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    Thread: Indoor overwintering questions - 425 gallon vinyl show tank

    1. #1
      MarkL is offline Junior Member
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      Indoor overwintering questions - 425 gallon vinyl show tank

      Soon Id like to move two ill 12 koi inside for 7 to 8 months because we live in the frigid northeast USA and Id like them in warm water to heal. I will bring in a couple extra fish if my system can handle the load. I have space in our enclosed heated sun room. Before considering building a proper bottom-drained permanent pond, Id like to be able to use my 425-gallon vinyl tank (Aquatics Round Koi Pond Show Tank 63" x 31.5) so that I can remove it in the spring, but it has no plumbing ports.

      1) If I build a platform for this tank, can a bottom drain be installed and sealed in it? Or, a retro drain run straight through the side (an easier solution)? I assume a 3 or 4 pipe. Maybe I shouldnt be concerned with leakage because I installed a bottom drain in the rubber lining of our outdoor pond. Just wanted to check if anyone has done it with vinyl, and whether a side drain is substantially as good as a bottom drain.

      2) I need to build a settlement chamber and Ive seen here that maybe a 55 gallon drum is too small in diameter. Any suggestions on chamber diameter? A larger chamber would be a little cumbersome in my room but the added gallons and dwell time should be a great benefit. I did see DIY designs somewhere here

      Based on any kind advice on the above questions, Ill do more research on bio filtration before asking more questions! If I can make use of a submersible pump after the SC than the room should be quieter than using an external pump.

      Last winter we tried to overwinter 4 fish in this tank and really struggled with water quality (despite frequent water changes) and thats no surprise given the equipment I used:

      Matala Biosteps 10 filter with Matala filter mats
      Submersible pump (maybe 900 GPH? I forget the size but recommended for the Biosteps filter)
      Two Aquascape air stones
      A small submersible pump running water through a 300 watt inline heater (I kept the water in the mid-70s Fahrenheit.

      By the way, Ive read warnings here about too much humidity with indoor ponds but for us it provided much needed humidity for our indoor plants in a large open room. There was nowhere near enough moisture to cause mold issues.

      Thanks!
      Mark

    2. #2
      Fishmover is offline Supporting Member
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      I have a similar sized tank that I use to keep small koi that I want to fatten up and see how they turn out, or koi that I am going to sell.

      I assume your stocking load will not be that heavy, so I doubt you need massive filtration. A retro bottom drain is nice, but not necessary. Likely the poop that is not picked up by the intake will centralize in the middle and can be siphoned out easily.

      As for filtration. I have a periha 1300 that feeds a 5 gallon bucket with 3 layers of filter matting, below that I have some MP2C ceramic media. This drains into a 25 gallon barrel with fluidized k1 media in it, then back to the holding tank.

      THe only major solids you are looking at is fish poop, likely no other debris to contend with. I think the important part for tanks like this is biological filtration.

      Here are some pics.

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    3. #3
      SimonW is online now Senior Member
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      Last winter I over-wintered my koi in a tank similar to yours in size: 1200 liter. I had two 50 cm, three 40 cm, and eight 30 cm koi. The only filtration I had was a pressure filter nominally for 8 000 liter pond with normal fish load. I did not feed so much: 100-120 grams per day. The temperature was 18-20 centigrade.

      I had heavy aeration: 8500 liter per hour. The water turn-over is 6 000 liters per hour.

      Zero ammonia, but some nitrite 0.2-1 ppm throughout the winter, remedied with constant 0.1% NaCl. Didnt have any issue with the fish.

    4. #4
      MarkL is offline Junior Member
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      Thanks much for the pics and advice!

      Yeah poop is the only solid. So the chopped up poop in your system is pretty much stopped at the filter matting? When you clean that, are your pretty thorough or do you just rinse? I know if you clean too well you lose the bacteria! I have the graduated levels of the matala matting so I could use that.

      Looks like you pump air into the lower barrel?

      Your lower barrel’s outlet is high. How do you circulate water down throughout it?

