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  1. #1

    Rain Water Use and Koi Pond Sustainability

    When reading excellent post from Syd aka Manky Sanke from last SEP in the Anoxic Filter thread started by Steve (RS2000) - found here

    - https://www.koiforum.uk/water-treatm...tml?pid=338700

    I thought it would be good to open up discussion on Rain Water use and Koi pond sustainability. I know this might open up possibly a heated debate - as I know Extreme Koi Forum members - very successful long time Koi keepers who do not want to hear anything about rain water ever used in their Koi ponds, on the other side I also know others, who have good long term experience with it - me being one of them for last 9 years.

    So please do not punish me for opening up this debate - I am hoping for fact / experience based honest discussion - not trying to convert anyone from one camp to the other - just felt, that Koi pond sustainability might and should be in the minds of most if not all Koi keepers - be it seasoned veterans or novices just joining this great hobby.

    What is your opinion and/or experience with using Rain Water in your Koi hobby? Do you see it as sustainable choice helping to preserve our environment while helping to create good water quality for our fish?

    Allow me to share herewith my experience and thoughts on this interesting subject:

    1. My setup - Rain water use for water changes, drum filter cleaning and pond topping off - my humble opinion - unless someone has their Koi pond close to heavy industry or charcoal power plant, rain water is generally safe for use in our Koi ponds.
    2. I have started using it about nine years ago, with 7.6 cub.m rain water tank under garage and rain water harvested from total of 250 sqr.m. roofs. From there I run separate rain water piping over pressure regulated inverter controlled water pump followed by fine mechanical filter (90 mircometers) - used in our house for two out of three toilets flushing plus plumbed to my two Easy Drum filters via solenoids activated by their control units replacing their cleaning pumps used for drums washing plus also plumbed to top up our 24.000L in the ground heavily planted pond (more details on my other threads) with pumped filtration setup. This system is completed with water level sensor opening up solenoid vent to top up the pond with harvested rain water if water level drops by 5 cm.
    3. About three years ago - when faced with rather large water bill for my garden irrigation after hot and dry summer I went ahead and placed automatic Gardena submersible pump into our Koi pond to run all garden irrigation using Koi pond water - doing partial water change there at the same time. End result - very happy Koi and 40% municipality water bill reduction at the same time with great growth in our garden as a bonus - especially all our bamboos love the soft warm water from the pond.
    4. Using pond water for garden irrigation had me to rethink my pond heating strategy with ASHP I have in place for last 7 years - as it does not make much sense to heat pond water only to irrigate garden with it next day and refill it with about 10 dC water from rain water harvesting under ground tank - so I have ASHP set at 15 dC all year long - early Spring it helps to get quickly up from 7 dC I keep the pond in the winter over Aeromonas Alley temps - no irrigation needed yet - and when irrigation is needed, the pond water is heated up by mother nature to about +-0.5 dC - around 21 - 22 dC - so stable temperature maintained - as seen on Seneye charts.

    Why I believe rain water can be successfully used for good Koi health and sustainable pond management:

    1. In the nature in lakes and ponds w/o water stream running through it is rain water replenishing the evaporated water from it creating no harm to wild life in it. It is important however to proceed with your rain water quality testing upfront - in most of the times you will find it fit for such use. Rain water also feeds most of mains drinking water systems when collected from surface water bodies or other than deep artesian water wells.

    2. Rain water by it's definition is very soft (distilled water by mother nature with most of the time negligible pollutants and always with ZERO Nitrates and Phosphates - contrary to most mains and well water) - depending on the roof material and overall air pollution levels (mostly dust particles) - so in hard water areas it can actually substitute or at least reduce need for RO - expensive to run as it uses a lot of electricity and creates about 20 - 30% waste water required for membrane back flush.

    3. It is important to have proper roofing material as well as the rest of the system done from inert materials - like PE or PP or PVC - or INOX if not cost prohibitive. In our case I have used welded 2.0 mm PVC roofing foil - actually the same material - only different color as the liner in our pond. This roof foil is covered on our flat roof with 15 - 20 cm layer of small pebble rocks (32 to 50 mm grade) not containing any calcium based rocks / limestone - so it will not influence harvested water hardness. To avoid - asphalt based roofing materials or roofing materials pre-impregnated with anti-growth treatment (against moss etc.) or copper sheets.

    5. It is important to measure at least once per week KH and pH - in my case I add once per month about 300g / one mug of baking soda to maintain pH at about 7,2 - 7,4 - close to the natural Koi ponds back in Japan - fed by rain and or melting snow soft water only.

    So by harvesting rain water and recycling pond water for irrigation it seems to me win - win for all - minimized water consumption from mains often quite hard, very soft water used thus in hard water areas reducing complexity of its softening, having great water for garden irrigation and having partial water changes after each garden irrigation cycle - even if not required by pond water parameters, it does not hurt.....

    Bottom line my opinion using harvested rain water it is very sustainable Koi pond management practice limiting use of mains drinking water - saving environment and our pocket at the same time.

    What do YOU think?


    You get what you pay for - or better - what you make yourself.

