I have several Skippy Filters located around the different ponds in an attempt to keep the water clean. Fish are notorious for making the water dirty, they eat and therefore they poop. Add to that the fact that they are always poking around on the bottom of the pond and stirring up the dirt plus the natural phenomenon called algae and rotting leaves from the overhanging trees and at times, the ponds are so dirty that you can’t see anything.
Ponders have learned several different ways to help combat these natural processes most of which are of a mechanical nature involving pumps and filters. Of course, this being America, land of opportunity, there are manufacturers out there willing to sell you the latest and greatest in the form of expensive equipment to help the Pond Owners combat any of the problems that they may have.
I use a combination of manufactured items which includes the pumps and skimmer boxes and I do have one bio filter that I described in a previous blog and several homemade ones that emulate the commercial model. One of these is a 100 gallon rubber farm trough purchased from our local Tractor Supply, and is on the 6000 gallon pond and has been there since I built the pond around ten years ago. They are known as Skippy Filters and I had 3 large ones on different ponds plus 3 of the smaller size. Incidentally, I have never cleaned this particular filter in all of that time.
This one started leaking and as had happened on a previous occasion on a different Skippy on the 5000 gallon pond, the internal weight of the water caused the hard rubber container to crack. This was probably caused by a shifting of the concrete blocks that I used for the tubs to sit on as both tubs have split in the same place, close to where the drain valve is located. I was able to repair the first one and it has been back in operation for a couple of years and hopefully, so far is trouble free.
I turned off the flow to the filter in the 6000 gallon pond and let it sit for a week or so before attempting a repair. This was to allow it to dry out which would make it easier to tear apart. After I deemed it had sat long enough, I bit the bullet, and making a big effort to get up early to beat the heat, proceeded to tear into the vegetation growing out of the thing. I had planted the Iris and Lizards Ear as the roots all help with the filtration but as they had totally taken over the unit, it took a while to get it all out. Interestingly enough, the dirt from the filtered water was all pretty much collected on the top of the filter material in a solid layer several inches thick showing that the unit was more than doing it’s job. The actual filter material is comprised of the pads used by floor buffers, in my case new ones cut up into smaller pieces. It’s pretty much the same as the regular filter material which could be used instead. I sometimes use Lava Rock either in small mesh bags or loose. It also works well but is harder to shovel out and clean.
The filter unit has a chamber space under the filters of about nine inches deep and the inlet pipe is plumbed to empty its contents into this space. I placed a piece of fluorescent light grid on concrete bricks to make this chamber but commercially manufactured grid is available and is stronger.
I finished cleaning out the entire unit and was surprised just how clean the bottom half of the filter material was, more evidence that the unit was working as planned.
With the entire unit free, I pulled it off to an area so that I could work on it and hosed the whole thing out to clean it of any surplus material and then let it dry in the hot Texas sun, which didn’t take too long. I discovered a long crack of about 12 or so inches that had opened up right where the outlet hole is on this tank. This was exactly the same as what happened to the other tank so I had high hopes that I could repair it as I had managed to repair the first one.
By now, it was 98 degrees and way too hot to do any more outside work. I took the time to go to my local Lowe’s so that I could purchase the material I needed to make the repair. This comprised of a small spray can of Flexseal which is a rubberized material that will get right into the cracks and then Flextape which is also rubberized, to cover the entire repair.
When I returned and even though it was by now 100 degrees, I bit the bullet and took time to wire brush and clean the area before applying the contents of the spray can of Flexseal. Deeming that it needed to dry, left it for another go at it the next day which saw me up bright and early again busy applying the Flextape over the affected areas. It was not a straightforward job as there were many changing shapes and contours so I had to cut the tape in strips to cover them all. To test it, I put enough water back into the tank just to cover the affected areas and it immediately began to leak which left me more than a little upset. The air turned blue as I vented my frustration using words that I didn’t know existed. The dogs immediately bolted indoors.
I emptied the remaining water and left the unit to dry and spent that time with yet another trip to Lowe’s this time for a larger can of the spray as I had used up the small one on the initial repair. Luckily for me, Lowe’s is only 4 miles up Hwy 71, just a short drive and I am always listening to an Audiobook as I drive and if the timing is right (late afternoon), a stop at Starbucks. When I returned, I sprayed a large amount onto the cracks in the bottom of the unit and then waited (indoors) for that to dry before turning the unit over to respray the inside. With that complete, I let the entire thing dry out overnight before testing it with water again.
Next day, I was out bright and early eager to check the repair to see if it held up. Needless to say, it didn’t although the water flow has been reduced to just a few drops. So, I did more work on the unit and resprayed with the Flexseal. While I was working on it and upon further inspection, I discovered that the tub has several other cracks in it that I had not noticed before. I decided that as I am unable to fix the original leaks, that tub will be relegated to a flower planter.
All is not lost though as among my many ponding treasures picked up over the years, I have a filter unit that I got from Emerald Garden Water Gardens and Nursery when they were going out of the Pond business and transforming to Leaf Landscape Supply. I spent a couple of days preparing and replumbing it so that I can use it instead. It is not as big as the unit that it is replacing but as the secret is in keeping a constant flow of water moving through the filter material, then it will work just fine. It has a metal base which is quite heavy but the unit itself is easy enough to handle.
Incidentally, I intermixed working on this filter unit with another project. I already had a spare 30 gallon Skippy from the 350 gallon pond that I closed down earlier this year so I added it to the 2500 gallon pond that I just trimmed back as that water is also very dirty. It already has one 30 gallon Skippy and the one I added is the same size. This was an easy job and I had it in place and working within the hour. Now, all we got to do is wait for it to do its work. These small Skippies are not permanent unless I want them to be and so are handy to help clean up a dirty pond.
The Savio Filter unit that I recently installed on the Goldfish pond is doing a wonderful job. I can actually see the fish and it is cleaning up the water at a rapid pace.
The next day, I decided that I would make a big effort to re-plumb the “new” unit. I wanted to try to use some of the bits and pieces of pre-plumbed pipe, stuff that has a valve or an elbow and such that I have accumulated over the years and was able to incorporate a couple in the project. I still had to make a couple of trips to Lowe’s for last minute items. I eventually completed the plumbing including the outlet pipes which were both of recycled goodies hence the difference in shape with one elbow a 45 degree and the other a 90.
Then came the fun part of reinstalling the filter material and I carefully placed it piece by piece to get a nice level finish. I still need to cut a couple of pieces of filter that will cover the entire unit and sit on top of the other filter material to hold them in place. All that remained to do was to turn on the water at the pump installed at the far end of the pond and hope that nothing leaks. It didn’t and before long, there was a nice steady flow of water flowing through the filter and back into the pond. After tidying up the dirt around the unit and clearing everything away, all I have to do now is wait for the plants to re-grow up and around the unit to hide it from sight. That probably will not happen this year with the 100 degree heat but maybe in the Fall, there may be some growth. Definitely in the Spring.
Another successful project. Let’s hope that it lasts long enough until either I am too old to care or ten years like the original Skippy, whichever comes first…Wait a minute, in ten years I will be 93 and too old to care anyway.