This is a VITAL part of our hobby, no matter how ‘state-of-the-art’ a system may be, it must be maintained properly because, without this attention, it will perform no better than any typical garden pond.
All waste matter must be removed as often as necessary otherwise it will just continue to collect and build up, this will, most definitely, result in problems of various kinds that will ultimately affect our Koi or give them ‘less-than-perfect’ conditions.
Most Koi enthusiasts have enclosed re-circulating systems as opposed to static ‘hole-in-the-ground’ ponds or more ‘natural’ ponds where there is both a supply of incoming and outgoing water from another source. Our enclosed systems, if designed and constructed correctly, will operate as follows – POND WATER to DRAIN/S to FILTER to PUMP to POND and this usually continues almost endlessly until the pump is stopped for system maintenance.
Even in a modest Koi pond of 3,000 gallons with a flow-rate of 1,200 gallons per hour, the filter box will have to process a truly staggering 10,512,000 gallons of water every year. As covered in other parts of this site, it is always the filter system that produces problems which does not come as a surprise.
For as long as I can recall, it is the filter box manufacturers in their endless search for The Holy Grail, who come up with terms such as – ‘Bare Minimum Maintenance Required’; ‘No Cleaning Necessary’; ‘Take it home, Switch it on & Go’ etc. etc. because they realise the buyer will love to read and hear this when making a purchase of their boxes. They also realise that the smallest of dimensions is required in their endless search, as the potential buyer does not wish to see associated items for his pond that may overshadow the pond itself. As a result we find items such as these that are openly advertised and promoted as solutions to all our pond requirements.
There are countless more of these boxes on offer all around the world today but, whilst a few may ‘work’ to some degree or other, none are really up to the task in hand unless these boxes are stopped, stripped out and cleaned thoroughly on a very regular basis. Those who purchase these boxes will come to realise this very quickly and most are then left unattended as a result because the time involved in messy cleaning becomes far too much of a chore. After this, the pond deteriorates – rapidly.
Once again, it is the ‘claims’ and ‘size’ aspects that produces initial sales of these items but the vast majority of these boxes will be discarded after only a few, short months and the buyer’s remorse will be all written off to ‘experience’ and forgotten.
I do not recall exactly when and who made statements as to ‘when’ and ‘how often’ our filter stages require attention but someone did at some time or another and this has been taken as read by many Koi enthusiasts. Alas these statements are pure nonsense if considered honestly.
(It was most probably the same person who advised us as to when ‘water changes’ should be made and also how often they should be made.)
As far as I see things and from past experiences in these matters, the answer to the question as to when and how often our filters should be attended to is painfully obvious – They should be attended to as often as is necessary’ – because, if this very important task is not kept up, then the water make-up of the system will deteriorate rapidly and manner of ‘problems’ will probably manifest themselves.
In a truly perfect world we need a ‘filter’ that automatically removes every single speck of unwanted matter directly to waste as it passes through the box without also removing any water at all.
If this cannot be achieved, the very ‘next-best’ alternative would be to remove the exact same amount of ‘specks’ together with the very minimum amount of water. If this could be achieved then the vast majority of water would be allowed to pass into our biological stages as desired. The minute amount of water discharged should then also be ‘automatically replaced’ with new water immediately and thus ‘perfection’ will continue forever.
Alas, even in 2009 we are not yet able to produce the technology that is needed for our filtration dreams nor are we anywhere near achieving it. However, if we are made aware of the ‘true perfection’ described above, we should be able to come to some acceptance of the real shortcomings of our boxes/lavatories.
If we further consider this, it should be painfully obvious that our boxes really need to be brought back to being BRAND NEW at least every single day (24 hours) when really it should carried out EVERY SINGLE SECOND if true perfection is to be realised!
So compromises need to be made in this VERY important area of ‘Koi Keeping’.
Then comes the realisation that the vast majority of existing filter systems cannot possibly be THOROUGHLY cleaned out and discharged to waste every day because there are not enough hours in the day and the ensuing wait for ‘top-up water’ in order to re-start the system will also require significant waiting time. Whilst accepting that this is an impossibility we should also accept that the majority of our ponds are operating on severe compromises and the longer they are left unattended, the larger the problem escalates. Many console themselves that a daily turn of a few valves will resolve the problem but, in truth, this can only be likened to attempting to unblock a well-blocked drain with a safety-pin!
As far as I am aware – and I could be wrong, there is only one option available to us at the present time to allow us to do all of this in only a few seconds together with the minimum wastage of good water.
Please do give some careful thought to ERIC described in detail elsewhere on this site.