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Thread: trickle tower/bakki shower theory

  1. #1
    Sansai tewa's Avatar
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    trickle tower/bakki shower theory

    This posts were posted by JR a very experienced koi keeper, there is a lot of science in it and I just wanted to see your opinions.


    First off, do not confuse TTs ( trickle towers) with Wet dry biofilters ( this would include the bakki shower).

    TTs are NON- trapping filters. In fact they are useless as mechanical or prefilters. The idea of a TT is to have:
    1) a huge non clogging, non-packing media , suspended in air so that falling water can ‘trickle’ over the surface in continuous thin layers. This allows for maximum oxygen contact with the bacteria/ammonia/nitrite reaction. It also allows for degassing of trapped gases within the water column ( various nitrogen gaseous forms).
    2) If you think about it, a pond has a rather small surface area for its total water volume. Especially those ponds that are 8-12 feet deep. By using a TT, you increase your ‘water surface’ exponentially by running water over the media in thin layers. The water in the towers at any one moment can be viewed as an alternative water surface. Think of this gas exchange as a two way street- good gas in – bad gas out. Pumping air up the column while you run/trickle water down the column is an additional incentive for both bacteria and gas exchange.


    Your column should be as tall as space will allow. 8-10 feet is good. I favor an air stone over a fan for air exchange as I want my entire media surface and walls of the TT to be exposed to high humidity. The ‘speed’ of the falling water can be slow or fast. But I have found water ‘trickling’ to be better than water roaring down over the media.

    A wet/dry biofilter is very similar except most designs are also detritus trapping and therefore perform two roles- prefilter/mechanical as well as biological. These two functions are usually accomplished independently until one is at the expense of the other. In these filters, water can be run rapidly through the layers and probably should, as the trapped organics will have a tendency to ‘go off’ and produce excess decay/anaerobic conditions and gases in a slow gentle water flow.
    The bakki show is the only wet/dry filter system in the world that claims the waste build up is harmless and even desirable. I remain skeptical about this claim and wait for the science to catch up to the marketing.
    JR


    ‘Thinking outside the filter box’
    This whole subject of biofiltration can be reduced to two issues:


    1) the idea of two stages- mechanical and biological. And each designed to address organic and inorganic pollution separately.
    2) the concept of biofilter efficiency Vs reduced biofilter activity ( the taming of an over active biofilter). This is a tricky balance to understand at first but is really very simple. Very efficient biofiltration is good and desirable, but excess biofiltration leads to excess nitrates. The ideal compromise would be a system that vents and gases off nitrogen and/or dilutes ammonia produced via continuous water changes and THEN efficiently removes the residual ammonia via normal nitrification. This results in very little fluctuation away from the ideal base line reading of common pollutants in general.


    Here would be an example of a biofilm ‘evolution’ that changes/improves efficiency but is still ultimately quagmired in issue #1–

    An under-gravel filter is made of three inches of coral rubble or volcanic rock rubble. It works very well and cycles very quickly- 18 to 22 days. It soon shows some nitrate readings. Over time the potential for anaerobic activity improves and channeling and reduced oxygen level prevail.
    Now the undergravel filter is placed on a tray and moved above the water line- we spray water over it. It acts as it did before only it becomes more efficient. Much of the decaying waste vents it gaseous byproduct into the atmosphere and away from the fish. This is obviously a better outcome. Stage three- we create three trays of these ‘undergravel’ filters , all above the water line. Water falls from one tray to the other. This is now called a wet/dry biofilter. The gravel in the trays gets progressively cleaner as the first one or two trays acts as a mechanical strainer for organics as well as a biological reactor for inorganics. Most harmful byproducts of decay are gassed off. Organisms develop that feed on the organic slurry trapped in the filters. It is true that channeling occurs but the rich oxygen environment allows for maximum bacteria/oxidation efficiency within the sections of the media that are lowest in organic fouling.


