace organics, trace nutrients (phosphorous, nitrates, etc.), heavy metals, bacterial counts, turbidity are all things that would be "reduced" in a polished water. But using car wax does not make it polished water!!! (sorry for the pun!). There are many methods of achieving this but they tend not to work that well for pond systems because of the nature of the pond environment to adapt to whatever is happening. For example, a flocculent aid (these can be - but not limited to - very long-chain polymers that are added to the water and attach to particles causing them to clump together) may show very good performance for a week or two but lose its effectiveness over time; the pond may have adapted to it and probably has the bacteria available to consume the polymer or other factors. Using zeolites - usually for ion-exchange or removal of inorganic ions - may work for awhile until the exchange capacity is used up or the surface is covered with bacteria so that exchange cant take place. Using activated carbon - NOT to be confused with crushing up a charcoal briquets!!! - provides very small pores and huge internal surfaces for sorption of trace organics; it might help with removing your tannins but the A.C. also loses its effectiveness as the pores become saturated or covered with bacteria. Find the source of your tannins is probably a better approach.

Oxygen transport and use in your pond. First, you need to understand that ANY type of bacteria that you can reasonably think of exists in your pond; its there...count on it. Whether or not its there in abundance or is the dominant type depends on the set of conditions that it likes or doesnt like. Theres no such thing as a pond that is totally free of anaerobic bacteria, free of pathogens, etc. You may be lucky and not have a specific pathogen present at some point in time but I usually assume that something will ultimately happen to help introduce it into my pond (those @#$@$ birds!). If you were to attempt to measure "them" - any specific microbial entity or pathogen, etc. - you might not find many of "them" there but count on "them" being there. When the correct conditions arise "they" will out-compete the other bacteria or other micro-organisms and grow exponentially until the conditions are no longer as favorable for continued growth. This could be the result of temperature, nutrients, lack of microbial predators...a host of things. The second point is that anaerobic conditions are very easy to establish. If you have a submerged pot in you pond with say a lily growing in it then you will have anaerobic conditions within that pond specifically within the container. Even if the surrounding water is highly saturated with oxygen the soil will be anaerobic or near anaerobic within as little as 1/4 inch from the soil-water interface. This depends on a number of factors including the organic content in that soil. There will be oxygen in and around the roots of the plant since it will transport oxygen deep into the pot but it will still "stink" if you lift the pot out and dig around in it. If you choose to look into this more then search using terminology such as "pore water chemistry" when you look. The third point is that all bacteria and algae respire or use oxygen and the rate at which they will use it is very temperature dependent. Algae will have a net production of oxygen during the day with sunlight but during the night or while slipping through you biofilter it will be consuming oxygen. The fourth point is that many - but certainly not all! - bacteria tend to grow better when attached to surfaces. So in that sense the liner of your pond is part of your biofilter; the inside of you pipe from the skimmer to the waterfall is part of your biofilter; etc. Bacteria attach and grow. When you turn off the flow through the line they continue to consume oxygen until it is so reduced or depleted that their growth environment is no longer adequate. Remember, any bacteria you can imagine are already there. So as the oxygen level in your pipe drops down to zero other bacteria - anaerobic (and facultative anaerobes) take over with the result that the original bacterial coating sluffs off the surface and compounds such as sulfates are now reduced to hydrogen sulfide as well as the formation of other anaerobic by-products (the "stench" you complained about). The same thing will occur in your bio-filter if you decided to save a bit of electricity and shut it down for the night. Usually the biofilter will stay aerobic only for an hour or so if the water temperatures are in the 60's; its on the order of 10 - 15 minutes if the water is in the 90's or higher! As pointed out by Squirelette even debris captured in a fold in you liner can lead to similar conditions be it for release of tannins or creating of a micro-anaerobic environment. When you then turn on the pump or move water through the line all the sluffed bacteria appear as a batch of turbidity and may or may not stink depending on how long the line was allowed to sit there and accumulate the anaerobic degradation products.

