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Thread: The cost of biomedia...which is the least of a rip-off

  1. #1
    Daihonmei
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    The cost of biomedia...which is the least of a rip-off

    Seems like hobbyists are more than willing to buy plastic and ceramic media for prices that don't reflect the cost of the materials or production.
    So which ones are the least of a rip off.

  2. #2
    Tategoi
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    I got mine for free. I use plastic vials, other small plastic bottles and bottle caps. Over all, I think bottle caps works best, as they are small and I am not restricted to space and shape of the filter. Next, I’m going start throwing milk gallon caps into my filter.

    A good thing about my media is that it floats as the water enters the filter. No need to explain further.

  3. #3
    Oyagoi CarolinaGirl's Avatar
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    Luke, contact Greg Beckman at Water Management Technologies, Inc. They sell a biomedia that is almost exactly like kaldnes for $25 a cubic foot....which is about a third the price of K1.

    A guy in my club bought a tractor trailer load of plastic size markers that go on clothes hangers. They are multi colored and he has tons of them. He has used them for fluidized beds for years. I think he was selling them for $10 a cu. foot. Want me to check on them for you?

  4. #4
    Daihonmei
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    CG
    do the hanger markers float or sink?

    But back to the topic...
    come on are you telling me that hanger markers are cheaper to make than kaldness?
    or those petrified fart-laced ceramic dog turds are expensive to produce?

  5. #5
    Oyagoi CarolinaGirl's Avatar
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    well, hanger markers don't have the surface area of kaldnes or other bio-media and they may not have the UV resistance either. But no....I don't see why bio-media costs so much more. I am honestly not sure if they sink or float, but they do boil in a fluidized bed so I am inclined to think that they must float.

  6. #6
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
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    I think the cost factor boils down to 2 things.
    Marketing hype needed to pay the high price for coming up with media like BH, etc... It took some time and research to come up with the right methodology to produce what is basically ceramic foam. I personally think glass foam or plastic foam would work equally well (firget the fir tyvm)
    Production Volume is next. The less demand there is for a proprietary product (biomedia is a "niche" market) the higher the per unit cost. Raw materials cost is a small piece of the pie. Specialized production equipment for relatively small batch runs is pretty pricey.
    Larry Iles
    Oklahoma

  7. #7
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    The price of media should be converted to dollars (pennies) per square inch of usable surface for comparison purposes. Determining 'usable surface' is not so easy, especially given that the usable surface will vary in different applications... is the full surface actually exposed to the water being filtered? does the application result in the continual shearing of the biofilm? After figuring out the actual usable surface, or as good an approximation as one is capable of estimating, the cost analysis of using a particular medium should include all costs, not just the price of the media. Space requirements, size and number of containers/chambers needed to hold the media, pump equipment cost for the appropriate volume of flow, electrical operating cost, maintenance time 'cost', etc. all factor into the total cost the hobbyist pays. "Free" bottle caps may not be the least expensive alternative overall. Then, there is the personal decision of whether time expended on maintenance is valued as negligible per hour, or considered to have a high cost. What is it worth to have 20 minutes less maintenance time each week for, say, 10 years?

  8. #8
    Daihonmei
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    Let me try one last time and then a promise you will here no more from me on this subject----

