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    Thread: Bottom Gravel Filter

    1. #1
      Mutchinator is offline Junior Member
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      Bottom Gravel Filter

      First post here and I know it’s a highly controversial one.

      I am expanding my 900 koi pond to around 6k. It will have a large waterfall box (possibly Helix Moving Bed), a 30 foot stream and large waterfall into the main 22x12x4-5 pond.

      Receiving quotes from two highly reputable pool builders in Northeast PA/NJ as well as a very prominent builder in CA - they all promote the virtues of bottom gravel filters. I have shared my research and they all claim if done properly they work very well and require little or no maintenance.

      I know folks on the forum generally do not favor BGF - but why are so many well known builders promoting them?

      I would have two pumps - one pulling from bottom filter to pre-filter then microbead then to falls. The other would be submerged in skimmer.

      Am I totally crazy to consider a bottom gravel filter?

      Thanks much - J

    2. #2
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      Quote Originally Posted by Mutchinator View Post
      but why are so many well known builders promoting them?
      Money.

      Believe it or not these guys are in it for the money and need to maximize profits. Bog filters and under gravel filters are super easy and cheap to build for a contractor. No complex plumbing, no complicated equipment and gravity fed nonsense, no holes in liner for bottom drains, bulkheads, etc. Just a few sticks of PVC and a bunch of gravel.

      At the end of the day these guys aren't looking out for the best interest of your koi. They're looking out for THEIR best interest.



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    3. #3
      Mutchinator is offline Junior Member
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      Appreciate the feedback. I will say that one of them is acting in a consultation manner - but I would DIY and purchase equipment from them. They also suggested the same filtration.

      Lastly “The Pond Digger” - whom I feel is a great reference; also appears to support it.

      I’m not discounting any feedback - but it’s such a polarizing topic and I surely don’t want to mess up a large remodel.

      Again - much appreciate the guidance.

    4. #4
      Mutchinator is offline Junior Member
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      To note I will also have skimmer with mechanical filtration and possibly microbead as well. The primary waterfall box would provide the biological filtration and I am debating on a “plants only” shallow pond which would be between the stream and the second fall into the main pond.


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    5. #5
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    6. #6
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      I think you might be the guy on Facebook that I recommend to come here.

      Welcome to koiphen. You've come to right place if you are serious about koi and pond design. Start poking around the forum, begin with this post on filter design:
      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showt...tration-Basics

      Lots to learn!
      ____________
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      Allentown, PA USA

    7. #7
      Mutchinator is offline Junior Member
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      I posted a reply last night but for some reason it didn't show up.

      Thanks again for the feedback. I have been reading through the posts quite a bit - and this topic is definitely driving me nuts lol

      While two of the contractors suggested using the gravel filter (they said proper design is important, covering entire pond floor, etc).

      Bottom Gravel Filter was also recommended by "The Pond Digger" as I was speaking with them about this new design. They have "no dog in the fight" as they would just be selling me the equipment (moving bed waterfall, skimmer, pump, etc). That is sort of what has me confused - they actually are selling less equipment, are highly reputable and are suggesting gravel filter as well. They were clear that design is critical as well.

      In one case - the contractor in Northern NJ has suggested the following:
      Bottom Gravel Filter
      Wall Jet
      Skimmer (with submersible pump)
      Microbead Filter w/UV and Copper Ion (with external pump)
      These would be feeding two different waterfalls

      The Pond Digger I am still discussing as a DIY build (I have excavator friends, access to additional boulders, etc) - but they are recommending Bottom Gravel, NO External Filter, Skimmer, UV, and Moving Bed Biofalls.

      I am also debating on a "plant only" bog - probably not using stones so its more or less becomes a sediment catcher which I can drain and clean out easily.

      Finishing up some touches on design - but will post once I am ready for some feedback.

      Thanks again to all - really appreciate the feedback.

      Jason

    8. #8
      Mutchinator is offline Junior Member
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      And yes - I went back and checked; thanks for the advice to come here

      And sorry to all that my two posts from last night just showed up - after I reposted something similar a bit ago.
      Last edited by Mutchinator; 3 Weeks Ago at 08:23 AM.

