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Thread: Removing Nitrate? advice pleaassse! :)

  1. #1
    Tosai
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    Removing Nitrate? advice pleaassse! :)

    Hi, I have a 1600 UK Gallon pond, pretty tiny, but it will have to do for the time being.

    I have good aeration, a good UV, and a 4 bay filter, which consists of Bay1: brushes, sponge. Bay2: Alphagrog, Crystal Bio. Bay3 Alphagrog, Crystal Bio, Aeration. Bay4 Alphagrog, Crystal Bio, Aeration.

    Think this is working pretty well, but I have a slight issue with Nitrate, everything else is perfect! nitrite, ammonia, PH.... and the fish look healthy and are eating like.... Pigs! but I am concious of over feeding so I dont get carried away and feed too much.

    Question, Is my high nitrate level a problem? and even so what can I do to reduce it, is there a filter media that particularly deals with nitrate, like lithaqua does for Ph/ammonia.

    any advice welcome

  2. #2
    Sansai KoiKisses's Avatar
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    Hi Wilson, and welcome!


    What is your nitrate reading?

  3. #3
    Meg
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    Oyagoi Meg's Avatar
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    .....and how old is the pond and what is the fish load?
    a little more information is needed to see the whole picture.

    if the pond filters have not matured yet then some small water changes will help control things as they get up to speed.


    have you a local koi club?

  4. #4
    Tosai
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meg View Post
    .....and how old is the pond and what is the fish load?
    a little more information is needed to see the whole picture.

    if the pond filters have not matured yet then some small water changes will help control things as they get up to speed.


    have you a local koi club?

    Ok, gonna be a bit sketchy with the answers, cos its complicated, the pond is around 10 years old, its 15ftx5ftx3ft, I know a great pond and then I ruined it by going too shallow! so it has a big surface area but not big volume. the filter is 8 years old or so, nearly as old as the pond. I have really gotten into this hobby this year, and got rid of the gold fish and stocked it with some really nice jap koi. so in the past month or so I have upgraded my filter to the above. from sponges and jap matting, but I have done it gradually, by leaving the jap matting on top to allow the bacteria to migrate into the crystal bio. So I know thats not going to help things, but I understood that would effect my nitrite the most, right? but my nitrite is fine. The pond is heavilly stocked, around 20 8" koi, but it doesnt physically look crowded cos of the surface area.

    Im using the pond lab water test, and the nitrate is around 40? not sure what its measured in, I lost the packaging.

    sorry for the sketchyness!

  5. #5
    Tategoi
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    I apologize in advance if these are ideas you are already well aware of, but just to ensure that we are all playing off of the same sheet of music:

    You understand, I assume, that your fish produce ammonia as one of their primary waste products. Ammonia is highly toxic, and our biological filters are designed to take advantage of ubiquitous bacteria which will convert ammonia into nitrite. These bacteria do not function particularly well as "free-swimming," but rather like to colonize surface areas in/on biofilms, and for this reason, our biological filters are typically intended to flow water through lots of nooks and crannies (lots of surface area). After the conversion of ammonia into nitrite, there is another group of bacteria which will further oxidize nitrite into nitrate. Nitrate is much less toxic than ammonia, so this is a very good thing from the standpoint of water quality. Both of these groups of bacteria (i.e., those that convert ammonia into nitrite, and those that convert nitrite into nitrate) require oxygen, will colonize virtually every surface of your pond, and are referred to as "nitrifying bacteria."

    While nitrate is far less toxic to the fish than ammonia, it is still a waste product, and it is something which should not be allowed to accumulate in the water to an excessive level. This brings us to your current question: how to manage those nitrate levels? Some strategies I have seen employed:

    1. Water changes. This is probably one of the most common ways to keep the nitrate levels in check.

    2. Ammonia stripping. This is usually referred to as a "Bakki Shower" in the parlance of Koi. The idea is that ammonia is a gas, and a mechanical filtration which causes sufficient splashing and agitation of the water stream will result in some of that dissolved ammonia gassing directly off into the atmosphere. That ammonia therefore by-passes the biological nitrite/nitrate pathway.

    3. Plants filtration. While Koi will uproot plants if given the chance, many ponds incorporate areas where the water flow is passed through/around aquatic plant baskets. These plants will absorb the nitrogeneous wastes via their root systems, and incorporate these wastes (akin to plant food) into the growing plant structure.

    4. Denitrifying bacteria. In addition to the nitrifying bacteria discussed, there are also bacteria which will convert nitrate into molecular nitrogen (a.k.a. dinitrogen) which is considered harmless and will dissipate off into the atmosphere. Actually cultivating these sort of bacteria into a healthy pond, however, is extremely tricky, as these organisms require an anaerobic/anoxic environment (little or no oxygen), but some people have experimented with the concept of incorporating denitrification in ponds. I think it is a least worthy of mention.

