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Thread: Fines- Do Fish Poop Fines?

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    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Fines- Do Fish Poop Fines?

    It seems the challenge of filtration is in dealing with fines removal. It isn't a challenge when you can buy an RDF. But what if you can't? There are also sieves and bead filters, which are less costly but requires more time to maintain. Yet not everyone can afford to install these. For the rest, it means more time and effort is necessary.

    But where do really fines come from. Do fish poop already start off as fines? Or do they turn into fines? Is it possible for fresh fish poop to be scooped up from the settlement chambers before they break down and turn into fines?

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    Jumbo sacicu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yerrag View Post
    It seems the challenge of filtration is in dealing with fines removal. It isn't a challenge when you can buy an RDF. But what if you can't? There are also sieves and bead filters, which are less costly but requires more time to maintain. Yet not everyone can afford to install these. For the rest, it means more time and effort is necessary.

    But where do really fines come from. Do fish poop already start off as fines? Or do they turn into fines? Is it possible for fresh fish poop to be scooped up from the settlement chambers before they break down and turn into fines?
    Hi Mike,

    First of all, contrary to your opinion that only a RDF or seive or big settlement can take care of fines, brushes and mats do exceptional job as well as experience by many serious hobbyist that employ it. In fact there was one who originally tried using a cetus seive but ended up scrapping it for a brushes which gave better clarity.

    Fines in a recirculating system has many causes. Some fines are just fish poo that are unable to settle or sucked towards the bottom drain. This could be from many reasons such as how the mechanical filtration has been designed, the turbulence of aeration, the quality and quantity of the koi food fed, the stocking level, the proper turnover rate depending on the kind of filtration, and as well as the pond watee temperature and how active the heterrotrophic bacteria in breaking down waste.

  3. #3
    MCA
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    Honmei MCA's Avatar
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    Yes, very small fish do.

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    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    It's a good sign when I don't hear a resounding yes but a qualified "yes, small fish do" from Mike. Homer implies so much that it depends on what koi is fed. I take that to mean when fed normal koi food, koi don't defecate with fine sized poop. If I put too much digestive enzymes in koi food though, they will. But normally, koi don't defecate fines.

    So, what turns koi poop into fines that is the bane of filtration? Homer says that poor circulation will cause poop to stay and break down in the pond, instead of being channeled into the sump via the bottom drain and the skimmer. He also says that excessive agitation will mechanically cut fish poop to size. This could be done by waste passing through a pump, or an airlift, or just by churning through a strong air envelope. So, I'm not sure if my one Matala air diffuser powered by a 100 LPM airpump is guilty of making fines. Or many airdomes as well.

    Granting that all poop gets quickly to the sump and settles, would the poop still turn into fines if the poop were removed in a timely manner? Via flushing down the drain? Or in my case, sucking it out via vacuum? Would enough fines still get through to the mechanical filtration stage? Would I even need to worry about fines plugging up a crude 250 micron screen so quickly making maintenance a chore?

    Would simply taking steps to keep fish poop from turning into fines be enough for us to dispense with elaborate mechanical filters to protect our biofilter from plugging up, and to keep our pond clear?

  5. #5
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    The great benefit of using bottom drains and gravity-fed filter systems is the removal of as much waste as possible before it gets broken into ever smaller pieces. Pump-fed systems pulverize waste, making mechanical capture all the more difficult (and requiring bead filters, sand filters and the like to overcome the pulverization). The sooner waste is removed, the less opportunity for it to break into ever smaller particles.

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    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    The great benefit of using bottom drains and gravity-fed filter systems is the removal of as much waste as possible before it gets broken into ever smaller pieces. Pump-fed systems pulverize waste, making mechanical capture all the more difficult (and requiring bead filters, sand filters and the like to overcome the pulverization). The sooner waste is removed, the less opportunity for it to break into ever smaller particles.
    AMEN!
    Let poop settle at the sump/settlement area, and remove it as soon as possible. This begs the question of how often this should be done. We are limited by what is practical for us, in terms of time availability as well as the cost involved. In most cases, cost is water if flushing to waste is done. This is impractical as well as unconscionable in light of California's drought crisis (at least in Cali). Alternatives to flushing are possible-vacuuming, airlifting, and even siphoning. Of these, vacuuming uses up the most water. Airlifting is practical only when the sump is deep, while siphoning is practical only when sump is shallow. I actually use the two in tandem and found it to be effective and yes, very practical since my sump is a split-level design.

    How often the sump is purged I have yet to determine but I imagine I would have to do it more often than others simply because I use beneficial microorganisms em-1 which promotes waste breakdown. But I still hope that I won't need to do it more often than once a week. Needless to say, this makes me very interested in looking at sump and settlement designs that encourage efficient and effective settlement of waste.

  7. #7
    MCA
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    Explain how a sump/settlement area takes out neutral to positive buoyancy particles. Settlement is only just better than nothing. It can only address negative buoyancy particles. The more neural the buoyancy...the less settlement does anything. Try to settle out an intact ping pong ball.

