What to expect when starting up your Eric filter for the first time

Blog – 07/06/12.

For starters, it’s very unlikely you’ll ever experience the situation that’s described by others as NPS or ‘new pond syndrome’, which with many other filtration systems can take weeks, and in some cases, even months before ammonia and nitrite readings are said to be ‘stable’.

During that time period, this produces many periodic toxic water readings that the Koi cannot possibly tolerate safely for any real length of time unless all feeding ceases immediately and constant heavy water changes are carried out – or instead bear the consequences.

There’s a perfectly logical reason this takes place in ALL upward-flow boxes whether they be single chamber, multi-chamber and fed by gravity or pump – OR pump-fed pressurised units such as bead and sand filters.

In all these units, incoming pond water ‘tracks’ from immediate entry directly to exit – see ‘Flow Pattern’ pages on this website for much more details.

This direct ‘tracking’ means that very few of the media surfaces in these units actually come into contact with the line of water passing through and thus the vast majority of the media surfaces cannot become nearly biologically active enough to play any part in removing the ammonia and converting it to nitrite.

In the case of upward-flow units using static media such as filter mat cartridges or various stones, at least a part of the surfaces will get a constant supply of ammonia in litres per minute and this will eventually allow bacteria to form.

However the tiny surface areas involved are not large enough by any means to remove the majority of the ammonia, the majority of which passes through the box, returns to the pond and continues to increase the total ammonia readouts of the system.

In the case of upward-flow units using moving media, this is much less efficient as the majority of moving media rarely comes into contact with the line of water tracking through and the ones that do pass through briefly may take many hours before briefly passing through once again – by then any bacterial activity has been lost on the first pass.

This is why static media upward-flow units stabilise far more quickly than in moving media units.

However, it’s worth noting that whether the units use static or moving media there’s very little of the media surfaces being used and what little is, is operating on a knife-edge whereby something as simple as adding more food to the pond can actually destroy the fine, delicate balance and thus the ammonia readings return to the pond water.

This is the prime reason why many manufacturers of these units stipulate maximum feeding rates and clearly point out the dangers of exceeding them.

The ‘new pond syndrome’ experienced with these units is simply a series of high ammonia readings followed by high nitrite readings, which is then followed by more high ammonia readings and more high nitrite readings – sorry to labour the point but as mentioned earlier this can take many weeks of water changes before readings become ‘reasonably’ stable.

With Eric units, correctly installed, this cannot possibly take place because as soon as the box is filled for the first time all media surfaces are in contact with the incoming water just like any other type of filter unit.

But there ends ALL similarities.

Eric units work on the principle of horizontal-flow water, a whole world apart from upward-flow water!

Once the water pump and air bars are switched on, the entire water volume in the box begins to move forward slowly as an endless ‘block’ and this ensures ALL media surfaces are being supplied with equal amounts of ammonia-laden water at a constant rate.

In short the water cannot possibly ‘track’ in Eric filters as is shown here –

Of course there WILL be ammonia readings because there MUST be ammonia readings, but only a few Eric owners ever detect them simply because it is a very rapid process to get bacteria forming on all these surfaces.

The ammonia spike hits only once and can be reduced to undetectable levels within only a few hours, hardly enough time for the Koi to notice it has actually taken place and also hardly enough time for the owner to witness.

What happens next is that the nitrite readings begin to show and please be warned, they will build to levels that many consider to be positively LETHAL!

Generally, in Eric units the nitrite readings will peak around 3.0 but the highest reported readings to date have been just under 5.0!

When you consider that many profess that nitrite readings of 1.0 are said to be potentially lethal, why is it that in all these situations when using Eric units, the Koi simply continue to feed ravenously and behave perfectly normally?

It’s simply because the ammonia has come and then gone – forever!

There are no ammonia – nitrite – ammonia – nitrite – ammonia – nitrite readings in Eric units.

Instead there’s ONE ammonia reading only and that’s gone completely before the nitrite reading takes over.

However, the nitrite reading can remain for some weeks before slowly reducing to zero and by this time every media surface in the filter is already alive with a healthy bio film.

And yet throughout the entire exercise, the Koi in the pond just keep calmly swimming around and looking for more food to eat?

So please do not be concerned with so-called ‘high nitrite readings’ with Eric units, just bear in mind that not one single Koi has been damaged or lost through these so-called dangers to date.

Oh, and also bear in mind I place no minimum feeding restrictions on the biological or mechanical stages of my filters.

Feed whatever you wish to feed, please be assured my filters are bombproof!

There are also other things to expect when using Eric units.

One is this stuff –

Sand substance from ERIC Koi Pond Filters

This is a yellow-ish gritty sand material that is actually ‘manufactured’ only in the bio sections of Eric units once the filter is mature. With the latest models it will be difficult to see unless you are looking for it specifically as the discharge removes it all to waste with the flush.

However, if you do wish to check if it’s there, it’s quite simple to do. If you stop the water pump and air pump for a couple of minutes and gently lift out two of the cartridge blocks it will be easily seen on the base of the box.

As to the actual amount produced, this varies from pond to pond where some produce huge amounts on a daily basis and others produce much smaller amounts.

The good news is, it’s totally inert but does need removing together with any other waste matter.

I’ve had the ‘sand’ analysed professionally and the majority of the material content is made up of calcium carbonate.

As to WHY it is being manufactured in Eric bio stages still remains a mystery, although I do have a few personal thoughts regarding this.

However, I will only publish them when there’s hard, scientific evidence that can either prove or disprove my thoughts.

Finally, I’m also expecting you WON’T see this next problem when using Eric units and when maintaining them as advised –

combined shot of both hikui and shimi

This is a combined shot of both hikui (a skin cancer that attacks only the red pigmentation of a Koi) and shimi (black spots or ‘freckles’) that also form only on the red pigmentation.

Both of these problems can reduce the appearance and value of a Koi from being a thing of great beauty and value into being an almost worthless ‘pond filler’ overnight.

Since 2009, Eric filters have replaced other filters where some Koi in these ponds were plagued with both of these very serious and very costly problems.

On the Koi that were affected before the filters were changed, traces can still be seen, but since Eric units alone have been used to provide the entire filtration, not ONE single NEW occurrence of either of these two problems has been reported!

This all revolves around the quality of water produced by the filter and if this is good enough for special Koi, it’s also good enough for ALL Koi.


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