First a little about this type of filter. This filter will handle a pond up to 2500 gallons and a heavy fish load. It will act as a settleing chamber so leaves and large stuff doesn't get ground up in your pump, the filter will be filled with 250 pounds of rocks and gravel for a bio and fines filter. There are no mats or brushes to ever clean, all the cleaning is done with a turn of a valve and air. I know you want to see that so click here Filter Cleaning and click top to return here.
I use 2 of these exact same filters, except in 42 gallon size, side by side in my 7000+ main pond with a large fish load and the water stays perfect. The reason for 2 is that the max water flow through 1 of these is about 2500 gallons per hour, I actually push mine to about 3000 gph each in the big pond, you could use more than 2 if needed. My pond is in full sun and I don't even bother with a uv light. I run just one of these 42 gallon filters for the two 800 gallon display tanks in back (2400 gph pump), the ones you buy fish out of and they are always way over loaded, never a problem. There are some really great pond filters available but the price is out of sight (Nexus). You will be very pleased with a filter of this type and your fish will be healthy and happy not to mention your wallet. Koi will not live without a very good filter system, period...
If you are running a submersible pump in your pond now, you may really want to think about putting in a bottom drain, you can retro this without even draining the water. You could of coarse just keep the pump where it is and hose the water to the filter, but you would have to clean it a little more often, the pump will be grinding everything up and sending it right to the filter, but the cleaning consist of just opening 1 valve and closing 1 valve and turning on the air, just doesn't get any easier and the results are fantastic. There have been a lot of up flow filters in the past (the skippy is one of the earliest and still used), they are time tested and have always worked very good, I have just tweaked it up for my situation, mostly to use a submersible pump in the settleing chamber and of coarse the cleaning with an air compressor. Al thought the tanks are large drums, the plumbing doesn't take up a lot of room and you can always hide them behind a waterfall or plants. Even I don't see the filters on my big pond until I clean them.
If you just got here, this is the filter link from the wakin pond build. This is a gravity flow filter back to your pond, give some thought to the height you want your water to return to the pond, like up higher if you intend to have a higher water fall, the filter will always have to be higher than the return point at the pond. You can always raise the filter later, the settleing chamber will always remain at the pond water level. These filters should be tied to a bottom drain so you may want to go to the pond build to see the drain if you didn't come from that page. http://www.tadege.com/wakinspondbuild.htm This is going to seem a little drawn out, but I am trying to answer your questions as I go along, it will be a lot easier as you get started, all fittings and pipe are PVC plastic, so don't worry about a mistake, you can just cut it out and glue in a new piece. All parts prices are listed on the pond page also. I'll be adding pictures and info as I go along, so check back often. You will want to read through this entire build before starting, it will help with a lot of the confusion. You are going to need a saw, and a drill to do this build, and also a small stone rotary grinding bit for the drill. These build very easy after you get started and I'm sure if you have all the pipe and fittings when you get started you'll be able to finish this up in a weekend, but I would almost bet you'll be going back to the supply store for fittings you missed, I always have to. These will be the parts just for the filter build, there will also be hook up lines later on this page for the air lines from your compressor, for the drains and the connection from the pond bottom drain.
The price list is on the wakin pond build page http://www.tadege.com/wakinspondbuild.htm But I'll be listing the material you'll need here at the start of this page. I use schedule 40 pvc pipe and fittings.
1 - PVC cutter, this is not a must have, but for the $10, you'll save a lot of sawing of small pipes. They look like large garden hand pruners and do a great job. These are not included with in the total.
1 - 1.5 hp compressor. Check out the ad fliers in the newspaper, usually you can pick up one of these from a car parts store for around $100. You'll need about 4 cfm of air. If you already have a compressor you use for other things, just use it, you will only need this for cleaning the filter and can use a quick disconnect and just run a rubber hose air line to the filter when you need it. Actually my compressor is in my garage and I just ran 1/2" PVC pipe out to the filters, 1/2" PVC pipe is very cheap as are the fittings, make sure this is schedule 40 pipe. I have all my ponds and filters hooked up to just 1 compressor and just use the 1/2" valves to use the air at each of them when needed. I must have about a half mile of 1/2" PVC running all over the yard.