    Way back in the 70s Waddy pushed for really big tall vortex filters. Everyone believed that a empty vortex for settlement followed by 2 or 3 chambers of matting cartridges was the best thing since sliced bread. Then came along the Answer unit that provided a self backwashing 100 micro screen on the first vortex exit. It was a huge eye opener. No one really appreciated how much detritus had been getting through the spinning vortex and landing on the mat cartridges....and decaying there.

    IMHO the best mechanical stage is the RDF. The only negative I can think of is cost. They can remove detritus from several times per hour to several times per day depending on the amount of detritus in the water column. To me the next best approach is a parabolic wedge wire screen....a sieve. While the sieve does not clean itself like an RDF, it lets detritus slide the the screen and get out of the water column. There should be a minimum amount of break down or tea bag effect from detritus at the bottom of the sieve screen. Cleaning the screen only takes a few seconds with a hose. I have never had to remove my US3 screens for cleaning in over 1 year of operation.

    Another type of barrier is a static bed. It can be floating like K1 in a Nexus, or beads in a bead filter. The static bed can also be of a non-floating type such as a sand and gravel filter or some types of bead filters with sinking media. Both the types of static bed usually are cleaned by disturbing the bed with air or water pressure, and then doing backwash and rinse cycles.

    The last type of barrier that comes to mind is the static panel. It can be a sheet of screening, mattinging, foam....etc. The problems I have with thsis approach are that the buildup of detritus create pressure channels through the material where detritus particles can be broken into smaller sizes by the water pressure. Also some, not all, of these barrier could be a royal pain to clean. Matting and sheet of open cell foam come to mind. For that that reason, I would put a barrier panel just above a passive vortex as it equally addresses buoyant and non-bouyant detritus. I dang sure don't want to clean them.


    Enough of a ramble from an old retired engineer.
    Koi keeping is not a belief system; it is applied science with a touch of artistry.

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    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    It is very good to invest in good mechanical filtration systems. Mike gives a good overview of the different systems out there. I am very much in the dark when it comes to sieves, but it is noteworthy that the sieves didn't have to be pulled out for cleaning. It makes it easier for sure.

    Today I used a regular 1/2" garden hose of sufficient length to siphon the bottom of my sump/settlement chamber. I was surprised something so taken for granted could do such a marvelous job. The sump is 1.5 meter deep, and the suction was strong, and cleaned up the bottom to my satisfaction. I also cleaned up the shallower bottom of the split-level sump with the siphon. At a depth of about 45 cm, I could clearly see the fresh feces lying at the bottom, and I can see how well they were sucked up without disturbing the bottom.

    It made me think more about the possibilities of maximizing waste cleanup from the settlement to decrease the burden on the mechanical filters. If water wastage was a problem with daily sump flushing, siphoning does away with the water wastage. I can think of two factors at play that needs some tweaking to minimize waste and fines from needing to be filtered mechanically at the next stage after sump settlement.

    One is the dynamics of the water flow from the bottom drain entry into the sump on the way to the transfer pipe to the mechanical filtration stage. Another is the choice of koi food with emphasis towards a solid chunk avoiding the loose type that is prone to break down to smaller pieces.

    So far, I've found that a radial flow design works best to enable settling. The bottom drain exit from the pond into the sum is directed upwards toward the surface. A floom is visible. A vertical barrier slices in between the bottom drain and the transfer pipes going to the mechanical filter stage/chamber such that flow is blocked at the surface. The flow from sump to the next filter stage has to snake thru a horizontal slit about 40 cm below the surface. This allows the waste solids to settle at the deep bottom as well as the shallow bottom level (remember this is a split-level sump). Since my flow rate of 10,000 lph and a sump size of 750 liters translates to a rather puny retention time of 5 minutes, I don't expect all waste solids to settle. However, I still consider the amount of settlement I'm getting very encouraging. It is important to note though that I get a complete pond turnover in 2 hours, which is rather long compared to many American designs and practices. This is more the reason I have to stay with my current flow rate, as increasing it would make waste settlement much more difficult. I am exploring some more tweaks- baffles as well as an air curtain. Air curtains are a mystery to me. Can someone please explain if it could be any help in keeping solids from going through the horizontal slit where water flows through from sump to the mechanical filtration chamber?

    I'll dwell on the food aspect later.

  9. #9
    Jumbo sacicu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yerrag View Post
    It is very good to invest in good mechanical filtration systems. Mike gives a good overview of the different systems out there. I am very much in the dark when it comes to sieves, but it is noteworthy that the sieves didn't have to be pulled out for cleaning. It makes it easier for sure.

