Aquaponics, Pond Filter Media & Pond Clean Out – Ask T.P.D. Show 28

Today we’re gonna talk
about pond clean outs, filter media, and aquaponics. [MUSIC] The first question is from a Dennis,
I think it’s a J, Dennis J III, maybe? YouTube. Thanks for the question. His question is related to a pond
that he’s had for 13 years, it’s never been cleaned. He has some crud that’s building
on the bottom of it and he had a professional pond company come out
and say, hey, we can spruce this up. We wanna drain it and get it clean. And quite frankly,
Dennis is a little scared. It’s good to be scared right now,
at this point, it really is. A 13 year old pond that seems to be
running good with some little bit of crud on the bottom. I’m always nervous about cleaning
out a pond like this because let’s hope, you have some 13 or
15 year old Koi in there. Maybe, you bought some fish at
some point, threw them in there, they were already a couple
of years old, and you have some older fish
in there at this point. So I would be nervous about it if
they’ve never gone through that experience, and you say you have
a level of crud on the bottom. I don’t know what we’re talking,
is it an inch, is it four inches, six inches? A level of crud would
make me nervous and I’m glad that it made you nervous. Cuz this is something I want you to
address at the right of the season too, you’re not gonna want to do
this in the middle of the summer. You’re not gonna want to
do this going into Winter. In Georgia, you’re gonna want to
do it in the Springtime if ever. And Spring’s also a dangerous
time of the year where a lot of parasites
could be coming up, and if you get mixing up in all that
crud, it could backfire on you. I would be really cautious if you’ve
never done any big water changes on this pond, to check on the pH and
see what level of pH it is. Because if the pH has dropped quite
a bit, but the fish have stabilized in there, just like people in LA are
living in the smog perfectly well. But if you came to the LA smog you
would probably feel it a little bit. So the fish are probably
in that position right now. You see what I’m saying? So, the way I would go about
this pond that’s 13 years old, that’s never been drained,
and might I add, you for the viewers that are watching,
the pond is only 2,000 gallons. So it’s not a really big pond. I would suggest that you do some
large bacteria doses to the pond, beneficial bacteria does to try and
eat on that crud. I would invest in
a decent pond vacuum and I would try and vacuum out some
of that crud a little bit. And make sure you have a good
plant load in the pond. That’s one thing that I
want to throw in there, because if you have a really
heavy plant load in there, that’s helping keep
everything balanced. A lot of times, I’ve seen professionals go into a
pond like this that’s 13 years old, really well-established,
everything seems okay, but, they want to spruce it up. If they thin back the plants too
hard, that’s a big part of that ecosystem, and if you thin
out those plants too hard, it could backfire on you as well. So my recommendation,
let me just get to that is, do some water changes, vacuum out
some of the crud on the bottom, do some heavy doses of beneficial
bacteria, test the pH, test the ammonia,
do some testing on it. It’s hard to fix 13 years
of neglect in 1 clean out. It could be worse, right? So why don’t you just start doing
some good maintenance on there, and then let’s work up to doing a
spring cleaning possibly next year. If you work on the pond
really well this season, you’ll probably be in a position
where you can do that water change without having very much risk. Great question. All right, I’m going to move on
to EvaJean28 off of YouTube. And she has a question
about filtration media and this question is coming off
of our patio pond series. It’s a really really great series
for us, and we get a lot of great feedback and questions on the patio
pond, where we did a dual level above ground pond, where we pump the
water into the top, into the bottom. We had this bog filter
filled with gravel, and she wants to know if she
can put some bio balls or some sponge material inside
the gravel and maybe make it better. And I’m going to tell you no, I would just stick with the gravel
in there, the gravel is designed at that level and that depth and that’s
probably the best you can get. A piece of gravel,
well managed and maintained, smooth cobble, is going to
be better then a bio ball. I’m really not a big fan of bio
balls in any of my systems. The simple answer is no, just use
that gravel in the bog filter, it’s really designed that way, been
using it that way for decades and decades, before I was even doing it,
they were doing it. So that’s a really great way to go. I’m gonna get onto the last
question of the day from a DS Coy, he wants to know about
aquaponics in a pond system. I think this is a great question
because, aquaponics is becoming very popular, about sustainability,
with the drought in California and so on, aquaponics is becoming
more and more looked at. If you’re gonna do aquaponics
in your Koi pond, it’s tricky. Let me get something clear, you
have aquaponics, aquaculture, and hydroponics. Three different specific things. Hydroponics is running
water through roots and putting nutrients in the water,
and that’s all you’re doing. You have aquaculture, where
you’re just doing fish for food, growing up, say, tilapia. And then you have aquaponics,
which is a combination of the two, and that’s when you’re
raising fish and you’re raising vegetables
in one system. And so that’s what we’re
talking about with aquaponics. In a Koi pond, if you’re doing
aquaponics, here’s the drawback. You have Winter, so
when you’re going into Winter, the fish are slowing down,
you’re not feeding them as much, and the fish are providing the nutrients
for the vegetables to grow. So, depending on where you’re at,
where you’re located, in California, there’s a lot of vegetables we
can grow most of the season. Lot of herbs that we
can grow year round and if you’re not feeding the fish
during those times of year, the herbs and those vegetables are
gonna slow down in the Winter time. So as long as you’re prepared for that in the summer time
you could probably grow a lot of different lettuce, you can
grow tomatoes in your biofilters and all kinds of stuff like that,
so it’s a good little mix. If you’re doing an outdoor pond, you
just have to kind of really watch the weather and
watch the seasons and grow the specific plants at
the certain time of the year. So my question of the day I’m
gonna end it with today is I want to know are you into aquaponics? What kind of vegetables have
you grown in your pond? Give me some weird examples of
some vegetables and herbs that you may have grown in your stream or
maybe in a floating basket. Maybe, some kind of
contraption that you made. Why don’t you share it with us? We’re gonna get a kick out of that
because aquaponics is getting ready to take off on a flight, an S-curve, everyone’s gonna
be getting into it real soon. So, tell me what you’re doing and if
you want me to answer your questions on Ask the Pond Digger,
you know how to do it. #asktheponddigger, put it on
the social media platforms, I’ll do my best to answer
right here on the show. Thanks for watching. [MUSIC]