5 - 2" PVC shower drains, these are rather expensive, but there is no way around them without spending even more. A lot cheaper than bulk head fittings or uniseals.
3 - 2" PVC caps. Just the thin push in ones. You could use 2" valves, but they are very pricey and these will do the job.
1 - 1/2" PVC pipe for the air cleaning manifold, maybe get an extra one, just in case, they are cheap and you'll need more any way to connect the compressor again make sure this is schedule 40.
1 - Package of 10 1/2 " PVC T's for the air manifold.
1 - Package of 10 1/2" elbows for the air manifold.
1 - 2" PVC pipe for bulk head fitting extensions.
1 - ? pipe for your pump from settleing chamber to filter. Size will depend on your pump outlet size. Mine is a 3/4" fitting at the pump, but I am enlarging it to 1" with a PVC adapter. Use the largest pipe your pump will except, never make it smaller or it will restrict the flow. You will also need elbows of this size to make the turns between the 2 tanks, all set ups are different depending on how your pump is set up, as I set this one up you'll get the idea and know what you'll need to connect the 2 together, this will be done at installation time. There is no need for a valve here, your settling chamber will be no lower than the level of the pond water, your filter will be higher and even with a power outage you won't lose water from your pond.
5 - 2" PVC elbows, actually you may need more of these depending on where you are going to route your drains, this is just to get them out of the filter tanks.
PVC glue and primer, just buy the small can, it gels up after it's opened for some time and won't be any good for the next project.
4 bags - pea gravel. For the filter bio media.
2 - bags 1" marble chips or granite, whichever is available. Filter bio media.
1 bag coarse sand. Optional, this time I am going to start running this filter with just the gravel, may add the sand later if I need it for the fines. Coarse sand is somewhat hard to come by. You will want the sand about like the fine gravel they use in tropical fish tanks, you can get this at the pet store, but I don't think you'll need the sand.
You're also going to need a grid of some kind. I use the fan guard from an old box fan, this needs to be pretty hefty, there is going to be about 250 pounds of rock piled on it, you will build a support for this with cross members, but it would be a real hassle to change later if it falls apart. More on this later as the filters are installed, but you may want to keep an eye out for something to use. I always wanted to cut up a plastic shopping cart but could never find one that is trashed out, you might ask at your local store, no don't steal it, they will hang you when you get caught, at least don't say I said it was ok. Actually bulk trash day can be a real supply depot for pond stuff, you'll never look at it as a pile of trash again.
I have found that when setting up your filter plumbing it's a lot easier to put them in an area where you have room to work rather than trying to build them pond side and if it is a lighted area you can build these at night (wow, my garage actually looks civilized in this picture, it's not). Set them up as they will be at the pond installation, the room between them at this time doesn't matter. The pvc pipe is very easy to route from the pond and between the two filter containers, you'll see this on the installation. Both of these containers are Rubber Maid 32 gallon trash cans, if you have access to other barrels, use them, it doesn't really matter as long as they are strong enough to hold up. You will want to go larger with a larger pond, this pond is only 1000 gallons and I already had the 32 gallon cans. The one on the left will be a settleing chamber and the right will be the gravel filter (bio), that returns the clean water to the pond.
The filter will need a 2" return to the pond, a 2" bottom drain and a 2" cleaning drain. For all 2" bulk head fittings I use 2" shower drains and the settleing chamber will need a 2" shower drains for the pond bottom drain to the settleing chamber and for the bottom drain. To make these easier to work with you will have to remove the pipe stops. When you look into the pipe side you will see the plastic ridge that is extended to stop the pipe from going through. There are also 4 little ears sticking out on the screw in part of the drain that you have to remove so the pipe will slide through it. You can remove this with a drill and small grinding stone until it's the same size as the pipe opening, so that you can slide the pipe all the way through before gluing it. This is probably the hardest part of the whole filter build, everything else will be just cutting holes in the containers and gluing up the pipes. Anytime you need some advice just email me and I'll get back to you, email@example.com
The drain on the left still has the pipe stop and on the right it has been removed. You'll be able to see this easier when you have them in front of you. The stop is just a thin piece of plastic and grinds out easily. Just make sure you can slip the pipe all the way through the drain, you'll see how this works as the assembly moves along. This doesn't have to be smooth since you will be gluing at the original pipe slide. The drain grid just pops off and won't be used.