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  3. #2
    Extreme Koi Member Rank = Yonsai phil45's Avatar
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    I have been doing this as well for about 7 yrs now ...not on quite the same scale, and the fish seem to thrive absolutely fine .Mine runs off a polycarbonate roof and concrete tiled roof .....phil

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    Senior Member Rank = Grand Champion RS2OOO's Avatar
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    The more I've learnt the more susceptible I'm becoming in considering the use of rainwater.

    My understanding of it falls short but in my mind I'd want to run it through some kind of filter or RO before it goes in the pond.

    What I really need to understand is KH. Rainwater has zero which I thought was a problem, but some koi keepers run zero KH (well, less than 1KH at least) and zero GH at 7pH and never mention having to use bicarb. How do they get away with that? All their bio is done using showers, so do showers convert Ammonia without using up KH? This is the area I really don't understand.

    As for GH, I have loads, 18dH out the tap. It doesn't really go down in the pond and actually goes up if I only replace evaporated water. I'm building a strong opinion that all these websites saying you need plenty of GH for koi health are all talking rubbish. If Koi really utilised magnesium and calcium out of the water like these "professional authors" would have you believe, then the GH of my pond should gradually go down over time, and it doesn't. Mud ponds have zero GH and we all know koi thrive on that environment.

    So my conclusion (could be wrong) is that koi don't need any GH and potentially do better without it.

    My understanding isn't so great for KH, but if Mike Snaden runs zero and doesn't add bicarbonate of soda then that's proof KH isn't required either... I just don't yet understand how.

    And then pH.... A stable pH is all you need, whether it's 6.8 or 7.5 or anywhere in between, as long as it's stable.

    So yeah, I'm growing to believe rainwater is just fine, as long as it's filtered of impurities before going in the pond, and maintained to keep it stable once it is in the pond.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk

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    Extreme Koi Member Rank = Rokusai AlanF's Avatar
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    I agree with you Milaz. I have only used rain water for topping up the pond for 2 years now. The rainwater is collected from two of the house down pipes and fed straight into the drum filter, the drum uses tapwater for cleaning and some of that must end up in the pond but no other water is used. Based on average rainfall that equates to around two and a half complete water changes for the pond per year, but I should say that I am running solely Anoxic biofiltration. So far so good, Nitrate levels are steady at 10-20ppm and GH at 80-100ppm( pH 7.5-8). I was concerned that pH and GH would be a problem but I have concluded the limestone construction around the pond is constantly feeding enough minerals into the pond to maintain levels despite only rainwater being used to top up.

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  9. #5
    Senior Member Rank = Grand Champion RS2OOO's Avatar
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    Rasta koi did a live q&a session on YouTube tonight and I know he runs 0.5kh and 0.5gh so I asked him about how he maintains pH.

    He said his BHM shower media keeps his water cycled using barely any KH.

    He doesn't currently feel he needs it because his KH stays stable, but previously used a pH controller and a solenoid attached to a bucket of bicarb. As soon as the pH starts moving down from what he sets it at the solenoid let's a bit of bicarb out of the bucket and maintains the pH level and subsequently the 0.5 KH level.

    Sounds complex and probably expensive but you could apply that system to rainwater.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk

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    Junior Member Rank = Fry 9Dave9's Avatar
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    We have been using rain water for the whole house for more than two years now including drinking. Its pre filtered through a sieve into a 8500 litre potable tank then through a pump, filters (6) and last a uv and into the house. It exceeds local regulations for quality (Scotland) and is tested every year. So done correctly perfectly good for koi.

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  13. #7
    Member Rank = Sansai Spongebob's Avatar
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    Something I’m going to try for definite.

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  15. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by 9Dave9 View Post
    We have been using rain water for the whole house for more than two years now including drinking. Its pre filtered through a sieve into a 8500 litre potable tank then through a pump, filters (6) and last a uv and into the house. It exceeds local regulations for quality (Scotland) and is tested every year. So done correctly perfectly good for koi.
    This is great setup Dave - please can you share with us what components you are using for the drinking water quality filtration - six filters you mentioned? Off course the final disinfection with UV is clear - just I am curious what other filters you have in your setup - for sure you have mechanical one than probably some ion exchange, than probably activated charcoal but what else to make it up to 6 in line? Maybe some minerals addition unit as well?

    I guess my background from distant past in chemistry and biochemistry is curious to understand the setup working so well for you to use rain water as drinking water system. Thank you!
    You get what you pay for - or better - what you make yourself.

  16. #9
    Junior Member Rank = Fry 9Dave9's Avatar
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    Hi milaz, happy to share with you.
    first is a 3P volume filter VF1 this takes out all leaves ect down to 0.55 mm
    8500 litres potable water tank
    Divertron auto start/stop pump
    Rain master trio containing 1= 90 micron stainless steel 2= 20 micron wound string 3= composite carbon all 10"x 2.5"
    next is a 10"x4" wound string to 5 micron
    then a 10"x4" Active Ceramics filter (not cheap but lasts 300.000 ltrs or 3 years)
    39 Watt UV
    and for good luck another 10"x2.5" composite carbon under the kitchen sink on the cold water tap.

    My friendly environmental man at the local council did many free water tests for me until I got it right, my main problem was lead. I had re roofed my byre 5 years ago and had replaced the lead valleys this turned out to be the source I took care of this by painting all my lead work with Zinsser primer and top coat, that was interesting as I also had to do the chimney flashing.
    Nothing to complicated.

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