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    Thread: Filtration Comparison Study

    1. #1
      Paultergeist is offline Senior Member
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      Filtration Comparison Study

      Filtration Study Proposal: I have been contemplating a small-scale study to compare and contrast a couple of very different bio-filtration strategies. It seems to me that there are some very interesting ideas being discussed regarding bio-filtration, and a deeper insight into how these filtration methods operate could really be useful to me in my pond-planning. The three systems which I am going to try to compare are (a) conventional plastic media (b) Anoxic Filtration and (c) the Bakki shower. I thought I would describe the background behind what I intend to do, which the hope that perhaps others may have some good suggestions.

      Due to economic constraints, this little study is rather primitive. The fish “tanks” used are plastic storage containers, each holding about 35 gallons of water. I will be using inexpensive “feeder” goldfish as the test subjects – probably 10 fish per tank. A measured and equal amount of food will be added to each tank, and I will be tracking water parameters on a daily basis (unless I have to leave town). I am going to try to get a flow rate of about two pond volumes per hour, subject to how well the cheap little power-heads perform. There are lots of various and obvious limitations to what I can manage within the space of my garage and my budget, but I hope to at least form a much more-educated opinion as to what sort of filtration methodology I want to use in my own up-coming pond build.

      Conventional commercial filtration: I was on the verge of referring to this strategy as “inert plastic aerobic (submerged) filtration,” but that sounded cumbersome. With this strategy, I am attempting to emulate the sort of bio-filtration one might get from beads, K1/K3, poly-strapping, bio-balls, etc. My assumption is that there are no appreciable chemical interactions between the plastic substrate and the water (hence the use of the word “inert”) but that the function of the plastic media is solely to provide surface area for bacterial colonization.

      Most of the opinions I have read on this type of filtration state that the bio-media should be well-aerated. I am therefore attempting to fluidize the K1 in order to keep the media fairly aerobic, and hopefully swirl it around a bit. From previous experience, I fully expect the media (once colonized) to cycle through the “nitrification pathway,” by which ammonia/ammonium is converted to nitrite, and nitrite is converted on to nitrate. Nitrate, however, is not widely reported to be reduced (i.e. “denitrification”) by this type of filtration. While far less toxic than the ammonia precursor, the nitrate concentrations when running these types of systems is often said to be cumulative, and is typically controlled via dilution (water changes).

      My implementation of this system will be a plastic trash can with some K1 in it – I am going to attempt to fluidize the K1 with an air pump as well. The outlet of the K1 bucket will flow into another bucket – this bucket will contain a power head to return water to the fish tank. (I might toss in a handful of plastic bioballs which I just so happen to have as well).

      Anoxic filtration: In using the term “Anoxic Filtration,” I am referring to strategy promoted/developed by Kevin Novak. There seems to be a continued level of controversy surrounding this filtration system. I have read opinions from both adopters of this system as well as skeptics. Most impressive – at least in my opinion – of the claims made with regard to this system is that implementation of this filtration system can reportedly result in no detectable nitrate levels. It has been stated that this absence of nitrate is due (at least partly) to the filtration media (“biocenesis baskets”) acting directly upon ammonia. The removal of nitrate via bio-filtration would seem to complete the nitrogen cycle, and thus may allow for reduced water changes, which makes this strategy intriguing.
      Although Kevin Novak does not reference this specific pathway, one plausible explanation that might account for the performance claims associated with this system is a pathway known as the “anammox reaction.” In a nutshell, the anammox reaction is a biochemical process where (ammonia + nitrite) or, alternatively (ammonia + nitrate) are used by bacteria in an energy-yielding pathway. While the reaction does not seem to be poisoned by oxygen, the presence of significant concentrations of oxygen would favor aerobic processes (which would yield much more energy for the bacteria), so the anammox reaction most commonly occurs in nature at deep water ocean depths where the oxygen concentration is low.

      My experimental system will consist of 2-3 “biocenesis pots” (plant baskets containing kiln-fired clay-based kitty litter with laterite). These biocenesis pots will be in a dedicated filter tank, with water entering the filter tank via a diffuser (pipe with holes drilled into it) and returned to the fish tank via power-head.