You are mostly correct about where oxygen enters your pond. But there is a bit more to it then that. Oxygen will go into the water wherever air is in touch with the water. The rate at which it will do that is higher the more turbulence you provide (which is why your stream and waterfall help a great deal). But it will also be released into your pond by the algae during the day. It will enter the water over in that quiet little corner away from all the obvious water movement. Once the oxygen is in the water it is carried/moved throughout the water simply by the general turbulence/water movement in the water (sometime add a drop of dye or two and watch how fast it is dispersed in your pond). While diffusion (on the molecular scale) will occur it is a very slow process relative to the mixing that is almost constantly taking place in your pond and is not as much a factor as you might imagine. You may not see the same amount of turbulence throughout your pond but there is some still present. The underlying currents are the result of wind action across the surface, water currents induced by your waterfalls ... and even the occasional eddy from a fish fin! But it is definitely present throughout your pond. Adding an aeration stone at some point will significantly increase the mixing and may help with adding oxygen (although it wont if youre already saturated or with 95% or so of saturation).

Finally, the growth of algae on surfaces right after going through your biofilter. Your biofilter is nothing more than a place that provides a lot of surface area for a variety of types of bacteria to attach and grow. While we tend to think of them as being just "nitrifiers" it is actually a complex mix of micro-organisms including but not limited to nitrifiers. Other "critters" are there feeding on critters feeding on bacteria, etc. But the net result is that ammonia and dissolved organic carbon compounds are, for the most part, broken down to carbon dioxide and nitrates (this also has interesting impacts on chloramines but Ill not get started on that topic here). Phosphorous probably is not removed to any significant extent within your biofilter. So now look at the "growth environment" of the water coming out of the biofilter: it will have some oxygen in it (not all of it was used up), it will have phosphorous in it, it will have carbon dioxide in it, it will have nitrates in it. What or who would LOVE that water??? Algae!!!! Yes, if you put plants in there they will take up some of the nutrients but their removal capabilities will not be 100%. Plus the fact that the moving water transports large quantities of the nutrients past the attached algae further promoting their growth. If you had roaring, raging, class 5 rapids, torrents, etc. cascading over the rocks you wouldnt see the string algae because the water would abrade it off before they could grow significantly. But in a nutrient-rich environment the algae are sitting there just thanking you for serving their dinner without them even having to order out!!


clipped on: 06.04.2009 at 03:44 pm    last updated on: 06.04.2009 at 03:44 pm

RE: PH down?? (Follow-Up #22)

posted by: drh1 on 08.25.2008 at 10:49 am in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

I always find discussions of alkalinity and pH interesting. Larryl is on target about the comments regarding adjusting pH. I was somewhat surprised that the solution that Billinpa had picked up for adjusting the pH down was mostly citric acid. Citric acid, and also vinegar (acetic acid), are weak acids (meaning they dont release the hydrogen ion too easily) but more importantly they are organic acids which will probably be broken down in your pond quite rapidly. I would expect to have them essentially gone within a few hours to a day or two at the most....which would put you just about back at square one. Inorganic acids such as hydrochloric or even sulfuric will not be broken down by the bacteria in you pond and as such are better choice IF you decide you ABSOLUTELY MUST lower your pH. Comments that they will kill your fish are partially true...if you dump a bunch in and are not careful to sufficiently dilute it and mix it in the pond. Hydrochloric acid, as discussed by Larryl would be my choice IF you really need an acid; it goes under the name of "muriatic acid" in your local hardware store. However, as stated by Larryl and others, I suspect you may not really need to adjust your pH. Ive seen ponds having a pH as high as 9.0-9.3 with no apparent ill effects on their plants or fish, although there clearly are some varieties which will not do well at those levels.

