Keeping duck pond water clean... With minimal to no effort

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by helicalduck, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. helicalduck

    helicalduck Out Of The Brooder

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    I have been looking through the threads trying to find some way to keep the duck pool clean. Everywhere saying it can't be done, that ducks are just messy and just have to deal with it (that was the gist of it at least).

    So, let's start at the beginning:

    First, we started with the basics of just a pool (a small kiddy pool, that they quickly grew out of) and having to dump and fill it daily, sometimes lucky to get two days.

    Since they grew out of the other pool, we got a bigger kiddy pool (the one with the slide). So, to make water change process easier, we installed a drain so we wouldn't have to flip the pool. But still left with a 1-2 day water change.

    Then it hit me: how does nature clean surface water. Well it's quite simple really: plants, movement, and bacteria. So I found a filter design that provides this: the biofilter. There are many designs of biofilters out there, but I went with a modified skippy design. The only real modifications I made was the filter media and the spout leading back to the pool. The total for this filter was around $175 (plus another $180 for the pump since we didn't have one yet) and about 2 hours of labor. But the real bonus is that if cared for properly, we shouldn't ever have to drain or clean the filter or anything. Fully self-sustainable.

    This is a quick shot of the temporary setup (we plan to increase the pond size substantially).

    [​IMG]

    As you can see the pvc pipe poring (waterfall kind of deal) into the pool. The drain is in the bottom and goes underground, outside the fence to the pump.

    This is the top view of the filter tank (the treated 2x4s are not necessary, it was an addition I made to keep the pvc pipe straight up and down when the tank wasn't perfectly level..now it is level, could take them out, just don't feel like it.)
    [​IMG]

    You want the filter tank open to allow sunlight in, this helps clean the water as well as it kills some organisms and bad bacteria. It also allows for plants to be added to eat things up such as the nitrogen released by the beneficial bacteria.

    For filter media, it is imperative to choose plastic material, really thin and fibery. This is because that is where the bacteria will grow and live. It also helps trap the particles in the water.

    For our filter media, we chose a couple different materials (all loosely thrown in):
    - Bird netting
    - scrubber pads (kind of like scotch bright pads, but looser fibers, got them at a dollor store).
    - and some actual filter media pieces (scrap from a pet & aquarium store)

    (The actual skippy filter uses floor scrubbing pads cut up into rectangles and loosely thrown in.

    We chose aquatic hyacinths for our plants, started with 3 and they have multiplied to 9 in just a couple weeks. So they are feasting quite well. When we build the actual pond, we will add more plants like reeds, water lilies, etc. we may also add fish and other animals to the pond.

    It has been about 3 weeks since we built and installed the filter. The first week we did have to drain and refill the system as we didn't have the beneficial bacteria in yet. But once we added the bacteria, the water cleaned up nicely and we haven't had to do anything except top off the water (we have well water, so no worries of chlorine killing the bacteria or anything else).

    The only worries we have is come winter as we get bad winters, down well into the negatives (New England). So freezing is an issue. The water movement will help to keep things unfrozen, but only so much. Thought about adding a pond heater and a heater to the filter tank to keep the water above 40 degrees, but I don't know if that would be enough to counter the negative 20s or worse we get sometimes.

    Now for those of you that live connected to a water grid (my condolences and sympathies)... This system may not work for you. This is because the chlorine in the water will kill the beneficial bacteria. The bacteria is key to the function of this system, without it no clean water. HOWEVER, if you get it up and running, topping off shouldn't do much of anything. The colony can also be repopulated if need be, but that's extra work and extra water...kind of defeats the purpose.

    I will add a couple more pictures tomorrow to show how clean the water is.

    The entire current setup our ducks have is temporary, it will be improved greatly once some funds are available to do so. (New raised duck house with deck and feeding area is already designed, working on how to roof the entire 48'x48' area and pond design is in the works).
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
    3 people like this.
  2. dotknott

    dotknott Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Beneficial bacteria can be cultured back into a water environment even with chlorinated water. Aquarists do it all the time.

    Very interested in seeing how you handle the winter problem.
     
  3. helicalduck

    helicalduck Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes, it can be re-added. But that is extra and means keeping a supply of bacteria on hand. In the mean the water could get quite dirty again as it can take a few weeks for the bacteria to repopulate.