    Today I used a regular 1/2" garden hose of sufficient length to siphon the bottom of my sump/settlement chamber. I was surprised something so taken for granted could do such a marvelous job. The sump is 1.5 meter deep, and the suction was strong, and cleaned up the bottom to my satisfaction. I also cleaned up the shallower bottom of the split-level sump with the siphon. At a depth of about 45 cm, I could clearly see the fresh feces lying at the bottom, and I can see how well they were sucked up without disturbing the bottom.

    It made me think more about the possibilities of maximizing waste cleanup from the settlement to decrease the burden on the mechanical filters. If water wastage was a problem with daily sump flushing, siphoning does away with the water wastage. I can think of two factors at play that needs some tweaking to minimize waste and fines from needing to be filtered mechanically at the next stage after sump settlement.

    One is the dynamics of the water flow from the bottom drain entry into the sump on the way to the transfer pipe to the mechanical filtration stage. Another is the choice of koi food with emphasis towards a solid chunk avoiding the loose type that is prone to break down to smaller pieces.

    So far, I've found that a radial flow design works best to enable settling. The bottom drain exit from the pond into the sum is directed upwards toward the surface. A floom is visible. A vertical barrier slices in between the bottom drain and the transfer pipes going to the mechanical filter stage/chamber such that flow is blocked at the surface. The flow from sump to the next filter stage has to snake thru a horizontal slit about 40 cm below the surface. This allows the waste solids to settle at the deep bottom as well as the shallow bottom level (remember this is a split-level sump). Since my flow rate of 10,000 lph and a sump size of 750 liters translates to a rather puny retention time of 5 minutes, I don't expect all waste solids to settle. However, I still consider the amount of settlement I'm getting very encouraging. It is important to note though that I get a complete pond turnover in 2 hours, which is rather long compared to many American designs and practices. This is more the reason I have to stay with my current flow rate, as increasing it would make waste settlement much more difficult. I am exploring some more tweaks- baffles as well as an air curtain. Air curtains are a mystery to me. Can someone please explain if it could be any help in keeping solids from going through the horizontal slit where water flows through from sump to the mechanical filtration chamber?

    I'll dwell on the food aspect later.
    Hi Mike,

    Baffles are meant to break apart or reduce the flow pressure of water. The best example of a baffle that can be used in a sump to improve settlement is the use of settling tube or in a way static plastic media like K1.

    Air curtain is something not well understood but I have studied and use this in my pond and in my filter setup. In a filter setup in particularly an aircurtain create a backpressure so that fines end up clumping together in the settlement instead of being drag into the next stage or thru the bio filter area. In a long throw settlement area with flow rate not as strong, settlement of waste will happen. But in a small area and with strong water flow settlement can be difficult. Eric system combines a slower river flow, some baffles in the middle and end and rows of aircurtain to trap waste. A highly oxygenated environment in the small filter prevents anaerobic conditions and encourages nitrifying bacteria to populate.

    Can an air curtain be incorporated in a multistage chamber. I suppose so but needs to be tested as every design is unique. A hobbyist friend upon my recommendation changed the first chamber of his settlement area. Instead of ten rows of loose brushes, he changed it to just three rows of brushes more neatly arrange with at the bottom of the brushes sealed as well. An aircurtain was then placed after the row of brushes and then tightly packed jap mat. He found out waste got trapped better between the brushes and in the settlement area and fewer waste got past the next chamber. Cleaning with pressure washer was also easier instead of 10 rows of brushes.

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    Oyagoi yerrag's Avatar
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    Homer,

    A few questions. Under the ERIC system, is the settlement and the brush filter and jap mats located in one chamber? I recall you showing me the setup, and I've since wondered why I don't see a separate sump/settlement chamber.

    How did you seal the bottom of the brushes? Do you stick a brush horizontally across the chamber bottom? I do this and it helps but wonder if there's a better way I haven't thought of.

    Glad to hear of success you're having with the use of air curtains. Actually, it was from you I got the idea. You know how debris accumulates under an air stone? I was thinking along that line but instead of an air stone it would be air tubes like what you have. It would be a gentle air curtain that won't buoy up the debris and create fines, which as you know would be a showstopper. What are your thoughts?

    As for baffles, I'm not very much in line with using k1 media though. I think that with k1 in place, it would narrow the passage of water and cause the linear velocity to speed up and create turbulence. This may have the effect of breaking up the waste, and also agitates the bottom and cause particles to scurry upwards. But I could be wrong...

    I rather have baffles that would act as a gentle barrier to coax an undecided particle from floating up. It would have to be spaced far apart to prevent channel restrictions that would create turbulence. If the baffle would create turbulence, it would be counterproductive and I would be better off without it.

    By the way, I'm seeing that after a week of not cleaning my brush filter I am finding that I have to double up the rate at which I clean my 1000-micron sock nets at the 3 transfer pipe inlets to the biofilter chamber. This indicates the waste particles caught by the brush filter are breaking down much more rapidly. This means a weekly brush filter cleaning at a minimum is a must. Experiencing firsthand the effects on skipping cleaning puts more emphasis on the "must."

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