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PostPosted: Apr 3rd, '16, 16:11 
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Koi enthusiasts have know for years, about BioCenosis, for controlling toxic nitrogen levels in their ponds..

For over six months, I have had a (near) plant-less RAS, working with minimal nitrogen levels and maximum fish numbers.. 50 plate sized Silvers, plus 50 medium silvers, plus some Koi

The heart of the Nitrogen Removal system, is a modification of the Koi-Pond bog-filter or BioCenosis bag..

Given the stability of MY system over the summer of 2015/16, I feel confident to suggest that others might like to first , forget what you have been told and read , and accept that this does work..

First we were told that Zeolite, would initially absorb nitrates and would then saturate and stop working..
Then, we were told that if you added salt to the system, ALL of the nitrates in the Zeolite would be released, causing total calamity.. :dontknow:

Most of the false claims have simply been the repeating of old-wives tales that have taken on FACT status, when practice said the opposite..


Well, the reality is that whilst a mass of zeolite WILL absorb a large amount of Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate, then, given the right circumstance, bacteria will happily work with that high concentration, and more quickly reduce levels to zero..
The higher the nitrogen compounds levels, the greater the concentrations of bacteria.., the greater the rate of removal.. :headbang:

Attachment:
~A-ZeoliteBags.jpg
~A-ZeoliteBags.jpg [ 30.97 KiB | Viewed 6288 times ]


The heart of the BioCenosis system that I devised, is a porous bag, containing a large mass of Zeolite.
Each bag is a 30L Root-Pouch (30x30cm. see RobBob..), with a bit over 200mm of zeolite being about 20kg..
( I used 8 x 15kg sacks of pool zeolite = 120kG of Zeolite..)
The porous Root-Pouch tends to filter any solids from the water entering the bag..

Clearly, six of these bags works for me..
At this time, I have no way of knowing if 4 would work, or if 8 would make it work even better..

I DON'T have the space to repeat the system with Less/More, but I DO plan to add a third fish tank and push the fish numbers even higher..

Most importantly, these six bags are placed within an IBC section and the rest of the space filled with Expanded-Clay balls.
The whole setup is fed with a constant water flow, and drained by AUTO-SIPHON.. that fills to just below the clay surface..

I believe that what is happening is this..
first, the bed floods to almost the top of the clay and the Zeolite (completely wet)
Contaminated water saturates the bags of Zeolite, to their cores.
Then the bed drains, but only the outer-layers of the zeolite drains of their waters.
all the zeolite starts to absorb the contaminants..
Next water fill, more nitrogen products enters the bag, whilst the core remains largely the same.
Because the core is largely water-logged anaerobic bacteria multiply and commence releasing nitrogen from the nitrogen compounds.
because the core is now low in nitrogen compounds, there is a concentration gradient to the outside of the bag, and so, general ionic transfer, moves more compounds to the core where they are converted to nitrogen gas..

the bottom line is that I have a non plant system, that has stable nitrogen levels and healthy fish..

I have this bed ( and all system components) wrapped in Foil-Insulation and it is also covered by the same, preventing the wet clay from going green under the sun. and absorbing surface heat..
It also strongly reduces summer temperature rises, because there are NO plants requiring Insolation..
I suspect that I could easily keep trout over summer, with the maximum temperature being 26C..

What I would like to see , is for others to give BioCenosis a go, and have the confidence to know that it has worked for me, when all said it could never work..

I mentioned how it was declared that adding salt would create mayhem, releasing the stored nitrates etc..
Well I proved that wrong, by salting to just under 3 parts, with absolutely NO CHANGE to nitrogen levels..

as reported in http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=25863
my RAS/AC system consists of:
Two 1000L round fish tanks with about 900L of water
Swirl Filter made from an old washing machine, outer tub.
A generous sump tank with pump inside..
The pump output splits between the bioCenosis bed and the fish tank.
This line to the Fish Tanks, first flows thru an old pool-cartridge-filter stuffed with bird netting (as a solids filter) and then a 1.5M long 150mm tube capped and filled with BioBalls..

Solids from the swirl filter, are mineralised and fed to our two HydroPonics systems..

Anyway.. IF you want to try and split your Aqua and your Ponics, I submit that BioCenosis WILL provide the means.. :cheers:
..
.