    At least that is what we have read on the chlorine issue, didn't look into it much as it did not apply to us. That is just a warning I remember from researching the biofilter.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
  4. helicalduck

    helicalduck Out Of The Brooder

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    duplicate erased
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
  5. dotknott

    dotknott Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Topping off shouldn't kill off a colony of BB, especially a colony as large as it would need to be for a pond system. If it does prime is a great solution, and your local water board is doing something wrong.
     
  6. helicalduck

    helicalduck Out Of The Brooder

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    Here is the water close up. Before the filter this would get basically black, unable to see the bottom even remotely in just a day or 2.
    [​IMG]

    (the piece of wood is just a temporary deck for them to relax on, originally put it there to give them more shade, but they like being on top of it too.)
    (I also remember seeing some people saying their ducks have had issues with ramps. Mine haven't had any issues, but they have had such a ramp since they were little ducklings. It is just a 1x12 piece of wood with fake grass carpet stapled to it for traction.)
    [​IMG]

    Here is how it comes up from under ground to connect to the pump. We just used sump pump hose to do the connections. Need to build an insulated housing for the pump by winter time I think.
    [​IMG]

    And here is just the 4 Khaki Campbells (2 female & 2 male...used to be 4 female but a fox hopped the fence before we could get the roof up) we have. They should start laying eggs any day now, probably hatch the first few eggs to get the female population back up.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. helicalduck

    helicalduck Out Of The Brooder

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    Shouldn't doesn't won't. It was a general word of caution to bring it to people's attention, nothing more. Some people may think adding chlorine would be beneficial (which I contest it never is).

    And seen time and time again to already know how inept the "water board" is at doing their supposed job.

    In any case, not really the point of the post. The point is the filter.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
  8. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    I don't have ducks, but I used to raise fish. Chlorine will evaporate out of your water if you leave it in an open container for 24 hours or so. Wider is better than taller for faster evaporation. The problem for fish was if your agency added chloramine, it does not evaporate. I am not sure how those would effect your BB. The agency here switched between the 2 depending on the season.

    Now I have well water. [​IMG] Even my coffee tastes different. And when we visit in towners, you can even smell the chlorine when you take a shower. [​IMG]

    I have avoided ducks for the mess, fun to see your project.

    Good luck!
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. helicalduck

    helicalduck Out Of The Brooder

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    BioFilter Material List of what we used:

    1x 100 gal Rubber maid stock tank (storage container can work, but they may not be strong enough to last long) - got this for $80 at a farm supply store
    3x 1.5in PVC pipe 2 feet long
    1x 1.5in PVC tee.
    3x 1.5in PVC elbows.
    2x 1.5in to 1.25in threaded nipple reducer
    2x 1.25in to 1in threaded nipple reducer (our pump has 1 inch connections, the standard sump pump hose is 1.25 inch)
    1x 2inx3in slip shower drain
    1x plastic ceiling tile 2'x4' light grate (ceiling tile section of any Home Depot)
    1x sump hose kit
    3x 1.5in threaded pvc adapters
    1x 1.5in to 1.25in threaded pvc adapter
    1x 2in pvc pipe 2 feet long
    1x can of plummers pvc cement (used only at key points, not needed at every joint)
    1x 740 gph continuous run lawn pump (probably over kill, but works)
    1x Aquascape 98949 Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds, Dry, 1.1 Pound (treats up to 104,000 gallons)

    -Filter media
    2x packages of bird netting (just had this laying around, so decided to use it instead of buying other things.
    10x 10 pack of plastic scrubbers

    Supposedly this size of filter should be good for a pond sized at least 3000 gallons. So, when we increase the pond size, we shouldn't have to add another filter, but if we did, we just build a second filter and add it into the existing system.

    I've read people have had great success using heavy duty plastic shipping ties for media.

    We chose threaded adapters at key points to make maintenance easier

    Here is a link to skippy filter itself: http://skippysstuff.com/biofiltr.htm
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
  10. merimink

    merimink New Egg

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    Thanks for this post—this is an excellent! My ducks are only 4 weeks old right now, but I was hoping to find some information on this kind of set up. Inspiring to see someone implement a really creative solution.
     

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