    JR

    Clever boy!
    So we still have the organic slurry 'in circulation'. This pollutant must remained contained, just like we would not want the slurry from a FF ( foam fractionator/protein skimmer) to leech back into solution once it is in the 'scum pot' of the FF.
    A koi pond is destine to become a progressively nutrient rich situation. The gravel traps the results of this process, isolates it, vents the gaseous byproducts etc. But the passing water still recaptures a percentage.. This would include the cultivation and migration of those species that thrive on such organics. So we often see DOCs collected at the base of many wet/dry filters- large and small bubbles and suds that seem to immune from the normal physics that causes bubbles to poop! This is due to the ‘skin’ formed at the water’s surface as organic molecules cling to water and air. There are also things like POCs and TOCs in water subject to eutrophication. But that is another conversation.
    Just suffice it to say, the result of all this, is water that has a higher than desirable, free bacteria count. The only way to counter this is with water changes, less fish and/or less food. In a system with stocking levels of one fish per 2000- 6000 gallons, you would likely get excellent results based on dilution factors. In systems of less than 250- 200 gallons per fish, I think you are going to hit ‘ the wall’ at some point. This is because the more the eutrophication of the environment, the less the carrying capacity of that water. This is the classic battle between heterotrophic species driven by organics and autotrophic species driven by primarily, inorganic ammonia.
    And of course, the big test for all pond filter designs is in the season nature of ponds. As water cools and light periods shorten, the biology of a pond winds down. In this process, the slurry is no longer biologically neutralized. In Spring, you have pure pollution entering a ‘sleepy’ biological environment. In the old days this meant back breaking cleaning of stones and gravel and the painful work of cleaning lava rock. The alternative was to dump this slurry back into circulation. And that is why aeromonas was the scourge it was in the eighties and early nineties. Fueled by weak fish and unstable microbial activity, spring time and ‘dead winter water’ naturally encouraged the myth of aeromonas alley and the practice of over cleaning seasonal koi ponds.


    Now having restated all this history, I have yet to see enough feed back on systems that are using Bakki exclusively, stocking normally and not heating in winter. These bits of info will help me mentally, to move the bakki shower out of the class of filters known as wet/dry biofilters.
    And the single biggest reason for my skepticism regarding the ‘total bakki experience’ is that this would be the very first system in the entire world that combines mechanical/prefiltration and biological filtration in one stage and says that it is open-ended in that design approach, with no limitations over time/ seasons or stocking level considerations. In other words, it claims to be ‘immortal’ in performance and ‘immune’ to organic waste build up and seasonal disruption. A lot to swallow .


    JR

    Ian, I’m not sure if the proper response will put everyone to sleep that reads it! Bacteria can be lumped and grouped into many sub-categories based on :
    Environmental preference-
    *Temperature range/pH range/ORP ranges
    *Oxidizing/ reductive nature
    Behavioral preference-
    * Use of oxygen, carbon dioxide in their metabolic activities
    Physical characteristics-
    * the general shape of individual cells.
    * ability to produce spores or not.
    * sedentary or gliding/swimming.
    * how they absorb dye based within their cell wall construction
    * the design and presence of the certain internal structures


    For our purposes, we want to know if those species that use organic material for generating energy are producing toxic byproducts OR are potential pathogens by nature. The bacteria breaking down dense detritus and living in the base of biofilm is truly anaerobic and will only operate at very low ORP levels. And the byproduct can be nasty things like methane . Their activity can be more broad however and also straight forward- like the depletion of oxygen levels . Over time, this same environment also produces the second group - both opportunistic and dedicated pathogens.
    People may not realize it but bacteria coats the entire pond, including the fish. The fish have a slime coat to protect them from bacteria damaging their living tissue ( and most common forms of heterotrophic forms are utilizing dead organic matter). But if a koi’s immune system is not working well or the slime coat is eroded away or the count of bacteria is astronomically large- these normally occurring bacteria will begin to infect living cells.
    For our conversation, as water declines in quality ( LOSS of important micro and macro nutrients, buffers and oxygen molecules and INCREASE in organic content and inorganic nitrogen) the koi’s immune response is weaken by stress and at the same time, large numbers of bacteria like aeromonas, flexibacter and pseudomonas are produced. Once pretty much so much white background noise, these species now dominate the water column. In fact there is a tipping point where a simple water change can no longer dilute and bring things in line again. This is party due to the fact that these species are also gifted prolific breeders.
    So this particular group of heterotrophic species are not so much about anaerobic toxic factories but rather about ‘utilizers’ of organic tissue. They still produce toxins but in the infection mode and this is what kills living cells.
    So whether the species is one that uses organic material and produces gaseous byproduct or one that uses up organic fuel and puts a load on the pond’s carrying capacity, is not as important as why they are doing so well in a given environment. The secondary result of this environment will be the disease causing agents, once the dynamics of low ORP, low oxygen, high carbon dioxide and possible dangerous gases have done their damage to koi’s immunity and the normal balance of good and bad bacteria populations.
    JR