    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by Mutchinator View Post
      And yes - I went back and checked; thanks for the advice to come here

      And sorry to all that my two posts from last night just showed up - after I reposted something similar a bit ago.


      ...there are two pond diggers. I like this one:
      https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL...8Sk-_TRYDospCD

      Last edited by steve258; 3 Weeks Ago at 08:38 AM.
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    10. #10
      Mutchinator is offline Junior Member
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      Yes - that is "The Pond Digger" to whom I am referring...working with his wife actually and she advocated for bottom gravel. And they would actually be "losing" money since the equipment setup only included the skimmer, falls, pumps and I think a pre-filter.

      Here is a video from "The Pond Digger" Youtube channel:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2aXh4e2BEE

      Highly advocates for bottom gravel filter -
      Last edited by Mutchinator; 3 Weeks Ago at 08:40 AM.

    11. #11
      icu2's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Mutchinator View Post
      And yes - I went back and checked; thanks for the advice to come here

      And sorry to all that my two posts from last night just showed up - after I reposted something similar a bit ago.
      Sorry Jason,
      All new members are automatically moderated so it takes a bit for someone to see and okay your post when
      new. You should be clear now.

      Like steve258 posted, there's more than one Pond Digger.
      Here's another thread showing more ponds with gravel bottoms. The thread was damaged during a server
      crash so many of the pictures were lost... but enough remain to show why it might not be the best route.

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showt...Rocks-In-Ponds!
      --Steve

    12. #12
      Mutchinator is offline Junior Member
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      Thanks - that thread looks familiar; the green muck stuck in my head lol

      Maybe I am wrong, but those cases seem to be more AS type designs with traditional skimmer/biofalls filtration. I could not find cases of using an actual PVC filter grid underneath?

      I definitely am not disputing anyone's perspective - healthy debate is good; and I just want a low maintenance pond which provides a healthy environment for my koi in a eco-friendly manner.

    13. #13
      icu2's Avatar
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      No offense taken here... like you said, debate is good! Whatever choice you decide to
      go with I think most here just want it to be an educated one. Some previous threads about
      under gravel filters in ponds to read...
      (Some are in "Aquarium" forums here so note what they're being built for and consider that
      with the comments)

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showt...ne-ever-use-it

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showt...er-on-Facebook

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showt...vel-Filtration

      https://www.koiphen.com/forums/showt...-Gravel-filter
      --Steve

    14. #14
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      Quote Originally Posted by Mutchinator View Post
      Am I totally crazy to consider a bottom gravel filter?
      Probably. But just to be a tad contrarian, I will note I've run undergravel filters in my aquariums for years. There's a 55 gallon next to me right now. It's built so that it's unlikely to clog, and I never vacuum the gravel. I do have lots of plants, and I keep an eye on fish load: I just have a couple dozen community fish. I don't know whether that experience translates to ponds.

      This guy has a minority report on the subject: https://www.pondtrademag.com/so-you-still-want-a-crystal-clear-pond-revisiting-undergravel-filtration/

      Good luck with your research.

      Best,

      Bill

    15. #15
      kimini is online now Senior Member
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      In-pond gravel filters work; I don't think anyone is debating that. The problem is cleaning them.

      Best case is having a grid of drilled pipes and a big air compressor/blower to flood the entire gravel bed with bubbles, hopefully lifting the muck up and out. Assuming that works, what do you end up with? There's now 6,000 of very dirty water that either has to be removed, or at least having to vacuum out the settling muck on the surface of the gravel bed. Meanwhile, the fish have to swim about in it.

      Having only a few fish helps, but doesn't avoid having to still clean it eventually. Usually what happens is that the bubble cleaning method only partially works, and eventually the pond has to be drained and the gravel cleaned by hand. It's enough of a pain that most people just don't bother, making a bad situation worse.

      It's far better to have all filtration components external to the pond, with separate particulate and bio sections. Having one filter do both never seems to succeed long term.
      Last edited by kimini; 3 Weeks Ago at 04:42 PM.