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PostPosted: Apr 4th, '16, 00:01 
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Interesting setup BuiDoi. Pretty neat use of a concentration gradient to pull in the ammonia and good to know it works for that many fish. The nitrogen generated by breaking down the ammonia will either go into the biomass or be released to the atmosphere. How deep is the bed you're using (is it just grow bed depth)?

---------------

This is just some speculation on potential issues with this method and I could be wrong.

To anyone thinking of doing this - I'm not sure if hydrogen sulfide and methane are produced in this process but expect that it might happen. I think they will be released to the atmosphere so you wouldn't want to put a system like this anywhere that the gasses could be trapped (like under an eve where the gas could potentially get into the attic and build up). It might not amount to enough that there is any concern but just to be on the safe side :dontknow: .

I don't think I'd put this into a system that also has grow beds with plants since zeolites will remove some of the nutrients.
Edit: Looks like some of the Koi people have plants in their filter so this is apparently OK with some types of plants and might be worth a try.


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PostPosted: Apr 4th, '16, 06:28 
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MY bed is 200mm deep as per the description.. I would have liked having 300mm and will be rebuilding for that depth.. when I have time.. alternatively, I might try a wider bag and the same depth of 200mm, to increase the gradient distance, exposing more surface and thus (I assume) better gas release potential ..
I built the structure, without consideration to weight.. :oops:
.. when it all started to sag under the 120Kg of Zeolite, plus clay and water i decided, that was enough
..
I hear your observations and warnings and can only and respectfully say.. forget it.. :dontknow:
HydrogenSulphide is seriously heavy and kills when it fills hollows that one stumbles into.. but there is NO smell and that would be obvious when one sticks one's head in the Ibc section.
My system is under a car-port like structure, "but very well ventilated"
Were it all in a winter sealed glass house, then I might be monitoring the air via gas sensors.. methane sensors are cheap..

Your comment about use in a AP system, with plants, is a valid one.. BUT..
I do see it as a practical tool where you can literally use a biocenosis bed to control fluctualtions.. by turning on / off , the flow...

I can hear the argument already....
Turn off the nutrients and the bacteria will die
Turn flow back on and initially there are minimal bacteria, BUT the Zeolite will act like a CHEMICAL.CAPACITOR and will immediately start storage, and then the bacteria will again follow .. thus the Zeolite will act as a chemical detention system..

100 large fish and only 200L of media, does not lie... :headbang:
..

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PostPosted: Apr 4th, '16, 07:32 
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Sounds like someone could just convert a grow bed based on the depth. Any info on your pH and what effect running this way has had?

BuiDoi wrote:
I can hear the argument already....
Turn off the nutrients and the bacteria will die


:lol: - Without the flow, and with shallow beds like this, the conditions wouldn't be all that different from where these organisms are found in nature.


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PostPosted: Apr 4th, '16, 07:57 
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scotty435 wrote:
Without the flow, and with shallow beds like this, the conditions wouldn't be all that different from where these organisms are found in nature.


Indeed - and just the reason why it should not be dramatised.. but the expectation would be that the massive concentration would die down..

and just so there are no hidden facts, here is an image of the system today, showing the one plant, a Hoan Ngoc, that has gone mad in the benevolent conditions..
I seriously doubt that this would account for the readings, AND in any case, the plant was only added about three months ago, "If I recall" correctly..

Attachment:
~BioCen-160403.jpg
~BioCen-160403.jpg [ 65.61 KiB | Viewed 6218 times ]


I added it for three reasons:
First - we eat it every day, and it is super clean under the clear roof..
Second - there was lots of empty wasted space for it and..
Lastly - it provides additional shade to keep the whole system cooler..

FWIW - that window, over the fence is the neighbors bedroom.. and he has reported no foul smells.. :think:

PLEASE - if anyone wants to see for themselves - they are welcome to have a look..
..
.
..


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PostPosted: Apr 4th, '16, 09:00 
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BuiDoi wrote:
First we were told that Zeolite, would initially absorb nitrates and would then saturate and stop working..
Then, we were told that if you added salt to the system, ALL of the nitrates in the Zeolite would be released, causing total calamity


I think it is fairly well established that zeolite does not absorb nitrates at all. It made no difference to my nitrate levels, and I think it was Scotty who referred me to a paper on the subject. It does absorb ammonia though, but looking at your ammonia plot, you are lucky your pH is low, otherwise it could have killed the fish.

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PostPosted: Apr 4th, '16, 09:40 
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PS - at the start of the trial, there were.. in the two tanks
FT2 - 100Silver Perch and 8 Mullet
FT2 - 150 Koi

So , in the beginning there was a deal of instability with 250 ravenous fish..