      Bakki Shower: With a small footprint and low assembly costs, Bakki showers almost sound too good to be true. If what I have been reading is correct, some users are dispensing with using a Settling Chamber (SC) entirely with this method. While the direct off-gassing of ammonia is well-documented (air-stripping) for this type of installation, some users are reporting that showers are getting rid of nitrite and nitrate as well. These systems also reportedly cycle (establish bacteria) very quickly. In fairness to the other systems, I should note that the Bakki is requiring more wattage (a Danner Mag-Drive pump) in order to raise the water to the height required for a shower.

      My experimental implementation will be three (3) 5-gallon buckets – each bucket approximately half-full with lava rock – arranged in a vertical stack such that water is pumped into the top-most bucket and passes through the three lava rock layers before returning to the test tank. The Danner pump will be submerged in the fish tank itself, pushing water up a length of flexible hose to the top of the upper-most bucket.

      Objectives:

      1. Track ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels during the cycling (establishing) of the filter media used.

      2. Specifically, determine behavior of nitrate levels over time: (accumulation, leveling off, reduction, complete absence, etc).

      3. Investigate the ability of the three systems to respond to sudden increases in fish waste and/or bio-load (i.e. deliberately over-feed).

      4. Compare (roughly) presence of VOCs between the three systems. This would probably be accomplished with a 2-liter soda bottle-construction “Phoam Phractionator” (a.k.a. Protein Skimmer) and I’ll just make crude assessments based on foam produced.

      5. Anything else I can think of.


      I really do not know if this sort of comparison has already been done many times. I haven’t been able to find much in the way of qualitative performance comparisons for this sort of systems. If I am merely retracing the steps of others, please let me know. Any constructive suggestions are appreciated.

    2. #2
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      This sounds like an excellent project. However, I am not certain what function the fish serve here other than to convert some of the fish food to ammonia. It would be cheaper and more controllable to simply add bottled ammonia along with the fish food. You avoid the chance of a fish dying and causing an ammonia spike. Plus you are not stuck with a few dozen fish at the end of the experiment.

      May I also suggest inclusion of the algal scrubber as an additional filtration type? You seem to be interested in nitrate removal, and that is one of the primary functions of this filter type. Most versions out there are for smaller aquaria, but versions for treating ponds and even municipal wastewater also exist.

    3. #3
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      Sounds like an excellent project, and I'll be following closely. I also think measured amounts of ammonia added each day would yield better data. Even with live fish, I think a lot can be learned. THere are a lot of other things that COULD be tested, but what you have proposed is a really good start. PM me your address, and I'll send you a few bucks for testing supplies and power costs.

    4. #4
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      Sounds like an excellent comparison project, Paul! I'll look forward to following your results! I agree that using bottled ammonia rather than fish would be a good idea for control purposes as well as possible fish variance. Keep us posted and please provide lots of pictures!


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    5. #5
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      Good for you Paul. Will be interesting to see your results.

    6. #6
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      Good on ya Paul!
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    7. #7
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      What a great idea can't wait thanks Paul...

    8. #8
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      Very good idea, looking forward to following this thread

    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by Paultergeist View Post
      Filtration Study Proposal: I have been contemplating a small-scale study to compare and contrast a couple of very different bio-filtration strategies. It seems to me that there are some very interesting ideas being discussed regarding bio-filtration, and a deeper insight into how these filtration methods operate could really be useful to me in my pond-planning. The three systems which I am going to try to compare are (a) conventional plastic media (b) Anoxic Filtration and (c) the Bakki shower. I thought I would describe the background behind what I intend to do, which the hope that perhaps others may have some good suggestions.

      Due to economic constraints, this little study is rather primitive. The fish “tanks” used are plastic storage containers, each holding about 35 gallons of water. I will be using inexpensive “feeder” goldfish as the test subjects – probably 10 fish per tank. A measured and equal amount of food will be added to each tank, and I will be tracking water parameters on a daily basis (unless I have to leave town). I am going to try to get a flow rate of about two pond volumes per hour, subject to how well the cheap little power-heads perform. There are lots of various and obvious limitations to what I can manage within the space of my garage and my budget, but I hope to at least form a much more-educated opinion as to what sort of filtration methodology I want to use in my own up-coming pond build.

      Conventional commercial filtration: I was on the verge of referring to this strategy as “inert plastic aerobic (submerged) filtration,” but that sounded cumbersome. With this strategy, I am attempting to emulate the sort of bio-filtration one might get from beads, K1/K3, poly-strapping, bio-balls, etc. My assumption is that there are no appreciable chemical interactions between the plastic substrate and the water (hence the use of the word “inert”) but that the function of the plastic media is solely to provide surface area for bacterial colonization.

