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    Thread: Why still nitrite despite much more biofiltration?

    1. #1
      SimonW is offline Senior Member
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      Why still nitrite despite much more biofiltration?

      Hello friends:

      Last winter I only used one pressure filter (nominally for a pond with a volume of 6 m3 with koi) to my 1-1.5 m3 over-wintering tank (volume varied due to slow water addition), and the water turn-over was 6.5 m3 per hour. I got nitrite reading all through that winter, 0.2-0.8 ppm.

      This winter I have more than doubled the bio-filtration by adding a flow-through filter nominally for a pond with a volume of 9 m3 with koi behind the pressure filter, in tandem. I also increased the water turn-over to 12 m3 per hour. The system has been up and running for about 3 weeks, but I still get nitrite reading, 0.2-0-8 ppm.

      Every other condition has been similar: Roughly same amount of fish, same air pump, similar temperature (17-20 centigrade), similar amount of NaHCO3, and the amount of feeding is also similar. So I wonder why I still get nitrite. May it be caused by the notoriously long time it is needed to pass the nitrite oxidation step, as the flow-through filter had been used through-out the summer but had suffered from cold temperature (about 5 centigrade) before being moved inside.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      (I know that the ingenious sand-and-gavel pre-filter, rotating drum filter and the legendary shower filter would do the trick, but I donīt have these right now).

      A picture of the set-up:
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    2. #2
      Nguyen365's Avatar
      Nguyen365 is online now Senior Member
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      from my personal experience, I like my sieve way better than a pressurized canister filter...takes me 3 sesconds to clean and costs me 1% of an actual RDF. my sieve separates the koi poop from the water column then allows my bio (360 pieces of bacteria house knock off + 4 cubic feet of moving bed) to do its job. I also flow water through my pond at a rate off 15-20% a day.
      Those sponges from the pressurized filter, even after you clean by pulling the handle up and down, will still have poop stuck in there. The faster you pump your water through it, the more it'll let the poop percolate through the whole system.

      I had a lot of issues 1st year in the hobby lots of ulcers.... Seachem Safe and Broad Sprectrum Disease Treatment are your friend..

      your filtration will work but I think you might need to clean your sponge filter a lot more and increase your water change my friend
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yoR...nel=KoiTimeUSA
      Last edited by Nguyen365; 11-23-2020 at 06:22 PM.
      -Tony
      https://youtube.com/c/KoiTimeUSA
      "We're going to Win! We're going to win so much that you'll get bored of winning!" 'I am not a crook"

    3. #3
      Fishmover is offline Supporting Member
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      Not sure what you stocking density is, or your incoming water nitrate level. But seeing that it is only 3 weeks, maybe the filters are still establishing.
      ALso keep in mind that those filters are not the best when it comes to biological filtration. I am not saying go get a top of the line what ever filter, there are some do it your self bio filtration systems that may perform a little better for you.


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

    4. #4
      montwila's Avatar
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      Three things: NitrIte can be notorious as you mention and might just be your pond and water. Considering your filter were exposed to 5*C temps (41*F) I would expect a serious set back in their abilities for a period of time. Just because you added filtration, your original filters might be staggering. Bringing them indoors helps but they are probably having to reestablish themselves. If I feed year round I begin to see NO2 starting at the end of winter. If I give them a "fasting" I can delay this until later into Spring and I do not have to use salt then to "detox" the NO2.

      Second is: in my own outdoor ponds I have to go through a Nitrite spike each Spring after Winter. This requires taking the KH up with baking soda well into the 200's for about a week to 10 days. I normally try to keep my KH lower so my pH stays close to 8.0. However once the water warms up each Spring (15*C) I have to bump the KH way up. My pH goes to 8.3-8.4 (the pH of the baking soda) but instead of 6-8 drops I need to get the KH closer to 12-13 drops. I also check the GH as my source water only has 2.5 drops of both KH and GH. During this time I add extra calcium {ice melt (calcium carbonate) with no rust inhibitors} and magnesium {Epsom salts} to get the GH above 4 drops or more. GH does affect the ability of KH and also to some extent its effect on pH. I am not a chemist but Roddy Conrad is a chemist and my annual "routine" is based off of his posts on this site.

      The third: Your 62 - 69*F water may just be below what is needed in such a short three week time span. My Spring NitrIte spike can last well over a month even with extra carbonates if the water stays in the low 60's (17-18*C).

    5. #5
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      maybe less nitrification and much more de-nitrification using anoxic chambers.

    6. #6
      SimonW is offline Senior Member
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      Thank you all for your thoughts! They are all great and useful for me to consider.

      Tony: Yes, I will invest in a sieve prefilter. Thank you for confirming that it is much cheaper then RDF and still effective. Now I am flushing the pressure filter once a week and the flow-through filter (also based on sponge) already once after 2 weeks.

      Monte: Your thoughts are really informative! Especially on calcium and magnesium.

      MCAsan and Fishmover:
      I am feeding daily about 150 gram of koi food which contains 34% protein. I change about 20% (300 liters) of water every other day, and the nitrate concentration is approx. 80 ppm. My calculation is that 300 gram such food would give about 230 ppm nitrate in 300 liter water. That means that the real nitrate production is less than half of the theoretical. May it have been denitrified?

      MCAsan: I wonder if you know how to build anoxic chambers for koi pond/tank and how to maintain them? I am seriously interested.

      Thank you all again!
      Last edited by SimonW; 11-27-2020 at 06:05 AM.

    7. #7
      MCAsan's Avatar
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      You can find all kinds of videos on YouTube about building anoxic chambers. I the States most folks build the anoxic baskets using cheap cat litter with Ironite (iron supplement for gardens) in the center. You put a number of such baskets into the chamber so that most water has to hit one of two baskets before it returns to the pond system. This flow rate does not have to be as fast as the nitrification path.

    8. #8
      montwila's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by MCAsan View Post
      You can find all kinds of videos on YouTube about building anoxic chambers. I the States most folks build the anoxic baskets using cheap cat litter with Ironite (iron supplement for gardens) in the center. You put a number of such baskets into the chamber so that most water has to hit one of two baskets before it returns to the pond system. This flow rate does not have to be as fast as the nitrification path.
      Syd Mitchell is a chemist in England. If you go to his site mankysanke.co.uk there is a good article on anoxic baskets.

    9. #9
      SimonW is offline Senior Member
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      MCASan and Monte:

      Thank you again for your reference!

      Now I have read about the anoxic filter and watched several YouTube films on this. The difficulty, for my part, is to decide the flow rate. If the flow is too slow I guess ammonia and/or nitrite will probably accumulate in the tank, and if the flow rate is too high it will not be anoxic condition.

      So I wonder if you could suggest a possible flow rate? I have several pumps: 12 m3/hr, 6.5 m3/hr, 2 m3/hr, and 1 m3/hr. Right now I am using the 12 m3/hr pump for this 1-1.5 m3 tank and I assume that I must reduce the flow.

      Since I have a huge air-pump the water can be regarded as being saturated with O2.
      Last edited by SimonW; 11-28-2020 at 05:32 PM.

    10. #10
      SimonW is offline Senior Member
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      Hello again:

      I realize that I can make a tall basket in the middle of the tank as anoxic chamber, meanwhile reducing the water movement.

      On second thought: Maybe I can simply stack several Ikea pillows (containing sponge) together and have them as anoxic chamber instead of the tall basket? Even more simple. I cannot see why it would not work, as the key goal is to create an environment with less O2. Or ...?

      Love simplicity!
      Last edited by SimonW; 11-29-2020 at 05:00 PM.

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