Comments 27

  • to you have any tips on pondles waterfalls?

  • Hi Eric, I have a 3000 gallon koi pond. It has a multi chamber filter (and an UV-unit), doing a great job. But because it's an aerobically environment, nitrate keeps pilling up. Doing some water changes for that. But I'd like to get rid of it in a more natural way, putting nitrate to nitrogen gas. Do you recommend that? Whats my best option in that? A plant filter with lavarock or substrate? A beadfilter?

    Looking forward to your answer.

  • What about snails and tadpoles in the bottom of your pond .Spring is the time they are active and to vac.them out would harm them .I grow lemon grass in my pond .Smells great and cleans even better .I also grow lemon verbena near my pond .More people should try both these plants  .The smell when you brush against them is the best and for mosquito control they are great

  • Eric, 
    If you wanted to build a koi pond in stages, how would you go about doing it? What would you start with? Skimmer filter, settlement filter with bottom drain, etc? Thanks.

  • Here is a link of my Thank You to The Pond Digger series on providing me the DIY know how to get my pond done (still working on it).

  • I use aquaponics as my main filter on my 3000L Koi Pond. I have trouble with fruiting plants like tomato and capsicum (bell peppers). But that may be due to the water turn over rate through the grow bed. Green leafy plants seem to do the best. Celery, Spring Onions, Lettuce, Rocket, Parsley, Spinach, Silverbeet. The lettuce and celery haven't got the right taste about them, but I'm still experimenting with that.

  • Man, I am ADDICTED to your videos. Finally got all caught up! I have a ~3000 gal main pond, but I just started a separate aquaponic system to raise Tosai in, so your video was very timely. It's in a heated green house. Currently growing strawberries, peppers and tomatoes. Still pretty new to aquaponics, but I've been a koi keeper for many years and into horticulture for longer! Love the channel, keep up the good work Eric!

  • I am just starting to do aquaponics and i hope to build a new filter for my pond soon

  • I discovered aquaponics last summer when I had problems keeping up watering of plants in pots, as we have no outside tap. The pond was already here when we moved in and its only small but it does the job. I've recently planted various seeds: lettuce, cucumber, flowers, tomatoes etc so waiting on those. I've also got an indoor set up for my fancy goldfish and I've tried herbs, salads etc that didn't work over the winter, but I've now got tomato's doing well, a chilli plant and some houseplant cuttings I took, I've even got a mango stone I got from a fresh mango and its doing well.

  • Eric I am experimenting with aeroponics and will be integrating this into my pond system. Currently growing several herbs, jalapeños and tomatoes.

  • What do you think of this Aquaponic tank, how many fish do you think it could hold? thanks

  • Please help! Whats the best beneficial bacteria brand that you would recommend??

  • @ThePondDigger, thanks for giving your take on my aquaponic and koi ponds question.   Last year I threw some butter lettuce starts into my system just to see if I could grow it.  I have always had water lettuce and such in my lower pond, so I thought I would give a butter lettuce a try.  I used a pond plant plastic basket filled with some pee gravel (nothing fancy).  Submerged the basket in the pond to a similar level as your bog filter example.  As a competition, my mother-in-law, grew butter lettuce, at the same time, in her raised bed garden.  All season long, she was out in her garden watering and tending her lettuce.  I would just feed the farmers (my koi) each day.  At the end of the season, we harvested and had a blind taste test.   My butter lettuce won hands down!    Larger plants, a much sweeter taste.  