    These are just some concepts to further the inquiry at hand. I am still learning a lot about this hobby, and perhaps other members who are much more experienced than myself can offer superior guidance.

  6. #6
    Meg
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    LxDxWx7.5 = USgallons....right?
    so that gives your pond a volume of 1687 gallons and another 200 for the filters?
    so lets say 1900 gallons?

    water volume needs for each koi:
    1000gal per koi.....top koi keepers strive for
    500gal per koi.....good and healthy
    250gal per koi.....squeezing it a bit but do-able, however managing water conditions could prove very challanging

    going with my numbers (which have every chance of being wrong so someone please correct me if I am off!) with 20 koi in 1900 gallons your koi have 95 gallons each.
    Yes, they are small now and things are ok, but most willl be over 20 inches in a few years and trouble is down the road with this many.
    your my not like this advice but as they grow I suggest you start making chioces of your favorites. someone here called it a beauty contest.
    in the mean time I suggest some 15-20% ater changes every other day to get the nitrite in line. add a shower or trickle tower if possible.
    also if you are not doing weekly water changes of at least 10% with your matainance I suggest you add that to the schedule

    welcome to the world of koi ...your going to love it!
    find the closest koi club and join up!

  7. #7
    Sansai KoiKisses's Avatar
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    Wilson, my nitrates range between 20 and 40. I don't think 40 is high. (please, someone correct me if I am mistaken). From my readings and what I have been led to believe, nitrates of 50 and under are not considered to be problematic. And I have even read somewhere where under 70 is not an issue. But.....that's not to say everything you read or/are told is correct...some sources may be giving information that is not based on "keeping water" for koi....it's best to check with experienced koi keepers first ... and Koi-Bito has some of the best!
    "...no matter how you look at it, Mother Nature still makes the rules."

  8. #8
    Tosai
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    Hi wilson. My source water generally runs about 10 ppm nitrate, and even with 10 to 20% weekly water changes it used to get up to 40 ppm in a short time and stay there. Until I added an Anoxic pond 3 years ago. And now my nitrate reading is always under 5 ppm. And my koi pond is way over stocked.

  9. #9
    Tategoi
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    Hey DK,

    Nice to see you over here on this side of the fence.

    I am often tempted to mention the Anoxic Filtration system as a possible strategy for dealing with the nitrate issue, but I am reluctant to say much about it at this time because the concept still seems to incite heated debate, and I just do not know many folks who have yet tried to use it. I guess I am still waiting for some more data points, although I may even try to incorporate some of the elements into my own pond design.

    If I recall correctly, you are using some conventional filtration elements (bead filter and brushes) in conjunction with the Anoxic Filtration baskets? While I have heard recommendations to the contrary, I actually think that your approach is quite wise, because your implementation has the "traditional" nitrifying pathways covered by the beads/brushes, and you are relying on the baskets primarily to control nitrate as well serving as another layer of redundant biofiltration for the nitrifiers. I may try something of a similar nature myself, that is if I ever overcome my uncertainty enough to start to dig a hole.

    I believe one very interesting experiment would be to try the biocenesis baskets with vs. without plants. In other words, what extent is denitrification dependent upon having plants growing in those baskets? Did you happen to ever just try the baskets without any plants?

    I'm glad to hear it is working out for you! (*Pictures?* hint, hint )

  10. #10
    Tosai
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    Yeh, I know its overstocked, but I am planning a new pond, much much bigger in the next year or so, so its only temporary at the moment. but it does sound a bit extreme a 1000 Gallons per Koi!!! lol apparently I'll need a 20000 gallon pond??? best get digging now! I think 200G per fish would be adequate once you get above 5000gallons, the larger the pond the less space per fish I think. and think surface area is a big factor.

    But back to Nitrate, My nitrate reading was much lower today? and from the sounds of it, its not as big a problem as I once thought.

    So am I right in thinking if I add some plants this will help? what are the best plants at reducing nitrate? because I have 2 waterfalls and the water has to go rise in a chamber before it falls down the waterfalls, so I could actually make use of this chamber and add a few plants in there? I actually reallised the other day I could in fact use it as another filter bay by addding alphagrog or crystal bio? so think I will fill with filter media and maybe inbed some plants in there too, so its a bit like an anoxic filter. sound like a good idea?

    another question, on my four bay filter, the water comes into the first bay via a spray bar, falls through the first bay and rises up the second bay, and then falls down the 3rd bay. but on mine the partition between the 2nd and 3rd bay is siliconed on the sides, but not the bottom, so some water can actually seep under the bottom of the partition and not have to rise over the partition. is this normal, or should the bottom be siliconed too? I am thinking it may have eroded, and maybe I should silicone it up? anyone know the answer? cheers! thanks for the advice all.

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