      Most of the opinions I have read on this type of filtration state that the bio-media should be well-aerated. I am therefore attempting to fluidize the K1 in order to keep the media fairly aerobic, and hopefully swirl it around a bit. From previous experience, I fully expect the media (once colonized) to cycle through the “nitrification pathway,” by which ammonia/ammonium is converted to nitrite, and nitrite is converted on to nitrate. Nitrate, however, is not widely reported to be reduced (i.e. “denitrification”) by this type of filtration. While far less toxic than the ammonia precursor, the nitrate concentrations when running these types of systems is often said to be cumulative, and is typically controlled via dilution (water changes).

      My implementation of this system will be a plastic trash can with some K1 in it – I am going to attempt to fluidize the K1 with an air pump as well. The outlet of the K1 bucket will flow into another bucket – this bucket will contain a power head to return water to the fish tank. (I might toss in a handful of plastic bioballs which I just so happen to have as well).

      Anoxic filtration: In using the term “Anoxic Filtration,” I am referring to strategy promoted/developed by Kevin Novak. There seems to be a continued level of controversy surrounding this filtration system. I have read opinions from both adopters of this system as well as skeptics. Most impressive – at least in my opinion – of the claims made with regard to this system is that implementation of this filtration system can reportedly result in no detectable nitrate levels. It has been stated that this absence of nitrate is due (at least partly) to the filtration media (“biocenesis baskets”) acting directly upon ammonia. The removal of nitrate via bio-filtration would seem to complete the nitrogen cycle, and thus may allow for reduced water changes, which makes this strategy intriguing.
      Although Kevin Novak does not reference this specific pathway, one plausible explanation that might account for the performance claims associated with this system is a pathway known as the “anammox reaction.” In a nutshell, the anammox reaction is a biochemical process where (ammonia + nitrite) or, alternatively (ammonia + nitrate) are used by bacteria in an energy-yielding pathway. While the reaction does not seem to be poisoned by oxygen, the presence of significant concentrations of oxygen would favor aerobic processes (which would yield much more energy for the bacteria), so the anammox reaction most commonly occurs in nature at deep water ocean depths where the oxygen concentration is low.

      My experimental system will consist of 2-3 “biocenesis pots” (plant baskets containing kiln-fired clay-based kitty litter with laterite). These biocenesis pots will be in a dedicated filter tank, with water entering the filter tank via a diffuser (pipe with holes drilled into it) and returned to the fish tank via power-head.

      Bakki Shower: With a small footprint and low assembly costs, Bakki showers almost sound too good to be true. If what I have been reading is correct, some users are dispensing with using a Settling Chamber (SC) entirely with this method. While the direct off-gassing of ammonia is well-documented (air-stripping) for this type of installation, some users are reporting that showers are getting rid of nitrite and nitrate as well. These systems also reportedly cycle (establish bacteria) very quickly. In fairness to the other systems, I should note that the Bakki is requiring more wattage (a Danner Mag-Drive pump) in order to raise the water to the height required for a shower.

      My experimental implementation will be three (3) 5-gallon buckets – each bucket approximately half-full with lava rock – arranged in a vertical stack such that water is pumped into the top-most bucket and passes through the three lava rock layers before returning to the test tank. The Danner pump will be submerged in the fish tank itself, pushing water up a length of flexible hose to the top of the upper-most bucket.

      Objectives:

      1. Track ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels during the cycling (establishing) of the filter media used.

      2. Specifically, determine behavior of nitrate levels over time: (accumulation, leveling off, reduction, complete absence, etc).

      3. Investigate the ability of the three systems to respond to sudden increases in fish waste and/or bio-load (i.e. deliberately over-feed).

      4. Compare (roughly) presence of VOCs between the three systems. This would probably be accomplished with a 2-liter soda bottle-construction “Phoam Phractionator” (a.k.a. Protein Skimmer) and I’ll just make crude assessments based on foam produced.

      5. Anything else I can think of.


      I really do not know if this sort of comparison has already been done many times. I haven’t been able to find much in the way of qualitative performance comparisons for this sort of systems. If I am merely retracing the steps of others, please let me know. Any constructive suggestions are appreciated.
      Thank you for your Idea but I think with your thought that Birdman and Jack with Ethan25 there are already find the resolve.
      But with Anoxic filtration in usa we had no hope. with Anoxic filtration take long time for bio to filter.