As the Silvers grew, I moved all the KOI to my "DEATH" system - Poisoned by roof zinc..
I sized the Silvers into large/small and split between the FT1 and FT2..

The KOI survived and grew and grew and now I am giving them away on GumTree..

So, the 250 smaller fish have been replaced by 100+ large fish..
and
Just repeating a chart of random reading over the 6mth period. (so you don't need to look elsewhere)
Attachment:
~N-Values-PostBiocenosis.jpg
~N-Values-PostBiocenosis.jpg [ 48.16 KiB | Viewed 6199 times ]


There has ALWAYS been SALT in the system ~~ 1PPT, and I have tried to keep the pH at just over 6..
Two weeks ago(ish) , the salt concentration was raised to nearer 3PPT, to help demonstrate that Zeolite DOES NOT dump it's stored nutrients, when salted.. ( at least not at 3PPT - I read that the dumping happens at 10PPT and above, when the fish would be likely dead, anyway..)
..


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PostPosted: Apr 4th, '16, 13:52 
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To save anyone having to chase around thread trying to picture the rest of the system,
Below are images to give an idea..

Attachment:
@FILTER-SYSTEM-160403.jpg
@FILTER-SYSTEM-160403.jpg [ 89.59 KiB | Viewed 6182 times ]


The rest of my system is irrelevant to the BioCenosis process, but my second stage is to add the fish waste to tall tanks and vigorously aerate permanently.. until near full and then leave for weeks to settle, starting on another drum

Attachment:
@Mineralisation-160403.jpg
@Mineralisation-160403.jpg [ 34.98 KiB | Viewed 6182 times ]


and totally irrelevant is the HydroPonic end, where the clarified fish waste goes..
..
Attachment:
@HP1-160403.jpg
@HP1-160403.jpg [ 97.47 KiB | Viewed 6182 times ]
Attachment:
@HP2-160403.jpg
@HP2-160403.jpg [ 62.55 KiB | Viewed 6182 times ]

..
That's it - consider splitting you Aqua and your Ponics - it is far better IMHO :flower:


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PostPosted: Apr 4th, '16, 14:48 
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Gunagulla wrote:
I think it is fairly well established that zeolite does not absorb nitrates at all. It made no difference to my nitrate levels, and I think it was Scotty who referred me to a paper on the subject. It does absorb ammonia though, but looking at your ammonia plot, you are lucky your pH is low, otherwise it could have killed the fish.


There was an expectation, that without the full complement of bio-filtration (25L of clay per fish), there was going to be trouble, despite the Zeolite..
The choice of LOW pH and the SALT was VERY deliberate (As per the TAN tables), and has been justified, as the random reading, show that the Ammonia Levels do wander, because no matter how much SOLIDS I remove, the ammonia enters the water via the fish gills, as you have shown..

Again the readings show that NITRATES is a non issue in this system, but perhaps you are right in suggesting that Zeolite, does not absorb Nitrates, but does absorb the Ammonia, ultimately stopping the formation of nitrates.. Chicken and Egg situation.. No Nitrates because NO ammonia..

One group claims that Zeolite absorbs all three, and others say it does not..
I have NO WAY of demonstrating the facts..
likewise..
one lot said that ANY salt would release the "Ns" resulting in disaster, and clearly that is not correct..
I have demonstrated that I CAN run a system with salt and not cause a calamity.. and that I can introduce a 200% concentration jump, without change..

I guess that it is all a case of either accepting what we are told,
or accepting what we can actually see.. :think:
I know which way I will be going in the future..

BTW - how much Zeolite did you use and how was it used.. :dontknow:


I am happy to believe that the BioCenosis bags DO reduce Nitrates, even if only because of the normal bacterial removal amongst the fine grains.. :cheers:
..


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PostPosted: Apr 4th, '16, 15:37 
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I just had a 25kg bag of it in the ST, then removed and replaced with a 2nd one after a week or so, but the nitrates remained high. Ammonia and nitrites were already low, so not an issue, thanks to 8GBs (at the time, now 10, and more to come when I have the $$ available... some time in the future)

I think the fine grained zeolite you have would have a very high SSA, so plenty of room for bacteria to live.