The concept of adding sodium bicarbonate to drop the pH is an interesting one. Theoretically the bicarbonate ion, HCO3-, can release a hydrogen ion to be converted to the carbonate ion as stated above. However, this reaction is part of the carbonic acid weak acid system and does not happen very effectively unless the pH is higher than about 9.5 or so. At a pH of 10.3 your alkalinity will be half bicarbonate and half carbonate ions with a small amount of it (approximately 10 mg/L) in the form of hydroxide ion. But at a pH of 9.5 only about 15-16% of your alkalinity is in the carbonate form plus theres very little OH- around at that point to help "force" the hydrogen ion off the bicarbonate ion to have it act as an acid. The advantage of adding baking soda is that you wont have to worry about adding too much since the pH will not be driven below 8.3-8.4. But the amount of baking soda you would have to add may contribute to other problems namely the overall salinity - sort of the sum of all the cations and anions in the water - which can be detrimental to some plants if too high. Billinpa, you indicated that your water is extremely hard... I suspect that your salinity level may also be quite high which might have been a significant factor on the water plants you added to your pond. You can also help your plants by adding a small amount of chelated iron (approx tablespoon per 1000 gallons) as well as potassium nitrate (about the same dosage). This will supply the iron in a form the plants can use as well as nitrates and potash at levels not harmful to fish but which would help green up your plants.

If anyone is interested I would be happy to go through the equations and calculations regarding the relationships for alkalinity and pH and discuss it in much more depth or I can provide you with a list of some excellent reference texts on aquatic chemistry if you prefer. Please feel free to drop me an e-mail if youd rather any way I can be of any help.


iron 1/2 tablespoon per 1000 gal every 2 to 3 weeks
clipped on: 03.19.2009 at 10:04 am    last updated on: 05.18.2009 at 08:43 am

RE: Non-aquatic plants in pond? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: drh1 on 05.16.2009 at 04:46 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Impatiens work fine. You may want to use something to support them but they can be planted soil-free on top of your biofilter or in the 1-3 inch deep water. One thing that I find helps with any of my plants in the pond is to dump in about 1 tablespoon (pond size is about 2500 - 3000 gallons) of "Stump remover" near the pump intake. This is really nothing more than adding potassium nitrate and hence no phosphorous. You can also add a similar amount of "liquid iron" to help green up your plants ... but only about every other week or so. Make sure the iron is in the "chelated form" not as iron sulfate or ferric chloride.


1 Tablespoon stump remover (potassium nitrate) pond size 2500-3000 gal
clipped on: 05.18.2009 at 08:28 am    last updated on: 05.18.2009 at 08:31 am

RE: Suet up but no birds, why? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: greenjean7bga on 10.06.2008 at 06:49 pm in Bird Watching Forum

Here it is:

2 cups lard and 1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky) heat the lard until melted mix in peanut butter, stir until melted and well blended.
Add 2 cups quick-cooking oats, 2 cups cornmeal, and 1 cup whole wheat flour stirring until blended.

Pour the mix into the forms of choice. I use the forms from store brought suet cakes and microwave containers. Put the forms in the freezer until hardened.

I also will adjust the mix should I find I have run short of one of the ingredients. I have also added bird seed and raisins. You can play with this recipe.

Using lard instead of suet seems to attact the thin billed birds that find suet harder to nibble. Yet still attacts the larger bill birds also.

I have had great success with this recipe and hope you all do also!



clipped on: 10.07.2008 at 12:27 pm    last updated on: 10.07.2008 at 12:27 pm

RE: Fish fungus? (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: ccoombs1 on 05.15.2007 at 08:32 am in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

The fungus your fish probably has is called Saprolegnia, or SAP for short. SAP is a fungus that lives in most ponds (in low levels) and prefers cooler water. It is an opportunistic fungus, attacking decaying organisims (like uneaten fish food) and sick fish (sores, ragged fins, etc). It anchors in to the fish's skin and releases toxins which make the fish very sick. To treat it, I suggest the following:

1. Clean up the pond to reduce SAP levels. Remove any buildup in the bottom and clean the filters.

2. Remove the sick fish. Sedate him by adding 8 drops of clove oil to a gallon of water. Mix well and add fish. After about 5 minutes, he will roll over and can be handled easily. remove him from the water and place him on a piece of plastic bubble wrap. Put some saran wrap over his eyes so they don't dry out.