    10. #10
      BAVOTOI is offline Supporting Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by birdman View Post
      Good for you Paul. Will be interesting to see your results.
      the results that you just say i think you already answer that in your test qt
      that i'm read?

    11. #11
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      Quote Originally Posted by Paultergeist View Post
      [

      1.
      Track ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels during the cycling (establishing) of the filter media used.

      2. Specifically, determine behavior of nitrate levels over time: (accumulation, leveling off, reduction, complete absence, etc).

      3. Investigate the ability of the three systems to respond to sudden increases in fish waste and/or bio-load (i.e. deliberately over-feed).

      4. Compare (roughly) presence of VOCs between the three systems. This would probably be accomplished with a 2-liter soda bottle-construction “Phoam Phractionator” (a.k.a. Protein Skimmer) and I’ll just make crude assessments based on foam produced.

      5. Anything else I can think of.


      I really do not know if this sort of comparison has already been done many times. I haven’t been able to find much in the way of qualitative performance comparisons for this sort of systems. If I am merely retracing the steps of others, please let me know. Any constructive suggestions are appreciated.



      I love the idea but dont forget to throw a ROCK infested pond in your studies I know you guys are totally against rocks in the pond but I think you will be surprised to find out how little "aftermarket" biological filtration is actually required with a correctly built "rock" pond. I dont care how much "stuff" the rocks harbour, the water quality will tell the story.



      jmo.......




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    12. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by Paultergeist View Post
      Filtration Study Proposal: I have been contemplating a small-scale study to compare and contrast a couple of very different bio-filtration strategies. It seems to me that there are some very interesting ideas being discussed regarding bio-filtration, and a deeper insight into how these filtration methods operate could really be useful to me in my pond-planning. The three systems which I am going to try to compare are (a) conventional plastic media (b) Anoxic Filtration and (c) the Bakki shower. I thought I would describe the background behind what I intend to do, which the hope that perhaps others may have some good suggestions.

      Due to economic constraints, this little study is rather primitive. The fish “tanks” used are plastic storage containers, each holding about 35 gallons of water. I will be using inexpensive “feeder” goldfish as the test subjects – probably 10 fish per tank. A measured and equal amount of food will be added to each tank, and I will be tracking water parameters on a daily basis (unless I have to leave town). I am going to try to get a flow rate of about two pond volumes per hour, subject to how well the cheap little power-heads perform. There are lots of various and obvious limitations to what I can manage within the space of my garage and my budget, but I hope to at least form a much more-educated opinion as to what sort of filtration methodology I want to use in my own up-coming pond build.

      Conventional commercial filtration: I was on the verge of referring to this strategy as “inert plastic aerobic (submerged) filtration,” but that sounded cumbersome. With this strategy, I am attempting to emulate the sort of bio-filtration one might get from beads, K1/K3, poly-strapping, bio-balls, etc. My assumption is that there are no appreciable chemical interactions between the plastic substrate and the water (hence the use of the word “inert”) but that the function of the plastic media is solely to provide surface area for bacterial colonization.

      Most of the opinions I have read on this type of filtration state that the bio-media should be well-aerated. I am therefore attempting to fluidize the K1 in order to keep the media fairly aerobic, and hopefully swirl it around a bit. From previous experience, I fully expect the media (once colonized) to cycle through the “nitrification pathway,” by which ammonia/ammonium is converted to nitrite, and nitrite is converted on to nitrate. Nitrate, however, is not widely reported to be reduced (i.e. “denitrification”) by this type of filtration. While far less toxic than the ammonia precursor, the nitrate concentrations when running these types of systems is often said to be cumulative, and is typically controlled via dilution (water changes).

      My implementation of this system will be a plastic trash can with some K1 in it – I am going to attempt to fluidize the K1 with an air pump as well. The outlet of the K1 bucket will flow into another bucket – this bucket will contain a power head to return water to the fish tank. (I might toss in a handful of plastic bioballs which I just so happen to have as well).