Your first hole will be the return back to the pond. Use a 2" shower drain here for the bulkhead (wall) opening. There are all kinds of hole saws and drill bits, I just trace around the inside of the gasket that comes with the drain as a template for the hole and just cut around it with a new sharp 1/8" drill bit in the drill, then I clean it up with sand paper. The shower drains have a 1/2" flange so if you color over the line don't worry about it.. When you are laying out any of the holes make sure there are no ridges or anything else on the drum that will be in your way when installing the shower drain. You'll want these top 2" holes about 2 inches down from the top of the tank, more on this later. I go ahead and cut the other 2 drain holes at this time, one for the bottom drain and one for the top drain for using the air to clean the filter. I position these two drains so they will be out of my way when cleaning the filter, but it's just a matter of choice since you can easily run PVC pipe anywhere that it needs be.
Here you can see the positioning of my 3 outlets, the one on the left is the return to the pond, the other 2 are the filter drains. This is the back of my filter, it will be turned the other way at the pond so these 2 drains will be out of my way when cleaning. This picture is a little ahead of the build so far but I wanted to give you some idea of the drains placements. For right now just get the 3 holes cut and put in the shower drain assemblies. I use the rubber gasket on the inside, I also put the large extended part of the drain on the outside so I have more working room inside the filter, there is still some stuff to go in there, but it is a matter of choice if you want the smooth part of the drain on the outside, it doesn't really matter, but you'll have 2" pipe running out of all these drains, so there will be no way to hide them anyway. Just tighten these as much as you can by hand, they seal very easily to the tank.
Now you'll need to build a stand to keep the rocks and gravel off the bottom drain. I just build mine out of PVC pipe, but there are any number of things you can use. I have also cut down plastic milk crates for this shelf and even just used bricks on the bottom to hold up the grid. This only needs to be tall enough to hold the grid above the bottom drain pipe opening, about 5".
You can see that mine is nothing fancy, but it will have to be fairly strong, there will be 250 pounds of rock and gravel stacked on it. I have just built 2 squares, one smaller than the other and just added legs to keep it up off the bottom drain, it also serves to set the air manifold on below the rocks. Cut a grid to the size that will fit on this stand and extend all the way to the walls of the tank, I cut mine from an old box fan guard but you can use anything that will keep 1" rocks from falling through. I used a die grinder with a cut off wheel to cut the grid, but you can just buy an arbor and cutoff wheel at Home Depot to use in your drill or even cut this with a saw.
Below is the air manifold assembly. Do not glue anything until you have all the parts cut and the unglued manifold done. Use 1/2" PVC, I started with a square that will fit into the bottom of the filter on the grid and supports we just made, then just added T's and put in cross pipes, try to put the air input pipe in the center. After I have it all fitted up dry and I make sure it will still fit into the filter, I disassemble it and glue it up. You are going to want to make sure you have this well glued, it takes a lot of impact when you slam the air to it. Trust me, when you pop the air to this it is going to lift up the rocks and gravel, glue it good! It's not important to have this same configuration, I have made these S shaped, zig zag, and even run 1 straight pipe with T's coming off of it with short pieces of pipe with caps on them shaped like an old outside TV antenna (this is the easiest to build), I've included a couple of pictures to give you some ideas on building these. No two of mine have ever come out the same. What you want is some design that will break up the air evenly across the bottom, this just sits on the grid, the rocks will hold it in place. The stub in the center is just a T with an elbow added so I can run it to the side of the filter and up and out to the compressor. After I have it assembled and glued I drill 1/8" holes every inch on top of every pipe, you can drill right through the fittings and everything. This one has not been drilled yet, but the 1/8" holes are to small to see in a picture anyway. If you look down in the filter this is sitting on you can see that the bottom drain is extended to the center of the tank through the shower drain, with the support and grid already installed.
