Alas running costs were not only the problems with our blue monsters, we soon discovered the only way they managed to produce crystal-clear water conditions in huge swimming pools was they needed high levels of chlorine (bleach) in the water to both trap the debris AND get it to waste by placing the multi-port valve into the backwash position first and then to waste.

Ah – so that was the reason our once 75 kilos of ‘fine’ granite sand had taken on the texture of concrete?

After discovering all this and more I put my 30” state-of-the-art Giant together with wonderful pump up for sale and persevered with the under gravel alone.

A reminder, I started keeping Koi in 1972 and I sold my sand filter in 1976, so all we crazy Koi enthusiasts could do was make our own filter systems because there were no ready-made units on sale anywhere.

In ’77, on my first visit to Japan I made myself a vow to take in all details of the filter systems used by the Japanese enthusiasts. Sadly all I saw were concrete chambers not stuffed with gravel but instead stuffed with large rocks. Furthermore, the owners of these filters hadn’t a clue as to how they operated because their landscape gardeners had built them and maintained them. I returned to England just as confused as ever.

Another thing to bear in mind was that membership of the BKKS came from both individuals who had previous backgrounds in keeping pet fish by way of aquarium experiences; whilst other individuals (like myself) had no interest in this and originally came into the hobby simply in order to make their gardens look much more interesting.

I think it must have been on my lone return trip from Japan in 1979 (discussed later) I first heard the terms pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate being bandied around in Koi circles by the former aquarium keepers.

Now, I must confess here, I had no idea what these scientific terms meant in relation to the Koi keeping hobby, and I even believed that the terms nitrite and nitrate were different spellings of the very same word.

Then I asked myself, if these terms were absolutely vital for us all to understand and apply; why then were these not mentioned by the water garden experts and outlets of the day, more than that – why was the subject of pond filters never even mentioned by these same experts?

After many hours of bending the ears of the owner of my local aquarium shop, I did finally get a feeble grasp of his lengthy explanations (from an Aquarist’s viewpoint) and duly bought all the necessary test kits from him.

By the way, I didn’t just buy them and bring them home, I insisted on a visit from him beforehand so I could watch him test my water.

Pretty soon I found myself flippantly telling other members that personally I could never have arrived at the stage I was, without relying on my test kits right from day one!

Well it seemed to impress some of them who later viewed me as an expert water chemist.

I really don’t know who was the first person in the UK to come up with ready-made pond filter systems but I do know it was a very close horse race between Malcolm Goodson and myself.

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