    I am expanding my pond this season to include a bog filter.  Trying to decide if I will branch off a fill and drain aquaponic bio bed. 

    When I go BIG in my phase three expansion, I will definitely be adding some fill and drain bio beds into the system.

    Thanks for your thoughts and videos!   I am learning a lot!

  • Hi Eric, I was actually thinking about putting some aquatic plants into my pond, but so far I always read that the Koi would eat it up in no time … Many people wrote on forums that – at least to them – it was a waste of time and money. I don't necessarily  want to put some vegetables in my pond, just some nice green color. My pond is a concrete pond and was planned as a dedicated Koi pond. There isn't any shelving or shallow area, just straight 120 cm walls. Can you suggest some aquatic plants which Koi will not consume immediately and which are easy to take care off? If such aquatic plants don't exist, can you suggest a method how to protect the plants from the Koi eating them? I have many green around the pond, but also would like to put some on the bottom and maybe some floating on top of the water. I have added some mosquito fish and sucker fish and I believe to them some aquatic plants at the bottom of the pond would be nice to hide. BTW, I have recently planted some rock moss on my waterfall, which looks great and maybe will benefit the filtration – not sure about the filtration though. It already looks great, but I can't wait to see it growing all over the rocks … It makes the waterfall looking even more natural – even though my pond and waterfall are rather small and look like some spring in the mountains and not like a real waterfall. Oh, one more question: What's your opinion about the Japanese Trapdoor Pond Snail? Will it do any good to the pond (filtration and cleaning at the bottom)? Will it put my Koi at risk (e.g parasites)? I was thinking to maybe add some of those to my pond in case the aquatic plants don't work. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give to me. Regards, Sebastian

  • #asktheponddigger I was thinking for benificial bacteria to thrive you need disolved oxygen. Would adding a venturi system before a bog help keep the bacteria from becoming anerobic or would it cause more issues?

  • Yes, I have done an aquaponic set up before with my goldfish pond and a 55 gallon tank.  The pond is around 450 gallons.  I grew a few things in long planters.  I actually grew tomatoes outside in my aquaponic system.  The substrate was pea gravel no dirt.  The coolest thing is I did an aquaponic system inside over the winter that produced Basil, Cilantro, Chives, and Cherry Tomatoes.  This was set on a 55 gallon goldfish tank.  Worked very well.  I will be setting up my outside one very soon.  Thanks Pond Digger!

  • Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! For answering my question. Your advice has helped tremendously. Our pond looks great so I'm glad we haven't done the complete drain and clean. We will be doing all your recommendations. Thanks again!

  • Great answer about the pond cleanout!!
    He might also try adding an oxygenating bubbler ring or hose (I don't like stones, they don't put out enough air) along with the bacteria. And if he follows your advice, he probably won't need a cleanout next spring!!!

  • So In my mind, aquaponics is basicly a bog filter with a few modifications, like the ebb and flow stuff (bell siphon) and growing edible plants instead of ornamentals. Am I wrong?

  • Have you ever tried the OFFERANDO AQUAPONICS X10

  • Hey, good vídeo. I have grown tomatos, herbs, lettuce, spinich, celery, strawberries and some others things in a small koi/goldfish pond, with varied but impressive success. This system is a learning system for a larger outdoor pond AP system. Most likely with a seasonal crop rotation.for example, lettuce nft then cane or cannas in media beds when seasonal climate is not so great. For family scale it seems like a great way. CheersJesse

  • I have a couple of questions. This is going to be my first pond. It's going to be 150 gallons, and going to hold one reason turtle. How often show I clean the pond, what pump and filter would u recommend, and I'm leaving in Nevada with the heat is there anything that I should be worrying about, or that I am forgetting.

  • Stupid autocorrect it's going to hold one red ear slider turtle

  • What is the best fish and maintenance free edible plants that can be grown around the pond for cold weather? Can duck weed be used in a fresh water pond to feed the fish and people or will it take over the pond and eventually kill the fish via overgrowth of the duck weed? Can shrimp and crawfish help to maintain the health of a natural pond or are they not needed?

  • Thanks for always finding the best topic +ThePondDigger

    I do intend to start to do aquaponic in my small pond with the bog filter,which I still have and have not switch to a bigger one yet. But I need to redo the bog filter as it has been damage by the roots.

    I have a question through, when we say aquaponic, we mean to have plant to take in the waste product in running water from a fish living in pond but does that mean that the water is being recycle by itself and we need to do little water change for the fish, is that right?

  • So do you need any additional mechanical filtration for a bog filter or a skimmer is sufficient? Thanks

  • Most unusual aquaponics plant species would be 4ft tobacco plant in a raft bed of 2 inch net pots and lychee trees in my growbeds

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