    Biomedia is a meant to be a surface for bacteria to settle in on and grow a matrix on. If you have a design with multiple surfaces, then OBVIOUSLY you can house more bacteria cells per cubic yard in a container than with flat surfaces. That is test number one but only test number one.
    test number 2- the media that houses bacteria is also 'acted on' by bacteria-- meaning they will 'digest it if they can' ( example- oyster shells) so you want a media that is resistant to oxidation. this makes plastic media both popular and practical. Once upon a time, Jmat substitues were made out of horse hair! True! The bacteria 'ate it' in just a few years.
    test number 3- media might pass the first two tests but it might be of a shape that traps passing organics or one that doesn't allow older sections of biofilm to break free and drift away. These media are self defeating and often begin working well and then decline in performace as media surface is no longer friendly to ntrifying bacteria that need non pollution and lots of oxygen ( decay and other bacteria take over and reduce space and oxygen).
    Test number 4- the higer quality media that is professionally designed has what is called viod space. This allows for all THEORETICAL surface space to actually house bacteria and allow water to flow to it and deliver both ammonia and xygen.
    Test number 5- similar to number 4 but different in that it includes all media pieces as a whole, packing properties are very very important. You can have a media that passes all the other number tests but fails in this last and most crucial area. that is,when you put there individual piece together and on top of one another, do they still meet all the criteria tests as a single unit? Often the answer is NO! If media like say, plactis soldiers or plastic forks are all put together they rest on one another as one large block, cutting off surface and flow in the process and becoming very good traping media within the small spaces between pieces. Or worse ( like that terrible biobail media) the weight of water tends to press the media tight against itself. Jmat , by the way, is an example of this problem if it is not designed and set up properly in the biofilter container-- never lay sheets of Jmat one on top of the other without spacers inbetween.

    So when you consider a media just do these simple tests and you will find that most ideas are not such great ideas compared to dedicated media designed for the purpose. I agree that the cost of purposeful media is ridiculous ( but really so is any bit or kit in the koi hobby) but in the case of media you often get what you pay for. So beyond the hype and ythe truly kooky stuff, there is a reason to buy aquaculture dedicated media. And in the end, you only buy it once as most of these medias will out last you! My plastic media has been running non stop for 25 years now and althought permanently stained brown at this point, it is the same as the day it come out of the box in 1985.
    For what its worth, JR

  9. #9
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
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    JR, don't you dare make that promise!
    Those points need to be driven home time and again. Besides, someone might write a book someday pointing this out and you won't want to miss the opportunity to agree with them

  10. #10
    Daihonmei
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    Morning Pbear, Well you know I only say that out of frustration.

    You know it's perfectly normal human nature to seize on one thought, idea or problem and blow up that single thing until it is extreme and the ONLY point.
    We take such care in making the environment the fish will live in, just so-- the right volume, the right depth, the right turnover and the right equipment in the design.
    Yet the bioreactor and it's content are often taken as an after thought. Even though this is the very life support system of the entire pond.
    As you know I've written extensively about long term designs and short term designs as a way of getting one's head around the many choices out there ( look for this information and ' consistant philosophy' in one one waddy's forthcoming pamphlets.)

    The idea of the long term vs short term biofilter really comes down to the media inside and the shape and characteristics of the container it is in.
    To digress for just a pharagraph, ( and if waddy publishes this point, I'll be in agreement with it) a pond has an 'aging' trend line. And the driving force of that linear line is really around the issue of organic build-up. So as detritus, fish slime, bits of pelleted food, leaves, pollen, dust, dead algae, feces, insects etc build within the water column ( along with the invisible DOCs ) the pond ages in terms of open ended good water quality.
    This material in various stages of decay and general break up will travel in the water column and naturally into the filter. Some/most will be captured in the various prefilter components ( screens, brushes, sumps, vortexs, ply sleeve ect) but some will ALWAYS work it's way to the bioreactor. And of course the bioreactor will produce it's own organic waste. So unlike aquariums where surface area is most important, a koi pond's media requirements are turned upside down and things like trapping become most important. After all we have BIG filters! And hopefully most are OPEN filters that have gas exchange with the greater atmosphere. So the enemy then is decay as decay is possible when organic material is present. The negatives of decay being loss of oxygen and encouragement of heterotrophic forms. And because the other forms will use ammonia as well and will rapidly out produce nitrifiers given the advantage, the nitrification process can become secondary and even just back ground activity!
    All of this is greatly dependent on the long term or short term nature of the filters design. Or put simply, how long it takes for a particular media to cake, clog and channel passing water due to organic build up. In some cases it can steam roll in a matter of days ( black dense foam media). In most cases it simply means more maintenance. But extreme maintenance like extreme water changes becomes counter productive at some point.
    So pick that media carefully based on all criteria, especially those that resist trapping as that is a long term filter design. JR

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