      Last year when we developed high ammonia levels in this tank, we got a rough description of how to build an “ammonia tower”. I wasn’t told it was called a trickle tower so I found no info on the web. All I was told is that it should be at least a 6 foot high container full of Featherstone (pumice) covered by a couple layers of matting over which you pump a large volume of water, and the bottom should allow the water to shower down into the pond. So I made the thing out of 12” PVC green sewer pipe and boy it cleared the ammonia by the next day. But soon after it lost effectiveness and I now know that the stone must have clogged with poop and that it apparently shouldn’t have had air inside it. Anyway, I became convinced that I really need to filter out those solids…

      Recently I’ve read here about sand and gravel filters which I may make.

    5. #5
      MarkL is offline Junior Member
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      Wow Simon, that sounds great. So you had a submersible pump going directly into a pressure filter right?

    6. #6
      Onit12345 is offline Junior Member
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      I’ll just comment on heating your water. I would not do that. It will make the koi more active and require you to feed more causing water quality issues. Your inside house temp would be fine any you could probably feed them once a day. It’s also good for your koi to have a slowdown in feeding and let them rest.

    7. #7
      MarkL is offline Junior Member
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      Thanks for that info! We were treating fish with ulcers and understood that their immune systems would be more active in warmer water (we raised to 77-78F). Was that a mistake in this case?!

    8. #8
      SimonW is online now Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by MarkL View Post
      Wow Simon, that sounds great. So you had a submersible pump going directly into a pressure filter right?
      Yes.

    9. #9
      Fishmover is offline Supporting Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by MarkL View Post
      Thanks much for the pics and advice!

      Yeah poop is the only solid. So the chopped up poop in your system is pretty much stopped at the filter matting? When you clean that, are your pretty thorough or do you just rinse? I know if you clean too well you lose the bacteria! I have the graduated levels of the matala matting so I could use that.

      Looks like you pump air into the lower barrel?

      Your lower barrel’s outlet is high. How do you circulate water down throughout it?

      Last year when we developed high ammonia levels in this tank, we got a rough description of how to build an “ammonia tower”. I wasn’t told it was called a trickle tower so I found no info on the web. All I was told is that it should be at least a 6 foot high container full of Featherstone (pumice) covered by a couple layers of matting over which you pump a large volume of water, and the bottom should allow the water to shower down into the pond. So I made the thing out of 12” PVC green sewer pipe and boy it cleared the ammonia by the next day. But soon after it lost effectiveness and I now know that the stone must have clogged with poop and that it apparently shouldn’t have had air inside it. Anyway, I became convinced that I really need to filter out those solids…

      Recently I’ve read here about sand and gravel filters which I may make.
      The air in the bottom barrel helps circulate the water. The bottom barrel is a moving bed filter., which is why it has air. The top 5 gallon bucket does catch the poop pretty well with 3 layers of filter matting.

    10. #10
      MarkL is offline Junior Member
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      This might be overkill but I’ve pre-ordered a Zakki Sieve from Deep Water Koi. I intend to order an aerated 3” bottom drain (Koi Toilet I). Here are a couple questions/comments if anyone has a moment!

      1) When I receive the BD I’ll see how high I have to raise the 425 gallon round pond to accommodate the drain and its air piping. I’m guessing a frame of 2x10s” on 12” centers, covered with ” plywood. The water weight would be about 3400 pounds.

      2) I already have a large amount of Featherstone so I may as well make a shower. That may provide enough bio filtration but I’m paranoid of the fines that pass the sieve clogging the Featherstone. That means I may need a sand & gravel or else some filter mats somewhere along the line (like in the top of the shower). Depending on which (or neither?), would you think that I’d want a moving bed filter also, assuming a fairly high fish load?

      3) Oh, and if I build a shelf above one edge to hold the shower totes, I was wondering about using 2x4's and pond liner to make it a 3" deep mini pond which could have some floating plants for consumption of nitrates. I would raise the shower totes a couple inches above that plant shelf and have a waterfall into the pond. Would the plants do any actual good?