    This is my response to JR post

    just a few queries I respect you as a very knowledgable person. You say that organic sludge builds up in a bakki shower system and overtime it is decayed by these anaerobic bacteria at the base of a biofilm.

    Overtime this would lead to other pathogenic bacteria being more prominent in the pond. Would this not happen even more in a submerge system since the ORP levels are much lower.

    And in most TT or bakki shower systems ORP levels are very high in the pond water would this mean that the pathogenic bacteria are less likely to occur compared to a normal submerged system

    Last question ORP levels must be quite high in bakki shower systems at the biofilm/water interface. Is it ignorant to assume the majority of the biofilm is aerobic? and that with such high turnover top layers of the biofilm are removed and new layers are formed. As these new layers are exposed to water with high ORP there would be less chances of these anaerobic bacteria growing? And if they did they would probably be greatly outnumbered? thus in your scenario of these bacteria causing other pathogenic bacteria to proliferate would not be likely in a bakki shower/wet/dry filter pond. Since there are less anaerobic bacteria in a high ORP environment how is it that the organics decay and degas so effectively?

    Thus in submerge systems there would more likely be a higher number of this anaerobic bacteria, would this mean that submerge filters can decay organics faster? That sounds good, but that would cause the scenario you described with low ORP and causing pathogenic bacteria to proliferate in submerge systems, especially with a settlement chamber that most likely would only be flushed once a day.

    Lastly JR there are many systems that are bakki shower that stock more koi than 200 to 250 gallons and have not had the problems that you say will happen when the organic sludge build up. A few of these ponds have been running for more than 2 to 3 seasons. And a fair few of them still go through a winter period with pond water of 15 to 16 degrees. The problem you described may happen in 10 years time to a bakki showered pond but would that not be because the bioload has grown so significantly that really more showers should be added. Bacteria house in bakki shower is a great system but it will have its limits in regards to nitrification and degassing.


    best regards
    TEWA

    ps I have always learnt a lot from reading your posts

  2. #2
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    TEWA: I think you are mis-reading JR's posts. There are several separate points he is making. The first is that a Bakki Shower used as the sole filtration is not the same as a trickle tower. A corollary is that a Bakki Shower used as an element of a filtration system composed of multiple sorts of filtration is not the same as a Bakki Shower used as the sole filtration. Separate from these points is his series of questions regarding the sufficiency of Bakki Showers as a sole filtration system over time. He does not say that there is a build up of organic sludge, but asks the question of whether there will be. He does not condemn the Bakki Shower system as a sole filtration system. Rather, he raises several questions about that application and explains the biology behind his concerns. He awaits the real world results of hundreds of koikeepers using the Bakki Shower system over a period of years, not just on water parameters, but on long-term fish development.

    I would agree that JR has posited many challenges to the Bakki Shower system as a sole filtration system, but he does not go so far as to reach a conclusion against the Bakki Shower. What he does do is explain why there should be thoughtful caution before taking up the fad of the day. Some fads become conventional wisdom in time; but most fail under the harsh reality of real world experience.

    We know that a crucial element of the Bakki Shower as a sole filtration system is the 10% daily fresh water infusion. It is key to Momotaro application and proved key to SMG's experiment with Bacteria House and lava rock. An unanswered question is whether that 10% infusion could take the form of a water change, or does it need to be a continual in-flow? I suggested that either was effectively the same (without referencing the Bakki Shower) in a different thread over on that board. Steve Childers immediately disagreed in his usual strong terms. [I chose not to debate it with him, since I do not know the real world answer; but do know that he and I would never agree on theory ... SteveC never agrees once he has said he disagrees. ]

    Anyway, review JR's posts again and I think you will find that he does not go as far as you are thinking. .... and I'll be quiet and let JR speak for himself if he wanders over this way.

