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Biological Diversity In A Koi Pond

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  • Biological Diversity In A Koi Pond

    Every Spring for the past 4 years, I have had an organism grow on maating in one of my filters. It has the appearance of a sponge, and I've begun to call it a "freshwater sponge". However, I really have no idea what it is. It prefers the blue mat, but once established will spread to adjoining hard surfaces. Over the years, salt, supaverm and ProForm C have been used in the pond with no noticeable effect on it. When the hot Florida summer weather arrives, it generally disintegrates. There are small reddish "balls", not even the size of a pinhead, that form within the structure. These are released when it disintegrates. The filter has a large flow of water through it and is covered to prevent any light from entering. The water is fairly well pre-filtered. It is rare to have any sludge build up on these mats. What you see is as dirty as it gets. Anybody have an idea of what this is??
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    Last edited by MikeM; 08-01-2009, 02:37 PM. Reason: restore photo previously deleted
  • #2

    No idea Mike.

    What happens if you aerate this matting cartridge, does it break up and go away? Presume the cartridge isn't usually aerated?
    Regards, Bob
    ><{{{{º> ><{{{{º> ><{{{{º>
    <º}}}}>< <º}}}}><

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    • #3

      Mike,
      Is your filter completely in the dark?
      I get the same stuff but it grows under the inside of my bottom drain lid. I appears not to need any light. I call it a sponge as well. I have no idea what it really is.
      B.Scott
      Semper in excreta, sumus solum profundum variat

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      • #4

        Me too

        I have similar whitish, sponge-like organism growing on the inside of my prefilter chamber, NEXT to an airstone. Mine was very short, and thin, only about 1 mm high; covering about 5 sq. inches.

        The area is completely in the dark. I was in the rush and did not have time to put it under a microscope.

        Next time, I will take a look at it.
        Bancherd

        Thai Koi-Keepers' Group

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        • #5

          This is progress! Three of us have it in dark spaces with heavy water flows. We just might find out it is everywhere, but growing places nobody ever goes. ... like all those pipes feeding filters by gravity flow.

          Bancherd: Please share your observations with the scope.

          Bob: I do not think aeration would bother it so long as not in the direct current of a heavy stream of bubbles. I'd estimate the flow rate in this filter at 1200+ gal. per hour. (The water has been through a leaf net, two skimmer mats, a chamber of brushes, and a couple of cubic feet of submerged bioballs before reaching this small section of mat.) The mat is in an up-flow chamber. When the pump is on the "sponge" is submerged. If I remove a section of the blue mat and swish it through a bucket of water, the furthest extensions of the "sponge" will break apart, but the base portions remain affixed and grow back. I can gently push it down and it will return to its original shape when water flows over it. If I push down hard, it becomes mush and the smashed portion washes away in the current.

          B.Scott: Absolutely dark. The cover is black agricultural groundcloth. Some air movement occurs around the edges and water will slowly drain thru it, but light does not get thru.

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          • #6

            Yes!

            Those are sponges, freshwater sponges.

            They don;t need any light, just flowing water. They can stop up a 48" pipe under the right conditions. In a large recirculating fish culture system I once managed (about 685 million gallons) that flowed about 48,000 gallons per minute through the system, sponges were a big problem. The system was very rich as it had a standing crop of about 7.5 million pounds of fish and was fed about 250,000 pounds of feed a day. The sponges grew very well and caused the system to back up.

            They are easy enough to clean up, just brush off and throw away. Or pour some chlorine through the pipes and media, kills the sponges, but everything else also.

            They are very effecient filters and will collect all manner of solids as food.

            Brett
            Brett

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            • #7

              Thanks, Brett. I read what you posted, but the idea of this thing blocking a 48" pipe is mind-boggling! But, so is that much water &amp; fish &amp; feed!

              At this point I'm not looking to get rid of it, although I would if it started to block water flow. I expect it will grow considerably larger thru mid-July. Then begin disintegrating until nothing is visible by mid-August. I expect it re-grows beginning with cooler water temps in December, but not really noticeable until February/March.

              Do you have any references to what it feeds on? Only fine particulates reach that section of the filter. ......But it does get a population of midges (or something similar) that swarm out when the cover is lifted each week ... larvae are swept up into the filter where they mature but cannot fly free until the cover is lifted. All kinds of life in &amp; around a pond.

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              • #8

                It's back.