      I guess if I did all that I’d have quite a good system and everything I need to possibly make a permanent indoor pond that would be bigger next year. Thanks for any advice!

    11. #11
      SimonW is online now Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by SimonW View Post
      Last winter I over-wintered my koi in a tank similar to yours in size: 1200 liter. I had two 50 cm, three 40 cm, and eight 30 cm koi. The only filtration I had was a pressure filter nominally for 8 000 liter pond with normal fish load. I did not feed so much: 100-120 grams per day. The temperature was 18-20 centigrade.

      I had heavy aeration: 8500 liter per hour. The water turn-over is 6 000 liters per hour.

      Zero ammonia, but some nitrite 0.2-1 ppm throughout the winter, remedied with constant 0.1% NaCl. Didnt have any issue with the fish.
      By the way, I plan to add an Oase flow-through filter (with sponge media) behind the pressure filter this winter, in order to get nitrite to zero.

    12. #12
      Fishmover is offline Supporting Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by MarkL View Post
      This might be overkill but I’ve pre-ordered a Zakki Sieve from Deep Water Koi. I intend to order an aerated 3” bottom drain (Koi Toilet I). Here are a couple questions/comments if anyone has a moment!

      1) When I receive the BD I’ll see how high I have to raise the 425 gallon round pond to accommodate the drain and its air piping. I’m guessing a frame of 2x10s” on 12” centers, covered with ” plywood. The water weight would be about 3400 pounds.

      2) I already have a large amount of Featherstone so I may as well make a shower. That may provide enough bio filtration but I’m paranoid of the fines that pass the sieve clogging the Featherstone. That means I may need a sand & gravel or else some filter mats somewhere along the line (like in the top of the shower). Depending on which (or neither?), would you think that I’d want a moving bed filter also, assuming a fairly high fish load?

      3) Oh, and if I build a shelf above one edge to hold the shower totes, I was wondering about using 2x4's and pond liner to make it a 3" deep mini pond which could have some floating plants for consumption of nitrates. I would raise the shower totes a couple inches above that plant shelf and have a waterfall into the pond. Would the plants do any actual good?

      I guess if I did all that I’d have quite a good system and everything I need to possibly make a permanent indoor pond that would be bigger next year. Thanks for any advice!
      If your goal is for this to be a second pond and a permanent fixture, then it kinda makes sense. I think iy is quite a bit of cost and effort for the size of tank you are doing this for though.

      You don't need this elaborate of a setup to keep good quality water indoors. I presonally would not do the Zakki sieve, purely due to cost for the number of gallons.
      I think a Sand and gravel filter then to a biological filter like shower or moving bed, then back to the pond will serve your needs. Will also keep the costs low.


      Been ponding for a while, with lots of successes, and lots of failures.

    13. #13
      MarkL is offline Junior Member
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      Thanks much Fishmover, I really appreciate it. I'm going to ponder keeping the bottom drain and going straight to a sand & gravel followed by the shower. You're right the sieve is an expensive luxury, but maybe worth it if I do this year after year. I understand it could take a good 250 gallons to flush a 55 gallon drum S&G filter and that's a lot from a 425 gallon pond, although I could do 125 gallons twice as often! My overwintering would be about 7 months a year and ease of maintenance is a consideration.

    14. #14
      MarkL is offline Junior Member
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      By the way, my idea for the sand & gravel is to have it on a hefty shelf above water level along with the shower so that the S&G can drain directly into the shower. If I don't do that I guess I'd need a 2nd pump to get the water up to the shower which sounds troublesome. I'm assuming that a pump in the 2500-3000 GPH range (after the sieve if I use one) would work. The S&G takes about 2000 but with head and a couple TPR's I'd need some extra oomph. What I don't yet know is how much flow I need going into the shower so I have more research to do...