  3. #3
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    Mike; Nicely put.
    I'm sure JR will monitor this board and reply.

  4. #4
    Tategoi Maurice's Avatar
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    Mike, what I dislike is all the theory, without even trying the system.

    You should know me by now, I only speak having had the experience!

    Maurice.

  5. #5
    Sansai tewa's Avatar
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    Hi Mike

    Yes JR does say that he waits for the science to catch up but if you really read closer everything he posted sums up at the very end, he finds it very hard to believe that the bakki showers are immune to organic build up. Like I said if you looked at the same bakki system with the same amount of media 5 years down the track the same fish would have grown very significantly there by increasing the load significantly as well. I don't think I have misread his posts if I did i wouldn have asked the questions I did in reference to the biology.

    i respect JR very much and thus posted my questions.

    Mike I don't know where you have got the golden rule of flowing 10% (as crucial) a day I can personally tell you most bakki showers flow in less than 5% a day. My friend roger flows in 10% a week in his insane stocking level and yet grows koi faster than probably you, JR and myself (true other factors were involved like high water temperature) for any given period of time. I flow in around 1.5% a day. You may even be flowing in more water than myself. The high flow in rate is due to the the heavy stocking, I have seen pictures of a 10 or 20 ton pond in momotaro with around 35 koi that are 45 to 50cm long. If you ask Mike Snaden he will tell you that you flow in water to maintain the water quality and we measure that by the tds level. If you have extreme stocking rate like momotaro and feeding as much as they do than yes you would have to flow in that much to maintain water quality. If you had 5 koi that were 15cm in a 50L tank then you may have to flow in 5% of water, but if you had the same fish in a 50,000L pond why would you want to flow in 5000L a day. How much water did SMG flow in to her tanks? did they run at a turnover rate of 1.5 times to 3 times? Now putting 50 fish (big and small) in a pond that is 13500L is pretty high stocking rate, and previously she only had 25 in each of the lava rock pond and the bakki pond, I would still consider that pretty high stocking rate. I get this feeling that people only catch on to what sounded negative about bakki showers from a experiment without really going through how the experiment was conducted, and whether it was conducted properly.

    tewa

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    Nisai Jules's Avatar
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    trickle tower/bakki shower theory

    Tewa, your comments on feeding, "If you have extreme stocking rate like momotaro and feeding as much as they do than yes you would have to flow in that much to maintain water quality."

    One of the things that surprised me was how many times the koi were fed each day. In all the ponds with auto feeders these came on a 5am and 5pm daily. The mud ponds with out had 2 feeds a day by hand. I like most was under the impression that up to 8 feeds a day were going in the systems but this has turned out to "burst my bubble" and still those koi grow! that IMHO speaks volumes for the water they are kept in and the filtration systems used.

    Jules

  7. #7
    Oyagoi bekko's Avatar
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    Maurice,

    If you say the bakki shower method works extremely well and produces better water quality and better koi than any other system, then that is good enough for me. However, I cannot accept that is no room for improvement and there is no need to understand the process. If nothing else, the BS method seems a little expensive in terms of the cost of the media and the recurring operating cost for the high flow rates and high water exchange rates. Achieving the same results at a lower cost seems like a worthy enough goal and challenge.

    Tewa,

    I think you have become hung-up on the statement "The bacteria breaking down dense detritus and living in the base of biofilm is truly anaerobic and will only operate at very low ORP levels". Yes, the bacteria at the base of the biofilm are facultative anaerobes. Yes, these anaerobes are good at breaking down organic matter. However, this is not the only site of detritus digestion. Detritus is constantly being broken down and reformed where ever it exists. There are many pathways and processes which may, or may not, be involved. It includes bacterial attack as well as the action of protozoans, nematodes, etc.

