The case against pressurized bead filters:

Pressurized bead filters are quite popular among Koi hobbyists. They are necessary evils.

Advantages: Beads capture fine suspended particles and improve water quality significantly. Since they are pressurized, you can send return water to waterfalls or higher elevation

but disadvantages outweigh the advantages!

First, pressurized bead filters do NOT help in removing ammonia, nitrite or nitrate from pond water. The claims of handling hundreds of pounds of fish is ambiguous. Pressurized bead filters can remove suspended particles (or do mechanical filtration) from the pond water when the mentioned number of pounds of fish present in the pond. But fish produce water soluble waste that must be removed. If there is no biological filter to handle dissolved chemicals and waste products, fish will be dead in no time. But pressurized bead filter sellers do not tell this fact because it is not their responsibility to recommend the customer what else is necessary. If they volunteer this information, customer may opt for cheaper but better alternatives like Nexus Eazypod.

Second, bead filters remove suspended particles from pond water but dirt remains in the water column until we backwash. This means, we must backwash it frequently to get rid of dirt.

Third, once you start sending water through the bead filter, there is no stopping. If stopped for even an hour or the pump fails, bead filter gets anaerobic (despite the claims that one can keep it aerobic by sending air through it) and smells like sewer pit. If you simply backwash and restart the filter some of the anaerobic bacteria WILL get into the pond, because the plumbing will still have anaerobic water. This defeats the very purpose of installing a bead filter.

Fourth, one must keep a constant watch on the pressure when it is running. Fine print says the bead filter can explode if the pressure reaches danger level. This means, if your pond is under shade trees or near ornamental grasses, you can’t go on vacation without having someone to watch your bead filter.

Fifth, bead filters need powerful pumps for backwash (typically twice the power) or else the back wash will not clean the beads properly.

Sixth, bead filters add at least 8 feet of head when clean and may be 12-15 feet of head when dirty. This means you must have a powerful pump to handle that extra head. Why should water snake through the bends of a multiport valve for regular filtration when it is not backwashing or rinsing? GCTek sells bead filters in which water bypasses multiport valve during regular filtration (LH series) but for a premium ! Low head does send more water using less electricity. And low head bead filters should be the norm, not a premium.

Seventh, media is not visible. Just how clean the beads are after a backwash, is left to guesswork. Once, we vacuumed the beads out after washing 5 times. We were shocked to see wiggling worms, and gooey stuff ! Beads trap snails, fluke eggs, pine needles and form a breeding ground. They even trap medication (praziquantel) that doesn’t quite dissolve in water. Emptying the bead filter in the spring season to clean it is a task nobody wants to do.

So, what are the alternatives?
Do NOT have pressurized bead filter as THE filtration equipment. Rather combine it with Nexus Eazypod, Japanese mats, Biodiesel filter bags.

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