Answers to the 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions
1) What makes the Advantage filter’s backwash cycle work so well?
The most common problem facing bead filters today is the inability to properly breakup and then remove the waste that collects in the beads during normal filtering. Some owners have been forced to backwash their filters every day to prevent them from “plugging-up”. The Advantage Bead Filter has overcome that problem by the introduction of two new items. One is the use of a new patented internal head design which allows more water to flow through the filter with one of the lowest head pressures of any filter tested so far. The other improvement is the use of a heavy duty 2 horsepower blower. Most other companies use a 1 horsepower or smaller blower. We have found the difference to be amazing in its ability to breakup clogged beads. We have used this combination for over four years now at Sacramento Koi with wonderful success.
2) Why don’t you make a smaller filter for smaller ponds?
The smallest filter we make is our Advantage 5, which is designed for ponds with up to 5,000 gallons of water. Other manufactures make bead filters for ponds as small as 1,200 gallons. Our experience has been that bead technology works because of several factors. One important factor is that the beads have to be under a certain amount of compression to cause them to become tightly packed together before they will effectively filter out small particles. This compression is accomplished by the mass of the beads floating against the inside top of the filter. Small filters, with less than 2 cubic feet of beads, lack the mass when they float to create the pressure to properly filter pond water. Most of the complaints we have heard from bead filter owners were from those who owned one of these smaller filters. Our smallest filter contains2.25 cubic feet ( 90 lbs.) of beads. We have found this amount of beads can filter exceptionally well and to reduce the amount of beads to lower the cost of the filter slightly is not cost effective.
3) How often should I backwash my filter?
With a new filter you may not want to backwash for the first two weeks to help allow the bacteria to form. After two weeks we would recommend that you backwash approximately once a week during the summer months and slow to once every two weeks during the winter months.
4) I heard that the Advantage Bead Filter makes a great mechanical filter, but is it also effective as a biological filter?
Yes, the Advantage Bead Filter makes a very impressive biological filter. The reason is two fold. First, the amount of surface area provided for the beneficial bacteria to grow on is tremendous.
- The surface area of one bead is approximately 1/6 of a square inch
- There are approximately 325 beads in one cubic inch or 561,600 beads in one cubic foot
- Therefore, one cubic foot of beads would have a surface area of 93,600 square inches or 650 square feet.
- The Advantage 5, our smallest filter, contains around 3 cubic feet of beads which would have a biological surface area of approximately 1,950 square feet for bacteria to grow on. That is an area 30′ x 65′ or approximately the surface area of a tennis court.
Now, couple that with the way the Advantage Bead Filter works. In the Advantage Bead Filter, the beads are tossed around, being cleaned when you backwash them once a week. Once the bacteria is formed on the beads, this regular washing of the beads allows the bacteria to become extremely effective for two reasons. First, the bacteria don’t have to deal with breaking down all of the fish stools and excess food that gets trapped in the filter because these solid wastes are removed each time you back wash the filter. Secondly, as new bacteria grow it can become smothered by the old dead bacteria if it is not removed somehow. That is the reason why lava rock filters loose their effectiveness after only a couple years. With the Advantage Bead Filter, as soon as the old bacteria dies and lets go from the surface of the beads, it is washed away thus allowing the new bacteria underneath it to grow.
When we first began testing a two horsepower blower we were told that it would destroy the “fragile” bacteria and that is why no one else was using that large a blower. Our experience has been just the opposite. We are constantly amazed at how well our filter works with its heavy duty blower. We are constantly pushing the limits of the Advantage filters to see how they perform.
The real problem for many is that it is hard to imagine a filter, as small as a bead filter, could effectively replace the large bulky filters that we have all been using for years. The reality is that we are dealing with a new technology that works extremely well.
5) Why don’t you recommend using a settling tank or a vortex tank before the bead filter?
We feel a settling tank or a vortex tank installed before a bead filter would be wonderful, because it could only enhance your filtering system. If you have the space and money to install them, you have our complete support. What our concern is that when coupled with a “good bead filter,” we are not sure that the added expense and the space they consume is worth the investment. With a filter system using gravel or similar material for your biological filtration you may be cleaning it only once every six months. It is extremely important that you keep as much solid waste from reaching that part of your filter as possible. On the other hand, with a bead filter you are cleaning it weekly. Our feelings are simple, allow your pump leaf basket to catch all the large stuff (leaves, acorns, etc.) and send the rest to your bead filter. Then when it is convenient, backwash it out of your bead filter. If you have a lot of leaves to deal with and are having to empty your pump basket too often, we suggest you install the Advantage Collector Box Skimmer with net to remove the leaves before they get to the pump.
6) Do you ever have to replace the beads?
No, the beads never wear out. In fact they actually get better with age. As they age, bacteria begin to form on the beads. This bacteria causes the beads to fit tighter together allowing the filter to filter out even smaller particles from the water.
7) How long does it take for the filter to mature so that it will remove all ammonia and nitrites?
A new bead filter takes approximately six weeks to mature enough to remove all ammonia and nitrites produced by a moderate fish load. It takes almost nine months to truly mature to the level of its potential. You can speed up this process by about three weeks, by simply getting one of your friends to backwash their filter or wash out their mats into a five gallon bucket and then pour this bacteria rich waste into your skimmer so that it goes directly into your new filter. Then refrain from backwashing for at least one week. This can get the ammonia bacteria established rather quickly, but the nitrite bacteria will still take some time. In the meantime, you will need to do regular water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels down.
8) What size filter should I purchase?
This is actually a good question. The way all filters are rated is somewhat misleading. Our smallest filter, the Advantage 5, is rated for ponds up to 5,000 gallons. This means that we would recommend this filter for your pond if you:
- Had a 2,000 gallon pond very heavily stocked
- Had a 4,000 gallon pond moderately stocked
- Had a 5,000 gallon pond lightly stocked
The point is that no one can accurately recommend the proper filter for a certain gallon pond unless you know the fish load that is planned for that pond.
We recommend that if you are not sure which size to get, get the next larger size for your pond. The reason: the filter is the most important part of your pond and you can never have too much filter. If you get a filter that is too small for your fish load you will have constant problems with the health of your fish. Keep in mind also, that we all tend to over stock our ponds. We just can’t help it. In addition, the larger the filter you place on your pond, the less often you will have to backwash it.
9) Do I need to have an ultraviolet light with this filter to obtain clear water?
Not necessarily. In certain cases, ultraviolet lights can make the difference between a crystal clear pond and a pea soup pond. If you have a new pond, live in a hot area, and your pond receives full sun, that is a recipe for green water. Our experience is that, if your pond has these conditions, you are going to need a light. On the other hand, if you live in a cooler area and your pond is shaded most of the day, you probably will not need a light. As ponds mature and your water quality gets established, the need for a ultraviolet light often times is reduced. If you are not sure if you will need one, we recommend, when you are plumbing for your pond, leave an area where you can simply add one in the future if needed.
10) What if I purchase an Advantage filter and I am not happy with the way it performs?
Sacramento Koi offers an “Unconditional Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee.” That means that, within the first year of purchasing an Advantage Filter, if you are not completely satisfied with the filter for any reason, Sacramento Koi will buy back the filter. Sacramento Koi is that convinced that you will love the Advantage filter.