    15. #15
      Fishmover is offline Supporting Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by MarkL View Post
      By the way, my idea for the sand & gravel is to have it on a hefty shelf above water level along with the shower so that the S&G can drain directly into the shower. If I don't do that I guess I'd need a 2nd pump to get the water up to the shower which sounds troublesome. I'm assuming that a pump in the 2500-3000 GPH range (after the sieve if I use one) would work. The S&G takes about 2000 but with head and a couple TPR's I'd need some extra oomph. What I don't yet know is how much flow I need going into the shower so I have more research to do...
      S&G filter will need to be above shower in order for gravity flow to work. Since the barrel is already 4 feet high, put it on a platform that is 2 to 3 feet high and you should have room for a 3 to 4 tier shower using bins/totes.
      As for flushing the S&G, just make it a weekly water change ritual. Starting adding water, start flushing the filter. I doubt you will need 250 gallons to clean it, probably closer to 50 to 100 max.
      The water coming off the S&G should also be cleaner than the sieve, because the S&G should filter down to a lower micron level.

      As for flow into the shower, the max 2k gph you will get from the S&G filter should be more than enough


      Been ponding for a while, with lots of successes, and lots of failures.

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      MarkL is offline Junior Member
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      Excellent advice. Many thanks!

    17. #17
      MarkL is offline Junior Member
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      Just to double check...for my planned 425 gallon show tank, how much turnover is best? The fish load may vary winter to winter but this year I think four 12" fish.

      I plan on BD -> (possible sieve) -> pump -> S&G -> shower stack. Some of pump output hopefully to a couple TPR's.

      2,000 GPH is about max for the S&G but I realize less is fine if not better. Trying to figure pump size and how much flow will exit the S&G into the shower so I can size the shower.

      Thanks!

    18. #18
      Fishmover is offline Supporting Member
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      2k GPH should be just fine, just know your gonna be giving the fish a good work out depending on how the flow is in the water. Mine goes in a clockwise pattern, and the fish cannot sit still.


      Been ponding for a while, with lots of successes, and lots of failures.

    19. #19
      MarkL is offline Junior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by Fishmover View Post
      ...Mine goes in a clockwise pattern, and the fish cannot sit still.
      Now I know why they call you "Fishmover" LOL!

      Seriously though, I could cut the flow to more like 1K so I'd get ~2.5 turnovers per hour. I bet that'd be fine as long as that amount of flow through the S&G and more importantly through the shower would provide enough bio filtration for a potential slightly heavy load. If it's true that ideally you'd have 2k of flow for every square foot of shower surface area, then I'd only have 1/2 a square foot with 1k gallons going through it! Maybe it's ok to have a miniature shower for a miniature pond LOL? Maybe it's ok to spread out that shower over the media and not flood it as aggressively?

      Thanks for helping with my newb questions. I struggled last winter with sick fish in elevated ammonia and I want to get it right for them this time.

    20. #20
      Fishmover is offline Supporting Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by MarkL View Post
      Now I know why they call you "Fishmover" LOL!

      Seriously though, I could cut the flow to more like 1K so I'd get ~2.5 turnovers per hour. I bet that'd be fine as long as that amount of flow through the S&G and more importantly through the shower would provide enough bio filtration for a potential slightly heavy load. If it's true that ideally you'd have 2k of flow for every square foot of shower surface area, then I'd only have 1/2 a square foot with 1k gallons going through it! Maybe it's ok to have a miniature shower for a miniature pond LOL? Maybe it's ok to spread out that shower over the media and not flood it as aggressively?

      Thanks for helping with my newb questions. I struggled last winter with sick fish in elevated ammonia and I want to get it right for them this time.
      I am sure there is science to this, but I am more of a give a go and see how it works.
      In my opinion, if you had a couple or more TPRs that carry the 2k GPH, then it would not be overly impactfull. Put a ball valve between pump and sand and gravel filter, cut the flow until it feels right. As long as the shower is passing water over the media, it will work. There may be some efficiency calculations with flow rate to media volume and the likes, but at the end of the day, as long as you keep the water moving over it, it will work.


      Been ponding for a while, with lots of successes, and lots of failures.

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