    16. #16
      Mutchinator is offline Junior Member
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      Here is any idea of what I was thinking - subject to change. You can sort of see the existing stream, pond and basin. I am expanding and the here will be a 3-4’ waterfall drop from the stream to the large pond.

      Bog may or may not remain.

      If I were to go with a less risky (low maintenance) solution - would I have:
      * Skimmer with pump
      * biofalls
      * External microbead filter & UV with external pump
      * prefilter box
      * wall return jets
      * bottom drain (likely will need 2+)

      Plumbing
      * BD -> Prefilter -> Microbead -> Pump -> UV ——-> (where does this return?)

      * Skimmer -> (where does this return?)

      Uncharted territory but I do not want a DIY filter system - just don’t have time.


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    17. #17
      msegger is offline Senior Member
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      return by the waterfall and TPRs (wall returns). Where is the pump/filtration house/pit at? What you thinking for bio filters? Also think ahead incase you need to bypass the waterfall return due to freezing temperatures.

    18. #18
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      Quote Originally Posted by Wlantry View Post
      Probably. But just to be a tad contrarian, I will note I've run undergravel filters in my aquariums for years. There's a 55 gallon next to me right now. It's built so that it's unlikely to clog, and I never vacuum the gravel. I do have lots of plants, and I keep an eye on fish load: I just have a couple dozen community fish. I don't know whether that experience translates to ponds.

      This guy has a minority report on the subject: https://www.pondtrademag.com/so-you-still-want-a-crystal-clear-pond-revisiting-undergravel-filtration/

      Good luck with your research.

      Best,

      Bill
      Very little comparison from an aquarium UGF scaled to a koi pond.

      First - Pond Trade Magazine is a commercial venture that emphasizes and promotes ideas and methods of the contractors and manufactures paying them for exposure. It's a interesting online magazine but totally biased. Many of the articles are just hype and someone trying to turn a buck.

      Second - Scaling the size details of the 55 gallon aquarium UGF to a koi pond makes it not practicle to upscale. The open area space under the aquarium UGF open for flow is absolutely huge compared to the undersized pipe system and dead flow areas in the pond UGF.

      Third - The aquarium UGF has been engineered to produce flow under the entire grid and not clog. The pond UGFs pictured will never achieve much flow in the far branches. Water naturally takes the path of least resistance and it's not conceivable the far pipes will get flow.

      Fourth - They work somewhat untill loaded. I've seen cleanout prices ranging from $1,500 to $7,000. Pond contractors love repeating maintenance work.

      Fifth - If the pond needs treated for parasites or disease the pond UGF makes it extremely difficult. Treating a aquarium with UGF is different due to the advantages listed above.
      Last edited by batman; 3 Weeks Ago at 10:08 PM.
      The real Batman wears polyester! Don't be fooled by the plastic imposter.

    19. #19
      kimini is online now Senior Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by batman View Post
      Very little comparison from an aquarium UGF scaled to a koi pond.

      First - Pond Trade Magazine is a commercial venture that emphasizes and promotes ideas and methods of the contractors and manufactures paying them for exposure. It's a interesting online magazine but totally biased...
      Ahahaha, trade magazines. One time such a magazine asked our company (or more likely, we paid them) to supply survey responses for how people liked worked at our company. So our company came up with its own quiz, which asked employees to pick the best answer, such as:

      "Working at XX Corp is:
      a. Terrific
      b. Great
      c. Awesome

      (notice the choices?)

      The "results" were published (without all possible responses shown), and surprise, it was good news all around! Positive publicity for us, and presumably more people reading such "articles." All complete and utter nonsense and BS. Trade journals are simply conveyances for corporate infomercials, where both parties agree that whatever's written, will show that every product/company is always awesome, great, and terrific.
      Last edited by kimini; 3 Weeks Ago at 05:00 PM.

    20. #20
      coolwon is offline Senior Member
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      I have some Koi books from 25 years ago that I can let you have.

      Would a tree leaf sitting on the gravel, have to break down before it can be drawn into the gravel filter.

      Then what?
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