Duckponics / Duckponix Take 3


Interstellar Duck Academy
10 Years
Jun 23, 2009
Northwestern Washington
First off, without Wifezilla's thread I never would have known I could do this. I learned so much from her posts found here:

My first two tries can be found here (it also has duckling photos):

spent the summer thinking about and working on a way to deal with all the waste created in our pond by the ducks. After much trial and error, this is what I ended up with. There are still some things to tweak, but here it is at day one of my third duckponix try:


My three tier filtration system seen as a whole. I need to finish adding the gravel and cleaning up


This is the sludge collector. I basically used the same plan as my original biofilter (you can see pictures of the inside in my first thread), but made a few adjustments: I lifted the swirlers up a few inches, and raised the filtering medium to be closer to the top. By raising the medium up higher, I have more room to collect the sludge. I've also added water hyacinths and water lettuce.


A close up of the bottom of the sludge filter. The foreground piping is where the pump comes into the filter. There's a check valve so that when I turn off the pump, the contents of the sludge filter don't drain into the pond. The piping at the top of the picture is how I drain the filter. I turn off the pump, open the valve, and drain all the icky sludge out the big ole pipe.


Here is the actual biofilter. There's a two inch pipe that comes off the top of the sludge collector, which connects to a two inch T that is open at the top and connects to another two inch pipe that goes all the way to the bottom of the bin. Near the bottom of pipe, hubby drilled a lot of holes so the water could come out hopefully with oxygen... if I did it right. We used a piece of plastic with holes cut in it to hold the filter medium. When I get time I'll do the same with the top of this as I did with the sludge collector... adding water plants.


The top of the T. The hope is that the water will become oxygenated as it splashes against the side and moves down the pipe.


This just shows how we connected the two inch pipe to the trash bin.


Disregard the blue bin on the right, that is a failed sludge filter experiment and currently is being used to support the pipe
The water from the biofilter is draining into a gravel "flower bed." As you can see this is a problem area because it's spraying, and we're losing water. Today I will try to fix that. If you look at the left side of the bed, there are holes drilled in the side to let the water flow out. I'm troubled with the water flow as I think it's just flowing across the top and that I'm not getting any real filtration. I'm still thinking on it.


The larger bed flowing into the smaller bed. The smaller bed has the same sort of holes drilled on the side and empty onto the flagstone. I need to do some repositioning of the stone to make the water fall in a pleasing way.


And this is what it looks like from the front. Aesthetically there is still plenty to do. I HATE all the black plastic. I don't think I will be able to really fix that though I can add some more rocks and stone to help some. That's not a leak you see coming over the side in front, that's a favorite rock that the ducks use to preen.

In front of the pond where the wood is, is a 8'x13' vegie garden. My hope is that by spring I will have figured out how irrigate the garden with the sludge and biofilter water without clogging up the piping.


And finally here's a duck picture! Oh.. and geese too
Last night we were racing against the light to get this finished and when I filled the beds with the gravel, I forgot to wash the gravel first. So the very first thing that happened when I started everything up is I added clay silt to my pond! I could have kicked myself. It looked like adding cream to water. Oh well, I'll deal with the creamy looking water /sigh

Besides the huge amount of solid waste that the ducks produce, the second problem which was almost as big, was the dirt they brought to the pond with them. Putting the gravel all around the pond is a huge step to keeping it clean. It also solves two other problems I had. The first is that here in the pacific northwest we get a huge amount of rain and my soil is mostly clay... ugh. Secondly, all this was built on a slope and I needed a way to prevent runoff from heading to my pond. Hopefully I've solved all three problems.
That's a lot of work but it looks great. Keep us posted on any changes you make. I really like the idea of using the sludge in the garden.
Day 2: The creamy silt went away last night. I used a broom and stirred up everything in the pond and when I woke up and looked out there, I could almost see the bottom. I'm really wanting to empty the sludge collector, but I think I'll wait, since I know that part of what helps filter is the stuff that collects in the filtering medium.

Another problem I might have come winter is that the water in the gravel beds may freeze and I may not get water flow through the holes and instead it may just start pouring over the top. I'm wondering if I should get a pond heater and keep the temp at like 45 or 50 degrees. We don't get a lot of freezing over here but we usually get a few weeks of it.

Oh yeah, I need to go buy some no slip stuff like you use on stairs. Right now I'm using some cabinet liner for them to get in and out and they are chewing on it.

I did add a second way for them to get in and out, so that one duck can't dictate who gets in and out of the pond.
Do you have any lava rocks in the filter? They work better than the pea gravel for stopping waste and dirt, plus they have crevices for good bacteria to hang on to and grow.
the biofilter is based off the skippy filter found here I spent some time in the aquaponics forums and scrubbies are considered a good way to go since they have more surface area for the good bacteria. The gravel beds are just for my plants. I had wondered about lava rock instead of pea gravel, but I can't remember right now why I chose pea gravel
I chose pea gravel because that is what covers my driveway. It was easy to steal some from the "deep" areas

Looking good girl!
Day 5, yesterday, the water was already looking awful so we decided to empty the sludge filter. Golly gee, I can't believe how much waste was in there. However it wasn't filled up. I also emptied the bio-filter as well and there wasn't as much crud, but a good amount. I started pumping again and added about 60 gallons of fresh water to the pond. The pond looked better today, but not a whole lot. I think it's quite possible that the pond is just overstocked and that I'm never really going to have the sort of pond I would like to have. I do have a few more ideas to try out with the sludge filter, but I'm not feeling very hopeful.

1. water is flowing faster through the filters than can actually be filtered.
a. make a "donut" out of plexiglass or something and seal it into the bins. I think a lot of the water gets pushed through the sides without getting filtered.
2. Add more filtering medium to both filters.
3. Add more gravel beds. At about day 3 the gravel beds started getting a lot of waste buildup
4. Add an aerator to the pond.
5. Might need to raise the swirly things on the bottom of the sludge filter. It's possible and quite likely that when the sludge reaches a certain height, the incoming water is disturbing it and moving it up. (I don't know what those swirly things are called. The water enters the bin and comes to a tee. Each side of the tee has a hose attached that has an outlet attached so that the water "swirls" clockwise. Supposedly the action helps separate the out the heavier particles)

Here's a picture, they are a bit higher now than in the picture, but they might need to be higher still:

Another easy idea I'm going to try starting today, is using a fine net at night. I'll stir everything up and see what I can get out with the net.
Great stuff! I'll be putting in a more permanent pond very soon, and I feel like I'm cheating by using a $20 sump pump. I've just been pumping my ducks' kiddie pool water into the garden every couple of days.

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