      Anoxic filtration: In using the term “Anoxic Filtration,” I am referring to strategy promoted/developed by Kevin Novak. There seems to be a continued level of controversy surrounding this filtration system. I have read opinions from both adopters of this system as well as skeptics. Most impressive – at least in my opinion – of the claims made with regard to this system is that implementation of this filtration system can reportedly result in no detectable nitrate levels. It has been stated that this absence of nitrate is due (at least partly) to the filtration media (“biocenesis baskets”) acting directly upon ammonia. The removal of nitrate via bio-filtration would seem to complete the nitrogen cycle, and thus may allow for reduced water changes, which makes this strategy intriguing.
      Although Kevin Novak does not reference this specific pathway, one plausible explanation that might account for the performance claims associated with this system is a pathway known as the “anammox reaction.” In a nutshell, the anammox reaction is a biochemical process where (ammonia + nitrite) or, alternatively (ammonia + nitrate) are used by bacteria in an energy-yielding pathway. While the reaction does not seem to be poisoned by oxygen, the presence of significant concentrations of oxygen would favor aerobic processes (which would yield much more energy for the bacteria), so the anammox reaction most commonly occurs in nature at deep water ocean depths where the oxygen concentration is low.

      My experimental system will consist of 2-3 “biocenesis pots” (plant baskets containing kiln-fired clay-based kitty litter with laterite). These biocenesis pots will be in a dedicated filter tank, with water entering the filter tank via a diffuser (pipe with holes drilled into it) and returned to the fish tank via power-head.

      Bakki Shower: With a small footprint and low assembly costs, Bakki showers almost sound too good to be true. If what I have been reading is correct, some users are dispensing with using a Settling Chamber (SC) entirely with this method. While the direct off-gassing of ammonia is well-documented (air-stripping) for this type of installation, some users are reporting that showers are getting rid of nitrite and nitrate as well. These systems also reportedly cycle (establish bacteria) very quickly. In fairness to the other systems, I should note that the Bakki is requiring more wattage (a Danner Mag-Drive pump) in order to raise the water to the height required for a shower.

      My experimental implementation will be three (3) 5-gallon buckets – each bucket approximately half-full with lava rock – arranged in a vertical stack such that water is pumped into the top-most bucket and passes through the three lava rock layers before returning to the test tank. The Danner pump will be submerged in the fish tank itself, pushing water up a length of flexible hose to the top of the upper-most bucket.

      Objectives:

      1. Track ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels during the cycling (establishing) of the filter media used.

      2. Specifically, determine behavior of nitrate levels over time: (accumulation, leveling off, reduction, complete absence, etc).

      3. Investigate the ability of the three systems to respond to sudden increases in fish waste and/or bio-load (i.e. deliberately over-feed).

      4. Compare (roughly) presence of VOCs between the three systems. This would probably be accomplished with a 2-liter soda bottle-construction “Phoam Phractionator” (a.k.a. Protein Skimmer) and I’ll just make crude assessments based on foam produced.

      5. Anything else I can think of.


      I really do not know if this sort of comparison has already been done many times. I haven’t been able to find much in the way of qualitative performance comparisons for this sort of systems. If I am merely retracing the steps of others, please let me know. Any constructive suggestions are appreciated.
      How Long do you intend to run the Experiment ?


      One suggestion worthy of Implementing from my own Experiments into "Bio" would be to remove all Media at the end of the Time allotted and continue to run the Systems without whilst monitoring Params as previously

    13. #13
      Paultergeist is offline Senior Member
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      Greetings all,

      Thanks very much for the support and encouragement. It means a lot to me.

      There seems to be a consensus opinion present that I should start out with bottled ammonia instead of initially seeding the tanks with fish. Okay, I'm willing to give it a try. My thought, however, is that while the nitrogen-containing products are some of the major dissolved wastes, there are other dissolved compounds excreted by the fish as well. I was hoping to eventually try a small phoam phractionator to see what kind of foam amounts I get out of the tanks, and use the quantity of foam yielded as an indicator of DOCs -- maybe....? I assume that would require fish.

      How about this? I can start out with bottled ammonia, and see where that leads, then possibly try some fish later on?

      Photos to follow soon......

    14. #14
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      Quote Originally Posted by Paultergeist View Post
      Greetings all,

      Thanks very much for the support and encouragement. It means a lot to me.

      There seems to be a consensus opinion present that I should start out with bottled ammonia instead of initially seeding the tanks with fish. Okay, I'm willing to give it a try. My thought, however, is that while the nitrogen-containing products are some of the major dissolved wastes, there are other dissolved compounds excreted by the fish as well. I was hoping to eventually try a small phoam phractionator to see what kind of foam amounts I get out of the tanks, and use the quantity of foam yielded as an indicator of DOCs -- maybe....? I assume that would require fish.

