1.- Biological filters use bacteria to break down pond wastes, converting them into less harmful compounds that can be used as aquatic plant fertilizers.
2.- Mechanical filters trap and remove debris and sediment.
3.- Water sterilizers pass water through a tube that houses an ultraviolet bulb, killing living microscopic particles in the water.
A good biological filtration system, teamed with a proper mechanical filter to remove solids before the water enters the biological filtration unit, is the most effective way to filter water. With adequate biological and mechanical filtration, the need for sterilizers is eliminated altogether, thereby ensuring a natural ecosystem pond.
The Job of a Skimmer
There are two main types of skimmers: box skimmers and floating skimmers. Both types filter the water by removing floating debris and waste before it’s had a chance to fall to the bottom of the pond. The box skimmer is the predominant type of skimmer on the market today because it’s easy to maintain.
Box-style skimmers come with either vertical or horizontal filter mats. Horizontal mats prove to be the most effective, while providing the least amount of maintenance. In addition to frequent cleaning, vertical mats need to be constantly monitored to make sure there is enough water in the pump chamber for the pump to operate properly. An advantage of horizontal filter mats is that they lay flat so there is no sagging and they don’t lose their shape. They also never clog to the point of preventing water from passing through, so the pump chamber does not run dry.
As water enters the skimmer, the large debris is removed and the water is then further filtered through the horizontal mat. The pond water then travels through the plumbing buried underground, up to the biological filter where it’s further treated before re-entering the pond.
Biological Filtration Goes to Work
The water then flows from the bottom to the top of the filter, traveling through filter media housed inside the unit. The filter media helps with the removal of fine to medium-sized particles. The larger debris was already removed by the skimmer.
As the biological filter fills, it will overflow and cascade over its waterfall lip, cascading down rocks that have been set to create a beautiful and preferably natural-looking waterfall. The waterfall creates aeration for the pond, assisting in the circulation and health of the water. If a slower, stream effect is preferred, the unit simply needs to be sunk lower into the ground.
The Science Behind The Design
In biological filtration, nitrifying bacteria, known as facultative bacteria, absorb ammonia, and turn nitrites into nitrates, which are less dangerous. These bacteria require oxygen to live, so it’s important for the pond’s pump to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If the pump isn’t running, the waterfalls aren’t flowing, and aeration is eliminated from the necessary equation to maintain an ecosystem pond. Keep in mind that if the pump shuts down, the bacteria will quickly use up all of the oxygen and die. This isn’t a good thing.
The Role of Aquatic Plants
If these excess nutrients are not removed, algae will feed on them, resulting in green water, string algae, or both. Algae control is not the only way plants help create a low-maintenance ecosystem pond. Submerged and marginal plants also provide food, shade, and protection for the fish and other wildlife that live in and around the pond.
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