Note: We do NOT sell pond equipment. We are NOT paid or sponsored by any business that sells pond equipment or koi. We are NOT partners with any business that sells koi or pond equipment.

Over the past 4 years, we have used filters, pumps, UVs from different manufacturers and have settled on what is good for our system.

Cheaper pumps tend to deliver lower than claimed flow rates and consume higher wattage than their expensive counterparts. Expensive pumps also last longer. So, in the long run, an expensive pump may actually be more economical than the cheap, disposable pumps.

For example, we bought one Calpump and  one Tsurumi submersibles that claimed equal flow rates. Tsurumi was twice as expensive. Calpump’s flow rate was lower than Tsurumi’s. Calpump worked only for 6 months but Tsurumi continues to work even after 6 years. We also bought 2 of 2500gph Calpump and 2 Little Giant submersibles of similar flow rates. Calpump submerisbles died in less than a year. Little Giant pumps continue to work even after 5 years.

We have used submersible pumps from various manufacturers in our quarantine pools and baby pools. They are not good for long-term use because of their high power consumption, poor flow rates and possibility of short-circuiting. Do not use submersible pumps in the main pond.

Calpump is the worst pump of all pumps we used. They stop working in less than a year. But to claim warranty, the owner must ship the heavy pump at his own expense. Shipping charges can be higher than the price of the pump. So, after losing 4 of these, we stopped buying them.

Laguna pumps with cages are great for draining water from biological filters because the cage prevents K1 media from getting sucked. They are also great to use in fry pools. However, these pumps are not good for quarantine pools or main ponds because cages trap uneaten food and koi waste.

Tsurumi and Little Giant have been reliable. Pondmaster pumps are fine but pre-filters come off easily and pump cord breaks right at the pump. We use them to drain quarantine pools and the main ponds to do water changes. Pond master makes submersible pumps with venturi (for aeration). These pumps are great for aerating medicated baths and measuring tubs because they aerate as well as circulate water

We discovered that the output of Sequence pumps are very poor for the wattage they consume. Since then we have been using Performance Pro Artesian Pro pumps. They are very efficient and reliable. They are pricey but pay off within the first 2 years compared to Sequence pumps.

Mechanical filters
We bought a Rotary Drum Filter (KC-60) sold by Koi Collections USA. It didn't work even for a single day without problems even during installation. The distributor and the seller “installed” it as a team but they neither made it work nor honored warranty. Both blamed each other and our plumbing design (seller did the plumbing). After discussing with other RDF manufacturers and distributors we discovered that the RDF sold by Koi Collection USA is a cheaply made DIY product of inferior quality. We also realized that RDFs work best in ponds that do not get any leaf litter or plant materials and that they need 10 times more maintenance than Eazy Pods. Read more about RDFs here.

We use Nexus Eazy Pods in our quarantine systems and really love them. One can see the beads to see if they are dirty. If the pump failed, changing the stinking anaerobic beads is easy. One can run the filter using gravity which means one need not use a high-pressure pump. Eazy Pods are great for ponds up to 5000 gallons. Each circuit can use one Eazy Pod.

Eazy Pod’s big brother Nexus 310 has a large footprint for a flow rate that is slightly higher than that of Eazy Pod. Eazy Pod is 23” in diameter and has 2640 gph flow rate and costs $565. Nexus 310 is nearly twice as big (43.3” in diamater), has 3431 gph flow rate but costs $2865 (which is 5 folds). And Nexus 310 combines bio-filtration and mechanical filtration, which is a bad idea. If for some reason, the filter fails, pond has no filtration - mechanical and biological. So, installing 2 Eazy Pods is a better choice and cheaper than a single Nexus 310. of course, you must have a separate bio-filter in this case.

There is only one media that is proven to be the best. That is of course, K1 media. One can build excellent bio-filters at home by using K1 media in rain-barrels or any container that can be plumbed into the pond plumbing. One must place an air diffuser at the bottom or supply air to “boil” K1media. Boiling is important because the movement
- sheds dead bacteria off the media
- separates strings of bacteria formed by binary fission
- provides air and food for all bacteria living on the media.

We use home-built 55-gallon barrel filters with K1 media in our quarantine pools. While building the bio-filters, remember to attach strainers to both inlets and outlets of the filter to keep K1 media from getting out.

For the main pond, we have built a 4-feet high spa tub like tank that holds about 1200 gallons of water. it can hold 20 cubic feet of K1-media which is “boiled” with the help of 4 air-diffusers placed on the floor. You can replicate this by using a 8’ polytank.

Pressurized filters or bead filters
Bead filters  are necessary evils in a pond. Despite their disadvantages (read the case against bead filters), they capture fine, suspended particles quite well. Since they are pressurized, they can be placed at a higher or lower level than the pond. The filtered water from a bead filter can be sent above the pond to a waterfall since it is pressured. Only advantage of a bead filter over Eazy Pod is that it has high flow rates for its small footprint.

Air diffusers
Air diffusers enhance the ability of  bottom drains in cleaning the pond floor. A bottom drain by itself cannot draw dirt on the floor with force because the water is drawn by gravity. But when an air diffuser is placed on top of a bottom drain, the blown air creates an upward movement of water forced by millions of air bubbles rising from it. This movement creates suction from beneath, which in turn pulls water from the floor towards the drain to replace the void created by  air bubbles and water that moved upwards.

Air diffusers are very helpful in creating an aerobic environment in the pond. Dissolved oxygen  in water is highest at the surface because that is where atmospheric oxygen comes in contact with water. Solubility of oxygen increases with agitation because more water is exposed to atmosphere. But atmospheric oxygen has no opportunity to come in contact with the water beneath the surface. As a result, oxygen content in water decreases as the depth increases.

Air diffusers installed on bottom drains, force air into deep water, helping oxygen dissolve. They also push deep water to the surface, exposing them to atmosphere. The agitation caused by the bubbles help atmospheric oxygen dissolve in the water at the surface as well. Even if a pump fails, air diffusers can help Koi stay alive until ammonia levels start raising due to lack of bio-filtration.

Air diffusers also help dispel bad gases dissolved in water (like carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and methane)

Air pumps
These pumps blow air into the air diffusers. So, one must have air pumps to drive air into air diffusers used in bottom drains and in bio-basins. For more details, go here

UV sterilizers
Flow rate of a UV sterilizer decides which UV sterilizer to buy. Do not give importance to how many micro-organisms they can kill per second or if they have wipers and other fancy accessories. Many UV sterilizers are known to leak. Cost of a replacement bulb is also a deciding factor.

We bought a GCTEK stainless steel UV sterilizer (Zapp 40) that worked great, without any leaks. But when it was time to replace the bulb we realized that we had to spend 10 times more for the replacement bulb. Moreover, the design is so poor that if one is not extra careful, the quartz tube can break that enclosed the bulb can break. And in our case, it did - twice! While replacing the quartz tube, water got into the UV ballast. The total cost of replacing the bulb was 50% of the price of the UV sterilizer.

Next year, we bought a Matala UV sterilizer that uses bulbs that are available in Home Depot. Also replacing bulbs is quite easy in Matala units.

For more details about UV sterilizers, go here


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