    It is important to understand that anaerobic conditions can form at the core of a detritus particle smaller than one millimeter in diameter. While a submerged filter will certainly have many more anaerobic sites, anaerobic sites do exist in bacteria house or any other TT media. In a TT, I suspect anaerobic sites are both fewer in number and more transitory. Facultative anaerobes can go wither way - utilize oxygen when it is available and switch to fermentation when the oxygen is depleted. As the detritus particle is modified by the process, it may crack open, get moved around, etc. and become re-oxygenated. The high flow rates in a BS must certainly contribute to the transitory nature of the anaerobic sites.

    The stuff that goes into the pond, must come back out.

    My take on the bakki shower method is that pumping directly from the bottom drain and slamming the particulate matter into the media via the high flow effectively erodes particulates and leads to a disproportionate amount of dissolved organic carbon. The dissolved organic carbon is then flushed from the system with the high water exchange rate. Thus, the bakki media will not work without the high flow, and the method as a whole will not work without the high water exchange rate.

    In a more conventional koi reactor, the goal is to keep particulate matter intact as long as possible so it can be decanted in a gravity-fed vortex, mechanically captured, etc. and removed. By dumping or back-flushing a small volume of waste with a high concentration of particulate organic matter, you can get the stuff back out of the pond with less water exchange.

    In my opinion, the bakki shower method is:

    1) a step forward in terms of improved water quality and improved koi quality (because Maurice tells me it is), but,

    2) a technological step backwards with respect to producing good water quality and good koi with reduced inputs of new water and pumping energy (both of which are precious and expensive natural resources).

    Adding a bakki shower or any other TT is almost always a beneficial addition to a filtration system. However, the bakki shower method, taken as a whole, is not for everyone. If you have issues relative to (a) the quality of your incoming water, (b) the cost of purchasing and pre-treating water for a higher exchange rate, (c) the cost of pumping more water, or (d) the cost of overcoming the increased heat loss, then the BS may not be for you. If you have great incoming water and money is no object, then go for it.

    -steve hopkins

  8. #8
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    TEWA: I did not read SMG's experiment as negative toward Bakki Showers, but understand that some took it that way. She did conclude that lava rock was as good as Bacteria House. [She also concluded that Bacteria House affected the taste of beverages, so maybe something in the infra-red rays after all? ] The point that stood out most to me, however, was that a shower system did a great job supporting a lot of fish all by itself, so long as there was an in-flow of water. Without the in-flow, the water became cloudy. SMG's experiment taken together with the experience of so many thus far, led me to get the Bakki Shower (and Bacteria House) as an element of the filtration on my new pond. I am no where close to being ready to convert over to Bakki Showers solely, but I am convinced that it accomplishes some filtration goals better than other methods.

    Looking forward to JR's discussion ... whichever board it occurs on.

  9. #9
    Sansai tewa's Avatar
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    hey bekko

    I appreciate your post, its amazing how so amny people can interpret the same piece of information

    everyone seems to think that I am hung up on the organics. I merely ask a question I think if you read my questions again I pretty much said the same thing as you that although there are anaerobes there are probably less in a bakki shower

    "Last question ORP levels must be quite high in bakki shower systems at the biofilm/water interface. Is it ignorant to assume the majority of the biofilm is aerobic? and that with such high turnover top layers of the biofilm are removed and new layers are formed. As these new layers are exposed to water with high ORP there would be less chances of these anaerobic bacteria growing? And if they did they would probably be greatly outnumbered? thus in your scenario of these bacteria causing other pathogenic bacteria to proliferate would not be likely in a bakki shower/wet/dry filter pond. Since there are less anaerobic bacteria in a high ORP environment how is it that the organics decay and degas so effectively?"


    I have to admit you made it sound so much better

    "Thus, the bakki media will not work without the high flow, and the method as a whole will not work without the high water exchange rate."

    First of all I just want to clarify something what do you mean by it will not work, ammonia and nitrite will not get converted? Nitrate will not get degassed? Organics will not be decayed or degassed? Or the koi will not grow? Or there is less appetite? Or there is less oxygen? Or the bakki showers alone produce a unfavourable environment for the kois health? Or the appearance of the koi suffers in terms of white on shiroji or the red on hi or the black on sumi.