3. Wear gloves....some of the chemicals we use on our fish are not terribly safe for human contact. Working quickly, gently scrub the sap off with a q-tip and peroxide. Do not let any peroxide get in his gills or eyes. Do not be shocked if the skin comes off witht he sap as sap damaged skin tissues and this is common.

4. Dab a little malachite green directly on the area that was affected by SAP. careful it does not get in his eyes or gills. Give the malachite green a few seconds to dry and sprinkle denture powder on top to seal the area up.

5. Place the sick fish in a heated hospital tank. He has damaged skin and the other fish may pick at the area. Place him in a well aerated area until he recovers from from the sedation. He should be swimming again within about 6 minutes. Make sure you don't keep him out of the water under sedation for more than a couple of minutes.

6. Keep a close eye out for reoccurance. SAP is very persistant.


Place fish on terry towel placed inside plastic bag.
clipped on: 05.15.2007 at 08:59 pm    last updated on: 05.15.2007 at 09:01 pm

RE: Patching liner (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: horton on 03.27.2007 at 06:51 am in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Tenroc, the patches work great and are stronger than the original liner, once applied.
Before applying the EPDM patch, clean the area where it is going thouroughly and wipe it off with cleaning solvent. [gasoline will do the job] then wipe it dry.
You can if you wish, you can apply a coating of rubber adhesive, the type used for bicycle inner tube repairs, to the patch area before applying the EPDM patch. Let the adhesive dry. That dry adhesive coating will help the patch's adhesive stick to the liner even more.
Be sure everything is flat, dry and there are no air bubbles under the patch. If you can use a small roller to press the patch down as you apply it, so much the better.
The EPDM patches usually come 12" X 12" size, [adhesive already on one side] but you can buy the one-sided splicing tape, which is 6" wide, by the linear foot. The tape might be better for your situation, as you do not need to cover a foot square area to patch a 2" slit.


clipped on: 03.27.2007 at 08:40 am    last updated on: 03.27.2007 at 08:40 am

RE: Alternative to Water Hyacinths (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: rhodyman on 12.18.2006 at 09:19 am in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

Iris. Iris are super filter plants and are much less trouble than water hyacinths. They will multiply so you need to break up the clumps and throw many away each year. But they are great filters.

Other great filter plants are:

Acorus calamus
Acorus calamus 'Variegatus'
Bacopa lenagera 'Variegata'
Cyperus alternifolius
Cyperus papyrus
Eleocharis parvula
Eleocharis vivipara
Glyceria aquatica 'Variegata'
Hydrocotyle ranunculoides 'Ruffles'
Hydrocotyle umbellata
Iris pseudacorus and cultivars
Iris versicolor and cultivars
Iris virginica and cultivars
Juncus balticus 'Spiralis'
Juncus effusus and cultivars
Juncus inflexus
Juncus inflexus 'Afro'
Juncus polyanthetnus
Juncus spp., African thatching rush
Ludwigia arcuta
Ludwigia arcuta 'Grandiflora'
Ludwiia jeruviana
Mentha aquatica
Oenanthejavanica 'Flamingo'
Oenanthe var,nentosa
Pistia stratiotes
Pistia stratiotes 'Aqua Velvet'
Sagittaria latifolia
Sagittaria sinensis
Tillaea recurva

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Noxious Weed List


clipped on: 12.19.2006 at 08:48 am    last updated on: 12.19.2006 at 08:48 am

RE: Aquarium Plants (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: garyfla on 08.08.2006 at 02:27 am in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