Next I run the lines for the air and pump up to the top of the tank. Once again I just trace around the pipes with a marker and use the drill to cut these out, in the next picture you can see where I marked one and decided to move it over. I have found that it's always the small lines that leak where they pass through the tank, if any do, so I have started just bringing them above the water line in the filter to avoid any leak problems it also saves some money since you won't need any bulk head fittings for these lines. While I'm thinking of it, if you ever do a have leak you can patch it, I have tried many different things, the problem is the two different plastics, the best I have found is "JB Weld" it's a little pricey, but problem solved, this stuff sticks to everything and dries hard as steel and comes is small tubes, too. It's a 2 part mix and you can recoat if needed the next day. All these glues, including the PVC glue are messy (at least when I use it), you may want to wear rubber gloves while doing all this.
Here you can see the finished filter. The 1" line on the left will go to the pump, it is just a straight pipe down to the bottom with an elbow on it to keep it from being shoved against the bottom and restricting the water flow. The elbow pointed along the side also causes a vortex in the bottom of the filter and stuff coming from the settleing tank will go to the center bottom of the tank, the reason for extending the bottom drain to the center. The small line on the right is the 1/2" pipe that goes through that valve and connects the cleaning air manifold to the air compressor. If you keep these 2 lines above the height of the pond return pipe there is no need for a water tight connections through the side of the filter. This is why the 2" holes at the top are put in 2" from the top, so you can put these lines above the water level. The center 2" pipe is the top drain which is opened when the air is turned on for cleaning, this will also drain some water from your pond for the water changes you should be doing every week, along with the pond return pipe directly across from the top drain being plugged or valved off to keep the dirty water from returning to the pond while cleaning the filter. I just use the cheap thin plastic caps, you can see one in the 2" center drain in the above picture, the 2" valves are very expensive and these work just fine, you'll only need one cap here, it will always either be in the drain or return pipe. I also use these caps on the bottom drains, it takes 2 more. Get a couple extra, these do not last forever. You could put valves anywhere in all these drains instead of caps, but valves are costly and large.
After this is positioned at the pond, the pond return pipe will be installed and the pump will be hooked up from the settleing chamber, along with the air hook up. Before the rock and gravel, Give it a test run just to make sure there are no problems, the rock and gravel are not easy to remove if you need to for any reason.
If you are going to run a submersible pump from right in your pond there is no reason to build a settleing chamber, everything will be too chopped up going through the pump to do any settleing. But if you have installed the bottom drain a settleing chamber will greatly cut back on pond and filter cleaning. Your bottom drain will pick up leaves and other stuff that would never pass through your pump. There really isn't much to this part, so I would highly recommend building it. You could add a floating plant like hyacinth to your settleing chamber, they are noted for their ability to filter, clean water and they have a very nice flowers, but you'll have to make a cage to keep them off the pump. Mostly the settleing tank is to catch large stuff like leaves before they get chopped up by the pump and sent into the filter.
Once you get this far, this will be a snap for you to build. The settleing chamber is just an empty filter. Just 2 shower drain holes. One thing about a settleing chamber, it will have to be at the same level as the pond surface water or just a little higher since it is gravity fed from the pond bottom drain, any higher and it won't fill, any lower and it will over flow. The first 2" shower drain fitting will go in 1/3 of the way up the container from the bottom with an elbow on the inside to give a vortex effect, I just cut the elbow off to push the water even with the side and the 2" cleaning drain will be at the bottom, actually you could put the bottom drains on both the filter and settleing chamber right through the bottom, but I see no advantage and a lot of extra work digging under the containers for the pipe work. The only other hole will be for the return to the filter from the pump that will be in the settleing tank near the top, once again above the water line to avoid any potential leaks and no bulk head fittings, you can also pass the pump electric cord right through this same hole, I choose to just run mine over the top of the tank in case the pump has to be serviced or replaced. Your pump will be suspended right in the settleing chamber about 3/4 of the way up, but this will depend on the draw down. When the pump is running and pumping water to the filter there is going to be some draw down. With a system this small (1250 gph) I would doubt it will be much, but you want the pump as high as you can get it without it running out of water from draw down. The 2400 gph in the display tanks has a draw down of about 4 inches, and that is with two 2" bottom drains feeding the settleing tank, so I am expecting about the same here, but it will only take a couple minutes to make any adjustment to the level of the pump if needed.