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PostPosted: Apr 4th, '16, 16:55 
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Gunagulla wrote:
I just had a 25kg bag of it in the ST,


So I had 120kg, AND i "Exposed" it all to the water, via FnD, whereas, you had 25kg, and anticipated that it would just attract the nutients..

It would be seriously interesting to take a quantity of High-Nitrate water and Isolate it in a pond, and then use a small (closed circuit) pump to "Drizzle" the water through a porous NEW zeolite bag on a platform/milk-crate.. NEW Zeolite so there could be NO BACTERIA in the short term
ie. really ensure that there is no other influence (adding or removing), and then do periodic readings..
I would love to have some high nitrate water to try it..

I have some Sodium Nitrate salt.. I wonder if that would substitute

Quote:
I think the fine grained zeolite you have would have a very high SSA, so plenty of room for bacteria to live.

That is what I was implying..

The bottom line is that I have zero nitrates and only a token plant (which muddies the waters for my findings), so where are my nitrates going.. BUT..
there is the suggestion that nitrates never exist in the first place because the BioCenosis is stopping it at the Ammonia level.. No way of this old fool proving anything.. :support:
..


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PostPosted: Apr 4th, '16, 18:51 
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BuiDoi wrote:
...you had 25kg, and anticipated that it would just attract the nutients..


I wasn't anticipating any attraction, the water in the ST circulates slowly, and would be passing over the bag most of the time.


I'm happy to accept the findings from the researchers who said it didn't abosrb nitrates ;)

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PostPosted: Apr 5th, '16, 13:43 
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I was hoping to avoid this thread however :)

Zeolite has an affinity for adsorbing certain things, unless it is modified nitrate is not really one of them.
Initially your zeolite would have been reducing ammonia as it became depleted bacteria would be colonising both the exterior and interior.
If you want an explanation of what is happening look up the Berlin method of controlling nitrates or live rock or deep sand beds. The first would be closest to what you have (which is a sort of second one as well).
You are offgassing nitrogen as the bacteria towards the center take the O2 from the nitrate. (take this as a non scotty explanation) :lol:


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PostPosted: Apr 5th, '16, 15:19 
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Sleepe wrote:
I was hoping to avoid this thread however :)


:lol: I was too :thumbright:

A lot of this is guesswork, usually with some knowledge but occasionally flying by the seat of the pants so I may get it wrong but I give it a shot :dontknow:

From what I've read the latterite core is apparently negatively charged and draws in positively charged ions like ammonium NH4+ where they can be broken down. I think the Nitrate (NO3- ) that existed going into the filter since it has a negative charge probably would just pass through without ever entering the biocenosis baskets. Once you used that loose nitrate up though I don't think you'd have much nitrate left. In a way whether you have it present or don't should depend on where the nitrate is generated. If it's generated before the biocenosis area then you'll have it but if it's not done until the ammonium hits the biocenosis basket then you probably won't because it would likely result in the generation of N2 gas.

Because ammonia and ammonium are at an equilibrium, breaking down ammonium should cause more to be generated from the ammonia present.

I think it makes sense but whether it really functions this way :dontknow:


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PostPosted: Apr 6th, '16, 08:47 
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scotty435 wrote:
......A lot of this is guesswork, usually with some knowledge but occasionally flying by the seat of the pants so I may get it wrong but I give it a shot ........I think it makes sense but whether it really functions this way



Thanks for the thoughts guys.. What you say is likely pretty correct..
but , all that I know is that something is working, and working very well..
and it is rather clear that it upsets some conventional thinking/teaching.. :support:

I can't help to think that adding a mass of Zeolite in a porous bag , will do diddly squat.. sorry GG
Just illogical to think that water will flow through a bag of fine'ish sand when it's easier to flow around, (unless there is a means of sucking the N's into the core... via the Laterite - but that one was poo-hooed..)
Spread two inches across the sump floor and that might work better.. like the aquarium people do and I have done in my Indoor Yabbie breeding tank.. No water changes in there..

I took my lead from the Koi People, who knew that it just worked, and as it has worked completely , for me, then I am most satisfied..
but I can still seek to be convinced as to HOW it is working.. :dontknow: as it provides the means of improving further
and I am more inclined to think that it is more the early removal of the Ammonia, that is working best, but I simply have to assume that with the amount of Bio-Filtration, there must be normal Nitrates being produced and put simply - they AIN'T building up - FLAT LINED..

Remember that likely only about 10% of the PIST flow would be going thru the BC bed, and the rest is going through the filtration/bio-filtration back to the FT..
..


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