    I am not trying to be cheeky or a prick here but no one ever really says what it means that a bakki shower system alone will not work.

    As to a high exchange rate what would you define as a high exchange rate? 10% a week 20% a week 30% a week. JR uses trickle towers and submerge filters ( If i remember correctly feel free to correct me if I am wrong), my question is how much water does he change a week. What systems do you run steve what amount of water do you change?

    No one has run a bakki shower pond with the same fish load compared to a submerge system pond (same size, settlement chamber followed by biofiltration, same turnover rate lets say at 1.5times an hour) and measured the water parameters with the same amount of water change, except for mTTk and momotaro. What I am trying to get at is which system would produce the better water quality using the same amount of water change? We already know that nitrates would build up and so do organics, these will be diluted with the water change but depending on the rate of water change this may not be sufficient to maintain the same levels of organics and nitrates. In the bakki system the nitrates and organics would be degassed an advantage over the submerge system, and thus the build up of organics and nitrates may not happen or if it does happen will take longer. Which system would have higher growth rates (this has clearly been proven already), higher levels of oxygen, more healthy koi. Unless someone does an experiment like that I think its unfair to say that a bakki shower pond will not work without a high water change rate, especially when you cant give a figure for what the minimum amount of water change required to keep the koi healthy in a bakki shower pond compared to the submerge pond. Everyone just comments on momotaro 10% daily infusion just because they are open about it I never hear what volume other breeders put into their systems and find very few hobbyist posting whether they know how much water other breeders add in to their ponds.

    (a) the quality of your incoming water

    Even if I had the only option of using tap water that is hard, I would still use bakki shower over submerge filters as it reduces GH by a little (just a little, I really don;t know how this works but it does). And all the other advantages.


    (b) the cost of purchasing and pre-treating water for a higher exchange rate,

    True if you are on a very very tight budget, you cant afford to pretreat water but then again home domestic ro units are not that expensive if you look around, many people probably spend more on koi in 1 year then the cost of a ro unit to run their pond


    (c) the cost of pumping more water

    That is true too bakki showers require higher turnover, more electricity it is just unfortunate that pumps like what are used in momotaro are not available everywhere. i would still rather have a 20 ton pond with bakki shower run at 1.5 times an hour with good source water that is soft than have a 30 ton pond with submerge filters and medium to hard water.


    (d) the cost of overcoming the increased heat loss, then the BS may not be for you

    A lot of people reduce this heat loss by putting sime polycarb sheets around their showers.

    This is just my humble opinion, hope i didn't offend anyone

    tewa

  10. #10
    Oyagoi bekko's Avatar
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    Tewa said "First of all I just want to clarify something what do you mean by it will not work, ammonia and nitrite will not get converted? Nitrate will not get degassed? Organics will not be decayed or degassed? Or the koi will not grow? Or there is less appetite? Or there is less oxygen? Or the bakki showers alone produce a unfavourable environment for the kois health? Or the appearance of the koi suffers in terms of white on shiroji or the red on hi or the black on sumi."

    It will not work because it will not take out of the pond what was put into the pond (feed). There has to be a mass balance.

    Tewa said, "In the bakki system the nitrates and organics would be degassed an advantage over the submerge system"

    You cannot degas nitrates and organics. They will not volatilize and go off into the atmosphere. Anaerobic denitrification will convert nitrate back to ammonia and a certain amount of ammonia will volatilize, depending on the pH. Note that anaerobic conditions are necessary for this to happen. When organic matter is consumed aerobically one of the primary waste products is carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide will come off as a gas. Since there is an equilibrium between carbon dioxide in the water and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, excess carbon dioxide will leave the water whether or not a TT is used. It will probably happen equally effectively in a pond with a submerged filter.

    Tewa said, "No one has run a bakki shower pond with the same fish load compared to a submerge system pond (same size, settlement chamber followed by biofiltration, same turnover rate lets say at 1.5times an hour) and measured the water parameters with the same amount of water change, except for mTTk and momotaro. What I am trying to get at is which system would produce the better water quality using the same amount of water change?"

    I agree that is the comparison that needs to be done. Who is mTTk? Can you summarize what he/she found?

    -steve hopkins

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