That's it for now, I'll be installing this system in the next couple days, tomorrow is retail so all I'll be able to do is cart everything out to the pond. Wed I'll go and get the gravel and what ever fittings I need to tie it all together. Stop by next week and see the wakin pond up and running, it may motivate you to jump on this cool pond and filter project. I have fish here that would love to make your new pond their new home. It looks more complicated here than it really is. I'll have less than 40 hours or so in this pond and filter build with about 5 hours just getting the "stuff" out of the old pond before I could start on this remake, plus I had to dig dirt to fill in the existing pond ends and bottom (that hole will be the tosakins new pond, will it ever end). If you are starting at a new location it will be a lot easier.
I'm back, now on to the installation, first you'll want to position the filter tank so you can guesstimate the return to the pond with the 2" return pipe, the entire return pipe to the pond will always have to be higher than the pond water level or an air block will develop and restrict flow. Next set the settleing chamber where it will be able to send the pump water to the filter. Mine are right at the pond side so there is not much to think about, but you may want these some distance from the pond to conceal them better. Actually when these are installed, you can just get a can of spray paint to help blend them in. With your bottom drain and return both being 2" and with this small of system you can run the pipes quite a distance with very little flow restriction problems, if it's a very long return you will want to raise the filter higher to help with the gravity flow return to the pond or consider a larger return pipe than 2". To get a better idea of what I am trying to explain here, stop by and take a look at my installation, it's not that complicated at all, I just don't seem to be able to make it simple in words. It still beats working next to me, so I'm told.
Here you can see the settleing tank installed at the pond. You will have to dig this down to have the top match the top level of the pond water, if your pond is at ground level this entire tank will have to be buried to ground level. You can put this and the filter anywhere you choose, but you will have to run the filter return back to the pond, and the pond bottom drain to the settleing chamber. Try and keep the settleing tank and filter close together so the pump doesn't lose a lot of volumn going through a long and twisted pipe. I run a long board from the top of the pond edge to the top of the settleing tank and use a level to get it at the same height as the pond. If that is not practical you can just guess at this point and raise or lower the settleing tank when you have water in the pond. Keep in mind that it cannot be lower than the intended water level in the pond or it will over flow, if it's much higher it will be a waste of tank as the water will always be the same depth as the pond without the pump running. I just use a short board across the tank to get it level. The pipe at the bottom will have to be dug into the ground to match up with the pond bottom drain that you stuck through the bottom of the pond while building it, actually if you have a raised wall pond you could raise the pond bottom drain pipe to ground level right next to the pond to avoid digging the trench, but you would have a 2" pipe running on top of the ground to the settleing tank. Before filling in the hole, wad up some plastic bags and stuff them into the pond bottom drain and then fill the settleing tank enough to have water run back to the pond bottom drain to check for any leaks, you don't want to be moving the filter and digging this up later because of a leak. This will be the only pipe from the pond and the filter return will be the only one going back. Totally confused yet? It's not that complicated, just stop over and take a look at mine. Actually pictures a little further along will make all of this a lot clearer.
Here you can see the filter setting on a mount. You could pour a small slab here but I choose to just line up 3 concrete blocks and level them so that the filter return would be about 6" above the pond surface. I'm sure that this will not be the final height of the filter, since I'm not really sure how I plan to hard scape the return to the pond, but with just a couple couplings and pipe I'll be able to cut the pump line and air line and raise this to any height I want later. I won't be routing the drains untill the final setup is completed, they will just be capped at this time. PVC pipe is very easy to modify at a later time with extensions. Once you have the filter where you want it, just hook up the lines.
Here you can see the pump line connected between the 2 tanks, you can fit this all up before glueing it. I don't glue the pump end at this time, it is very unlikely it will be at the right depth with the draw down when the pump is running. So after the system is up and running you can make adjustments here before the final glue job. If power goes off, the water from the filter tank will syphon back to the settleing tank and over flow it, but this is nothing to worry about, it will just empty the filter tank and stop, when the pump start back up, it will fill up the filter and run as expected. If you have your filter inside where damage could be done from this water over flowing add a check valve to the pump line. The pump pipe is the only connection between the 2 tank. The only other hook up will be the air line to your compressor. I will pipe mine with 1/2" pvc, but you could also just put a connecter on it and run a rubber air hose to it when cleaning the filter. I also have added a threaded coupling and elbo just before the pump so I can always unscrew it at this point to service the pump or if I have to replace it later. A pump this size is very light and I just let the pipe hold it at the depth I need rather than building a stand for it.
