What is an ecosystem?
An ecosystem encompasses all the parts of a living environment, including the plants and animals, AND the non-living components, such as water, air and the sun’s energy. A pond’s ecosystem begins with the water as the base. Everything found above the base is completely dependent, either directly or indirectly, on water.
Biological filters work to create an ecosystem by using bacteria to break down pond wastes, converting them into harmless particles that will be used as aquatic plant fertilizers. Housed inside the biological filter are from one to three filter mats. The filter mats will aid in the building of a bacteria colony. To add additional media, we recommend that you install several sets the BioBalls inside this unit. Again depending on the size of the biological filter you will need from one to four sets. Both of these types of media will allow the bacteria colony to grow and mature.
In the past, people have used the Lava Rocks in mesh bags on top of these mats. We have found, in our research that the lava rocks will eventually clog and recommend they be replaced every two years. These rocks are also heavy and cumbersome to remove and clean. Bioballs are easier to handle and will hold more good bacteria. To guarantee that you have seeded the bacteria into the filter media in the Biofalls, it is important to use the beneficial bacteria on the start up of your system in the spring and continue to use on a regular basis throughout the growing season.
The primary goal of a biological filter is to reduce the level of nitrogen compounds in the water in order to maintain the balance of the pond and limit algae and pathogenic growth. Water quality can be threatened by natural ground water run off, decaying plant particles and too many fish. Uncontrolled algae growth can have serious consequences for the entire pond apart from the unpleasant appearance.
The IonGen™ is an electronic clarifier for ponds and Pondless features. By clicking on the product you will be brought to the product and you can read the description. This product saves the cost of using algaecides. This product is now registered with EPA as a product that will eliminate string algae. However, you still have to use some type of bacteria during the growing season to keep a pond water clear. The IonGen™ saves you time and money!
The biological filter is also the source of your waterfall and/or stream. Besides being the source of the good bacteria colony, it also works for you by making it easier to build a great waterfall. Remember to order your bacteria in the spring so you are ready for the growth season. Go here to look at the various types of bacteria: http://www.aquascapes.com/shop/water-treatments/bacteria.html
How does the biological filtration work?
The water is pumped through the biological filter unit, through the filter media and microscopic bacteria located in this media go to work scrubbing the pond clean of green water. Lava Rock or BioBalls are located in this unit. By combining both mechanical and biological filtration, the Ecosystem does the maintenance for you, reducing your work and increasing your enjoyment.
Mechanical Filter called the Skimmer
The purpose of this filter is to skim the water and deposit the surface debris into a basket or net for easy maintenance. It also protects the pump with a filter mat located either in front of or on top of the pump thus cleaning the water before it is drawn into the pump. The debris net or basket needs to be emptied regularly. Note: The weir door on the Signature Series is a separate part and does not come with the basket.
Weir Doors can be ordered but you need to know which skimmer and the size of the weir opening. Call 877 780-1174 if you have questions.
Other Necessary Parts to the EcoSystem
▪ Pump and Plumbing – Recirculation of a closed water feature is essential to add oxygen to the water for fish and bacteria. It keeps it fresh and allows gasses to escape. You want to circulate the volume of water in your feature approximately every hour. The pump supplies the water to the biological filter which in turn spills over into the waterfall.
▪ Rocks and Gravel – The most under used element in a pond ecosystem is rock and gravel. Rocks are instrumental in protecting your liner from harmful ultraviolet rays as well as helping to prevent hydrostatic bubbling. Rocks and gravel throughout the bottom also provide the perfect areas for bacteria to colonize thereby keeping water clearer. Do you ever see an aquarium without gravel on the bottom? Cover the liner completely with rocks and gravel. Never use more than 2 to 3 inches of gravel on flat areas.
▪ Plants, Fish and Bacteria- Plants absorb the nutrients from the water as fertilizer. The bacteria in your colony will eat the excess nutrients that the plants haven’t absorbed and if these excess nutrients are not absorbed, they might feed green water. That’s why plants are very important to the ecosystem. Plants provide beauty and a nature look to your pond while the bacteria will help remove ammonia, nitrates and other minerals from the water and converting them to useful nutrients. Fish provide some balance the equation but you must not overstock your pond. Overstocking is the number one cause of excess algae. Adding bacteria on a regular basis, is one of the best things you can do for your pond to enhance the quality of your pond water.
The calculation for amount fish in a pond is: length x width of pond = square feet in feet and that number is the inches of mature fish your pond can support. A 10 x 10 pond supports 100 inches of fish. Don’t forget that if you are a new pond owner, the fish will multiply and you may end up with more fish that you should have in order to have a balanced ecosystem.
Filter efficiency Facts
1. Circulation requirements:
Ponds with KOI – re-circulate total pond volume at least once per hour. Also, consider adding an additional aerator at the bottom of the pond.
2. Volume of pond
Average width x average length x average dept x 7.5 = volume of water in gallons.
3. Fish stocking guidelines (bio-load capacity)
For every square foot of pond surface you can support one inch of mature fish.
4. When you use a biological filter and a skimmer filter and have adequate aeration, we don’t normally recommend testing the water unless you have an excess of fish and have not used the four basic ecosystem requirements which is rocks, fish, plants, and aeration. If your pond has a heavy fish load, you may want to test your water for ammonia.
Clarity of water does not always mean quality. To monitor your fish environment especially if you have more fish than the ratio, you may want to test periodically:
Ammonia – a reading of more than 0.25 ppm will put your fish into stress; make immediate water change of 33% and than re-test ammonia level. If too high, make another 33% water change. Adding bacteria twice weekly or at least once a week will help reduce ammonia load.
pH – should range between 7.2 and 7.6. When you test the pH, run the test at the same time of day in the a.m. as pH fluctuates during the day. High pH is not necessarily dangerous unless the ammonia count is also high.
Temperature – ideal range is between 72 and 78 degrees. Less or greater can reduce biological activity. Over 80 to 85 degree water could be harmful on your fish.
5. Aquatic plants should be used and added in your pond for nitrate absorption; examples include water lilies, bog plants and water hyacinth placed in the BIOFALLS® filter and streams. See the charts on Planting Your Pond.