      How about this? I can start out with bottled ammonia, and see where that leads, then possibly try some fish later on?



      Photos to follow soon......
      Indeed The Whole Purpose of "Bottled Ammonia" and "Humane Fishless Cycling" is to prepare the System for Fish rather than have them run the Gauntlet of Cycling

      Once this is established EUREKA It`s Fish Friendly and you can safely add the Fish ..

      I used 8ppm Ammonia but wouldn`t recommend more than 5PPM for Cycling

      http://www.csupomona.edu/~jskoga/Aquariums/Ammonia.html

    15. #15
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      I was thinking that Docs were primarily disolved fish food or dead algea, bugs, and dead plants and that the excretments of fish were handled by bio filtration.
      Looking forward to your results.

    16. #16
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      Quote Originally Posted by Paultergeist View Post
      Greetings all,

      Thanks very much for the support and encouragement. It means a lot to me.

      There seems to be a consensus opinion present that I should start out with bottled ammonia instead of initially seeding the tanks with fish. Okay, I'm willing to give it a try. My thought, however, is that while the nitrogen-containing products are some of the major dissolved wastes, there are other dissolved compounds excreted by the fish as well. I was hoping to eventually try a small phoam phractionator to see what kind of foam amounts I get out of the tanks, and use the quantity of foam yielded as an indicator of DOCs -- maybe....? I assume that would require fish.

      How about this? I can start out with bottled ammonia, and see where that leads, then possibly try some fish later on?

      Photos to follow soon......

      Don't do the test with artificial anything. In order for this to relate to actual ponds, you need to recreate the environment as best you can. Put the same size/amount of fish in each tank and feed the same.

      Zac
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    17. #17
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      That suggestion will not work Zac due to the Fact that either "Binders" will need to be added and or Salt in order to protect ( Nobody wants Fish to suffer unnecessarily surely) the Inhabitants from Death or Disability

      Artificial Amm will not only hasten the Cycling Process but specifically measured amounts can be dosed to each System equally

      Temp will be Paramount too so an indoor Set Up is Preferable to Outdoors at this time of year ..

      True O-Natural can be accomplished by the use of Human Urine instead

    18. #18
      Zac Penn is offline Supporting Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by CHICHI View Post
      That suggestion will not work Zac due to the Fact that either "Binders" will need to be added and or Salt in order to protect ( Nobody wants Fish to suffer unnecessarily surely) the Inhabitants from Death or Disability

      Artificial Amm will not only hasten the Cycling Process but specifically measured amounts can be dosed to each System equally

      Temp will be Paramount too so an indoor Set Up is Preferable to Outdoors at this time of year ..

      True O-Natural can be accomplished by the use of Human Urine instead
      There is no need for fish to suffer...If water quality gets to a point of danger then a calculated water change should be done. That is what happens in real life, so why not in testing. Artificial ammonia will not recreate actual pond situations, so the whole test would be pointless. Also if he is using cheap goldfish as the test subjects, they will be able to cope with bad water quality, better than koi.

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    19. #19
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      Quote Originally Posted by ZP Construction LLC View Post
      There is no need for fish to suffer...If water quality gets to a point of danger then a calculated water change should be done. That is what happens in real life, so why not in testing. Artificial ammonia will not recreate actual pond situations, so the whole test would be pointless. Also if he is using cheap goldfish as the test subjects, they will be able to cope with bad water quality, better than koi.

      Zac
      Not in those Low Specified Gallonages Zac Phor Sure Plus it would take forever adding 1 Fish at a time because this is what it would take even to cycle Goldies acceptably I`ve been there and done that Trust me ..

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      I believe that a combination of bottled ammonia and fish food will closely approximate real-pond conditions. The fish food will be broken down by heterotrophic bacteria, and the resulting excreta should be chemically fairly similar to those of fish.

      The desire to more closely replicate pond conditions is great, but if, say, a fish dies in one of the experimental setups, it will skew the results of the whole thing and he will have to start over. As always in experimentation, naturalism and control have an inverse relationship. In this case I think the greater control offered by excluding fish will offer a more fair comparison between setups.

      I also don't believe that cheap goldfish will be better able to cope with poor conditions than koi, certainly not before a long period of acclimation and recuperation. Feeder goldfish tend to be in miserable shape when bought, so early mortality, parasite infestation, and non-feeding are likely, all of which could throw off results both between setups and relative to a real pond.

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