If later I need to raise the filter I can just cut the vertical pipe between the 2 tanks in this configeration and add a coupleing and peice of pipe to raise the filter. The biggest problem with raising this later is the rocks used for filtering. They will have to be removed, even if you had the man power to lift this with 250 pounds of rock in it, the tank would not take the stress. One other thing I have found out the hard way, if you tip over a watered filled tank you may cause a seam in the tank to crack and leak, you could repair this, but if you pump out the water first you'll never have to deal with this.
Here is the complete filter installed, I turned up the top drain just to hold water in at this time to check for leaks, this will be turned down and piped to the ground for the drain. You can also see how the 2" pipes extend throught the shower drain fittings in this picture, it makes it a lot easier to insert or remove the pipe caps for cleaning. One of these top 2" pipes will always be capped and the other open, depending if you want to drain the dirty water during cleaning or want the clean filtered water to return to the pond. I have this system at a fence line that will be heavely planted so I won't bother to bury the drain lines, but if you do they only need to be just below the ground level to conseal them. Another thing, pvc and plastic both take paint very good and you can camo this with some spray can paints. All that is left to do is hook up the air pipe. After the liner is installed in the pond I'll run this without the rocks and gravel just to check out everything. You are going to love the cleaning part if you have been fooling with filter pads, mats and brushes in your filters. If this is your first filter, you'll never know how good you have it with this set up since you'll have nothing to compare it to, but others will envy you when they see you clean this filter. At this point I returned to the pond and installed the liner and cut the hole in the liner for the bottom drain. Look at page http://www.tadege.com/wakinspondbuild.htm if you need info on this.
While the pond was filling with water I finished running the air line, before making the final air connection to the filter air manifold, turn on the compressor and blow out all the stuff that has gotten into the lines as you were cutting them and dragging them around the yard. Let the glued lines dry very good, the air pressure will pull them apart if they are not well glued. If like me you have run this air line all over the yard you may want to turn off the final valve at the filter with the compressor on and walk the distance to listen for small air leaks, a small leak wouldn't really be a problem, but they will turn into bigger leaks with time, I also had a joint that I didn't put glue on at all, that one was real easy to find. Here is the filter manifold without any rock media install with the air running to do a final check before adding the rocks and sand, the air really boils the water and when this is rushing up through the rock gravel it will really clean it out.
Everything looks good so it's time to add the rocks. You don't need to wash the rocks and gravel at all, the filter will do this after you have finished filling the tank. Look down in your filter and do the final arangement of the stands, the grid and the air manifold. Start adding the 1" granite or marble chips, which ever you have. I like to add these 1 at a time so I can pick out large ones to start with at the bottom. I get this first level of 1" rocks about 6" deep. I tried bio balls at the bottom of this type filter, but they don't have enough weight to stay at the bottom when cleaning with air and ended up being washed to the surface and going out the drain when cleaning. If just the air can wash a 1.5" bio ball to the surface through all this rock, you know this air cleaning will take care of anything picked up by your bottom drain. After this you can just dump the pea rock right out of the bag to finish filling the filter to about 6" below the top drain and return pipe to the pond. I'm going to run this filter for a while without the sand top coat to see how it does, I suspect that most of the fine particals are caught by the pea gravel, but if not I can come back and add a final 6" layer of coarse sand at the top later, or just finish filling with pea gravel to the bottom of the top drain. If you use the sand top coat, get some extra, the air will grind this into fines with time and it will be washed out the drain, so from time to time you'll have to add a little more. I have found that the fine fish tank gravel sold at pet stores works the best for your final sand, you can also use coarse chicken grit if it is granite and you have access to a feed store. You can buy this at the pet shops but it is a lot cheaper at the feed store, under $10 for a 50 lb bag, this will last you forever.