I keep most of the "aquarium" type plants in a shaded pool. I favor aponogetons ,vals and temple plants.Many of the sword plants do well but may become weedy.
Have never been able to establish any of the carpet types,they get crowded out easily and of course get shaded by floaters.
I suggest keeping the pool for tham and eliminate floaters. Plant in individual pots with a rich mix and add some fracted clay to bind it together and try to maintain a slight current. many types of thase plants are amphibious so if you want to keep them submerged it will require pruning.
Many are also cold sensitive amnd some dislike warm water. Many of the aquatic ferns are fanttastic in waterfalls. Salt water plants would be a real challenge in an outdoor pond but would be fun to try.
They are all relatively cheap so do some experimenting.


clipped on: 08.09.2006 at 12:01 pm    last updated on: 08.09.2006 at 12:02 pm

Here's to those who......(pic heavy)

posted by: mossybert on 07.14.2006 at 03:25 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

do everything atleast twice. Sometimes it's better to research before undergoing a project. Not me....I don't even read assembly instructions until I have to. Oh well "Live & Learn"

In the begining there was a lot of dirt & tons of rock (which all had to be washed.

Filled it with rain water (from the house gutters)
After some research, I discovered my pond edges were too shallow & the rain water created some kind or red algea stuff. See below...

So I quit using rain water to fill my pond. I pulled up the edges of my liner & made my pond deeper around the edges.

Everything seemed fine.....

I soon discovered that the rocks on the bottom were creating a toxic environment for the fish & an oasis for bacteria, leaches, parasites & some type of strange slimy algae growth. Also, the liner would balloon up after a period of rain. To correct all of these problem was to require a major undertaking. So after a few months of diging up the will power to drain the pond & haul 2 1/2 yards of gravel out with a bucket & shovel, not to mention the "one-man" size rocks (yeah right)I had to take out. I began the project this March.

Unknown slime growth.... :^0 yuk!!!!

By the first week I had all the rocks out. I dug a french drain under the pond to take care of the ballooning problem. And now I began to install my "retro-under-gravel-gravity fed-mechanical filter system"

I ran three lateral lines.

Holes in the bottom of the pipe.

3" pipe thru line to mechanical filter.

Mechanical filter without the filter media in place.

By this time I forgot to take more pictures--or maybe I was just too tired. By this time most of my fish I rescued had died :^( Anyway--I covered up the pipe with washed gravel and filled the pond (with creek water). And now I finally have a happy pond again with some new fish. :^)

Happy pond Re-doing everyone.


clipped on: 07.19.2006 at 08:02 am    last updated on: 07.19.2006 at 08:03 am

RE: Very high pH/ What isTotal Alkalinity? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: lilllly on 07.08.2006 at 06:08 pm in Ponds & Aquatic Plants Forum

pH represents a measure of your water's acidity or alkalinity on a scale of 0-14. Neutral being 7.0. Below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline. The "ideal" pH hovers around neutral.
The pH level fluctuates throughout the day. Plants use up CO2 during the day and produce oxygen. During the night, plants use oxygen and produce CO2. The more CO2 there is in the water, the lower the pH. The lowest pH is at sunrise and the highest is about sunset. You should test your water at the same time each day with this knowledge in mind.

KH is a measure of the water's carbon hardness, or alkalinity level, in ppm (parts per million). (If you don't have a test kit that gives this exact information, you can pick one up at any swimming pool supply place.) Now, you need to know that having a high KH is a blessing because the higher KH will buffer the pH and stabilize it at 8 or no higher than 8.5. Water will lose KH as it ages, so what you want is to maintain a good level of KH and this should be your first concern. You can raise the KH safely using ordinary baking soda. If the KH is too low, then the pH will swing wildly and not be stable. (The swingss of pH are far more harmful to your pond life than being either high or low continually.)

It sounds like you have a new pond and your water has not balanced out yet. You should test your water in the late afternoon when the pH is at its lowest and I would not recommend adding a pH reducer.

I also have very hard well water (800ppm out of the tap) and my fish have remained healthy in this newest pond which is 2 yrs old now. The last time I tested the KH of the pond water it was around 200ppm.

Hope this helps.


clipped on: 07.19.2006 at 07:44 am    last updated on: 07.19.2006 at 07:49 am