                After my current pond was built in 2005, the freshwater sponge disappeared with the old filters. Or, so I thought. Over the past month I have noticed pieces of it in the Nexus settlement chamber. Today I found a growing clump in the leaf basket of a pump that discharges from a Nexus. I clean that basket only a few times a year since it never has anything in it. I'll need to check more frequently. The sponge covered the entire bottom of the basket. I don't need it impeding the discharge. I also noticed today that the flow from one bottom drain to the vortex settlement chamber is slightly slower than normal. One possibility is the sponge has colonized the pipe. The reduction of flow is not material now, so I'm taking a wait and see approach. But, I am wondering, how do I eliminate it? A chlorine shock treatment like Brett has done in a big pipe won't work on my pond. Would a F&MG treatment, like ProForm C, do any good? Other thoughts compatible with the koi?

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                • #9

                  Wow. This is really interesting. There is probably a professor of invertebrate biology out there salivating that you have freshwater sponges growing in your pond -- I don't think that is really all that common.

                  The only thing that I can add to the primordial soup is that sponges are filter feeders -- they essentially grab little bits of food out of the water. In that sense, they are not really competing against the aerobic bacterial population of the pond, so more bio-filtration is probably not the answer. Recognizing that sponges are feeding on the tiny particulates in the water, however, may at least give you some ideas. For example, really good mechanical filtration of small particles ("fines" filtering) would likely remove much of the sponge's food supply out of the water, or at least sequester the food supply in a region of the filter system which is easier for you to contend with. I am really just speculating here, but really well-designed sand-gravel filter(s) would likely trap much of the "fines" in an area that would make it hard for the sponges to make much of a living, and would simultaneously be pretty easy for you to service.

                  That is just my 2 cents; your mileage may vary.

                  Paul

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                  • #10

                    I lightly read over something a year or two ago that said they were not sponges....JR might have even wrote it.

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                    • #11

                      Good memory Luke--

                      That was the animal or colony of tiny animals known as Bryozoans. They look a little like sponges but more like tan moss ( this is the freshwater equiv. of coral). There are freshwater sponges ( a few dozen actually) that exist as true sponges ( phylum Porifera) also. I can't tell from the photo which animal this is, sponge or Bryozoan and I don't know Florida species of either well enough to say. If it was just a little further north, the Bryozoan would be seen as a well defined giant moss- like pad tan, off white or brown in color. Some of the other freshwater species look like drab soft corals-- very interesting.
                      Both filter water although bryozoans are large communities of millions of individuals in the larger forms and eat swimming animal plankton more actively than sponges. JR

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                      • #12

                        I have fw clams. Fw sponges like clams need right water temp, light and nourishment. They eat like pigs. Look into Spongilla lacustris, S fluvialis, S alba for starters.

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                        • #13

                          Talk about weird fw critters. One night I was checking out a pond with my maglite. No fish to speak of in this tub just clear water and some plants. Then I saw it...it was the size of a dime and it was a perfect shaped jelly fish with a bell and tenticles scooting along right in front of my eyes. I have never seen one since and I wasn't drinking or on meds...well a little.

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                          • #14

                            So, with the exception of KK's jellyfish (), does it appear the sponges cause harm to a pond? (Other than clogging up something). I wouldn't think so if Mother Nature put it there.
                            "...no matter how you look at it, Mother Nature still makes the rules."

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                            • #15

                              Originally posted by JasPR View Post
                              Good memory Luke--

                              That was the animal or colony of tiny animals known as Bryozoans. They look a little like sponges but more like tan moss ( this is the freshwater equiv. of coral). There are freshwater sponges ( a few dozen actually) that exist as true sponges ( phylum Porifera) also. I can't tell from the photo which animal this is, sponge or Bryozoan and I don't know Florida species of either well enough to say. If it was just a little further north, the Bryozoan would be seen as a well defined giant moss- like pad tan, off white or brown in color. Some of the other freshwater species look like drab soft corals-- very interesting.
                              Both filter water although bryozoans are large communities of millions of individuals in the larger forms and eat swimming animal plankton more actively than sponges. JR

                              See JR
                              I do read your posts. And I didn't have a reason to doubt that so I put it in a hole..and some of it was still there...Now i am in a quandry...as I believe what Brett posts about 97% of the time. And he gets caught up in the Phylum crap...he's gonna have a reply.

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