Here is the best part of this filter, the ease of cleaning. Not only is it easy, but it probably gets cleaner than any other filter. The amount of time between cleanings will very depending on your fish load, feeding of fish and location of the pond, but it would surprise me if you will need to clean this filter more than once a month with a pond this size. If the water starts running slow back to your pond you need to clean more often. As with any filter system, if your electric is off for more than a couple hours you will want to clean it as soon as possible, the bio will of started to die off and it will really trash your water and have bad effects on your fish. Your pump should always be running 24/7 on any filter system.
First you'll want to open the bottom drains on both tanks, this is just to get out the large stuff the pond bottom drain has picked up, they only need to be opened for a few seconds until the water runs clear. Always look into the settleing tank first, small fish can be sucked through the bottom drain and end up there, actually no worse for wear. Close them back up and remove the covers from the settleing tank and filter if you use them. I like to let the filters breath, so I have drilled a lot of holes in the lids, this lets a free flow of air in and keeps out stuff like leaves and birds that will use the filter as a bath. If you do this just use whatever drill bit you have, don't buy something special. You don't have to do this at all really.
Now removed the pipe stop from the top drain and place the same plug right into the pipe that returns the water to the pond, one of these two pipe will always be plugged depending if cleaning or running the filter. Leave the pump running, you will lose some water, but it's always a good idea to do a partial water change at least every time you clean the filter.
With your air compressor running turn on the 1/2" valve to the cleaning manifold. You may want to do this slowly till you get used to it, the air can actually blow some of the gravel out of the filter if turned on fast. Let the air continue to run until the water becomes clear. I like to do a 25% water change at least every time I clean the filter so you can let this run for sometime. You can see in this next picture that the air really boils the gravel and cleans it very good, you could never clean a filter this good just running water through it with the garden hose and since no city water ever hits the bio media you'll do no harm to it either. That red cap sitting there is just a pipe plug that I was using in the end of the drain to keep animals and elfs out of it while I was installing it and has nothing to do with the filter.
When the water is running clear just turn off the air valve and switch the cap back from the pond return pipe to the top drain pipe and you are done. That's it, just doesn't get any easier. No reason not to keep your filter clean. By the way, it is a very good idea to put a filter on your compressor air line, this will keep any possible contamination out of your pond filter system from the air compressor like oil, rust or whatever. I just use the small motor guard filters, you can get these at the car store or probably even Home Depot. Since this air line is only used to clean the filters this should last a very long time, but change it out every year. They are under $10.
At this point you will need to refill the pond to the top, always use a fine mist nozzle on your hose to release the chlorine gas and never put the hose or nozzle under the water surface. It will trap the chlorine in the city water under the surface and kill your fish. I also like to add a scoup of chlorine remover and water conditioner at this time. I just put it right into the top of the running filter media.
Put the lids back on the filters if you use them and you're done. I haven't run the drain pipes yet, but give this some thought when you do, the "stuff" coming out of your filters when you clean them is some great fertilizer for your plants and you may want to run the drain to a garden or a fruit tree. I haven't gotten around to making a drain deflector yet and am just using a shrimp basket from a diner with a rock on it, you can also use the grid that came with the shower drain until I get the deflector posted.
I wanted to add this earlier but didn't want to slow this down any more than I had to. Fish that end up in the settleing tank will of grown faster than the others in the pond, I have no explanation for this, except maybe they don't have as much competition for food or maybe it is the constant hard current, but in any case it seems to have no ill effect on them and have no problem adapting back to the pond. You would think they would be dizzy after all the spins in the vortex. Just something I have noticed. Always look in the settleing tank before you pull the drain plug, there may be little ones in there, just net'em out and put'em back in the pond.
This is hard to believe, but my 2 display tanks that run off of 1 filter like this one, the returns are almost at water level and when we get a heavy rain and the tanks over flow, the small fish will swim up the return pipe with all that current, 1250 gallons an hour in a 2" pipe, it really blows out of there, to end up in the filter on top of the gravel and sometimes on to the display tank for the larger fish. Larger fish never even attempt to swim this, kids, what can you say, they think their salmon.
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